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Angy's Blog February - March 2009

The trials and tribulations of a fashion designer in the Lake District!



ARCHIVE: my previous entries:

JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2009 (In Search of Winter - A Favourite Place - Catwalk Videos on YouTube - A Winter Chill)
NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2008 (Recycled Outrageous Clothes Show (ROCS) - Florence No2. - Winter-Mere)
OCTOBER - NOVEMBER 2008 (Cumbria Life - NW Evening Mail - Glitz & Glamour Haggerston Craft Show)
OCTOBER 2008 (Woman Event - Collection on Catwalk - Radio Cumbria - Brochure Download)
SEPTEMBER - Early OCTOBER 2008 (Newcastle United Wedding Dress - Wedding Shows at Abbey House and Carlisle)
AUGUST - SEPTEMBER 2008 (Fashion Designers - Spectrum in Four Seasons Collection - Sara Gadd Millinery)
JUNE - JULY 2008 (Haute Couture - Vivienne Westwood - Wildlife - Dorset Buttons - Magna Carta)
FEBRUARY - MAY 2008 (Lake District Inspirations - Long Blondes - Wedding Show)



USEFUL LINKS:

CLICK for: SPECTRUM IN FOUR SEASONS catwalk pictures
CLICK for: SPECTRUM IN FOUR SEASONS video clips on YouTube
CLICK for: FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION Cumbria Life - 5.2mb PDF

CLICK for: MySpace

Romantique Couture
1 Atkinson Court
Fell Foot
Newby Bridge
Ulverston
Cumbria
United Kingdom
LA12 8NW

T: 015395 30648
M: 07812 210880

Email: angela@
romantiquecouture.com


EVENTS DIARY


15 MARCH 2009

Wedding Fayre at Lodore Falls Hotel & Spa, Derwentwater
12:00 - 16:00 FREE admission; Display stand only

JUNE 2009 *** Date to be Advised ***
Watch this space - special event fashion show - not letting the 'cat' out of the bag just yet!

SEPTEMBER 2009 *** Date to be Advised ***
Launch of Stolen Dreams 2010 Collection

20 NOVEMBER 2009 *** Provisional ***
Haverthwaite - Charity Fashion Show by Romantique Couture



CUMBRIA LIFE

The March issue of Cumbria Life is now in the shops, for those that don't automatically subscribe. Usual collection of interesting articles including a weddings section, an article about Mad March Hares, and a very interesting feature onthe 'Maid of Buttermere'. This fascinating, true story, retold by Melvyn Bragg in his novel, has been adapted to the stage. The productions runs at the lovely
Theatre by the Lake at Derwentwater from 21.3.2009 to 18.4.2009.
Model coutesy of Premier Productions, Scotland

6 MARCH 2009 - ANGY'S FAVOURITE VIEW

I am very busy at the moment, especially now it is the beginning of the 'wedding season'. Not complaining though! I wasn't sure where to start so you will be pleased to know that I chose to update my Blog!

Anyway, despite being busy, it is sometimes necessary to get out for some fresh air and to recharge the batteries. Yesterday was such a day. A good friend of ours, Colin, has been staying for a couple of days so, regardless of the weather we decided to take him out to one of our favourite places. We usually see him once a year when he comes back to the UK so we always make the most of his visits. Colin is a very charming, very calm, utterly laid back person - if, like us, you tend to rush like an idiot through every day, I can highly advise inviting Colin round to cool things down a little.

The day started off rather ominously. Dark grey sky, spitting rain and drizzle, ... yuk, yuk ... one of those days when you would rather be sitting by a roaring fire with a cup of coffee. I must say that none of us was particularly optimistic, though Mike & I should have known better. I was determined not to moan (very rude in front of guests) and reminded myself that I needed some to get out of the studio.

