Friday, 31 July 2009

Victim Portobello Road

How could I ignore Mei Hui Liu? I saw her today walking towards Portobello Market. I love the way Mei Hui has styled her outfit. The soft vintage florals of Mei Hui's customised dress are given a hard edge by adding a wide black belt at her waist, accessorised with an oversized tartan bag, argyle pattern tights and powder pink wedges. Oooh! those shoes are amazing!

Mei Hui has a talent for customising vintage pieces. Her label Victim began in 2000 with the use of a second hand sewing machine and a passion for vintage clothes and textiles. Mei's re-constructed one-off pieces were sold from her boutique Victim, Fashion Street in London's East End. Her journey continued with off-schedule shows during London Fashion Week, collaborations with the Institute of Contemporary Art, her label being stocked internationally and the opening of a new boutique in Marshall Street, just off London's Carnaby Street.

Victim's style is very dinstinctive and may not be to everyone's taste. However, you cannot deny that Mei Hui has a talent for injecting new life into previously unwanted vintage fabrics.

Victim Fashion Street. Autumn Winter 09 Collection.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

A Bright British Summer?

Is it just me? Or, is anyone else becoming a little bit bored with the (un) predictable grey skies and torrential down pours we're having in Blightly this summer. It's playing havoc with my sartorial decisions. July is a confusing enough time for fashion as it is: Magazines are showing the key trends and wardrobe 'must-haves' for Winter dressing. Designer's Autumn ranges are sneaking their way into the shops. Wait a minute! We haven't yet had chance to work out our summer wardrobes.

Yes, it is still summer so here's some inspiration to brighten an otherwise gloomy British summer's day:

Stella McCartney.
Image from
Stella McCartney.
Image from
Image from

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Innovation: Lalesso

Captivated by the beautiful patterns and vibrant colours of the 'khanga' or 'lesso' the traditional attire of Kenyan women, Olivia Kennaway and Alice Heusser launched their label Lalesso in Cape Town in 2005.

Lalesso's designs are fresh, modern and commercial. Inspired by Kenyan tradition.

Image from Lalesso website

Image from Lalesso website

It was important from the beginning for Lalesso to involve a socially responsible method of manufacturing. They opened their own workshop in Diani Beach, Kenya with two seamstresses. They now have a team of thirty tailors working with them. The local community are involved as much as possible with various projects such as unemployed 'beach boys' hand-carving buttons from deccaying coconuts and local nuns making crochet by hand. Lalesso work with an aim to boost the income and livelihoods of these individuals.

With a design talent and philosophy such as this, it comes as no surprise that Lalesso recently received the Innovation award from the Ethical Fashion Forum.

I wish Lalesso and everyone in their workshop a happy and successful future.

Innovation: MIA

With it's contemporary styling and innovative mix of fabrics you would be forgiven for thinking this was the latest range from a successful fashion retailer. This collection is by MIA, a fledgling ethical fashion label, that has won the Innovation award from the Ethical Fashion Forum.

Image from MIA website

The collections are designed using a combination of second hand clothes bought from local markets in Malawi, together with traditional Malawian textiles. Mia's inspiration came from seeing people on the streets of Malawi wearing western clothes mixed with traditional textiles. The result is a range that brings together an unexpected yet modern fusion of different cultures.

The collection is produced in Malawi with the aim to bring financial independence to local tailors, second hand clothes sellers and textile partners in Malawi.

As part of the award MIA will be showing at the PURE exhibition next month.

Images from MIA website

Friday, 17 July 2009

Vote To Put Junky Styling On The Run-Way

There are only 9 days remaining to cast your votes in British Airways 'Great Britons' competition. Annika Sanders and Kerry Seager the founders and creative force behind Junky Styling have been shortlisted for the award.

Designing and producing their collections in London's East End since the late Nineties, they have become the doyennes of what is now known as 'upcycling'. With their creativity and eye for detail, Junky Styling transform charity shop finds and surplus stock into stylish contemporary outfits.

They also hold a Wardrobe Surgery at their Brick Lane shop for anyone who has an old, much loved item of clothing that they would like to have de-constructed, re-styled and up-dated.

Take a look at their work and check out their website. If you think they are worthy of the award go to the below link to vote for Junky Styling.

To see what the award is all about click here: About
To vote for them now click here: Vote

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Upcycling With My Green Lipstick

The term upcycling is frequently being used in the world of ethical fashion. So what exactly does it mean? Upcycling is re-using materials and items to re-create something that improves the value of the original item. Upcycling retains elements of the original item. For example, transforming an old shirt into a fabulous dress is upcycling. Upcycling itself is not new. Designers including Reet Aus (shown below) have been doing this for years. Perhaps, now that it has been given a label it will create more awareness for consumers.

Reet Aus via

My Green Lipstick, the online ethical fashion store, have been busy upcycling to create limited -edition items for their own-label range. Vintage fabrics, buttons and buckles, vintage silk scarves and repurposed garments have been 'Lip-sticked' (received My Green Lipstick's unique re-style) to give them a new lease of life. The range also incorporates organic cotton and silk to create a collection of exclusive "ecologically sensitive" pieces.

The first items from the range will go on-line this week. I am sure all ethical fashionistas out there will be on-line before they can say Upcycle.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Who Said Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend?

Have I mentioned that I’m a bit of a hoarder? I have boxes and bowls, cases and caskets over-spilling with jewellery. This collection has accumulated over years of rummaging in markets, charity shops and independent boutiques on my travels, as well as treasured items given to me by my grandmothers.

