Thursday, 28 August 2014

The 'Cleopatra' and her namesake

The next in the series of posts on the A/W 2014 collection focuses on Cleopatra VII Philopator, known simply as Cleopatra, who named our beautiful sweater, pictured below. 

Cleopatra was the last active pharaoh of Egypt and the last ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty, ruling Egypt from 51 BC - 30 BC. She is known and celebrated for her beauty, as well as her love affairs with the Roman warlords Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.

Cleopatra was, most famously (and brilliantly), played by Elizabeth Taylor in the 1963 movie. But it's clearly time for a revival of her story, as James Cameron is also rumoured to be working on a Cleopatra 3D biopic, featuring Angelina Jolie in the title role.

Whether or not she was as beautiful as was claimed, she was a highly intelligent woman and an astute politician, who brought prosperity and peace to a country that was bankrupt and split by civil war. Subsequently, she was a popular ruler among the people of Egypt both because she embraced the Egyptian culture and because the country’s fortunes improved so greatly during her rule.

We felt as a strong woman ruling and improving the fortunes of a country in turmoil, she was an excellent choice to name one of our favourite pieces in the entire collection:


Thursday, 21 August 2014

Top ten knitwear style guide

The summer seems to have gone on a (hopefully brief) holiday and the temperature has dropped. So if you've started reaching for the knitwear as we all have here in the studio, but you need a bit of help styling it, take a look at the Top Ten knitwear styling guide that I wrote for Ideal Magazine:
  • There is no better combination than knit and leather. Leather trousers + simple vest and a big, textured knitted cardigan will always be a winner
  • Tuck a neat knitted sweater into a high-waisted skirt or shorts for a great transitional look for spring or autumn. 
  • Knitted track pants with heels and a light-weight loose vest or t-shirt tucked in is a great way to rock the sporty look that’s still very much on-trend
  • Layering sheer knits over camisoles and blouses is a good transitional trick for those awkward mid-season chilly days
  • Another fabric combination I can’t get enough of is knit with silk. Pull on a ribbed, body-con knitted skirt and tuck in a voluminous silk shirt for an incredibly easy but really chic outfit that will easily take you from day into evening
  • A knitted sweater dress, if it’s the right fit and shape for your body, will be your best friend in the winter months. All you need to wear with it is a good pair of thick tights and some awesome boots and you’re ready to go. 
  • A big, thick knitted cardigan is a real investment piece: it will double up as a coat and you can layer it over jumpers, leather jackets, etc. Super versatile!
  • Don’t be afraid of a cropped sweater – worn over a form-fitting dress or with a leather, high-waisted pencil skirt, you’ll actually find it’s incredibly flattering
  • If you’re a bit anxious about committing to a big statement knit, invest in a really bold, big scarf. You can be wearing jeans and a really simple jacket but chuck on a huge, bonkers scarf and I guarantee someone will ask you where you got it!
  • It IS possible to wear knit from head to toe, you just need to play around with different weights so you don’t look like a yeti monster. One chunky foundation piece worn with lots of finer, gauzy layers makes for a really great autumn/winter look. Be experimental!



Monday, 21 July 2014

The 'Victoria' and her namesake

My next post on our A/W 2014 garments is on the Victoria cardigan and Queen Victoria, after whom our lovely knit is named (in case you hadn't guessed).

I've recently had more cause to be interested in Victoria's life and reign and the Victorians in general, as when I got married last year my then-fiancé and I had our wedding reception at Osborne House, which was Victoria & Albert's beautiful, Italian-inspired Isle of Wight escape.

Queen Victoria probably doesn't really need much of an introduction or explanation, but I will endeavour to provide a brief background about this incredible woman and monarch regardless.

Victoria was Queen of Great Britain and Ireland from June 1837 until her death in January 1901 and, together with her husband Albert, is associated with Britain's great age of industrial expansion, economic progress and empire. Victoria married Albert, her first cousin, in 1840 and so one of history's great love stories (in my opinion) began. During their marriage they had nine children, all of whom went on to marry into royal or noble families across Europe.
Seven attempts were made on Victoria's life between 1840 and 1882 but it was her courageous attitude towards these attacks that greatly strengthened her popularity.
After Albert tragically died in December 1861, Victoria was inconsolable, plunged into deep mourning and wore black for the rest of her life. She avoided all public appearances for many years and spent much of this time ensconced on the Isle of Wight with her family.
Victoria died at her beloved Osborne House after a reign which lasted almost 64 years, the longest in British history.

Follow these links to see the posts on the Emmeline dress and Suu sweater.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

The 'Suu' and her namesake

We're continuing on from our earlier post this week on the A/W 2014 collection and the strong international and historical women who have named the pieces, by introducing the 'Suu' sweater, named after Aung San Suu Kyi.
Aung San Suu Kyi is a Burmese politician, leader of the opposition party in Burma (or Myanmar, as it is officially known). Her father, General Aung San, was a national hero. He was the main man responsible for securing Burma's independence from British rule in 1947, but was killed when his daughter was just two-years-old.

In 1988, after studying at Oxford University, Suu Kyi returned to Burma to look after her sick mother. The country was in turmoil, with thousands of people taking to the streets because they wanted a democracy, rather than the military-run government that was in power at the time. She agreed with her people and led the revolt against the then-leader, General Ne Win, with a series of peaceful protests. She and her party won the 1990 election despite her being disqualified and put under house arrest by the government. She remained under house arrest for almost 20 years, making her one of the world's most prominent political prisoners. During that time she was forbidden from seeing her two sons, or her British husband, who died from cancer in 1999.
She was finally released from house arrest in November 2010 and was able to leave the country for the first time in 24 years, knowing Burma's new leaders would allow her to return. In 1991 Aung San Suu Kyi won the Nobel Peace Prize for her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights
This year she was named by Forbes magazine as the 61st most powerful woman in the world. She has become an international symbol of peaceful resistance in the face of oppression.

I cannot fail to be utterly in awe of a woman who has remained so composed in the face of adversity. Patience and the ability to protest so peacefully are such admirable qualities. If only I could be half as calm and patient as Aung San Suu Kyi - anyone who knows me even in passing will tell you that patience is not something I am known for....

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The 'Emmeline' and her namesake

As the A/W 2014 collection will soon be hitting stores, we thought we'd give a bit of insight into the garments and where their names came from. This season, a big part of my inspiration was women and, in particular, strong or significant women from across the world and throughout history. Our batwing Emmeline sweater dress knitted in Donegal and mohair, seems a good place to kick off... 
Emmeline is named after Emmeline Pankhurst, a British political activist and leader of the British suffragette movement. Born in Manchester and educated in France, her work is recognised as crucial in achieving women's suffrage in the UK. She was a controversial figure who was repeatedly imprisoned for using violent tactics in her struggle for equality. Disillusioned with the women's political groups of the time, she founded the Women's Political and Social Union, which became a formidable force in British politics. Sadly, she died just weeks before equal voting rights for women was passed by parliament. In 1999, Time magazine named Pankhurst as one of the 100 most important people of the 20th century. Without Pankhurst and her peers it might have been many years before women got the vote in Britain. I think it's safe to say, whether you're a feminist or not, that we owe her a great debt.

New stockist: Pelicans & Parrots

We were really excited to be invited by boutique Pelicans & Parrots to be involved in their tropical takeover which launched last Thursday evening. You can now find a selection of our archive pieces available to buy in their Black store, on Stoke Newington Road. It's especially cool for us to be stocked by P&P because we've been mega fans of both stores ever since they opened.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Learn to knit workshop

This evening saw the start of our knitting workshops that we'll be hosting in our studio every Monday evening. The first course, Learn to Knit, began today and we kicked off in style, with delicious snacks prepared by Merci Marie (the team who handle the brilliant cafe in our building) and wine selected by Ruth Spivey at Street Vin (currently at Dalston Street Feast). Attendees spent the evening learning how to cast on and all had mastered the knit stitch by the time we had finished. Next week, we'll tackle the purl....

To enquire about the August or September workshops, email us.