I cannot put into words the emotions the performance made me feel. The story was emotional, a love story of course, a tale of two gentlemen fighting for their ladies who are being sold to the Sultan. It was fun, it was dramatic, it was vibrant. Though, it was not the story that touched me, it was the skill. I was holding in tears, i’m not sure what they were tears of, they weren’t of joy, they weren’t of sadness. Perhaps admiration. Admiration of the practice and time necessary to perfect these skills. Years and years of dedication, and years and years of sacrifice.
I suddenly felt like a little girl again, wishing to take ballet lessons so I could “be like them when I grow up”, whilst I sat in awe of every movement.
A nervous silence from the crowd, as dancers leap metres across the stage, legs in the splits, landing in an arabesque. A perfect silence from feet, as they touch down so delicately with precision and operation. Mass disbelief whilst witnessing the dancers spring so high in the air, continuously, as though they could go all day. Uncoordinated applause from the crowd in response to the coordination between each dancer, and the orchestra. It was emotionally stirring to watch.
Speaking of the orchestra, they were euphonious. They are in fact the most critical component of a functioning performance. There is nothing like the muffled sound of the orchestra tuning up prior to the show. And, the music they play, WOW. As a musician myself I can tell you first hand the level of practice required, and even more so in an orchestra where timing is key or the entire piece could fall apart at one wrongly timed note.
La Corsaire was actually quite male dominated, which is unusual for a ballet. In a lot of performances I have seen, I find the men to be more of a supporting act, there for lifting the women. I have to say, the male dancers stole the show a little bit. One in particular that really amazed me, Daniel McCormick, seemed to be new to the scene according to the programme, in other words, it seemed this was one of his first shows. I have never seen someone leap so high with so much vigour, he was astonishing.
Another thing which was nice to see was a lot of diversity in the cast. Unfortunately and wrongfully, Ballet through the years has been something of a more privileged sport. I have been going to the ballet since I was a young girl, and over the years as times changes and progress, casts are becoming increasingly diverse. Its lovely to see, and incredibly important too.
The ballet has a special place in my heart, I went a lot as a young girl with my granny. I haven’t seen this ballet before, and for some reason, I had low expectations. But was I wrong… It was phenomenal. I would highly recommend it.
Unfortunately, the ballet has finished. It is a very famous ballet, so I expect it will be on again soon.
As a member of UCL MODO fashion society, and having always been quite nifty when it comes to DIY: I decided to participate, as a designer, in the annual sustainability fashion show.
It is no secret that the fashion industry is harmful to the environment, the show takes this into consideration and raises awareness of the necessary change for a sustainable future in fashion. Designers set out with the aim to each create a sustainable collection, by thrifting, recycling, and up-cycling, and boy did they do a good job. The talent exhibited in each design was extreme: especially given most of the designers are self taught. The show really was amazing, a really exciting experience.
The process of making clothing, from designing to creating the garment, is long. Alongside university, I didn’t have tonnes of time on my hands, so I opted for a small 5-piece collection. 4/5 pieces were reconstructed old suit pieces, and 1/5 pieces was a handmade satin skirt. I designed one male and one female look.
Suits: represent power, action & superiority – an ideology that should be taken with regards to combatting climate change.
Detailing: Green metallic thread represents the environment. Loose threads/ metal staples represent mere attempts at holding together a world/garment that is falling apart. Frayed hems represent distress, damage and imperfection.
Black roses: Rose being my name and a fundamental part of my brand idea, they are black to represent fatality.
Slogans/imaging: making a statement about the problems we face. I was happy with the reaction I got from the crowd. 1. Hot Earth, crying with ‘HELP’ in green. 2. ‘The world is getting warmer’ with a cartoon sad face.
I was inspired by a lot of things and a few designers. I’ve always loved a power suit, so they really represent a part of myself. Additionally the embroidered ‘RED’ and the black satin roses, also very much a representation of myself, I’d say these are quite an integral part of my brand image, I plan to use these in my future designs. In terms of designers: I was inspired by a lot of Savile Row tailoring, early Vivienne Westwood, Tom Ford, Djerf Avenue. I also used pinterest quite a lot.
LOOK 1: Modelled by Jason Abraham
Blazer: Purchased from a charity shop, adapted by cutting/stitching, stapling & added in an additional collar/lapels, loose green thread (a central theme to my collection) representing a ‘falling apart’ aesthetic based on the dire climate situation. Suit trousers: Purchased from a charity shop, reconstructed – removing and stitching patches back in, loose green threads again. T-shirt: Purchased from a charity shop, cut to small pieces and stitched together with an external seam using green thread, a messy aesthetic again to represent global calamity. ‘RED’ brand name scruffily stitched into the collar in green metallic thread. Styled with Air Force 1s.
LOOK 2: Modelled by Lakkaya Palmer
Cropped Jacket: A gorgeous charity shop piece selected because of its large lapels, reconstructed and cut to create messy crop. Loose metallic green stitching again, common of theme. Black satin handmade roses, as described earlier. Satin Skirt: Handmade from scratch, with a frayed hemline and a slit, representing falling apart. Zip at back.
Each designer set the bar high, and all in all really showed how high fashion can be achieved sustainably.
I’m definitely going to design again, the next show is in march, with its theme ‘Opulance’. I plan to design 2 extravagant and lavish dresses, with the common theme of ‘RED’/ black satin roses.
Sustainable changes are slow and costly, and unfortunately 100% sustainability is an achievement that lies far into the future due to the size of the industry. However, change is being made whilst upholding fashion house opulence, brand integrity and uniqueness, this is key to progression.
Paris is my favourite city in the world. The streets seep fashion, culture, art, romance and class. There is tonnes to do and see in Paris, I couldn’t begin to list them. Paris is a city that caters to all interests. Here are my top 5 things to do:
Vintage shopping at flea markets
Vintage items fascinate me, I am so intrigued in the stories behind them. Primarily, I look for vintage clothing at markets, I’ve come across some crazy rare pieces whilst vintage shopping, from 1999 runway PRADA to GUCCI sunnies from the 70’s and much more. But not just designer: old tees, and sports sweatshirts from decades ago. There are some crazy graphic prints hiding under deep piles of pre-owned, unwanted cloth; each holding a different story, a different occasion, a different triumph or loss, worn by a different personality. I always think about what the aged pre-owner is up to now, where they are, what do they do.
I love looking through old bric-a-brak, old clocks (the fact that people actually once owned, loved and used these objects – I almost feel like you can sense their presence in the item), old cassette players, old records old tools, old photographs, all these belongings waiting for their future home, ready to be passed on their future lover. Where did they come from?
Deep in the arterioles of Les Puces de Saint-Ouen market, is a womenswear archive. Inside is the most grand collection of pieces by designers A-Z, from gowns, to jackets and swimwear. They must have been collecting for years. I was unsure of the name, but if you have the time I highly recommend checking it out. Its a hidden gem.
The two markets I would recommend are: Les Puces de Saint-Ouen at Porte de Clignancourt and Marche aux Puces de Montreuil
The galleries in Paris are home to some of the worlds most famous works of art. Wondering through Parisian galleries observing not only gorgeous works and fabulous exhibitions but the extraordinary architecture of the buildings makes a very wholesome day out. Galleries are something I have visited from a young age, in all cities, countries, whatever, so I never miss out on the opportunity to visit more. My favourite are the Guggenheims
My favourite galleries in Paris are:
TheCentre Pompidou – an incredible building actually built with its infrastructure externally making it very interesting architecturally. The top floor has an incredible view of the whole of Paris, and you can go out onto a balconyesque outdoor area, it doesn’t seem high from below but I found my self staying clear of the edges when I was up there. The Pompidou hosts incredible exhibitions for low prices, or alternatively has a collection including Picasso, Delauney, Kansinski, Warhol and many more artists which can be viewed for free (right now … until we leave the EU:(..)
