How to Remain a Stylish Woman – Part 1

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We thought we should write this as a series of blog entries only because we’d found that there were several points which we all agreed upon and which we’d also found echoed in others views, both in person and online.

Wear What You Feel Good In

I know – I know, but how many times have we to re-discover this statement of the simply obvious.

After a while you get to know what your body shape is and what works for that shape. If there is any key point, then this one must be it.   And one of the ways we know whether or not something suits our body shape is that it will often feel uncomfortable when it doesn’t.  The other side of that coin is that if you’re comfortable then you’ll be relaxed and being relaxed means that you’ll be wearing your clothes well. Havn’t we all had that experience where we’ve worried that we’ve made the wrong choice and that make us uncomfortable, and before we know it the clothes are wearing us and not us wearing them!

By the way this is also one of the few exceptions to the fashion rule about shoes…you know the one..If the shoe fits, it’s ugly.

“Audrey’s” Wedding Dress

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We’ve finally completed a long held desire.   We’ve always loved the simple elegance of Audrey Hepburn’s black dress last seen in Tiffanys’ windows and always thought that we could translate that stylish statement into an equally elegant wedding dress.  Our thinking was that it would be a very different statement to the, sometimes overblown, versions that one now sees.  So we created what you see below.  In case there was any thought that we’d lost our sense of the dramatic, however, we also matched it with an equally elegant (but no less eye-catching) cloak.  In the pictures below our model Jen BrookVI May Shoot -1023 copy VI May Shoot -1057 copyVI May Shoot -1017 copy

wears it with a delicate choker that picks up the colours of both the dress and the cloak.

Stella!…..Stella!?

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“I got an acquaintance……”, “In the state of Louisiana we have the Napoleonic code….” Stanley Kowalski asserts his dominance over his household. In this version he’s an ever present demand and Tom Foster is effortless in allowing Kowalski’s untrammeled vicious child to roam throughot the play. What makes him worse than the brooding menace that was Brando is that while Brando’s Kowalski was at odds with his lot Tom Foster’s is comfortable. “I’m born and raised in the greatest country on this earth and I’m proud of it” and you feel that Stanley really believes it. Whatismore, this Kowalski has friends who wouldn’t do that much to challenge him. It’s only when he viciously assaults Stella in front of them that he steps over the moral line that wavers through this part of Williams’s New Orleans. You’ll note I’ve not been able to call him Stanley. That’s because to do so would humanise him into something acceptable – and what he does to Stella, let alone the disintegrating Blanche, doesn’t justify that. Such is the quality of Tom Foster’s performance, however, is that Kowalski never is allowed to be a caricature and never does he do anything that makes him appear outside your imagination or anticipation – you’d reckon you might know one of these. What he does do is to help create a very strong side for the central triangle of Blanche, Stella and himself. This Stella, played by Vanessa Kirby, is also more than a foil for her sister and you get a real feeling for her animal hunger for the Kowalski.

This is a play which could fall easily into patische. Hot, steamy, dysfunctional, did it create the cliche for a certain sort of Southern drama? The fact that it’s three and a half hours and with such a short distance to disaster in which to travel puts a great strain on the cast and the director not to get us to the obvious conclusion too soon and to prevent us looking at our watch. I did once do that, look at my watch, but only to register my surprise that we’d reached the break in what seemed only 20 min. Certainly the acting managed to inch us towards the conclusion rather than rush us, and the setting, with a slowly revolving rectangular set, helped alleviate the feeling of claustrophobia that could otherwise beset and then irritate in a long and intense play.

Nevertheless, almost reluctantly, I have to come to Gillian Anderson’s Blanche. Having seen her as a magnificent and brave Nora in the Dolls House we were intrigued to see how she’d make this role her own, but she was something special here. Moving the play to a more modern date has given her the chance to be less obvious in showing the structural weakness of Blanche, though it’s also fair to say that this makes her promiscuity less of a shock than it would have been when the play was first performed it even allows her an aura initially of tartness and worldliness.
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Her journey from this to a woman afraid to travel no further than to the next bottle or to try to take refuge the inside of a disintegrating mind is a painful one. You followed her in this journey, and it is heartrending. The doomed courtship between her and the equally sad Mitch is desperate and when he (with a reluctance you feel) rejects her with the line “No, I don’t think I want to marry you anymore… No, you’re not clean enough to bring into the house with my mother.” you feel both their despairs at this loss.
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Other than that it was a fun evening!

We’d got standing tickets only, but I arrived before 5 pm to take part in a lottery – a number of pairs and singleton tickets were going to be drawn from a tombola for the lucky few. Having gone off for coffee until the time for the draw I was first both shocked and disappointed to see there must have been a good 80 plus waiting in the foyer of the Young Vic and spilling onto the street. The first lucky winner though was greeted by both a whoop and applause from us all – a tone that continued until the curtain. Not being lucky in the lottery I found the returns queue which was buzzing as all chatted about the play and our experiences and how many tickets there might be from returns. Slowly the queue melted. We were now first, but there was only 15 minutes to the curtain – surely no-one returns tickets this late? You guessed – and they were front row! The man sitting next to us, who we saw returning the tickets and whom we thanked explained that he’d had a ‘moment’ and had booked twice for the show. Not only that but he’d found out that he’d managed to do the same for the Fringe (Edinburgh) where he and his wife were travelling to the next week.

How…Sew!?

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As you know, our interest lies in vintage inspired dresses and classic designs. These often require certain skills and a broader base of understanding than some other fashion areas. So when we were approached for internships when we exhibited at London Fashion Week in February, it got us thinking. We are always on the lookout for fresh talent so it seemed natural for us to approach one of our local colleges to see if we might set up some form of arrangement with them. We had in mind offering the design and fashion students the opportunity of work experience and even eventually internships. We could, after all, involve them in the early stages of clothes or hat design, get them to develop their abilities in creating a pattern, making a toile and finding out about the considerations that are required to take a design from the toile stage into production. We got an excellent response from the Vice Principal, but a very different one from the tutors. We were so disappointed when they seems satisfied with the show they put on at the end of the year and had no enthusiasm either for our ideas or even when we asked if there were other things we might usefully offer to their pupils.

Now we have a prejudice; to get anything done (more so with clothing) you need enthusiasm or passion. So, bearing that in mind, we won’t be giving up this idea just yet.

Oh, and if you live in Hertfordshire and think you might know someone in your area with an interest, then do get in touch.