(Where did the diary go?
Let's just say sometimes life gets in the way.)
Where am I right now? Well six gowns from my collection including two new designs are showing from now until 12th July in the Catwalk in Bloom marquee at the
RHS Flower Show ~ Hampton Court.
When the lovely Marcia, David Domoney's stylist approached me to show my work at Hampton Court I was in the throws of transforming my garden from boring with zero flowers to something that looks pretty great if I say so myself. I could have, of course, just shown what I had but I was really inspired by the idea of combining flora & couture & I really fancied the concept of creating a couple of designs that would reflect their surroundings & echo a garden in bloom - fresh, playful & Summery with less of a period feel. The two new designs I came up with are Daysy designed for & inspired by the flower show & my own 'project garden' at home & the flirty Coquette which took inspiration from the very regal Hampton Court Palace & the sumptuous layers & subtle blends of colour found in nature.
Above: Original sketches.
For weeks I have been planning & working through things in my head. Auditioning silk swatches including pink silks for a pale but non-peach toned shade (mission impossible), Editing the designs- improving & refining, drafting patterns, cutting & stitching. Layering taffeta & tulle swatches to create & select a sumptuous colour effect for Coquette. Experimenting with making daisies from little ones to daisies the size of dinner plates & problem solving all the complications that incurs - they need to be realistic, have enough body but not be too stiff, capable of surviving 30+ shows, how do you make them hold their shape? Etc. etc.
I had fun dip dyeing cord to my desired shade of soft green to create daisy stems & a matching corset lace & my test strips of the gold lace fabric used for Coquette ran in to double figures when I was working on mixing the perfect dye to hand tint the lace so it blended beautifully with the design's triple toned, layered skirt. Coquette is probably an apt name given that the gold lace & the tulles were purchased from France.
I love my new designs, Coquette has evolved from what was originally going to be a straight forward gold lace over sugar pink silk gown into a very regal pink princess in fabrics that have richness, depth & life & serve up sumptuous shades of lilac/pinks punctuated with a frivolous lime green bow & cream pearl drop. As I was making it I could imagine all those other amazing colour combinations like silver lace combined with soft blues.
Equally Daysy was very nearly lemon yellow satin with ivory daisies & pale yellow centres & it would have looked great but other options for variations on this design would be pale pink & powder blue. Nature can offer us up many colour palettes & the purpose of Catwalk In Bloom was to celebrate the links between fashion & nature whether it be through use of floral patterns, fabrics produced from cotton, bamboo, etc. or fashion inspired by nature's colour palette. As David Domoney pointed out in his introduction to the show in the Bible Adam & Eve wore fig leaves as clothing, so the relationship between fashion & plants is a very long one. Daisies & related species come in whites, yellows, pinks, blues, mauves, even green shades & then of course brighter options are brought to the table by Gerberas.
For RHS Hampton Court, Damsel has been given a Tudor makeover by sending her down the catwalk with a new skirt design & showing along side them are Ice Queen, After Dark & Earth Angel.
Images of the new designs, descriptions, etc. will appear in the Gowns section in the next week or so. Until then here are the catwalk shots, press etc.
As for the show, there are loads of gorgeous plants to buy, so far I've re-homed a tree fern & a shredded looking daisy & have my eye on a tree poppy, delphinums & allium bulbs. Check out the gorgeous alliums (right).
This display belonged to Warmenhoven, you can buy a wide variety of their bulbs here: http://www.warmenhoven.co.uk/
July 12th 2009 ~
Feedback from the show is that everyone from the little ones to the 30 somethings loves 'The Pink Dress' which is now back home in the showroom.
I took these photographs at the end of the last show today, I thought this was very cute:
And here's a video of the collection on the catwalk, the lady who wore dress no.6 was not there all the days, so only 5 in this video:
In order: Daysy, Earth Angel, Coquette, Damsel & Ice Queen. They were all modified to have zips in them for the quick changes but the loops are all there & on the new ones too so they can still be laced as they should.
Crowns in order: Ever After, Hampton Court (new), Medieval Fleur & Fauna.
And my garden?
Full of poppies, foxgloves, evening primroses, sweet peas, lavender, hydrenges, daisys, delphineums, pansies, violas, lupins, primroses, cosmos, geums - lots of pink, lots of yellow (we are all infuenced by our surroundings) mauves & blues, purples, a bit of red but no orange allowed. Orange when it appears unexpectedly like a pansy for example is uprooted & rehomed in my Mum's garden. I grow lots in pots which works out well for me because I can rearrange, turn pots to just the right angle & move things to fill gaps when things go over, etc. I am trying to control nature, TRYING but occasionly it sneaks one past me, like my all white lobellia showing spatterings of blue. Pet peeve, red next to white, white next to blue, orange next to mauve, I will work with these kind of combinations if clients want me to but not in my garden & I don't care what nature says :)
July 16th 2009 ~
My new Hampton Court Crown design which is £170 + P&P: