Tagged: Manchester

These Boots Are Made For Walking…

Saint Laurent AW14

…or not as the blisters on my heels will attest to.

I think in terms amazing/ amazingly daft things I’ve bought in the sales these complete and utter beauties have to be up there with the best of them. Since Hedi Slimane took over at YSL, or Saint Laurent Paris as it’s now known, I’ve been a massive, massive fan of the collections he’s produced. Possibly the underlying reason for this is his ability to create luxe versions of the contents of my late teenage/ early twenties wardrobe (which, let’s be honest, is still pretty much the main bulk of my current wardrobe) and, if I had the money, my wardrobe would consist entirely of Saint Laurent ‘upgraded’ versions of my previous loves. Sadly for me, my budget (or common sense) simply won’t stretch to shelling out nearly £1000 for a pair of boots or the best part of the deposit for a house on a dress, however OMGFHAVEYOUSEENHOWAWSOMETHISIS! they happen to be.

As a result of my fantasy lifestyle being faaaaaaaaaaar outweighed by the financial reality of the one I do lead (Oh hello electricity bill! And water bill! AND rent!), I’ve had to become adept at sale stalking and making sacrifices to the Fashion Gods in the hope that the planets may align to send me some wonderous bargain. Which brings me to the boots. Oh the boots. Look at their shiny, glittery wonderfulness.

*takes a moment to simply stare at the boots*

Saint Laurent boots

So, the boots. They’re pretty much identical to a pair I saw in Office about 5 years ago which I’m still kicking myself I never bought. My reluctance at the time was whether I could pull off a pair of 60s patent knee high boots without looking like I’d just stepped out of Austin Powers. I’m still not *entirely* convinced I can but it’s an awful lot easier to find the confidence to dip your toe into the water when something you’ve toyed with suddenly becomes the height of fashion (see also dressing like my mum in the 70s). Most of the footwear in Saint Laurent’s AW14 collection made it onto my lust list but out of all the styles (still holding out for the glitter Mary Janes btw if anyone wants to hook a gal up), the patent knee high ‘Babies’ seemed the most wearable. Sadly with a £900ish price tag, to justify a cost per wear it would have meant wearing them until the day I retired and so the sales stalking began.

Sales stalking mainly consists of me perusing various fashion retail websites sighing longingly at the sale items that, although 50% reduced, still cost more than my entire share of the rent for that month and silently cursing when something sells out in my size. On very rare occasions when I’ve been quick off the mark after final reductions have been announced I’ve managed to bag one or two lust items but in general, and especially with Saint Laurent, my size has sold out quicker than the winner of The Voice’s career. In Manchester however, there’s the added advantage of having branches of both Selfridges and Harvey Nics in the city centre and it was during a Selfridges lunchtime browse that I stumbled across THE BOOTS. AT 75% OFF. IN MY SIZE. Reader, I bought them.

I’ve still not worn them as much as I’d like as they still need breaking in and, as I feared, it’s tricky trying to find an outfit to go with them which doesn’t scream 60s fancy dress but, styling issues and blisters aside, I’m completely in love with them. Whilst £199 is a lot to spend on a pair of leather boots, it’s still probably cheaper than buying a full price, well made pair from a decent high street retailer. And they probably wouldn’t have glitter heels.

Saint Laurent Babies

Life In Plastic, It’s Fantastic!

Tatty Devine 15

My name is Holly and I am a Tatty Devine addict. It has been several weeks since my last purchase.

I was fully aware that over the last ten years or so I’d amassed a fairly large number of pieces thanks to gifts, my own indulgences, sample sales and a few friends in the right places but I hadn’t realised *quite* how much I had until I decided to take a quick snap of it all for the #TD15 celebration (I say quick snap but it took nearly two hours to set up once I’d retrieved all the pieces from the various jewellery boxes they all normally live in). When I tweeted the photo, comments included ‘wow and ‘holy shit’ and it was at this point that the full scale of my ‘problem’ (and it’s a lovely problem to have) began to dawn…

As part of my ‘TD Addict 12 Step Programme’ and as a big ‘happy birthday’ to all things Tatty, I thought I’d talk you through a few of my favourite pieces from my collection (I had thought about choosing 15 but no one needs to read that much of my witterings!).

