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15 August 2006 ~

I am finally finding time to drop an entry or two into the August Diary.

August is a popular month for weddings & this month I had two Brides get married which is nothing compared to next year which I believe already has four August commissions booked in - they will be made up, approximately one a month from Spring '07.

This August Caroline tied the knot on the 12th at Coombe House in Devon, Kirsty on the 5th in Northumberland.

I was present at Caroline's, booked for my styling services & we did a very dramatic Elizabeth Taylor eye make-up that made an already beautiful Caroline look incredible. Caroline was, like most of my clients, pretty laid back on the morning of her wedding even forgetting for a second what I was making her up for! Where was she going? I joked that it was a good job her ceremony didn't have a line in it asking if she be of 'sound mind' because I might have to question that.

So there we were getting her ready for your 'average night out' when her Mother Christine arrived to tell her the bouquet had arrived & was, well................ not quite what she'd asked for.


It was a look but apparently not the look. The requirement was for something three times the size that tumbled down in a shower of white tulips & greenery. This was like a flower arrangement in a deep fabric vase with a bushy tail of leaves sticking out the bottom, you would (I guess) carry it like a posy & it came with it's own tickling stick!

The Bride calmly made the call & was, what a surprise, told that was what she ordered & that was that. I had already told her that if we couldn't get it redone I'd raid the garden for greenery & rework it & that's what we had to do. Dad was dispatched to the local florist in search of long greenery - ivy, etc. & florists wire & more tulips if he could get them. I hit the garden for greenery & white flowers & though we had no more tulips, I did muster up something that hit the mark over the forty minutes we had to wait for the car to come back from it's first run to Coombe House. The florist did call back & insist on replacing the bouquet with a second attempt, which she left with the awaiting horse & carriage at the entrance to the estate (a better but very ordinary bouquet) but Caroline went with mine & got to carry a bouquet that included flowers from her Mothers garden. She remained extemely calm! It made for an exiting morning & we almost forgot the veil, which was almost left hanging from the dinning room curtain pole!

The rest of the day, from what I can tell, went smoothly & it was a very beautiful wedding & yay, Caroline is photogenic too, so I got some lovely photos:

Kirsty is on honeymoon. Her dress was very different. For a start it was white as opposed to ivory & it was also very classic, a great shape but simple - crepe flared skirt going into a train & off the shoulder corset with detailing that included swirls of silver, hand embellished lace & an embroidered bird motif on her left shoulder. I am looking forward to seeing the photos.



Devon Wedding Venues.


Coombe House was gorgeous & for Devon bound brides it's well worth taking a look at the web site.


Returning from Devon (I am beginning to feel like Billy Conelly on my own World Tour of Britain) I stopped off for the night in Glastonbury & stayed at the George & Pilgrims Hotel on the High Street - well worth a look to anyone wanting to get married in an unusual venue. This 15C Coaching Inn has just been refurbished & it has a very old world & mystical decor that is carried on upstairs in the decor of the bedrooms, which are also named. I stayed in the 'Confessional', other rooms like the Henry VIII room have four poster beds & the hotel has an interesting mix of the old original features (beams & an original floor of what was originally part of the cattle market, etc.) & trompe l'oeil arches, reproductions of Waterhouse painted straight onto the walls, etc. A room in the extension upstairs is licensed for weddings & will seat around 60 & the management (Reception is situated in what looks part of a row of old fashioned shops) are very nice. Currently the George & Pilgrims do not have a website but hopefully when the refurb is complete they'll sort that out.



16 August 2006 ~

July / August Celebrity Weddings - the Good, the Bad & the Ugly.

I have been itching to talk about these!

Angela Griffiths & Avril Lavine what were you girls thinking?