Sometimes, living in the Lake District, you wonder if anywhere else on the planet has so much rain, but I have to say it is worth it. I always reckon that one sunny day makes up for ten wet ones, but even a wet day in the Lake District is worth ten wet days anywhere else.
Wastwater - view towards Wasdale Head
We headed west and followed the lovely Duddon Valley (passing Seathwaite - officially the wettest place in England! - gluttons for punishment!) to Hardknott Pass. Despite its age, our little car made it over the pass, the steepest in the country, and as we descended into Eskdale we saw signs of a clearing sky.

Our concerns had been in vain, as you can see from the pics. They say you can experience all four seasons in one day in the Lake District, and I would certainly agree with that. By the time we reached Wastwater the sun was breaking out and the light was wonderful. I enjoyed every second of my stroll along the lake and couldn't stop snapping photos. Wasdale is such a beautful place - no wonder it was declared Britain's 'Favourite View'. It was quiet yesterday, and it couldn't have been more spectacular - shafts of light breaking through the clouds, snow capped peaks, and a lake which was like a mirror. By the end of the afternoon the sky had cleared and we had taken about 300 photos between the three of us - an album of Wasdale from every conceivable angle. I have pasted some here to give you a taste ... though nothing compares to the real thing.




Various views of Wasdale, and Wastrwater - the views along the lake to Wasdale Head show the mountains of Yewbarrow (left), Great Gable and Lingmell, with the snow covered dlopes of Scafell Pike of the far right. The second picture down on the right shows the Wasdale screes reflected in the lake.

Wasdale boasts England's Highest Mountain, Deepest Lake, Smallest Church ,,, and the Biggest Liar (it's true - a contest is held every year in the pub)!



3 MARCH 2009 - JOYS OF SOUND

Another quick recommendation. Just came across the JOYS OF SOUND on MySpace. Superb ... they even have a track called 'Oven Chips'! Sort of pop-electronice-ska band ... far better, and more original than Lily Allen for example. Lead singer, Xan Tyler, is from south London, but the band is based in Glasgow. They should be touring shortly, but for now you can listen to a few tracks n their website:

www.thejoysofsound.com

1 MARCH 2009 - PUNK REVIVAL

Hooray! Finally a proper influence on fashion appears to be making a comeback ... PUNK! I was actually expecting this before now. There has to be a limit to everybody following each other like sheep and wearing what another million people wear - just because the clothes are 'designer' labels. I was beginning to wonder what had happened to creativity and individualism. Just consider all that meanless power dressing - if you want to prove a point be different!
Punk is the perfect antidote. It is not about safety pins, and bondage trousers; the true meanung of punk is sticking a finger up to convention, or fashion trends, and creating your own image. It isn't difficult and it will save a lot of money in this credit crunch ... just look at all the opportunities for recycled fashion. Go back to the basics. Shopping isn't everything in life, and a bit of individuality is good for the soul!

With all this talk of punk, I couldn't resist pulling out a few pics taken in New York a couple of years ago. After all punk was, and is, much more than just fashion. The punk rock era was one of the most influential periods with regards to music. It was exciting and made music accessible to everyone. Suddenly anybody could form a band, and make a record. And just look at the bands that came out of that era ... the Sex Pistols, the Buzzcocks, the Clash, the Police, Blondie, Talking Heads, Billy Idol and many many more that were inspired by the energy of punk.
My trip coincided with the demise of one of the cradles of the punk rock movement, the legendary club CBGBs on the Bowery, one a seedy throughfare cutting through downtown Manhattan between the trendy Greenwich Village and the Lower East Side. During the 1970s the tinyt stage of this underground rock club saw the birth of the punk rock movements, and bands such as Patt Smith, the Ramones, Blondie, Talking Heads, and Television. It was an amazing place, like a long, dark cave with walls covered with graffiti and thousands of posters and flyers for the artists that performed there, a bar, a small stage and of course, the notorious toilets ... a story unto themselves! In addition to the regular bands, and the thousands of small bands the club has supported over the decades, many more famous acts have squeezed into this cellar - including the Police, the Damned, Guns and Roses and the Jam. CBGBs was to New York, or indeed to the USA, what the Cavern was to Liverpool, and the UK.
Sadly, CBGBs on the Bowery, is no more. When I was last there the final concert had just ended ... Patti Smith and special appearance by Deborah Harry. The landlords had raised the rent to an unsustainable level, part of a redevelopment scheme so, despite a huge campaign, eviction was imminent. It was all very sad as the fixtures and fittings were being removed and placed into storage in the hope that the club could be ressurected in the future - if not in New York, in Las Vegas. Well, I stocked up on goodies from the shop just as it closed its doors and vowed to go back when a new club rises from the ashes!

