Sunday, 16 March 2014

Artist Textiles

Last weekend I spent a lovely couple of hours taking in the Artists Textiles exhibition at the Fashion and Textiles Museum. Although the museum is pretty small I was surprised at just how much they managed to squeeze in to the space. Starting with the 1920s and 30s there's a collection of scarves, skirts and prints by the likes of Duncan Grant (above, right). 

As you move through each room you are greeted with an array of beautiful textiles, all arranged chronologically. I particularly liked the printed scarves above. Although not clearly visible in my iPhone snaps (new camera coming soon - yes!), each print is cleverly constructed. It's only when you step forward to take a closer look that you notice all the intricate details that these artists have included: women with hats made of vegetables; couples playing tennis or the Surreal perspectives of Salvador Dali. How the curators managed to collect so many famous pieces by such incredible artists I'll never know!

The exhibition also includes some amazing clothes. Above are a collection of dresses by Horrockes from the 40s and 50s which are just lovely to look at - the colours make me so happy! And the dress below is Paris themed and has a beautiful 'Je t'aime' print all over it. I never knew that so many artists such as Andy Warhol and Picasso allowed their prints to be used in fashion collections. I tend to think of fashion collaborations as a very modern thing but and never realised that all these fantastic pieces existed emblazoned with graphic prints. It brings a whole new meaning to the idea wearing a work of art.

One of my favourite pieces is this gorgeous Zandra Rhodes dress complete with lips and lipsticks, and of course, an amazing 70's collar. I would happily wear this every day of the week.
There were so many amazing pieces, I just spent the whole time going "Wow this is amazing!" and would happily go back again to have another look. Also the Bermondsey areas surrounding the museum is pretty lovely place to wander around and walk along by the river.

Artist Textiles continues until May so there's still time to take in all these colourful patterns and prints.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Fashion and Gardens

Last week I ventured over to Lambeth to visit the Fashion & Gardens exhibition at The Garden Museum. 

I'd heard a little about this new exhibition via the Vogue website and I'm so glad I made the trek over there. The museum itself is a disused church and is right next to Lambeth Palace, across the river from Westminster. It's a beautiful building with a small garden outside and hundreds of dried flowers hanging down from the ceiling. There is a permanent exhibition about the history of gardening as well as a lovely cafe and shop but of course the real reason for going was the fashion!

Curated by Nicola Shulman (sister of Vogue editor Alexandra to you and I) the exhibition comprised of just one room but was beautifully done. As flowers and clothes so commonly go together it could have easily been quite a predictable collection but the whole project was done in such a fascinating way.

Beginning with pieces as early as the 1500s, there were tapestries, embroidered gloves and botanical illustrations, all showing the way gardening has influence clothes. The regimented layouts of 18th century gardens inspired intricate borders on sleeves and cuffs and the invention of the colour wheel and new dye colours such as indigo allowed for a whole new array of beautifully coloured fabrics.

The exhibition also covered the more recent trends for garden-inspired garments including outfits by Vivienne Westwood (coupled with some gorgeous shoes) and an other-worldy anemone shaped dress by Alexander McQueen. Below are some (very poor quality) phone snaps I managed to take on the day, but I'd really recommend heading over there yourself if you get the chance. There is also a limited book of the exhibition which is lovely accompaniment. 

Have a great weekend! Xx


Saturday, 8 February 2014

January Reads

Hello! So it may already be the 8th of February but I though I'd share with you some of the books I read and enjoyed over January. As I write this, it is chucking it down outside with rain and hail and allsorts so it doesn't quite feel like spring yet, but hopefully it will be on it's way soon!

I started off the year by reading "The Examined Life" by Stephen Grosz. Grosz is a psychoanalyst, and in every chapter of the book recounts real stories from the people he has worked with. Some of the stories are difficult to read as they deal with people who have suffered with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts but I don't feel that this book sets out to shock. What Grosz does is show just how complex people are and I found a new respect for those who set out to help others deal with their problems. I'm hoping to read more nonfiction this year -watch this space!

Ever since watching Sophia Coppola's "The Virgin Suicides" I have been wanting to read the book which inspired the film. Written by Jeffrey Eugenides, the book tells the story of the Lisbon sisters, teenage girls who all live under the same roof but are confined by the strict rule of their mother who restricts their every movement. The book is written from the perspective of a group of boys who develop an infatuation with these girls. Although the story is more or less the same when adapted into film, I found the book so be so much more powerful. It is written in such an evocative way, really capturing the yearnings of teenagers but also creating that image of stifling suburban America. It really is beautifully written and might just be one of my new favourite books.

During January, I also got really into fashion books. Fashion and literature are two of my greatest loves so when both come together in book form it makes me a very happy lady! "The Literary Companion to Fashion" by Colin McDowell isn't new by any means. I bought it second-hand online and it was actually published in 1995 - almost 20 years ago!. Whilst the pages may be yellowed, I absolutely love it and the whole idea of it. Whenever I read a novel I do find myself noticing all the little snippets where a character's clothing is mentioned, be it the dresses and ribbons of Austen or the twenties dress of Woolf. And this is basically what the "Companion" sets out to do: it is a collection of excepts from books where fashion plays a part or gets a mention. From "The Thrills of Undressing" to "Shopping" and "Weddings", Colin covers it all, with quotations from the Brontes to Dickens to James Joyce, Evelyn Waugh and Colette. I've really enjoyed flicking through this and finding little quirks and anecdotes that I'd forgotten. The only thing I would say is that this is purely a book of quotations - it would have been nice to have a little prose to summarise but other than that its a really nice resource to have and I'm very glad I stumbled across it.

Finally, I'd been eyeing up this Vivienne Westwood book in Waterstones post-Christmas and my mum kindly bought it for me as a gift. I'm a little bit in love with the cover! Back when I was 18/19 I used to take dressmaking classes and was always leafing through this one in the studio. The book has some gorgeous images - many that I'd never seen before- from the 1970s to noughties. A lovely book to get inspiration from - thanks Mum!

Whilst I didn't get round to reading too much in January I'm hoping to step it up a notch in Feb. I'm currently reading "How to be a Heroine" by Samantha Ellis so I'll let you know how it goes. I hope you're all having a lovely February. Let me know what you're reading!


Monday, 30 December 2013

Book Review: Love, Nina

I was given this book for Christmas and have been reading it every day this week. Sadly, I finished it today and it's one of those books that you wish was just a little bit longer. 

'Love, Nina' is a collection of letters written by Nina Stibbe, a twenty-something nanny, to her sister Vic. 

Subtitled 'Despatches from Family Life' Nina recounts everyday happenings in the family home, painting a picture of London in the 1980s. But this is no ordinary family. The mother MK works at the London Review of Books and Alan Bennett often pops over for tea. 

What's lovely about this book is that it's so unpretentious. Nina is witty, fun and down-to-earth and her letters read like a phone conversation with your best friend. From private jokes with the two boys Will and Sam and overheard dinner party conversations to problems with the cooking and laundry, even the mundane domestic chores seem like an adventure. 

Whilst nannying, Nina also studied English and her conversations about seminars, tutors and certain authors will definitely ring true if you're an English student.

Nina's observations are so honest and funny I couldn't help laughing out loud. The letters themselves are chatty and a breeze to read. I'm a bit annoyed at myself for already posting my top books of 2013 as this would probably have made the list!

Also, the physical book itself is a beautiful! Below is a picture of the lovely purple hardback underneath the cover jacket.

Happy New Year for tomorrow - here's to a wonderful 2014. 
Thanks for reading xx