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Angy's Blog March - April 2009

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



ARCHIVE: my previous entries:

FEBRUARY - MARCH 2009 (Favourite View - Punk Revival - Gone with the Wind - Fast Fashion v. Recycled Fashion)
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 2009:


JUNE 2009: LAKE DISTRICT FASHION EVENT (Date to be Confirmed)
Watch this space for something completely different - special fashion event in the Lakes - won't let the cat out of the bag just yet!

OCTOBER 2009: STOLEN DREAMS 2010, St. James' Park, Newcastle (Date to be Confirmed)
Spectacular launch of my unique, 2010 'Stolen Dreams' Collection in aid of Macmillan Cancer Care
SEE BELOW FOR FURTHER DETAILS

20 NOVEMBER 2009: CHARITY FASHION SHOW, Haverthwaite (Provisional Date)
Charity Fashion CatwalkShow by Romantique Couture


LANGDALE CHASE HOTEL, Windermere

Here is my latest advertisement. It will appear in the new Langdale Chase Hotel Weddings brochure. The Langdale Chase is the 'Jewel in the Crown' of Lake District hotels, a special place and one of the most popular wedding venues on acount of its superb setting. The lawns lead down to the shore of Lake Windermere while the view from the terrace takes in the western shore of Windermere, Wray Castle and the romantic silhouette of the rugged Langdale Pikes

Further information:
www.langdalechase.co.uk

Models coutesy of Premier Productions, Scotland


24 APRIL 2009 - MADE IN ENGLAND

It was St George's Day yesterday. I don't have a picture of St.George slaying the Dragon so I have pasted a picture of bluebells in a wood just a few minutes away. Just as appropriate for the time of year.

On my way to Newcastle on Tuesday, I called in on David at Auckland Clothing to discuss future manufacturing opportunities. Did you know that there are very very few clothes actually still 'Made in England', or even 'Made in the United Kingdom'? Even traditional 'British' names such as Burberry or M&S use factories in the Far East to manufacture their clothes. To make matters worse, some firms use a label 'Made in England', 'Made in the UK' etc when the actual garment is made abroad but the final touches or packaging is completed in the UK. It is perfectly legal. I think that is terrible!

Well, the upshot of the meeting was that we are looking at how to put together a couple of my designs to run limited editions of perhaps ten dresses. In addition we are considering other ready to wear lines to fill a couple of gaps in the market. More of that in due course. Needless to say, these garments will really be 'Made in Britain', and therefore will help to safeguard Britsih jobs and will reduce transport costs and therefore my carbon footprint. What is more, because they are made locally, quality can be guaranteed! So, watch this space!


22 APRIL 2009 - STOLEN DREAMS: LAUNCH OF MY 'PREMIERSHIP COLLECTION'

Just back from a couple of days in Newcastle. Following the recent article in the Sunday Sun, about my forthcoming collection, I was approached by Macmillan Cancer Support regarding working together on a fashion event.

I had already intending using the launch of my collection to raise funds for a worthwhile cause, and as cancer was at the top of my list, Macmillan was an obvious choice. Macmillan provide essential support to people suffering from cancer, and going through therapy. They are not funded by Government and rely entirely on donations, and charity events such as sponsored walks, marathons and so on. Considering that it is estimated that 1 in 3 people are touched by cancer at some stage in their life, the work of organisations such as Macmillan is vital. Take a look at their website for more information, and ideas about how you can help in your own region - there are some excellent events in which anybody can participate:


www.macmillan.org.uk


My meeting was at Café @ St.James' with Janet, the fund-raising organiser for Macmillan in the North East. We talked about everything from camping and climbing, to the proposed show. As you can imagine, my head is still buzzing round and round with excitement and ideas. What a fantastic opportunity! What a day! The sun was shining and there wasn't a cloud in the sky so afterwards I wandered down to the Quayside for an ice cream at a pavement cafe, to mull over the meetings, and our plans for the event.