The Ugly  : My gripe with Angela Griffiths is that her dress cost money (it was an Ellie Saab , the designer that made Halle Berry's red Oscar dress) but unlike Halle's this one was probably from the off the peg range sold in a London bridal store & did not fit. I saw Angela two years ago this November at the Designer Wedding Show in London & handed her my card. I could have made her look great & there were alot more dresses at that show, more attractive & flattering than the dress she chose. When will women finally understand that gathers across one's tummy just emphasises your tummy (everyone knows the rule about wearing horizontal stripes don't they?); a shapeless, ill fitting bust line will do nothing for you & A-Lines in crumpled fabrics are an unattractive shape & look like you slept in them! Her dress hung off her & covered up any good shaping she had! In OK we were treated to the pic that showed off her tummy & another that featured a bad bust shot. Maybe she wanted comfort over style but there are a great number of designs that could have achieved that better. I give it a miserable 2/10

The Bad: As to 21 year old Avril, she looked like a perfectly nice, pretty bride but a bride most people will have had to look at twice when they read the cover line announcing it was Avril Lavigne on their magazines! Why is the elfin Rock Chick wearing a Vera Wang dress that again features unflattering breaks across the body e.g. a gathered section around the waist & seems to have taken it's inspiration from a Doily? I find it really hard to believe a beautiful girl with such a strong look goes for the white, safe Vera Wang number that does nothing to flatter her delicate frame & angelic face. Floaty I could imagine, vampy or vintage I could imagine. There is no arguments here that the singer looked lovely but I find it hard to believe that this was the dress of her dreams & the dress that fitted her personality. A disappointing 3/10


The Good: Finally we have the £100,000 Cavalli chosen by 23 year old Cheryl Tweedy  for her wedding to Ashley Cole. This is the best celebrity wedding dress I have seen in ages. It's a Cavalli so that's a good start & I would give this one an 8/10. She does look stunning (hair & make-up so elegant), I approve of the cleavage (of course I do) & even sort of like the duchess satin, though it is still wrinkling a little (Mrs Beckham's Wang wrinkled a lot). The let down for me is that the neckline of the dress is sitting too low - there's too much on display, it's gone past ladylike or sexy & is heading towards trashville. This was also a dress that required an ultra flat stomach (satin in unforgiving) & didn't get it.


W hen Caroline got married on Saturday she looked fresh, beautiful, sexy & elegant. Her dress fitted like a second skin & the dress suited her flirty, girly personality so well. When we walked out o her car after pick up, she stood there beaming, bouncing up & down & then skipped across the car park & I find it so hard to understand why Celebrities, armed with their stylists, generous budgets, choice of any designer on the planet & wealth of knowledge about how to look their best gleamed from the showbiz industry they work in, time & again end up in dresses that don't fit, don't flatter & are far from special.


25 August 2006 ~

Fashion Babylon

Love it Darling!

I picked this up in WH Smith the other weekend on the way to Devon after reading the review in one of my glossies. This is great. It shares my view of some aspects of the fashion industry, things I've heard over the years, eerily familiar, other bits I'd never imagined! Models infecting other girls with nasties they left in the gussets of $60,000 couture creations, designers sending vintage pieces, by other designers, picked up in Portobello Market  down the catwalk with their labels sewn in, fashion gossip about real members of the fashion industry...................... It explains 'seeding' - giving celebrities freebies, 'cabbage' - the 10% of fabrics left over that factories make up & sell on to markets in Milan & Florence where the excess of runs on handbags, etc. are sold next to the cabbages. Ahh! I hear you say.

The gossip is delicious, a world away from what I do (thank god!!!) & I do get irritated reading about designers cruising vintage shops & other designer's collections for 'inspiration', needing stylists to guide them in the designing process, never designing the backs because they're boring or designing dresses that you can't design a back for because they don't work..........