Meanwhile, the club has been kept alive in a 'virtual' form and parts of the fittings, including the infamous 'bathroom', have been exhibited in New York. For a taste of CBGBs check out the following websites:

Official website:
www.cbgb.com

360 degree panoramas of the club: www.cbgb.com/360/index.htm

A fab virtual tour of CBGB incl, the 'bathroom':
Virtual Tour


So what does CBGB stand for? Actually CBGB-OMFUG ... here goes ... Country,Blue-Grass, Blues - Other Music For Uplifting Gourmandisers!

Wow - imagine wearing this! One of the wall panels rescued fron CBGBs ... years and years of graffiti!
CBGBs - the infamous loos being
removed for posterity!

26 FEBRUARY 2009 - STICK INSECTS

As London Fashion Week has been progressing, I have been trying to keep up with what is in, and what is out ... but to be honest, I have reached saturation! The truth is, nothing has really changed in the world of fashion, or at least nothing necessarily for the better. I'll give you just one example ... despite the public outcry, models seem to be getting skinnier and skinnier! Positively anorexic in fact. And this is a statement from 1990s model who nearly went there! When I started modelling I was described as fat, and advised that if I wanted a good career in modelling, I should lose a couple of pounds. But that only encouraged us all to push ourselves to the edge, and to attempt to lose more and more weight, in the deluded belief that we would all gain more and better modelling deals. That was until the manager and photographer found out. At that time we had a minimum weight target ... below that you were breaching your contract, and received no more shoots until you looked normal. So what is happening out there now? It all seems out of control. You can almost hear the bones going tick-tock-tick all the way down the runway!


22 FEBRUARY 2009 - GONE WITH THE WIND

I never thought that a Sunday afternoon could be so quiet - especially in the Lake District - but today we managed to escape the crowds without going too far. It was part of New Year's Resolution to get out more - not easy when the work is building up, but essential even it is just once a week. Anyway, we went along the Cartmel Peninsula and walked to Humphrey Head. It is an unusual limestone outcrop which juts out into Morecambe Bay. A completely different landscape and a special place for nature.

However, we didn't drive direct to the headland, which is rather like an island. Instead we walked along the shore from Kent's Bank, and if you know that part of Morecambe Bay you will realise that the shore there is saltmarsh. I have already told you about my phobia for bogs and unstable ground under my feet. The mud was sort of OK but other parts were waterlogged marsh, or sodden piles of rotting seagrass washed up by a Spring tide. Not again, I thought! For what seemed like an hour I closed my eyes tight and tried hard not to make a fuss, telling myself it was all in my mind and there was nothing wrong with a bit of wet grass. But it was very wet, very, very wet, and in the end, as my feet wobbled and sunk, I could bottle it up no more. I began to tremble like a leaf, then broke into a cold sweat and finally found a dry patch above the shore where I sat down and refused to move another inch!

I know that some people will find this pathetic but I really cannot cope when the ground gives way under me and water seeps up around my boots! Yes, you can say I am a diva or something but I don't care so long as I don't have wade through another bog. (It just so happens that we had planned to take a guided walk across the bay with the 'Queen's Guide to the Sands' in the summer - between the tides and the quicksand - hmmmm, may have to think again about that one!).

Humphrey Head with Morecambe Bay

Luckily (for me), my 'knight in shining armour' found a dry path, through some very pretty woodland which lead over the hillside to the headland itself. The view out over the bay was superb, stretching from the Lake District fells and the Kent Estuary, past Arnside and Silverdale to Morecambe (you could even make out the art deco Midland Hotel) to Blackpool tower in the south. Across the bay I could just make out Piel Castle and Roa Island if I shielded the sun with my hand, then the Cumbrian coast to Ulverston, the Leven Estuary and the Coniston Fells.