The Louvre Museum – an iconic palace, with the most phenomenal striking architecture, leading out onto the grand palais jardins. Most of the gallery is underground which has a very ‘Da Vinci Code’ feel to it. The louvre is home to some amazing sculptures and the famous Mona Lisa. Seeing Mona in the flesh was surreal, having heard so much about its value, history, her mystery and individuality, by word of mouth and in documentaries, it becomes something you never really expect to see. Again, the gallery hosts multiple exhibitions for a small cost, or alternatively has free exhibitions (until we leave the EU).
59 Rivoli – this is actually a working studio on Rue de Rivoli, and its free for visitors to wonder around and look at the artists in action. Unlike most galleries, the art is presented in studio form: almost like the thought process in the artists head, pieces piled up on each other, half finished, sketches, a lot of artistic chaos and it is very aesthetically pleasing etcetera. One of my favourite parts are the stairs; the 5 story building has a stair case that is painted by what I would imagine to be hundreds of artists, almost like the Rabbit Hole in Alice and Wonderland.
Others must-visits include: Musée de l’Orangerie, Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, Musée d’Orsay
3. The riverside
Unlike any other city I’ve been to, the riverside is a fundamental part of life in Paris. With wide banks filled with outdoor gyms, art installations, bars, and even nightclubs, people are always down by the riverside, on foot, bike or electric scooter. In the summer, during the evenings the river bank is packed full of parisians, enjoying the warm air with a drink and good company. Even in the winter, the riverside is busy in the evenings. Scooting down the riverside roads on electric scooters was an absolute highlight of my last trip, though if you try be careful as they are fast and dangerous on the roads. The Posts des Arts bridge (the lock bridge – or used to be at least) has a great view in both directions down the river.
4. The Eiffel Tower
Have you even visited Paris if you don’t watch the tower sparkle on the hour. This never gets old for me, its the most romantic and iconic experience for me. Sitting in the park in summer, with a bottle of wine or even in winter to be honest, its still busy late at night, SO lush. Going up the Eiffel tower costs, but I still recommend. its 300 metres-odd tall, but when you are at the summit, feels like a 10000000 metres tall. The outdoor summit is encaged in a rusty metal mesh, which feels incredible insubstantial when up there. I had a weird feeling of vertigo almost every time I went close to the edge – definitely not for the faint-hearted or those afraid of heights. When your up there you can get a glass of champagne which is an enjoyable experience, but the most recent time I went it was freezing cold and I was holding on to my hat with both hands from the vicious wind. You can take the stairs as an alternative to the lift up to the second floor, all I can say is – I hope you are fit, and its easier on the way down!
5. My final recommendation is to eat well
France is home to some amazing food: the smelliest cheeses, addictive baguettes, escargot, frogs legs. Do lots of research and eat in highly rated french bistros. I love the authentic little cafes with their outside seating and very french menus.
Talking with Sophie Harley: award-winning bespoke jewellery designer.
London-based British jewellery designer Sophie Harley, is recognised world wide for her gorgeous handmade pieces using the finest of stones and precious metals. Sophie has a unique and distinctive style, built upon a hybrid of ancient symbolic and modern illustrative design. Sophie encourages a very personal and intimate experience from the moment a piece is designed to when it is taken home by the client. Clients are welcomed into her working studio in Notting Hill, to watch the traditional hand finishing techniques that Sophie and her team use to create the jewellery. Due to this, Sophie’s work has a deep human imprint, making it jewellery that one can really connect with on an emotional level.
During her career, Sophie has won multiple awards including UK Jewellery Designer of the Year 2013. She is well known for her piece, The Algerian Love Knot, which is a significant feature in the James Bond films Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. Sophie has collaborated with tonnes of names including Harvey Nichols, Pedlars and Boodle & Dunthorne, creating pieces for catwalk shows and music videos. One of her greatest achievements was a collaborated creation with De-Beers of a winged horse brooch, encrusted in gold and diamonds. This piece was presented to the winner of the Royal Ascot King George VI Stakes, by the Queen.
