Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Visiting Cheshire Oaks...

Hello lovelies!

I've wanted to write for ages, but I've been having a major crisis of confidence with my blog (I must be having a midlife crisis at 31!!).  I took some holiday, and took stock of the situation...I write because it's an outlet for my love of fashion, so if I stopped writing I suppose I'd have nowhere for my creativity to roam free.  So if you're reading this thank you, if I can at least make one person somewhere smile, then I know I'm doing a good job in sharing my true passion with you!  So with that said (rant over!), I'm going to chat today about a little trip I recently made to Cheshire Oaks; just in case any of you feel like visiting and want an honest opinion from a fellow shopaholic!

 Road trip!!

Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet is part of the McArthur Glen group and is situated at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire, just a forty-five minute drive away from Manchester and thirty minutes outside of Liverpool.  I live just outside of Durham, and my Mister and I often visit York Designer Outlet in search of designer bargains (the jacket and the shirt in the photo above both came from YDO, the jacket was an £80 bargain from The Kooples and the shirt is from Levi's), but as we were visiting his sister in Huddersfield, we decided to brave the M62 and take the long drive in search of Burberry, Belstaff, Mulberry and some of the other brands that aren't available at the York site.  

Pulling into Cheshire Oaks, the first thing to note is that it's absolutely enormous.  The Ralph Lauren alone is bigger than most homes, and although Google suggests that you can navigate your way around the complex in a mere two and a half hours, I beg to differ.  Although we are seasoned pros when it comes to shopping, it took us more like six hours-when in Rome...(or in this case when in Cheshire Oaks) do as the shoppers do and make a day of it!  There's ample parking throughout the site, so even though we visited during the school Easter holidays, we had no problem finding a parking space.

As a rule of thumb, if you're visiting for a more high-end shopping experience, I'd suggest starting with the shops behind Ralph Lauren, as it's here you'll find Burberry, Belstaff, Mulberry, The Kooples  etc.  The main player on my hit list was Burberry.  I love Burberry, and was hoping to bag myself some new accessories.

There's no photography allowed in store, but I loved this visual merchandising set up just outside.  The staff in Burberry were great (I always find this no matter which Burberry I visit!) and although I didn't find anything that I loved enough in order to part with my cash, the prices were great.  I tried on a short, navy Burberry rain mac, but the length wasn't very flattering.  A lovely sales assistant told me lots about the coat and helped and humoured me as I tried on various styles and sizes, she couldn't have been more helpful and the experience was in no way intimidating.  A lot of the stock in the Burberry outlet is seasonal, so if you're expecting a half price heritage trench you won't find this here, but there's still a lot of choice; it definitely gets the thumbs up!

I worked my way through lots of the high-end shops.  Many of the stores were running offers, so there were some amazing prices.  The Kooples were offering an extra 20% when you bought two items, and Coach were offering a further 10% on purses just to give you an idea of some of the offers you might get should you visit.  It's a great way to live a champagne lifestyle on a lemonade budget that's for sure.

I spent most of the day being a complete grown-up (it's rare this happens!!) and weighing up what I really needed so that I didn't throw away all of my holiday budget in one shopping trip!  My Mister got an amazing pair of RayBans from Sunglasses Hut for a super £134, but it was this little gem that did it for me...

...say hello to my new Ralph Lauren purse.  Ralph Lauren is really impressive at Cheshire Oaks and there were lots of lovely things that I could've easily spent money on-but I needed a new purse and fell in love with this one.  £89.99 reduced to £39.99 and with more money off at the till, I ended up paying £30.39 for it! Bargain!  Isn't it pretty?!

I also picked up these cute little earrings for £6 from Monsoon and some things from the Bodyshop.

We spent the whole day shopping, and whilst there are plenty of great restaurants and cafés such as Giraffe, Pizza Express and Patisserie Valerie to name a few, we decided to hit the road (it's about a three and a half hour journey from Cheshire Oaks to our home) and eat in Wetherby which is about half way between the outlet and where we live. 

The happy face of someone who is about to eat...Ask Italian in Wetherby is a great little restaurant so thought it was worthy of a mention!

So to the verdict?  If you're looking for some real designer bargains and live near Cheshire Oaks, I'd definitely recommend it.  If you love to shop, there's enough choice for you to easily spend a day there and plenty of places to eat or snack should you need a break.  From our house, Cheshire Oaks is quite a journey, so I think in future we'll definitely stick to York Designer Outlet; it may have slightly less choice in terms of brands, but there's not enough extra at Cheshire Oaks to warrant the extra miles and time it takes to get there.  I love McArthur Glen outlets though so I'd really recommend you check which one is nearest to you, there's always a good bargain to be found!