I am always bemused when you hear this because I find it hard to attach the word 'designer' to people that seem to need other people to do their job. For instance I have been told a designer, who I admire, came out of St Martins not being able to thread a sewing machine. St Martins students, unlike the rest of fashion students in UK institutions who cut their own patterns & make their own collections - unless you're a useless / cocky boy the old cows in the sewing room mother, in which case your mother hen will make your collection for you, St Martins students have seamstresses engaged by the University to make their collections for them. All you have to do is drop off a sketch of the front of your deign & your fabric & sit back & let the practical talent get on with it. Once you've sent you collection down the catwalk, in theory you bask in the glory of being the latest St Martin's student to be hailed by the press as the next big thing. It appears no one cares that they can't physically make what they sell, as long as they walk the walk & talk the talk. When I was at college we were told not to bother going after a place at St. Martins because more importance seemed to be attached to how you look - the weirder the better. I seem to remember you needed to write an audition piece about yourself, name dropping obscure bands, etc. & I was very normal.  I knew someone who won a place, she looked the part but her designs were dull as dishwater - a dab hand at designing 'work wear' & OMG how dull is that? Who wants to excel at uniform design? Oooh, just 'Googled' her & got a hit on a 'wardrobe assistant' on a recent Beeb series (I'm always disappointed when you think 'I wonder what happened to...' & you come up with zip or as good as zip on Google), maybe she didn't go to St Martins in the end or maybe the only way to come out of there as a star pupil is to be of the opposite gender? Certainly the only female St. Martins student I can name off the top of my head is Stella & I've always maintained the surname & famous friends have taken her places she'd never have got on her own.

Anyway, I digress but the book, I can't put it down - it's like engaging in gossip with a colleague when you're tongue has been sufficiently loosened by alcohol ;) The other day a bout of similar gossip revealed sometimes the mags have to get models drunk to get the goods - due, I surmise, to not enough gorgeous girls, with brains & personality on agent's books. Blank canvases, painfully thin & not necessarily either photogenic, attractive or in proportion are & have been the order of the day for a very long time when agents pounce on girls in Top Shop's flagship store on Oxford St. Models with personalities & strong looks are called 'Commercial' & there are agencies especially for that type & not many. Commercial is not something a model wants to be & it seems no one on shoots wants to hear what a model 'thinks', this is 'attitude' but I'd rather have a beauty with brains who can do my work justice than a vacant bimbo. The gorgeous Lily Cole is off to study at Cambridge & good for her - that's what makes a model great, something going on behind the eyes & in her head!

Oh & BTW, the book has 40% off if you get it off Amazon right now & if fashion is your passion, you will love it too. I will be sad when I finish it but hopefully, by then Chantelle & Preston's wedding pics will be at a newsagent near us all & I am positively giddy with anticipation to see what Liz Emanuel managed to do with the very St Tropez'd & classy Chantelle! What a head spinning, stick your credibility & reputation on the line, challenge! What will the motley crew of 'Z' list celebs be wearing, will there be a tiara to challenge Jordon's! I'd guess the dress will be big & romantic but will the neck up meet the neck down, will too many stylists have spoiled the, er, broth..... Will Chantelle surpass the gorgeousness that was Diana in her Emanuelle ensemble?  From Royalty to Big Brother celebrity, what a difference 25 years makes & as an aside, you can see a re-run of that frock shock on the BBC's website for those of us that haven't seen it for years or are too young (ye gods, I feel old!) to have seen it swagger down the carpet of St Pauls the first time:

And a note to wannabe models, according to Fashion Babylon the agents take it turns at weekends to haunt Top Shop on Oxford St & during half terms, etc. so to be discovered you have to make a bee line for London with preferably your uglier mates so you will be more easily spotable ;) Though on the 'spot' front, it is preferable not to have them because the drugs they can give you to clear them up, are apparently, not good!

Look at me, I'm turning in to the Encyclopedia Britannica! And there I will leave you. I have to hit the shower & then sleep - 3 days of 2007 consultations, starting tomorrow.


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28 August 2006 ~

TV fixes for Fashion Junkies.

Fashion on the box? Currently we have Project Runway, Britains Next Top Model (no America's N.T.M granted), The Cut,  Style Me with Rachel Hunter & the Documentary 'The Curse of Diana's Dresses'. I'll definitly be Sky Plus(ing) these:

Project Runway (SKY ONE: Sundays @ 5pm, repeated the following Saturday @ 5pm)

'The Curse of Diana's Dresses' (LIVING TV: Wednesday 30th @ 9pm.)


The others:

Britains next Top Model LIVING TV, Mondays 9pm.

The Cut LIVING TV, Sundays 7pm.

Style Me with Rachel Hunter LIVING TV, Saturdays 7pm.


29 August 2006 ~

Celebrity Weddings part 2 - the Pregnant?