I had the privilege of speaking to the lovely Sophie about all things jewellery and business, and heres what she said.
I first asked Sophie how she got into her line of work and at what point she realised that jewellery design was her calling.
“I started off at the University of West Surrey in Farnham. This was a very drawing based course, lots of life drawing etcetera, which was of course great practice. I then got into and went to The Royal College of Art, where I studied a Masters in Jewellery design, this was much more technical and enabled more creative thought, and visions for the future.”
Whilst at The Royal College, Sophie found she really honed her goldsmithing skills. It was during this time that Sophie became one of forty to be approved a Crafts Council grant. This grant essentially matches expenses required to buy any tools and equipment necessary for starting up a creative business. This allowed Sophie to set up her Jewellery business straight after graduating.
“I had just finished at The Royal College, and I had so much interest from the work I had produced during my degree. The following two years were constant exhibitions, it was strenuous but exciting. A lot of my works were one off pieces, and it was then that this had to change”
Sophie displayed her work at the Chelsea Crafts Fair on the Kings road. At the time this was a very one of a kind affair, with few events similar. It was an occasion where the ‘crème de la crème’ would exhibit their works of art.
“A lot of big people would attend, lots of buyers etcetera. It was a fantastic time, a lot of fun, and it put me on ‘the map’ and gave me a private client base, many clients who still come to me today, nearly 30 years later.”
I asked Sophie how she would describe her work and what influences her style.
“I would describe my work a cultural clash of ancient philosophy and modern day. I spend a lot of time drawing in galleries and museums. My work is heavily symbolic, coming from a very hand made place. I work with a lot more precious metals now days than I did before, and lots of precious stones.”
Sophie’s signature iconic symbol, is a winged heart representing love, hope, and liberation. This is seen incorporated into a lot of her work. It is even her logo, printed onto bags and boxes, and her store front.
“I was fascinated by ornate and intricate jewellery design from a very young age. I remember as a child I was captivated by my Grandmothers charm bracelet from India. I fell in love with ancient artefacts at the beginning of my time at art school. I suppose I’m influenced by a lot of things, this creates the language of my work. Some of my most interesting pieces are ones I have remodelled for clients, into bespoke pieces, almost designed by the client themselves so that it meets their exact desires. I love my up-cycling and remodelling, reusing materials is not only sustainable but keeps the history of pieces and their emotional integrity whilst creating something instantly recognisable and emotional, that can then be passed down to future generations.”
Next, I asked Sophie what material is her favourite to work with.
“Precious metals are beautiful to work with. When doing bench work, I like silver, or a mix of silver and gold – I think they look gorgeous together. And of course, all stones are beautiful in themselves.”
Since Sophie’s work is all handcrafted, I wondered whether she had a team to assist her and how significant a role they might play in the production of her jewellery.
“In the 30 years i’ve been designing, I have now acquired a talented team of 5-6 girls who work with me in the studio. Of course, I have a couple of people I occasionally work with externally including goldsmiths. All of my bespoke client work is done in the studio by myself, and my team do a lot of work on the collections.”
Sophie has been designing for coming up to 30 years now, I wondered what some of her proudest moments and achievements are.
“I have to say I think my greatest achievement to this day is when I got my acceptance letter into The Royal College. That was immense, an unforgettable moment. There were just 6 spaces on the course that year, and I was desperate to go. This was the start of my career. Also, winning Jewellery Designer of the Year in 2013 was incredible, a very proud moment. The event was hosted in the Natural History Museum and it was absolutely gorgeous. I wasn’t expecting to win, I actually hadn’t intended on entering. It was actually my husband who suggested I enter. I have a lot of proud moments, designing the piece presented by the Queen at Royal ascot. The James Bond Commission, this was very exciting. I actually didn’t know it would feature so heavily, I thought it might be featured in a single shot perhaps, but actually its an integral part of the story, featuring across two films. I feel proud on a weekly basis, handing over a piece to somebody and seeing them overwhelmed with emotion, that is just such an amazing feeling that I will never grow tired of. I am very lucky.”