Thanks for reading,



Friday, 7 April 2017

Elsa Schiaparelli comes to The Bowes Museum...

Hello all,

Apologies for my current blog hiatus, but I come back to you with amazing news of an acquisition of an Elsa Schiaparelli jacket made by the Bowes Museum this week...exciting!  After seeing some images of the jacket, I absolutely cannot wait to visit and see it in the flesh (or the fabric in this case!)-although I've been asked to tell you that some conservation work will take place on it before it is put on show.  Here are some beautiful images and a really interesting press release from the Museum into how the jacket was acquired.  And, if you're looking for something to do over the Easter break, why not visit the museum and check out their permanent fashion collection?  It really is worth a trip.  All details and opening hours can be found here.  Enjoy!


A midnight-blue velvet evening jacket dating from 1937, by the famous couturier Elsa Schiaparelli, has been purchased for The Bowes Museum at Barnard Castle with the aid of an Art Fund New Collecting Award.

The New Collecting Awards scheme was launched in 2014 by Art Fund, the national charity for art, with the aim of encouraging ‘early career’ curators to acquire objects that will progress their museum’s collection while continuing their own professional development.

Following the scheme’s launch Hannah Jackson, The Bowes Museum’s Fashion and Textile Curatorial Assistant, was awarded a grant of £60,000 to invest in a capsule wardrobe of French haute couture in homage to the Museum’s co-founder and Frenchwoman, Joséphine Bowes.

“We know that Joséphine was a collector, a patron of the arts, a society hostess, an actress, a painter and a devotee to fashion,” said Hannah. “She was among the many fashionable women who bought her clothes from Maison Worth on rue de la Paix Paris, aligning herself with figures such as the Empress Eugénie.

“From bills in the Museum archive, we know that in March 1869 Joséphine celebrated her fête-day by buying seven dresses from Worth, spending £234 (equivalent to around £11,000 in today’s money).

So far the New Collecting Award has enabled Hannah to travel to Paris and London for research purposes and to meet with her appointed mentor, Judith Clark, Professor at London College of Fashion. She visited archives in Paris, including the Palais Galliera and Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent, and also attended auctions in Paris and London.

As part of the project she attended a week long international training course at the V&A in London entitled Curating Fashion and Dress, which extended her network of professionals in the field and offered her an insight into the V&A’s approach and ethos of collecting and presenting dress.

“Looking toward the future, the course has created an international network of peers working in my field of expertise across the world, which is something we can utilise here at The Bowes Museum,” said Hannah.

Following her in-depth research she has now acquired her first piece of couture for the Museum collection, a midnight-blue fitted velvet evening jacket, created by the famous couturier Elsa Schiaparelli for her autumn/winter 1937-8 collection. The jacket is richly embroidered by Lesage, with gilt strip and cord, sequins, rhinestones and three large turquoise star shaped buttons. The jacket was purchased from Kerry Taylor’s Passion for Fashion Auction in London.

By May 2017, Hannah aims to have acquired a capsule collection of French haute couture which will reinforce the unique identity of The Bowes Museum’s fashion collection.

“Moving forward and beyond the project, our department aims to focus its collecting in a more French direction, in order to reflect the core history of the Museum and its co-founder Joséphine Bowes, whose life will be reflected in a forthcoming exhibition – Celebrating the Life and World of Joséphine Bowes: A Parisian Woman and her Legacy, The Bowes Museum - as we celebrate the Museum’s 125th anniversary,” she added.

Joanna Hashagen, Curator of Fashion and Textiles at The Bowes Museum, said: “I am delighted with Hannah’s choice - this is a very exciting new acquisition for our fashion collection.”

Joanna has recently contributed to a new publication on the presentation of dress in museums, Refashioning and Redress, Conserving and Displaying Dress edited by Mary M. Brooks and Dinah D. Eastop, published by Yale University Press, in which she discusses the complex, collaborative process that resulted in the new gallery at The Bowes. The book features the evening dress by Schiaparelli from The Bowes Museum collection, which is currently on show in the Fashion & Textile Gallery.

Many thanks to Sheila Dixon at the Bowes Museum for providing me with this press release and images.