A famous Newcastle landmark: 14th century Cathedral of St. Nicholas' with it's elegant lantern tower

The plan is for an exclusive fashion show, which will take place in one of the impressive function suites at St. James' Park, the home of Newcastle United. The final date will depend on next season's fixtures list, but should be towards the beginning of October. There will be two catwalk shows, culminating in my new 'Stolen Dreams' Premiership Collection, in addition to other highlights whch will be announced in due course. We are aiming for 800-1000 guests, and may also have a few surprise faces. The guests will also have the opportunity to bid for a bespoke, designer outfit of their choice - either based on one of the cawalk designs or completely new. Again, all proceeds will go towards Macmillan.

I will keep you updated regarding dates and times, and a schedule, in due course. Meanwhile, I have a lot of work to do - organising the event itself, not to mention completing another 15 or more spectacular designs! So watch this space for details of what promises to be a very special evening!

Two of a series of rather striking Art Deco panels on the 1933-36 GEC Building
near St. James' Park, Newcastle
Views of Bridges over the River Tyne:

RobertStephenson's High Level Bridge (1846-1850) - trains on top, buses below, and Gateshead on the other side with the 'Get Carter' car park still standing ... but only just!

View along the Tyne from the Gateshead Millenium Bridge to the Tyne Bridge, Swing Bridge and High Level Bridge.


16 APRIL 2009
EASTER SUNSHINE

Who said it always rains in the Lake District? Well it does sometimes. That is why the landscape is so clean and beautiful. However, there was barely a cloud in the sky all over the Easter weekend. We have the first flush of Spring - green hedgerows, bluebells already carpeting the woodlands, and swallows swooping through the air ... oh yes, and thousands of tourists. Well, at least we know to avoid the usual traps and can still find peace and tranquillity, even on the busiest of holiday weekends. Anyway, I though you might appreciate a few pictures taken over the last few days.

We had family staying for Easter. Parents. Sister-in-Law. Children. I am used to catering for two so of course there was the usual panic. We decided on a picnic. Would it rain? Thankfully not so everybody was happy. Time to lie in the sun and paddle in the river. A great success. Now they have gone. Even Mike is on a training course. Just me and the cats. So quiet. An empty house and nobody to talk to. What a contrast!

River Leven at Fell Foot; Pussy Willow;
View over the Leven Valley; Evening light at High Dam.


11 APRIL 2009 - VICTORIANA
I received a request at the end of January for a Victorian outfit. Quite a challenge ... especially as the request came from the USA for a very special 'prom' dress. The first problem was getting the right measurements - I mean, you can't just pop over the Atlantic with your tape measure, can you? So armed with my instructions my subject went to see her needlecraft teacher ... with her own tape measure.

The costume is really spectacular - a marvellous achievement. But I would say that, wouldn't I? Seriously though, I am very proud of it, and relieved that it arrived safely at its destination ... my customer mentioned that she has a dog which will tear up anything the postman leaves on her doorstep!

Anyway, here are a few pictures of the final creation - it took a month to complete but it was worth all the effort. I hope you like it. The vest and corset are, of course, my own design. The tricky part was the underskirt, with its bustle created from hoops ... something you would expect to find in the V&A, rather than at a prom at the other side of the world!

I am now looking forward to receiving a full report from the prom ... she should be show stopper dressed like that. I only hops she has somebody to unlace her if she needs the loo!


6 APRIL 2009 - THE BEAUTIFUL GAME

Have you been? Yes? No? Well if you get the chance go along to a Premiership footie match ... nothing compares. Especially with a big stadium, and a big crowd, of genuine supporters - like Newcastle, Liverpool, Man City, etc. A friendly, faithful crowd that get behind their team. A couple of years ago there were a number of books out telling you what to do before you die - well this is one of those things!

So there I was cheering with 52,000 other people, hoping for a win, but knowing, deep down, that the odds were stacked against us. There was optimism - a new manager, a release of black and white balloons, encouraging headlines in the Chronicle, and a packed stadium. Well, they fought like terriers in the first half, but in the end the Blues overwhelmed them and all fell quiet as thousands of disheartened fans streamed out into the city, heading home. Well-behaved. They deserve better but ... will save my comments for the end of the season!

