Wednesday 28 May 2014

Chic in the attic

During the recent and truly welcome long weekend away at my parents' house, I found a few 'ladies' hidden treasures' lurking on the dressing table of my old bedroom - a collection of five miniature vintage perfumes bequeathed to me by my parents when I was a young child and played with Barbie dolls, or some such. Honestly, I don't recall exactly what their uses were but I do remember being fascinated by them, to the point of fighting over them with my sister copious times, which is really as much of a coup as small childhood novelties can achieve!

I decided to take a closer look at the trinkets I fawned over whilst playing 'shops' and a session of cursory internet research told me all I needed to know - it was a veritable vintage tour de force!

Scents of place

Balenciaga Cialenga

Year: 1973

Created by: Jacques Jantzen

Mood: Aloof, witty and sophisticated. It's from the chypre family and sports a  distinctive balance of green, spice and wood with a dry, acrid sophistication.


Top: citrus, black currant,green notes

Heart: iris, jasmine, ylang-ylang, clove, tincture of rose and lily

Base: Vetiver, sandalwood, patchouli, oakmoss and Virginia cedar.

Think: The wit, sophistication and shady past of an icy Hitchcockian heroine.

Emilio Pucci Vivara

Year: 1967

Designed by: Pochet and Courval

Mood: We have another chypre here - specifically classic chypre - with a dense, dusty, powerful scent, like many from the decade.

Notes: cypress, iris, peppers and labdanum.

Gres Cabochard

Year: 1959

Created by: Bernard Chant

Mood: Just to give you an idea, 'cabochard' is French for 'headstrong' or 'stubborn,' so while you can expect no whiff of a wilting, shrinking violet from this one, there's no compromise on feminine elegance. This one's also a chypre (you might be starting to see a pattern emerging!) so, although bold by nature, the demure sophistication still remains intact.


Top: Aldehydes, citrus, fruit and spice accents

Heart: Jasmine, rose, geranium, ylang-ylang, orris

Base: Patchouli, amber, vetiver, castoreum, moss, musk

Think: A 'lady of the night' with sweet floral notes beneath a demure smoky veil.

Pierre Cardin Paradoxe

Year: 1983

Designed by: Serge Mansau

Mood: As the name suggests, it's a contrast of sweet and sour scents against a castoreum-rich animalic-leather base with lush florals in between. Funnily enough, it's another chypre. 'Sultry' is definitely the word for this one.


Top: Aldehydes, bergamot, green note, spicy note, gardenia.

Heart: Jasmine, orris, rose, carnation, tuberose, ylang-ylang.

Base: Leather, sandalwood, moss, patchouli, cistus, castoreum, civet, musk.

Think: Charlotte Rampling.

Chanel Ma Griffe

Year: 1946

Mood: Bold, green and comforting with a dangerous streak - it must be the cinnamon!


Top: Aldehydes, clary sage, galbanum, bergamot.

Heart: Gardenia, jasmine, ylang-ylang, rose.

Base: Cinnamon, tonka bean, vetiver.

Think: The name translates as 'my claw' so a touch of surprise and sting in the tail, as well as a devil-may-care abandon.

Imagine what collectables you might have hidden away in the deep forgotten recesses of your home, and what you might just find out about them. In my case, it was thanks to these rather awesome perfume blogs that I was able to look back at mementoes of my childhood from a whole new angle.

Monday 26 May 2014

A bit of a Pollocking - How to do DIY paint splash effects

Diving into the art fashion craze with a staple painting tutorial.


Very easy

Takes a bit of technique so you might want to practise on some scraps beforehand, otherwise it's a doddle. The only real challenge here is to prevent irreversible staining on soft furnishings!


A few minutes, depending on how detailed you want your design to be, how messy you're prepared to get and how long you've got to clean up (trust me, the bulk of your time and efforts will most likely be thrown in that direction!).

Make a splash and a splodge

That final moment again...

Monday 19 May 2014

Gilet trip - how to DIY a knee-length gilet

Forgive me for putting a damper on the fabulous summer weather - now that it's finally here - but this knee-length furry outerwear trend, heralded by Topshop Unique, among others, is what fashionistas are already fighting over!

You will need...

...and a sewing machine.

NB: Negligees with narrow or spaghetti straps won't work - make sure yours has built-up straps (at least 1" wide) and is at least knee-length, as you'll have to factor in seam allowance.



If the thought of a pattern and sewing machine fills you with dread, rest assured, it's not as hard as it looks but I don't want to shoot myself in the foot by promising you a walk-over.


5-6 hours.

Hip hip gilet...

Lay the negligee flat on some pattern paper so that the seams run along the sides. Pin it down and trace along the seams.

On one side, prod along the front neckline - or back neckline, if it's lower, but that's rarely the case with wide-strapped negligees - with a pin in a dotted line.

Remove the negligee, trace along the dotted line on one side so that your outline is asymmetrical. Cut it out and cut along the middle, so that it is separated into two halves. These should look something like this:

Fold the faux fur in half with the wrong side (the non-furry one) facing outwards. Place the back panel with the centre line along the fold and the front panel next to it. Faux fur is a relatively thick fabric, so use the patternmaster to mark out a 1.5cm seam allowance on the fabric. Cut the pieces out. You should have one large symmetrical back panel and two front panels. If you are working with long-pile fur, you should trim it down inside the seam allowance, so that it is easier to sew (and less likely to break your sewing machine!).
Fold your negligee in half along the centre front and cut along the line, so that the front is still symmetrical. Pin the lining inside the faux fur gilet, with the seam allowance of the latter and edges of the former folded inwards - no raw edges should be exposed. Slip stitch the edges together, stitching inside the fold of the lining so that the stitches are invisible.