It really was a perfect day with more than a hint of Spring in the air. There were new born lambs bleating in the fields, and loads of male chaffinches strutting their stuff in their smart pink plumage, trying to impress the girls. They are called 'spinkies' locally - a far better name in my opinion! I think I saw a Peregrine Falcon too, flying out from a cave in the cliffs, but it was too fast to be sure - just a flash. You need a good eye to be sure ... they nest there and I have seen them before so maybe!

heading back along the shore we were distracted by a white bird ducking and diving between the reeds. Mike, who had been moaning about the mud nearly as much as I had been moaning about the marsh, grabbed camera and binoculars and tramped off into the marsh for a closer look. No need really as it was putting on quite a display and was in no hurry to fly off. It was a Little Egret, quite a rarity, though we later read that there had been a few wintering across the bay at Leighton Moss.

Top: Hawthorns bent and twisted by the wind like 1980s hairstyles!
Bottom: View over the saltmarshes towards Arnside; Humphrey Head and the Cartmel Peninsula
It was also quite an inspirational day for me with so many unusual shapes and patterns created by nature. The hawthorns, growing on the limestone ridge were especially interesting. They were bent right over by the prevailing winds, and their masses of tightly twisted twigs reminded me of 1980's 'Gone with the Wind' hairdos. There were also fantastic shpaes created by the rivulets in the sand of the bay, and the intricate, swirling patterns of the lichens on the rocks - would form a fab textile design.
Little Egret near Kent's Bank; Lichens growing in Limestone; New born lambs - Spring has arrived!

20 FEBRUARY 2009 - FAST FASHION v. RECYCLED FASHION

Did you know that more than two million tonnes of clothes are thrown away every year just in the UK?
And, that one tonne of textiles fills approximately 200 black bin bags?

Despite the 'credit crunch' and greater awareness of green issues we still live in a throwaway society. Cheap clothes that are mass-produced in the Far East have lead to an increase in our consumption of clothing by over one thord in the last 10 years. Most of it ends up in land fill sites which creates major environmental problems because more and more clothes are made from non-biodegradable fabrics such as polyester or nylon. Much of the clothing that is 'recycled' (just 16%) is exported abroad for resale where it also often ends up on landfill sites. So what can we do?

We have several options which can reduce our reliance on the cheap supermarket clothing, and can improve our carbon footprint. I have listed a few ideas below:

1. RECYCLING CLOTHES
Garments can be recycled into new clothes, or spruced up and made 'fashionable' again. This is what I often do with my own clothes, or for my customers. For example I am presently redesigning a beautiful wedding dress which has been passed down from a mother to her daughter.

Take a look at the pictures here of some of my recent creations: FLORENCE No.2 (detail of front and back on the right) was made from an old, red blouse and two mens' suit jackets. Yiou can see the lapels have been incorporated into the line of the skirt. Old buttons are especially useful when recycling ... indeed, it is not so lonmg ago when most people had a tin of old buttons at home.


WINTER-MERE (top, left) is a wedding dress created from a favourite blue, woollen blouse, and a pair of Mackintosh-print curtains! I have embellished the bodice with hundreds of blue and ivory beads. The curtain material is quite heavy, but creates a very nice, flowing trail. Ideal for a winter wedding.


ROUDSEA (bottom, left) is a simple poncho. Again, I have combined very different fabrics: a green woollen pullover for the neck and collar, two cotton shirts, and a DKNY suede leather dress for the trim. One of the shirts came from a charity shop while the pullover had been tumble dried and no longer fitted! This is a practical example of how clothes that no longer fit can be incorporated in a completely new, and unique, garment.

I have just started to put together a spring dress for myself (bottom, right). It comprises an old polyester shirt, the pattern of which I was particular fond of, and scrap material, left over from a suit jacket I had made. It is at an early stage so, knowing me, could ;look completely different in a nother week or two!