Tatty Devine Name Necklace

Tatty Devine Name Necklaces

Like a lot of people, my first introduction to TD was via their bespoke Name Necklace service and it took me ages to decide on what font/ colour/ charm combo I wanted (the choices have expanded even more in recent years just to make it even more difficult!) before finally settling on ‘billboard’ in ‘bright pink’ with a lightning bolt charm in ‘matt gold’ on a sterling silver chain (an option they sadly no longer seem to offer). I remember counting down the days until the necklace was ready (as each necklace can take up to two weeks) and then impatiently waiting for the postman to deliver the pink and white envelope of joy. I loved my necklace so much that I also bought my sister one in the reverse colour way for her 18th birthday! Over the years I’ve acquired a few more name necklaces, including one blatantly copied from those worn by Girls Aloud in the video for ‘Biology’ as well as what to me, also counts as a ‘name’ necklace – the two small holly leaves from a Christmas collection a few years ago.

Tatty Devine Tiger

Tatty Devine Tiger Necklace

From the first piece of TD I ever owned, to the first piece of TD I bought in their iconic Brick Lane shop. As an occasional London visitor, I’d been to Brick Lane before to scour the vintage shops but I’d never quite managed to figure out where Tatty Devine’s original shop was located. On my next visit, armed with a map and a vague sense of direction, I finally stumbled across it and rewarded myself with not only an epic chat with the amazing girls who worked there (and who quite happily talked me through all the pieces they had in stock) but also with this amazing tiger necklace (and maybe a few other pieces) which I’d been eyeing up for a while. As statement necklaces go, it’s grrreat!

Tatty Devine AW12

Tatty Devine Paisley Necklace A/W12

For some reason, I’ve always preferred Tatty’s A/W offerings over their S/S ones (maybe I just tend to wear more jewellery in the winter months) and, whilst I loved their A/W11 collection, in my opinion their A/W12 collection is the strongest they’ve ever produced and marked the moment when the brand went from ‘cult and kitsch’ to ‘holy shit these pieces are take your breath away beautiful!’. Although at the statement necklace end of the collection some pieces pushed the £300+ mark, the sheer brilliance and intricacy of the paisley multi-necklaces showed that Perspex could be more than just cheap and cheerful and meant that Tatty Devine purchases could be justified as ‘investment pieces’… Whilst my budget sadly didn’t stretch to the mega jewelled paisley necklace, I did pick up the smaller multi-version as well as quite a few other bits from the collection (thank goodness for seasonal and sample sales!) which are amongst my most worn items.

Tatty Devine Charlotte Olympia

Tatty Devine for Charlotte Olympia Autumn 2011

One of the things that sets Tatty Devine aside from their competitors is the sheer number of people tripping over themselves to collaborate with them. In my collection I’ve got pieces from collaborations with Belle & Sebastian, Camera Obscura, Eley Kishimoto and Jean Paul Gaultier and TD have also worked with Peaches, Robots In Disguise, Gilbert & George, Rob Ryan, Disney, Louise Gray and the London Transport Museum to name just a few! Of all their collaborations however, I think my favourite one has got to be the dagger necklace they produced for Charlotte Olympia’s A/W11 collection ‘To Die For’ which was based around Agatha Christie and the Golden Age of crime fiction (and was also the debut outing for the now iconic ‘kitty’ shoes). Aside from fashion, I’m a massive book geek and in particular crime fiction so anything that combines the two goes straight to the top of my ‘must have’ list, even more so if it also has the words ‘limited addition’ attached. As the necklace was included in the goodie bags for those attending the launch of the collection, I had to use the Dark Arts to get my hands on one but it was well worth the effort. I’m now on a quest to track down the mermaid necklace that was produced for CO’s S/S12 ‘Sirens’ collection…

Tatty Devine Bunting Necklace

Tatty Devine Bunting Necklace S/S11

One thing that Tatty Devine do well are statement necklaces but as I’m not the biggest of frames, some of their amazing creations are just a little *too* big for me to wear. Thankfully, as the above multi-strand bunting necklace is made up of smaller pieces, it hangs a long better on me than a lot of their other big necklaces I’ve tried on (although I do run the risk of getting it caught in the shredder when I wear it to work!). I initially spotted it during my first trip to their Brick Lane store but it was sadly out of my price range so I had to settle for the smaller version which has had a lot of wear over the years. Thankfully, the larger version finally came into my possession last year thanks yet again to the joys of ebay stalking so it’s no longer ‘the one that got away’.