Remember to slip stitch the armholes in place. If the negligee you're using doesn't have sleeves, the edges should already be finished, meaning that no folding is required and they're easier to stitch.

Remove the pins and you should be left with something resembling this:

Wednesday 14 May 2014

How I wore it - norm-innate?

In an attempt to replicate the neo-grunge brand of street style typically associated with the cool kids on the blogging circuit, I got sidetracked and found myself channelling Dalston-hipster-does-normcore, with a muted palette betrayed by a Japanese-style embroidered bomber jacket, a glam visor,  bold geometric sunglasses, pyramid eyes and chunky cut out sandals. At least that was the look I was going for, as wrapped up as I was in it at the time. Indeed, as far as wrapping up is concerned, I should possibly heed the Virginia Woolf quote that "Clothes have...more important offices than to merely keep us warm. They change our view of the world and the world's view of us" if I am to enter normcore's sartorial psyche. The look/ trend/ subculture/ lifestyle/ conceptual re-evaluation of humanity does revolve around a discipline I'm really not used to: caring what other people think. All doubts aside, I probably should 'rock the look' with more conviction  if I am to claim the authority on trend-setting associated with fashion bloggers. So, here it is, my darkly comfortable ode to normcore, or brand new take on it, or something!

Monday 12 May 2014

Carven up - How to DIY a Carven cross-over blouse

Crossing over to the bright, floral side for spring!

You will need

...and a mirror and sewing machine.

Hint: You want the blouse to be as big on you as possible to allow for the crossover. Mine was a charity shop buy - thrifting for the win!


Pretty easy

Going on the glib assumption that you're reasonably confident with a sewing machine, this summery floral number's a breeze - and a quick one at that.


1-2 hours

Getting it across

Cut away the sleeves.

Trying on your blouse in front of a mirror (vanity optional) mark it with pins at or slightly below the waist, both at the back and the front. Make sure your measurements are consistent. Use the points to trace a line where the hem will be and use the patternmaster to trace a line 1cm away from it - this will be the seam allowance. Cut along the seam allowance.

Returning to the mirror, wrap the blouse as tightly as possible, with one side in front of the other (hint: it works best if the side with the buttonholes is at the front). Also, try to get the fabric to slope upwards towards your shoulder. Draw a curved line on one side and trace out a seam allowance, as before. Cut along the seam allowance.

To ensure your lines are symmetrical, fold the blouse in half along the centre back with the uncut front panel underneath the cut one. Trace along the curved edge and cut away the excess fabric.

Going back again to our old friend, the mirror, you'll probably notice that the armholes are gaping because of the new angle you've given to them. Pin the excess fabric together to create a dart but don't sew it - trace it with your pen and sew it together on the wrong side of the fabric, so the dart is inside your top, not outside it.

With one more trip to the mirror for old time's sake, pin the front panel in place and mark where the buttonholes are on the other front panel. sew the buttons in place...

...and voilĂ 

Thursday 8 May 2014

How I wore it: Fresh Eyes

With Kenzo once again claiming the honour of the go-to piece for street fashion snaps with their eye prints and motifs, my first thought was: what to do to make the look my own? After eschewing the standard fare of shorts and satchels, the swing dress was the piece that set the mood and inspired the concept: kaleidoscopic retro with tribal overtones. I worked with a palette of blacks, blues and reds to emphasise the jagged stars and stitch detailing, and to draw attention to the details and centre piece. A psychedelic selfie? The eyes have it!

Monday 5 May 2014

Fleece of fancy - How to DIY a Chanel No 5 Fleece Bag with Graffiti


Image: odds 'n' ends

You will need...

Helped me to give an old handbag a new 'fleece' on life.


Pretty easy

I can't think of anything particularly challenging with this one but expect things to get messy!


An evening - about 3-4 hours.

Make it fabulously fleecy 

Cover the bag in black faux fur. I worked through it panel by panel, holding my fabric against the bag, folding it back on itself along each seam and tracing the seam line onto the wrong side of my fabric.I then cut the panels out and stuck them in place with craft mount.

Your next step is to cut out the different coloured shapes of your design. Also, if you intend to write anything like I did, sketch your lettering and words backwards, on the wrong side of the fabric, so that they read correctly. Cut them out and craft mount them in place.

After you have stuck the design in place, cut away most but not all of the straps - leave enough for them to be folded back on themselves and staple them together so that you're left with two loops instead of a strap on either side.
DIY Chanel No 5 graffiti fleece bag

 Cut the bag chain to the correct length for your strap or straps. Thread one of your chains through one of the loops, use pliers to open one of the links and use the chain to form a loop, connected to the bag. Secure it by closing the chain link again. Repeat this process with the other loops and straps.

Craft a logo charm out of clay, cover it with metallic silver powder and bake it in the oven, following the instructions closely. Glue it in place using a glue gun.