I have had a love of football since I was a kid. My mum had wanted me to be a boy ... well, in some ways I lived up to her expectations. I suppose I was a bit of a tomboy, climbing trees and playing football. Every Sunday. For some reason it didn't matter if you were a boy or a girl. It was only a game! But we certainly had fun. I think the boys were scared of me. I could be either a striker or a goalkeeper depending on who was missing. It didn't matter which position. I always fought like a tiger for the ball, and we always won!

But if an adult interfered in that kids' world the magic would disappear. And yes, there was one particular busy body who made our lives a misery. Our pitch was a cul-de-sac between the apartment blocks and nearby was one of the nastiest neighbours you could imagine. He hated everybody. Especially us. He was always out to spoil our fun. Noise, and playful kids, were not his cup of tea, especially when our ball landed in his vegetable plot. Back then food was scarce where I came from ... most foodstuffs were rationed so every spare patch of land was cultivated to grow fruit and vegetables. But that wasn't the point. He was just spiteful. He wouldn't even let his own kids play with us. They were too posh! And he had a dog too. We had to throw sticks over the garden wall to see if it was loose before anybody dared to crawl in to retrieve the ball. Of course there were incidents when we were caught. Then he would threaten to put a knife through our ball ... and sometimes he carried out his threat!


1 APRIL 2009 - NO JOKE: ALAN SHEARER IS COMING HOME!
How about this for the 1st of April - I really didn't believe it at first, especially as Mike is always trying to catch me out and wind me up (easily done too!)

I was in the bathroom, brushing my teeth, when a scream broke the silence. Panic - what was it?

What had happened this time? Bad News? But, hey, ho ... something better than I could imagine. And it was on the BBC so it couldn't have been a joke. Shearer is taking over as Newcastle manager until the end of the season. At last, something positive. Perhaps we won't end up relegated after all? I just hope he is allowed to do his job properly ... if there is one person that can rally the fans and motivate the players it has to be Shearer. Well, after the Keegan debacle I lost faith in the management, as you know, but maybe this can change my mind. Perhaps they have come back down to earth and have realised that they cannot alienate the loyal base anymore. After all, it's Newcastle's greatest asset ... together with Shearer. Just eight games in which to find out ... and of course, to see what happens next in this rollercoaster saga!

Equally exciting, I have managed to get tickets for the match against Chelsea on Saturday. I'll be singing up there with the Gods at the top of the Gallowgate Stand. No doubt it will be a sell out. Just three days ... it won't be an easy one, but at least the result is no longer a foregone conclusion. Must follow Keegan's words ... have faith!


31 MARCH 2009 - LIGHTHOUSE

Ulverston has a lighthouse ... well actually it is a monument to Sir John Barrow who was a founder member of the Royal Geographical Society, a replica of the Eddystone Lighthouse. It stands on Hoad Hill overlooking the town ... and not out at sea at all! It has just been restored to its former glory and is well worth a visit.

Couldn't resist taking a few pics today as they were back-burning the old bracken and heather on the hill, and the lighthouse looming out of the smoke reminded me of the famous wartime picture of St. Paul's Cathedral during the Blitz.


27 MARCH 2009 - HOWAY THE LADS!

I have been looking for a small, clothing manufacturer to help me with a small run of my designs for some time - preferably close to home to reduce my carbon footprint. However, everywhere I tried had either closed or transferred to Eastern Europe, South-east Asia or China. There used to be manufacturers and mills in Cumbria, Lancashire and the Borders of Scotland. Finally we tracked down a company, called Auckland Clothing and Pleaters, in County Durham, and had arranged a meeting yesterday.