Tatty Devine Charm Necklace

Tatty Devine Charm Necklaces

My final picks include one of the newest and one of the oldest pieces from my collection. I possibly spend far too much time browsing fashion blogs on the internet so when a couple of these a few years ago mentioned that a TD ‘Charm Club’ was going to be launching I got *very* excited! Sadly, said club never materialised (which is a shame as it would have been brilliant: club + jewellery = WIN) but a revised version of the bespoke charm service was launched just before Christmas at TD’s Birmingham and London Selfridges concessions (but annoyingly not at the Manchester one or online!) and so on my pre-birthday London trip last December I made sure I popped in. I went for the maximum number of charms allowed as I figured I could always swap the selection about and if I really want to mix things up a bit, I can always add in the little pair of sterling silver shoes which I’m pretty sure are the oldest piece in my collection and took a lot of tracking down.

I hope you’ve enjoyed have a closer look at some of my collection and much as I’d like to say my addiction is cured, I’ve currently got my eye on one or two pieces from the new collections including the Pink Poodle Necklace and the Cocktail Umbrella Necklace from their 15th birthday collection. Oh well…

Tatty Devine 15th birthday

Happy 15th Birthday Tatty Devine!

Many Happy Returns!

December seems to have flown by and I can’t quite believe we’re only five days away from Christmas! I’ve barely had time to catch my breath over the last few weeks and as well as a fantastic trip to London to see the Meadham Kirchhoff V&A Fashion In Motion show, most of my time has revolved around hitting the big 3-0. Now that I’ve almost recovered from an epic birthday weekend which included a go on a helter skelter (because that’s what grown ups do isn’t it?!), I thought I’d share some of the gorgeous presents I was given.

Rose Necklace by A-England, Leather Purse by Biba at House of Fraser

Rose Necklace by a-england, Leather Purse by Biba at House of Fraser

After blogging about it way back in June, I finally got my hands on an a-england ‘Rose With Thorn’ necklace in rose gold. It’s so beautiful and delicate in real life and definitely a piece I will treasure forever. A grown up birthday also demands a slightly more grown up wallet than my current Liberty Print Hello Kitty one so this Biba leather wallet is perfect!

Babycham gift set and amazing homemade compilation CD!

Babycham gift set and amazing homemade compilation CD!

Once a Manic Street Preachers fan, always a Manic Street Preachers fan so this Babycham gift set from one of my oldest friends (who’s also in the ultracool band Pris) really reminds me of my misspent youth. Coupled with an amazing mix CD (including a cover sleeve feature some of my more dubious outfit choices), this was the perfect nostalgia present.

Scarf - Karen Mabon, Lipsticks - MAC, Perfume - Jo Malone, Owl Necklace - Manchester Art Gallery

Scarf – Karen Mabon, Lipsticks in Lady Danger and Ruby Woo – MAC, Perfume – Jo Malone, Owl Necklace – Manchester Art Gallery

It’s always lovely receiving presents on my ‘a bit too indulgent to justify treating myself to’ wish list so I felt like a very lucky girl this year. I’m a sucker for a good red lippy with MAC’s ‘Lady Danger’ being my go to shade (nothing like a strong lip to distract from you looking like death, a trick I employed over the days spent recovering from my birthday!) so I was glad to receive a new one to replace the rapidly running out tube in my handbag. I was also given the slightly darker matte red shade ‘Ruby Woo’ which I always debate buying when the weather turns autumnal but can never decide between it and ‘Russian Red’. I’m glad my sister took the dithering out of my hands and picked this shade on my behalf as it makes me feel very glamorous which is just how you should feel on your birthday!

Another brand I have trouble with is Jo Malone – there’s just too much choice! My friend who really knows her way around the range got me a bottle of the gorgeous smelling ‘Earl Grey & Cucumber’ cologne and my heart leapt at the sight of the little black and white box tied with their distinctive ribbon.