Running a creative business is a tough industry, I asked Sophie what she finds the hardest about her career. She said that sometimes she struggles with the lack of time she has to actually stay creative whilst running a business. There are a lot of important decisions that need to be made to ensure a smoothly running and functional business, and this can take away time available to be creative.
“At art college, a tutor of mine, David Watkins told me something that has stuck with me and now I am older I have realised the truth within it. He told us “you don’t know how lucky you are to spend all of your time creating, when your out and if you successfully manage to make a business out of what you do, you’ll have a mere 10% of your time to be creative”, I have realised this is true. Running a business is a huge amount of work in itself.”
I finished my chat with Sophie by asking what she hopes for over the next few years.
“I hope for my business to continue to grow, though I’m unsure about whether to work with investors to do so as this is my business, its my baby, I’ve nurtured it myself to where it is today. I hope for more bespoke work as I love doing this. Maybe another film, that would be fun. I would also love to do some bigger almost architectural pieces, I am always very open to ideas and creative collaboration.”
A huge thank you to Sophie for speaking to me about her work. I have always been a big fan of her gorgeous designs, and it was a pleasure finding out more about their roots.
Suits: representing superiority and attitude, whilst pushing the boundaries from work to everyday life. Challenging limitations of womenswear set by historical ideas about femininity. The trend covers all sort of cuts and styles, from oversized jackets and loose fitting trousers, to large shoulder pads and ankle sweeping cigarette trousers. Next on my list: a double breasted blazer.
Antony Gormley, an internationally renowned sculptor, with works recognised all across the world, from the Northern UK coastlines, to Manhattan skylines. Gormley has now taken over the main gallery at The Royal Academy with his latest sculptural installation. The exhibition explores Gormley’s diverse range of materials, including organic, industrial and elemental materials. The installation focusses on the human body, and its sensory experiences. Gormley strongly believes in the body as a ‘place’; a place of worship, a place of experience, consciousness and feeling. The exhibition is a totally immersive experience, inviting each sense and heightening ones attention to the body and its surroundings throughout.
From start to finish, the exhibition had the hairs on my neck on end. Upon entry into the grand courtyard of the RA, a small cast iron baby lies alone (“IRON BABY”, 1999), curled up on the ground. The sculpture is quite easily missed and very lowkey. I actually attended an early evening session, so it was darkening and it was pouring with rain, making this sculpture vulnerable and thus quite thoughtprovoking. The sculpture had me reflecting on current world crises. I thought of news images of children of Grenfell tower in 2017, I thought of the children of Syria and the refugee crisis, I thought of the future generations that must deal with the detrimental effects of our elongated damage to the environment. The cast was based upon Gormley’s daughter at just six days old, in a position representing need of shelter, sustenance and peace. The sculpture attempts to make us aware of our precarious position in relation to the future of our planet. I personally found it very efficient in doing so.
CLEARING VII, 2019. Another significant installation was the room filled with squiggle-like aluminium tube, coiled and twisted from floor to ceiling and across the entirety of the room. Part of the experience was following the walls around the sculpture, stepping over and ducking under sections of it, making this a piece that really got one thinking of their surroundings and their body in relation, allowing the viewer to really become part of this dynamic artwork. The sculpture is described as a ‘drawing in space’, and visually it really is an expressive graphite scribble in true form. It uses approximately 8 kilometres of aluminium square tubing.
Matrix III, 2019. Gormley’s done it again with another room-filling installation. A huge visual steel mesh labyrinth up in the air so one views from underneath. The cage contains a small chamber within, said to be the size of an average sized bedroom, Gormley sees this void as ‘the space of dreaming‘. The Matrix confused my eyes, as I struggled to perceive what was close and far within the dense mass of recycled steel. This piece was designed for the gallery.