I was quite anxious as we zipped along the A66 over the bleak Pennines. Out of all my meetings this was one I really wanted a result from. If you spend a lot of your time in meetings you will know what I mean ... you want to click with that person, bring them on side as a friend so that you can move forward. Well that is what happened yesterday. David, the manager, was easy going, friendly, and to top it all a 'Toon' fan! You can't get better than that! The nicest thing about his company is that they are truly local, employing local people. They are a nice team too, and were very busy which is always a good sign. We discussed some of my ideas and I left one of my favourite gowns for them to pull apart and see how it can be manufactured ... boo! hoo!

Not mine unfortunately - couldn't resist a picture of this little Austin Seven parked beneath Grey's Monument.
David also introduced us to 'Northumberland Tartan': the border plaid that predates the colourful Scottish tartans. The 'tartan' is woven in a fine check pattern combining black and white wool. It has a long history stretching back to Roman times, and was worn by shepherds until quite recently since the high lanolin content made it waterproof. The tradition has been revived by Catherine Wylde who set up the Northumberland Tartan Company in 2001. I would like to meet her and find out more. There is a possibility of using some Northumberland Tartan in a range of 'ready to wear' garments that I would like to produce with David's help. Watch this space! Meanwhile, there is a suggestion that the black and white stripes of Newcastle United were inspired by Northumberland Tartan ... nice story but I can't find any evidence to back it up. Anyway, that's another story. Meanwhile check out: www.northumberlandtartan.co.uk

Auckland Clothing's little factory is based in Bishop Auckland - two hours drive from my studio and just thirty minutes or so from Newcastle. Naturally, after the meeting the city beckoned - well, I needed to wind down and a cup of coffee and ham and pease pudding stottie was just what I needed!

Newcastle is a fabulous city, especially when the sun is shining. Many people associate it with the arts revival in Gateshead: the Angel of the North, the Baltic and the Sage, or they think of the Quayside and the famous bridges, and, of course, the football. But much of the city's true beauty lies in its elegant architecture ... just step out of the Metro Station at Monument and take in the view of Grey Street winding down towards the Tyne - it was voted Britain's favourite street, and John Betjemen summed it up perfectly:

"As for the curve of Grey Street, I shall never forget seeing it to perfection, traffic-less on a misty Sunday morning. Not even Regent Street, even old Regent Street London, can compare with that descending subtle curve"

We strolled down Grey Street, checked out Vivienne Westwood's boutique, resisted buying a fab pair of tights, and discovered that there is even a street called 'Savile Row' in Newcastle.

Clockwise from top, left: GreyStreet and the Theatre Royal; Angy paying homage outside The Strawberry at St.James' Park; the delightful art nouveau Emerson Chambers building beside Grey's Monument; The Central Arcade.


23 MARCH 2009 - THE RETURN OF THE SHIRTY DRESSMAKER - STOLEN DREAMS 2010: THE COLLECTION

Well, I had planned to keep my new collection under wraps for now but I needed help with a venue to launch it. Coreena at the Sunday Sun has been threatening a follow-up feature to 'The Shirty Dressmaker' for a while and persuaded me to let her pass on a few hints without revealing too much of the actual designs. So here is a scan of the article which was published yesterday:

SUNDAY SUN "Angy's Getting Shirty Again!" - 22.3.2009 - 1.3mb PDF

Thank you, Coreena. I rather like the 'Shirty Dressmaker' tag ... and yes, I can get shirty .... just wait and see what happens if Newcastle get relegated! Well, Coreena thinks my collection will raise a few eyebrows, and if you saw some of my designs you might agree! Read the article for a rundown. All I can say is that I am surrounded by shirts from various Premiership Clubs - Manchester United, Liverpool, Sunderland, Chelsea, Aston Villa, Everton, Arsenal, Wigan, Newcastle, Spurs, and others - like lambs to the slaughter!

My intention has always been a fairly high profile launch to raise money for a worthwhile cause - Bobby Robson Cancer Foundation, Amnesty International and Refuge had all been mooted. However, the article has come up trumps as I received a call from Macmillan Cancer Support who have offered to help. They have organised charity fashion shows in the past and are keen to put something together - probably in Newcastle. Cannot name the proposed venue yet as we are only in the early planning stage but I will release more information towards the end of April. All I can say is that the event will include an impressive catwalk show and that I intend to donate one of my 'haute couture' dresses to raise additional funds for the charity.