I’m not sure when owls became my thing (although I possibly kicked it off after buying a fantastic Lea Stein Buba Owl Brooch on eBay) but now most birthdays seem to feature them. For my 30th I was given this cute silver owl necklace from the shop at Manchester Art Gallery which matches a ring I have. I love a good art gallery or museum gift shop and my new necklace proves what amazing treasures you can find!

Completing the glam theme is this stunning Karen Mabon silk scarf. Again this is a brand I’ve previously blogged about and I utterly love Karen’s quirky designs. I’ve now got my fingers crossed that the Midnight Feast scarf from her winter collection is waiting for me under the Christmas tree…

The Picture Of Dorian Gray - Pulp The Classics

The Picture Of Dorian Gray – Pulp The Classics

I think it’s fitting that my final gift combines both my love of literature and, er, hot men… Pulp! The Classics is a new imprint which gives classic novels retro looking pulp fiction covers with a twist. Whether you like your Pride And Prejudice with a side order of Colin Firth’s ‘Darcy’ or, like me, the eternal youth of Gosling as Dorian Gray, the eight novels in the collection will not only brighten up any bookshelf but are also guaranteed to raise a smile from fellow commuters during the rush hour slog!

Late Night Vanities

Manchester Art Gallery

Manchester Art Gallery

I do realise I’ve been a shockingly lazy blogger over the last few weeks. I’m blaming a combination of a very busy period at work and weather so chilly that all I want to do when I get home is curl up on the sofa in PJs and a blanket with a stack of magazines. Bliss! When the weather starts turning wintery I have a habit of doing very little but laze on weekends which means on weeknights I try to cram in as much as possible. Whilst late night shopping has long been a feature of our lives, those wanting cultural rather than retail evening pursuits generally only had theatre, film or gigs to choose between. Thankfully several art galleries and museums have noticed this gap in the cultural market and have started offering later opening hours to catch those of us who work all week and don’t fancy facing the crowds at weekends or rush round exhibitions during lunch breaks.

Manchester’s Art Gallery runs a ‘Thursday Lates’ scheme with the gallery staying open until 9pm and giving you the opportunity to enjoy a glass of wine, explore the exhibits and catch one of the talks or live music performances which are often a feature of the evenings. The Art Gallery is currently exhibiting Grayson Perry’s series of tapestries The Vanity Of Small Differences and I headed there a couple of Thursdays ago to view them.

The Adoration of the Cage Fighters, Grayson Perry, 2011

The Adoration of the Cage Fighters, Grayson Perry, 2011

‘The Vanity Of Small Differences’ comprises of six tapestries which are loosely based on A Rake’s Progress by William Hogarth and were inspired by Grayson’s Channel 4 documentary In The Best Possible Taste which focused on class and British life. I’ve been an admirer of Grayson’s work for a long time as I love the way he takes traditional forms of art such as pottery or tapestry and subverts them to offer social commentary. The grotesque humour often found in his pieces juxtaposes brilliantly with their delicate intricacy and to see them up close is visually stunning. The exhibition is part of a wider national tour supported by The Art Fund and I’m so glad I didn’t have to trek to London to see them! The full tour dates are below and I definitely recommend checking them out!

◾ 14 February – 11 May 2014: Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
◾ May – August 2014: Walker Art Gallery
◾ 1 August – 1 October 2014: Leeds City Art Gallery

If you’re also a fan of all things Grayson and missed the superb series of Reith Lectures which he gave recently, they can still be found online here.

A Whole Lotta Love!

Soooooooooooo, long time no blog post but I feel I can justify my laziness because the weather’s been so glorious that I’ve wanted to do nothing but spend any spare time I’ve had in the park/ sat on my balcony/ in a beer garden. The chance to wear the majority of my summer wardrobe, in the summer, without 50 denier tights doesn’t happen all that often so I thought I should embrace it to the full! The hot weather does bring certain challenges though and try as I might, as soon as the sun comes out my seemingly never ending quest to find the perfect summer sandal begins again in earnest.

Everything but the kitchen sink and the perfect summer strappies!

My summer shoes – everything but the kitchen sink and the perfect summer strappies!

