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Thursday, 30 July 2015

London 2015: Hampton Court and Wicked

It's been a dream of mine to go to Hampton Court one day, the home of Henry VIII and his six wives, ever since I learned about the Tudors in Year 5. There are so many interesting stories that stem from the place, and not to mention the stunning interiors and rich, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, history.

There were live performances from the Tudor age to the Baroque age (including one where Henry VIII came out of nowhere and I giggled like a madwoman taking his photo, although he were the real thing!), and many opportunities to see those famous portraits and paintings of the Royal family! Although I'm a massive Tudor fan, the interiors and people from the later ages captivated me slightly more. Powdered wigs is all I can say!

I shan't go into too much detail as it's documented in my journal and I can't be bothered writing it out again. The pictures pretty much speak for themselves, but sadly there were some areas where either photography was forbidden (the chapel, my favourite room) or my photos turned out blurred due to the poor light.

"OMG it's the King!" *flails*

There were so many amazing Georgian outfits made from paper!

After Hampton Court and shopping, we went to see the Wicked musical! It was AMAZING!!! No photos sadly, but lots of memories. The costume design was enough to make me want to cry from joy, and the big history nerd in me was obsessing over the brilliant details in the Emerald City folk costumes.
The costumes, vibrant colours (especially the acid green) and the understandable story were fantastic, not to mention very funny! So funny the way they twisted - if that's the right word - the Wizard of Oz to make this story.

London 2015: Shopping

It's no secret that I'm very materialistic and love shopping *embarrassed*, so hopefully I won't sound too annoying here.

At Whittard's Tea shop I purchased an Alice in Wonderland tea cup for the 150th Anniversary; the handle is in the shape of a key, and the cup itself has a classical illustration of Alice in a pink frock. It looks very charming in my china collection!
Beforehand I bought a print of an elegant Georgian lady and some floral Victorian scraps at Pollock's museum.

That day, our main shopping focus was to visit the haberdashery at Liberty's. We browsed all the fabrics and trims, deciding that the prints were lovely, but the price tags ridiculous! So instead of a couple of meters of fabric, we decided on some Liberty bias binding, buttons, and angel wing applique in red floral, as it would still give a Liberty vibe on a finished garment. Whilst purchasing, I already had an idea in my mind of what I'd make - a 1920s inspired sailor dress! Also at Liberty I got a turquoise stag beetle embroidery kit (why not - I've got a beetle blog too!).

The next day we got the train to Battersea, after visiting Hampton Court for the morning. Apparently the shop we went in, Fabrics Galore, was where the Great British Sewing Bee TV programme got their fabrics for the show! I'm not surprised because inside it was immense - they had so much stock that I was overwhelmed and could hardly think to make a decision. Beautiful fabric everywhere, of all sorts and descriptions!
I must have walked around the shop three times trying to weigh up which fabrics I would use soon, and which ones I just liked the look of but wouldn't go with my designs. But in the end I came away with a creamy Alice in Wonderland fabric (14 pounds a metre, but so worth it) and a strawberry/raspberry print (on reduction at 3 pounds a metre).

Our last day in London was spent at Old Spitalfields Market, near White Chapel, I think. There were lots of beautiful handmade things and genuine vintage items, some even from the 1930s, including a gorgeous coral pink Pierrot blouse with beads on the collar.
Mainly we went there for Collectif, but I didn't really feel the urge to spend any more money as prices were high and nothing 'suitable' really leaped out at me; 'suitable' as in college-wear, not ballgowns! The store downstairs was also gorgeous, a lingerie store called What Katie Did. Again, it was expensive, but I loved it, especially the turquoise bullet bra with white mesh! I would so have bought something there if I had the money!
Food at Spitalfields is great too. I had a freshly squeezed watermelon juice and a gluten-free red velvet cupcake. I'd highly recommend!

Beautiful bags I found, too.

London 2015: Toy Museum and Afternoon Tea

My Mum and I went out for a "girly weekend" from the 16th-18th July, which was a brilliant trip to London! I gained plenty of inspiration from the city whilst I was away, both in the writing and the dress-making departments! I also completed my first Agatha Christie book - called The Mysterious Affair at Styles - and I'm already hooked on her murder mysteries. Not to mention, I got lots of shopping done - always a bonus. :)

On the way there I found a traditional umbrella and walking stick shop that reminded me of Bertie Wooster. As a bonus, there is a London double decker bus in the background.