I don’t own any diamonds or precious stones. I have never been the kind of woman who wiles away an afternoon staring longingly into the window’s of luxury jewellers, a la Holly Golightly.I would much rather wear an individual, vintage or hand-crafted piece

Recently, I came across the work of Kirsten Muenster, a jeweller based in San Francisco who creates beautiful pieces inspired by nature using recycled, vintage and sustainable materials.

“I am drawn to the rich diversity of colours and patterns in the stones I use. I love exploring rock formations, fossils, tree rings, fractals and nature’s simplicity expressed in it’s irregular lines and shapes”

Kirsten’s work incorporates vintage buttons, recycled copper fire brick, fossilized coral, sustainable nuts, recycled sterling silver and ethically sourced stones. The agates and jaspers that Kirsten uses are either found along lakeshores and riverbeds or purchased from small family owned mines.

Necklace incorporating repurposed vintage chains, vintage metal button, druzy quartz, recycled copper firebrick, drycreek jasper and recycled sterling silver.
Image courtesy of Kirsten Muenster via

Necklace incorporating fossilized dinosaur bone, vintage mother of pearl buckle, silver rutilated quartz and recycled sterling silver.
Image courtesy of Kirsten Muenster via

Cast silver rings. Recycled sterling silver.
Image courtesy of Kirsten Muenster via
Rings created with fossilized coral and recycled sterling silver.
Image courtesy of Kirsten Muenster via

Ring created using recycled copper firebrick and recycled sterling silver.
Image courtesy of Kirsten Muenster via

The website gives an insightful description of all of the materials that Kirsten uses. I found it fascinating. Kirsten’s work is ethical, beautiful and inspiring. Her design philosophy is an inspiration too:

“I believe it’s possible to have a beautifully designed piece of jewellery made with interesting materials whose cultivation does not fund corrupt organizations or promote unfair labour practices…I am always exploring more conscious and sustainable options for my jewellery materials”

I couldn't have put it better myself.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Clerkenwell Vintage

I did something quite out of character today. I spent a lovely warm Sunday indoors. My husband also did something very out of character. He spent an afternoon looking at vintage clothes. The reason for this? Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair. Somehow I managed to persuade my husband that it would be a wonderful way to spend our day. And it was.

The fair was held at The Old Sessions House, which is a beautiful Georgian building on Clerkenwell Green. With it's impressive entrance hall and domed ceiling the scene was set for vintage enthusiasts to flick through rails of clothes, accessories and textiles, which included exquisite collector's pieces from the late 18th century up to so-right-for-the-moment styles from the 1980's.

Big-band sounds from the 1940's played in the background whilst suitably attired couples danced amongst those browsing through the rails. The atmosphere was relaxed with an emphasis upon making the day an enjoyable experience. My husband took a break to indulge in the amazing cakes on sale at the cafe. If I'd been able to prise myself away from the clothes I would popped into the Lipstick and Curls parlour for a 1950's hair and beauty make-over.

One of my favorite stands belonged to Debbie and Simon. That's Debbie above...I was so inspired by her outfit. A stunning scarf print blouse worn belted with pegged trousers, her cloche hat to completing the look. This outfit is vintage but not old-fashioned. And, incredibly stylish.

Debbie and Simon's collection included women's and men's clothing and accessories from various eras. Debbie explained to me that she keeps her prices affordable because she wants to sell the clothes. The point isn't to make vintage fashion inaccessible. Debbie said she is beginning to see young teenagers coming to the fairs, which I find so promising in this era of fast throw-away fashion.

If you want to see Debbie and Simon's vintage collection, they will showing at the Ashley Hall Fair, on 6th September.

Vintage Fashion Fairs are for anyone who has a love for clothes and accessories. The beauty of buying vintage is that you will own something unique. Your purchase will have a sense of history to it. A story to tell. So much more interesting than buying mass-produced fashion.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Keep Your Feet On The Seats.

Above and Below are "London's unique environment conscious footwear and accessories brand". Their range of retro style high-top trainers show how resourseful and creative Above and Below have been in their use of commercial waste.

The printed textiles, which may be familiar to anyone who has travelled on London's bus and tube network, are restored upholstery fabrics from dis-used carriages. Recycled tyre rubber is used for the soles. The leather for the trim comes from a surplus of leather cheque book covers. (People don't use cheque books anymore so banks have a surplus stock of the covers).

I saw the range yesterday at the Kioskkiosk pop-up shop on London's South Bank - near City Hall. Above and Below will be there again on Friday 17th July. Go and check them out. For those who are not in London you can view the full range on their website and at Urban Remade.

Metropolitan Line

Piccadilly Line

Monday, 6 July 2009

Treasures of Athens

Mention Athens and I used to think of the Acropolis, busy traffic filled streets and ferries to the islands. So imagine how happy I was to find some wonderful little vintage/junk shops and studios in the Psiri area. Open until late at night, spilling out onto the pavement they are a delight for anyone who enjoys a good rummage.

Colour Inspiration from Greece

Brilliant white-washed stone walls and gleaming blue woodwork create the picture post-card image of the Greek Islands. But I loved the weather worn, faded blue of this door...such a key look for this season.

Bright red geraniums against green pine trees.

Is this bougainvillia? Anyway, the colour is amazing!

Not sure what these flowers are but what a fantastic colour.

Ahhh! I know what this is. Rose wine. Perfect colour to be sipped by the breathtaking waters of the Aegean.