A fairly iconic Gormley sculpture, is the life-size casting of his own body. These cast iron figures have been seen worldwide, from the Witterings beaches, Crosby beach of Liverpool, and overseas to New York rooftops. LOST HORIZON I, was one of my favourite rooms in the exhibition, it reminded me of my childhood. Having family in Liverpool, I went up a lot as a child, we would walk along the huge beach, Crosby Beach, and look at what I saw then as HUGE statues of men, but now see as normal sized. This work is from the 1980’s when Gormley did a lot of work with cast iron, offering durability outdoors. The figures of Lost Horizon I were made from six different moulds all in similar poses, I didn’t know this at the time of viewing but I did notice slight discrepancies between the figures and wondered whether this was the case. The figures are arranged in all sorts of angles and orientations, on the ceiling, on the walls, this is designed to defy the gravitationally-defined horizontal way of viewing ourselves and other humans.
CAVE, 2019. A piece the size of a house, made from dark tunnels and rooms that you navigate through relying on our senses alone, to feel through using the sides of the walls and ceiling. This sculpture is an immense experience, not one for the claustrophobic or faint hearted. The architecture of the piece is built upon vast geometric cubes, that echo and vibrate when inside. Gormley believes that we most readily experience our body as a place when our eyes are closed. Apparently, from a distance, the CAVE is itself a representation of a human figure made up of cubic forms.
It was a fascinating exhibition, really truly awesome. Of course, I have only touched on a few pieces that I really interacted with emotionally. Additionally, there was a room filled with his sketchbooks, this almost gave an insight into the creatively abstract and intellectual way in which his mind cogs turn. I have to say, being so fond of Gormley’s work, and having seen some of his outdoor works, I found there was slightly less work exhibited than I had anticipated. Despite this, I would highly recommend going, though the exhibition is close to finished. The exhibition is on until the 3rd of December (2019). Tickets can be booked through this link here https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/antony-gormley , or alternatively visit some of his extraordinary works such as ‘Angel of the North’, located in Gateshead or ‘Another place’, on Crosby beach, Liverpool.
All photos taken by me, IPHONE 7 quality – so not amazing… Excluding IRON BABY photo, this is taken from an unknown source online, in no way am I claiming the image as my own.
Something I’m sure many of us have in common: a very long list of gorgeous clothes and accessories we would love to own.
So I have curated an array of items I’m currently loving, and with time, hard work and serious saving, might one day be able to call my own.
The items in my dream basket represent my style to a T. I would describe my style as high-end street/ avant-garde athleisure (but at the same time, I don’t restrict my self to one style, I love loads of different aesthetics and styles and often try different things). A downside to my taste in clothing is its often a little tooooo expensive, which is a slight limitation.
PRADA hooded satin shell parka – love it. The triangle front logo is really cool on the simple almost a-line shaped black jacket. I love black, all my clothes are black and I feel like this Jacket is an absolute essential for my wardrobe.
PRADA monolith boots. Chunky combat style boots are so in right now. Personally never thought I’d enjoy such a big chunky sole but I’m loving it. The detachable pocket-style detailing is awesome, creates a real ninja outdoors aesthetic, satisfying Lara Croft dreams. I NEED.
GUCCI mini velvet Dionysus bag. Always been a huge fan of this style. Love it in velvet and of course black, my fav.
PRADA mesh and satin clutch bag. It’s the colour that does this for me, a gorgeous green. This bag is so versatile can be styled in so many different ways, dressed up with nightwear, with beach clothes, all sorts.
& OTHER STORIES black oversized wool jumper. It’s officially November and it’s freeeeezing. Being me and loving black, I can’t get enough black woolies to keep me warm. I like the oversized fit here, so snuggly. Again, can be styled so many different ways. I’d wear it with a black silky slip dress/ skirt underneath and a pair of boots. Or alternatively under a trench coat or even with a blazer. I think being long enough you could wear it as a dress-like-jumper over a skirt with a pair of tights and again some chunky boots. LOVE IT.