I have also made several bags and a skirt out of old denim jeans. Denim is an excellent, versatile material for recycling - after all, how many people have actually paid high prices for 'distressed' denim garments? Ripped, patched or even stone-washed jeans have been fashionable at different times, so recycling old jeans can actually enhance their appeal. Another, increasingly popular, option for buying quality 'recycled' clothingis to check out one of the excellent Retro clothing stores offering a wide range of exciting, trendy garments from daysgone - Sixties and Seventies fashions, that once lurked unloved on the bottom shelves of charity shops, now attract very high prices.


2. BUYING QUALITY CLOTHING
Our parents and grandparents handed clothes down or repaired them rather than throwing them away. Of course the quality was often much higher so clothes actually lasted longer. Spending a little extra on quality not only gives you clothes which are more durable, but also more comfortable and better fitting. Quality clothes also lend themselves to recycling later as fashions change.


3. BUYING FAIRTRADE CLOTHING
We can also make a conscious effort to seek clothes made from natural materials such as cotton and raw silk, rather than non-biodegradable materials, and in particlar organic products made using environmentally friendly processes. For example,
25% of chemical insecticide is used in the production of non-organic cotton. Check out the Earth Collection (www.theearthcollection.org.uk) who have 38 outlets in the UK (we even have one at Bowness-on-Windermere) for a few excellent ideas of fairtrade clothing. The fairtrade symbol guarantees that suppliers in third world countries are given a fair deal for their products and are not exploited, as is so often the case in the clothing industry.

I would also add to this category one of my biggest personal bugbears - locally produced clothing and textiles. There are still several cottage industries producing knitwear and crafts, but I am still constantly looking for small textile and clothing manufacturers in order to reduce transport costs and support local jobs. There were once numerous manufacturers here in Cumbria, along the borders and in Lancashire and Yorkshire. The number has dwindled over the decades in the face of cheap imports so I am really struggling with my quest for local partners. Any feedback or ideas would be very welcome. Meanwhile, I will continue to support local suppliers of other products, in particular food. I am lucky in this respect since Cumbria has many excellent local producers, and more Fairtrade towns then other UK counties - see: www.cumbriafairtrade.org.uk


4. RECYCLING TEXTILES
Many natural, and even some synthetic textiles, can be recycling. Indeed, this is the oldest form of recycling, having been pioneered in 1813 in West Yorkshire. The process involves breaking textiles down into their constituent fibres so that they can be respun into yarn. Sadly, this is rarely done even though it has been estimated that up to 95% of textiles sent to landfill sites in the UK could be recycled. This is something I am currently investigating and will report back if I have any success. You will sometimes find polyester recycled, though not necessarily as clothes, rather as bedding or padding materials. Another waste product sometimes recycled into clothing is polythene from drinks bottles ... a fleece jacket can be made by recycling 25 x 2 litre drinks bottles. Check out
www.patagonia.com for an excellent range of environmentally friendly clothing including fleeces. Woollen products are more commonly recycled so here is another astounding statistic to mull over next time you are looking for a new pullover:
If everyone in the UK bought one recycled woollen garment each year, it would save on average 371 milion gallons of water and 480 tonnes of chemical dyestuffs.



Anyway, I have just endured a nightmare interview on Radio Cumbria this morning ... though perhaps I am being too self-critical. Just a quick question about sourcing and using recycled materials ... I had barely calmed my nerves, and got into the flow when I was cut short. Oh well, I suppose that is the problem with quick news items ... perhaps I need to talk in soundbites! Never mind, on a far more positive note I am heading over to Ashington in Northumbria at the end of the month to present a case for introducing fashion onto the local school curriculum, and in particular recycled fashion. It is part of a project I am becoming involved with and the presentation is to secure a grant to help the schools. Plenty of talented kids are already graduating in textiles from the area and are being snapped up by fashion houses in London. The concept behind the project is to bring the Fashion Houses to the talent, secure local jobs and inject a much needed boost into the local economy by establishing an outpost in the region. More information to follow after I return.