You’d think that when a girl has a shoe collection as extensive as I have then at least one of those pairs must be perfect for summer wear but alas no! Although I’m the proud owner of several pairs of strappy heels, they’re not too practical for the early morning dash to work and quite frankly, unless I’ve had a couple of drinks, my ability to walk in heels can occasionally be described at best as ‘clumsy’. This combined with an awful lot of cobbles between my flat and office mean that sadly heeled sandals just aren’t a practical option but whilst I love my ballet flats and brogues (in fact summer 2012 was such a washout that my shoe purchase of choice for the season were these less than summery Russell and Bromley brogues!), they’re just way too warm for my toes when the temperature starts pushing 30C.

Now I don’t think I’m *that* fussy when it comes to buying sandals but my previous attempts to find the perfect strappy flat have fallen a bit erm, flat. This summer however whilst on a random Google hunt, I stumbled across the brilliant Lotta From Stockholm and my perfect pair of summer sandals!

Lotta From Stockholm Red Leather Peep Toe Clogs - £57.50

Lotta From Stockholm Red Leather Peep Toe Clogs – £57.50

As a lover of all things Scandi (hellooooooo Pelle Almqvist!) I’d been vaguely toying with the idea of getting a pair of clogs for a while but the only ones that seemed to be on the market were way out of my price range and quite frankly, I wasn’t sure how comfortable wearing what is essentially a block of wood with some leather straps would be. Thankfully, Lotta From Stockholm is the perfect place for clog virgins as not only do they have a massive range of brands, styles, heights and colours (plus a bargainous ‘seconds’ section) but a quick read of their website and Facebook pages clearly show that Lotta is run by a woman with a passion for her products.

Aside from the massive range of product choice, their customer service is excellent too. I originally ordered a pair of Highwood Red Open Clogs as I was a little concerned about anything with a more fancy front piece rubbing my toes but sadly when I tried them on they were a bit too big at the front. I e-mailed Lotta to explain the problem and ask if I could swap them for the size down. No problem! Clogs swapped but alas the new ones were too small! With a slight fear of sounding like a shoe obsessed Goldilocks I e-mailed Lotta again to commiserate about the fact that my feet clearly were in a conspiracy to stop me owning amazing summer shoes but as befits a woman who knows her clogs she suggested that I should give it one more try and swapped the Highwood for a pair of Peep Toes. Reader, I married them! Not only do they fit beautifully and, aside from a little rubbing that you always get with new shoes, they’re ridiculously comfy! I finally have happy summer feet and as an added bonus, they’ll look perfect with tights when the Manchester weather returns to its normal cloudy and cooler self. My only problem now is what colour to buy next…

Happy summer feet at last!

Happy summer feet at last – thank you Lotta!

Knit Me Baby One More Time…

Now I know any mention of winter or indeed anything wool based when we’re in the middle of a heat wave (an actual heat wave rather than just a Manchester-defined one of ‘Oh it’s stopped raining long enough to walk 10 metres without an umbrella) might seem the product of a fevered brain suffering from sun stroke but the idea of writing about something associated with the cold in order to feel cooler does have some precedent. It also means however that any of you reading this who fancy getting a bit crafty have enough time to practise your knit and purls before present season is upon us as one of my favourite brands, Knit And Destroy have launched a fabulous book of hand knitting patterns for their gorgeous products!

Knit And Destroy...Gets Handy! - £12.99

Knit And Destroy…Gets Handy! – £12.99

Knit And Destroy has been going since 2006 and is brainchild of the multi talented Kandy Diamond. All of the quirky products are designed and machine knitted by Kandy in her studio and come in beautiful 100% lambswool. I was lucky enough to be given a Friendly Foxxx Fur scarf as a Christmas present which I adore and it managed the tricky task of keeping me warm and stylish during the really cold start to 2013!

Knit And Destroy - Friendly Foxxx Fur - £40

Knit And Destroy – Friendly Foxxx Fur – £40

I love the detailing especially the two-tone tail, the Knit And Destroy tag and the fact that the fox mouth opens so you can thread the tail through and secure with the button nose!

Knit And Destroy - Friendly Foxxx Fur - £40

Knit And Destroy – Friendly Foxxx Fur – £40

Knit And Destroy…Gets Handy! not only has a hand knit pattern for the Friendly Foxx Fur but also 19 others (plus a bonus extra pattern if you buy direct from the website!) and has projects for all skill levels and links to online tutorials so if you’re a knitting novice, don’t be put off!