Well, what a surprise, Chantelle & Preston's wedding wasn't bulging with celebs & there wasn't a tiara to rival Jordanís, in fact there was no tiara, no veil & the blonde extensions had been replaced with brown. The lack of celebs will have been reflected in the fee. O.K reportedly paid £300,000, as opposed to the cool million Cheryl Tweedy & Ashley Cole got.

Chantelle scrubbed up quite well, she looks like a lady & the dress was a perfectly nice, understated creation. The biggest surprise however was that despite it being made by Elizabeth Emanuel, it didn't seem to fit or to be more specific perhaps it did fit but the criteria may have been a little different from that which most brides would give their designers. For, in my eyes, this dress appears to have been built to disguise a bump.

In stark contrast to her Bridesmaid's red Emanuel gown which seemed a very good fit, Chantelle's dress did not seem to nip in at her waist despite almost certainly having a built in boned bodice & did not, as O.K claimed, accentuate her curves & tiny waist:

"the tightly-laced bodice and bias cut skirt were designed to cling to her enviable curves and accentuate her tiny waist".

Well for a start, like many women, Chantelle is quite thick around her middle & hello? This 'bias cut skirt' isn't clinging to any curves, it's not cut to - did the person who wrote the article see the pictures? But back to my point regarding the bump. This dress is cut very generously around her torso & rather than shape a waist, actually hangs away from it both at the front & back. The thickness of duchess satin which would be six or more thicknesses in many places on the bodice adds further bulk but all that bulky pleating & draping might have been worked into the dress design to bury any glimpse of a bump under a good, controlling foundation garment & waves of fabric swathed over the front to trick the eye.

Personally I don't like it. I like strong silhouettes & this is very wish washy, in fact 'wishy washy' sums it up very well, though the skirt shows Duchess off for it's best qualities, it does look great ballooned, gathered & draped. I'm sure Elizabeth Emanuel was glad to see the straw like extensions bite the dust but as to whether this high profile commission brings her the business she would desire, the jury is out. In the 21 Century image is everything & as it says in 'Fashion Babylon' the wrong celebrity can kill the popularity of a product dead over night & look at the trouble Burberry's image is in over it's connections with Chavs.

















As you will see from the sketches above, the top set are the bases I drew the basic design on to.

The middle row shows a flattering, fitted version.

The bottom row reflects how Chantelle's dress fitted. As you can see, there's an awful lot of room in there.


So to answer my questions:

"What will the motley crew of 'Z' list celebs be wearing?"

Ans: No celebs!

 "Will there be a tiara to challenge Jordon's?"

Ans: No tiara, no veil, in fact she has got that 'I rolled out of bed & stuck this dress on' vibe going on.

"I'd guess the dress will be big & romantic but will the neck up meet the neck down?"

Ans: Guessed right & after a radical colour overhall, not bad, though the head is a bit  underdressed.

"Will too many stylists have spoiled the, er, broth..... ?"

Ans: There doesn't seem to have been a Stylist & she could have done with one to create a complete look.

Will Chantelle surpass the gorgeousness that was Diana in her Emanuel ensemble?

Well yes, though that wasn't hard.

I will be very surprised if Chantelle doesn't give birth in the next four or five months because if this dress wasn't trying to hide a bump then its a highly unflattering design & that would really surprise me of this fellow designer. Personally I think there would have been better ways of flattering & disguising a bump than swaddling it in satin (shiny is not a bigger girl's friend) & indeed I've had a bride that was five months pregnant when she got married so I have been there, done that.

Suffice to say, if I was Chantelle last Friday & I wasn't pregnant, I'd have whipped the Bridesmaidís dress from her back & gone down the aisle in red, rather than go with the shiny swaddling.


Personally, if she is pregnant, I don't see why they'd need to keep it secret but with something like this, what I can say for certain is, time will tell.

The sketches also demonstrate very well the difference the fit of a dress makes to any girl wanting to make the best of their figures.


2006: Entires for MAY  .  JUNE  .  JULY  . AUGUST  .  SEPTEMBER   .  OCTOBER   .  NOVEMBER   .  DECEMBER