After checking in to our hotel and unpacking, we walked a long way to Pollock's Toy Museum, which I loved. It was a creepy, creaky old house with twisted staircases leading to rooms full of staring eyes. There must have been four floors, and each one had toys in every nook and cranny, creating almost a maze effect. One room smelt strongly and inexplicably of lavender, reminding me of a ghost story I once heard. Nightmarish to some - including my mother - but I found it wonderful!
The toys could be seen as scary in a way, being ancient and cracked (most of them were Victorian), though most of them were in rather good condition considering that they'd been around since 1822, perhaps earlier.
My favourite bits were the paper theaters that hung in the entrance, the handcrafted doll houses (each one unique and detailed, showing that before items became industrialised and mass-produced, everyone was much more crafty in making their own beautiful things), the dolls staring from behind glass, and the South African tribal doll made of felt and coloured beads.
In all, we spent an hour there.

Then, at 3 o'clock we made our way to Afternoon tea at the Kings Way Hall hotel restaurant, the Harlequin. This was one of the greatest meals I've ever had, as the food was gorgeous and well-presented, the owners and workers very accommodating of my dietary requirements, and the atmosphere just right; it was completely quiet at that time of day, save for Mum and I chatting and the classical music in the background.
I had the gluten free option, which consisted of three scoops of lovely sorbet (mango flavour, icing sugar flavour, and lemon - turning into six scoops seeing as I liked it so much!), a massive plate of arranged fruit that looked rather artistic, and four sandwiches (ham and pickle, smoked salmon, cucumber, and egg) that had very soft bread. They also gave us a bottle of sparkling water, and Mum and I ordered two pots of teas; I had the "Finest Darjeeling" and she had "Mango Madness". The teas were loose leaf and so we had to use a strainer, which I'd never done before (being the peasant I am, haha). My favourite out of the two teas was my Mother's, so I stole some of hers, haha.

Mum's cakes.

Sorry 'bout my glazed expression - I'm not very photogenic!
For the whole day, including travel, I wore my Three Archangels OP from Innocent World, neutral tights, black Mary Janes, silver jewellery, and a simple diamante headband.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Inspiration: Art Deco and the 1920s

I'm really feeling the love for the glitz and glamour of the 1920s at the moment! I never thought it would be a trend with me, being quite stark and modern, but with the mammoth amounts of great literature and filmography, I'm finding that the 1920s trends are just my cup of tea! 

Think programmes like Jeeves & Wooster, Agatha Christie murder-mysteries, stills from artistic movies, and even the interior decoration. The album "Ballroom Stories" by Waldeck contributes towards the sultry intrigue and mysterious tales we all expect to come from the upper classes of the 1920s in all good stories, whereas the "Art Deco Cafe" album from the London Salon Ensemble creates a relaxing, harmonic, yet jubilant, atmosphere that is completely different, but still incredibly thematic. Another insight from the time is the wacky and fun Vaughn de Leath - I especially love her songs "Blue Skies", "Lookin' at the world thru rose coloured glasses", and "Banana Oil"! 

Now for some inspirational pictures from across the net. It all makes me want to make a 1920s-esque dress! I'm hoping to do some Art Deco art soon. 

Monday, 13 July 2015

Lolita: What I'd Like To See in Future Prints

I seem to be on a bit of a Lolita roll at the moment, what with finding the band "Lareine" (which gives me those wonderful Malice Mizer vibes, what with them being roadies for the band at one point in their career!), wearing my IW Archangel dress and being complimented on it by a girl in Hobby Craft last week, and editing my book cover of Aika. So even though I'm not a member of the Lolita Blog Carnival, I thought I'd still join in on the fun. *laughs* You can see Caramea's lovely entry here - I love her fresh ideas!

1) A new take on the 18th Century, including the French Rococo and the British Georgian era. For example, delicate Marie Antoinette-esque tea sets, or even Antoinette's favourite places in Versailles, Georgian ladies in waiting at the courts, and those gorgeous shoes that feature in the Marie Antoinette film!

2) Wildflowers. Including baby's breath and lupines.

 3) Elements from the 1920s, like Art Noveau and Art Deco. I'd love for it to use those elegant colours that make up a chic Art Deco palette, like black, grey and gold. The print itself could include a smoky, dramatic atmosphere of the bourgeois upper classes in their country manors, holding lavish parties, only for one of the guests to die mysteriously in an Agatha Christie type way...

Waldeck from their album "Ballroom Stories"

4) A gruesome Medieval print, of either those gory barber-surgeons, or a church/cottage hospital filled with stained glass windows, praying patients, and nuns carrying extravagant bowls of fruit for the malnourished inmates.

5) And I know they've been done to death, but I'd love to see even more vampire prints, especially if they draw inspiration from Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles - I just love Lestat and Claudia!

 Just as I was writing this post I saw that Alice and the Pirates has a new series on reserve, called "Sheherazade ~ One Thousand and One Nights", which features Middle Eastern elements in an "Aladin"-like print. My favourite is the dark blue and gold combination. Very interesting!