19 FEBRUARY 2009 - EVENTS UPDATE

I will be exhibiting designs at the following events during the Spring.


15 MARCH 2009
Wedding Fayre at Lodore Falls Hotel & Spa, Derwentwater
12:00 - 16:00 FREE admission; Display stand only

The Lodore is a lovely, romantic hotel situated beside the famous Lodore Waterfall at the Borrowdale end of Derwentwater. It can even be reached by regular motor launches from Keswick. Ideal venue for a romantic wedding or reception. A short walk from the hotels brings you up to 'Surprise View', a wonderful, panoramic viewpoint overlooking Derwentwater with Catbells, Bassenthwaite lake and Skiddaw as an impressive backdrop. I will have a static display of three or four dresses at the event which is free and starts at midday. Guests will be welcomed with a complimentary glass of wine and canapes.

The Spring Garden Festival coincides with the Rhododendrons and Azaleas, for which Muncaster is justly famous. This is without any doubt one of the most beautiful attractions in the Lake District, and is worthy of a visit at any time in the year.

Watch this space for more details. If I can secure sufficient models we will put on a flower-themed show with the 'Spectrum in Four Seasons' Collection, and other recent designs.


2 MAY 2009 (Bank Holiday Weekend) *** Provisional ***
Muncaster Castle Spring Festival

I am presently looking for models for a catwalk show at Muncaster Castle and Gardens over the May Bank Holiday. If the weather is good we may even be able to organise a runway along the beautiful terrace with its panoramic views towards Scafell, and over Eskdale.

POSTPONED TO 2010


16 FEBRUARY 2009 - DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?

One of my pet hates is people with overinflated egos. It is something I struggle to understand. I don't have an ego and I have to admit I am glad about that. People can take me as I am. In my opinion, when somebody becomes 'too big for their boots' they lose more 'real' friends than they gain. I really find these people funny ... and the funniest part is that they can't see their own overinflated ego ... or two ... or three! I have been reading a lot about 'new' faces in music in the press recently ... about how great certain people are, how they will become the new Madonna or Michael Jackson, or ... you know what I mean! But, first they need the public to vote for them, to tell them how great they are ... and sometimes that is even before they have released a single record! Surely, it is all hype put about by unscrupulous managers and agents? I wonder how many really live up to these expectations, or are carried along on a wave of false euphoria, in the belief that they are 'somebody' and they will become superstars overnight? One thing is for sure, they can't cope with the criticism that comes with all this hype. There are some that I have listened to recently that seem to me to be mediocre at the best, certainly nothing new, refreshing or outstanding. Quite disappointing really. Perhaps I am becoming too fussy? Personally, I prefer a good tune, and a band or an individual with genuine talent ... someone that has fought hard to gain their place in our hearts, rather than had money thrown at them willy-nilly. Easy come, easy go. Time is the true test. I only wish The Long Blondes were still around - that is a band that really deserved to make it. Oh well, I live in hope!

My previous Posts:

JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2009 (In Search of Winter - A Favourite Place - Catwalk Videos - Winter Chill)

NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2008 (ROCS - Florence No2. - Winter-Mere)

OCTOBER - NOVEMBER 2008 (Cumbria Life - Glitz & Glamour Haggerston Cradt Show)

OCTOBER 2008 (Woman Event - Catwalk Photos - Radio Cumbria - Brochure Download)

SEPTEMBER - OCTOBER 2008
(Newcastle United Wedding Dress - Wedding Shows)

AUGUST - SEPT. 2008 (Fashion Designers - Spectrum Collection - Sara Gadd)

JUNE - JULY 2008
(Haute Couture - Vivienne Westwood - Dorset Buttons - Magna Carta)

FEBRUARY - MAY 2008
(Lake District Inspirations - Long Blondes - Wedding Show)
Angy's Blog is written by Angela Morton, Fashion Designer & Dressmaker
Photographs copyright of Mike and Angy Morton


Copyright Romantique Couture 2009