Meanwhile, I must get on. This is going to take several months to complete in time for the next season, and I have to juggle it round work for existing clients. Plenty of ideas, designs and inspiration ... all I need now is the scissors!


20 MARCH 2009 - FUNLAND

Can you smell the Spring? It's wonderful. I doubt I will have too much time to appreciate it with a new collection, client orders and shows to plan. But we made a resolution to get out more this year ... and today we did! We went to Blackpool. Actually it was as much work as pleasure as we had to take a friend there for a meeting, and we took the opportunity to catch up with Steve, our accountant. If you are looking for a genuine, highly professional, well-informed accountant get in touch with Steve Howarth at MA2: www.ma-2.co.uk - seriously! They even won an award for Accountancy Firm of 2008 in the North-West. I'm not surprised. We've known Steve for years.

Anyway, back to Blackpool! There are people who simply don't like it ... and others who turn their noses up but have never actually been there. Well, it's certainly 'unusual', or perhaps 'bizarre' is a better word. After all you must have read the statistics (Bill Bryson gives a great account in 'Notes from a Small Island' if you are not familar) - more holiday beds than Portugal, more visitors than Greece, the second most popular tour attraction in Europe after the Vatican - Blackpool Pleasure Beach, and so on! Hard to believe on a breezy day out of season, shivering beside the Irish Sea!

You need to approach Blackpool with an open mind. Don't expect the earth. Expect nice, chatty people, and hen and stag parties all over the place ... how many times did I bump into Snow White, the Lion King, Tigger and Winnie the Pooh last night? In my opinion its a fab place - a great place for people watching and trying, but failing, to understand the British psyche. True, its tacky, kitsch and a bit scruffy and seedy round the edges - especially outside the season, but just remember this is Blackpool - and it is unique!

The wheel on Central Pier - I chickened out having a spin on it ... again!
As far as I'm concerned, for the best taste of Blackpool go during the Illuminations at the end of October - gale force winds blowing your brains out, freezing cold, eating and ice cream with sand, and strolling along the peer watching girls in miniskirts and flashing headbands and guys in shirt sleeves and kiss-me-quick hats! Blackpool at it's best! Oh yes and it has trams too ... since 1885. I grew up going to school on trams so I'm just a little biased.

Finally, if you are still not convinced, try watching the BBC comedy-drama 'Funland' . Not for the faint-hearted - you have to appreciate black comedy (think League of Gentlemen and you will get the gist) or you may never venture west of Preston ever again! Check out the DVD:
Funland at amazon.co.uk


16 MARCH 2009 - LODORE FALLS WEDDING FAYRE

Yesterday, I dragged a few dresses to the Wedding Fayre at the Lodore Falls Hotel near Keswick, Great location and a good day out in the Lakes but not particular productive, It was a relatively small show with only one other wedding dress provider, but it was well attended. I had a stand but no costumes on the catwalk. There were several photographers present including Jason Chambers who specialises in stunning wedding photographs set in the landscape of the Lake District - the picture on the flyer below is one of his.

The hotel itself is delightful, set near the famous Lodore Waterfall against the ragged 'Jaws' of Borrowdale - the inspiration for poets such as Wordsworth and Coleridge. It has a very comfortable ambience and its own spa, and the table settings, food and canapes on show appeared to be first class.

After the show was over we ventured up to 'Surprise View' a popular viewpoint on the cliffs above the Lodore Falls for a breath of fresh air. It is easily reached by the back road to Watendlath and it certainly lives up to its name - the panorama extends from Borrowdale over Derwentwater to Catbells, Bassenthwaite and Skiddaw.


My previous Posts:

FEBRUARY - MARCH 2009 (Favourite View - Punk Revival - Fast Fashion v. Recycled Fashion)
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 Craft 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