In 2014, three researchers at UWE Birmingham, including 'Fat is a Feminist Issue' author Dr Susie Orbach, published a piece of research commissioned by the Campaign for Body Confidence...Read More
As part of the Re:Fashion Norwich event on November 21st I was really lucky to get to work with amazing local charity Big C to style a collection of dresses from their Bridal Boutique on Timberhill, which would appear on the catwalk as part of the event's fashion show finale!
This meant a good deal of creative dreaming to come up with an initial concept, much pinning on Pinterest for inspiration (one of my favourite things), and ultimately a lot of exploring in the back of the shop where they keep all the dresses that aren't out on the shop floor (ALL MY DREAMS) to select the right pieces.
All of the models for the evening were volunteers, and after discussions with the retail staff at Big C, we knew we wanted to include a variety of models, including different shapes, sizes and ages. Three of the models on the evening were actually Big C shop volunteers, so I was really excited to have them involved!
After a lot of deliberation, I decided to go with a quite fashion-forward, avant-garde concept; something that (ideally!) wouldn't look too out of place on the runway at Alexander McQueen! I definitely wanted lots of headpieces and some creative hair and make up styling to produce the necessary drama. I made a few visits to the Big C shops, including the big craft depot at Wymondham (which is amazing, you should all definitely go there immediately) to source bits and pieces to accessorise the hair and outfits.
After putting together our team of models, I worked with the lovely shop team at Big C Timberhill; manager Chrisa, assistant manager Hannah and their vast team of volunteers, to organise dress fittings for all of the models. This was a bit of a tricky one, as being volunteers, not all of the models were able to come in for fittings before the day of the show! I had to select dresses I thought would work based on the styling concept I had designed, the dresses available and the models' measurements. This felt a little bit risky - I knew we wouldn't have much time for messing around on the day (especially as I had to help set up the Norwich Fashion Jam stand and prep for a talk I was giving at the event, too! eek!) so I selected a couple of options for each model that would give us a bit of leeway and crossed my fingers! (this is a little crazy considering people usually have their wedding dresses altered to fit them perfectly!)
The team of models set and most of the dresses selected, I set about designing looks for each of the models on the evening. I put together a spec sheet for the hair and make up team for each model, as follows:
(apologies for my inability to spell the word accommodate consistently! It is hard to spell ...)
The hair and make-up for the models was provided by a group of talented students on the Hair and Media Make up course at City College, Norwich. I was really impressed with the way they took direction on the day and stuck to the looks I had designed for each model, but providing adaptations where necessary.
All the dresses are from the amazing Big C boutique on Timberhill. Some accessories models'/stylist's own, but mainly also sourced from Big C shops
This is the GORGEOUS Linda! One of the volunteers at the Big C shop in Wymondham, she was a bundle of liveliness and smiles, and opened the show - walking out with the Big C CEO Dr Chris Bushby, who 'gave her away' on the catwalk!
Linda's personality 'could handle something a bit more quirky and fun! I pieced two dresses together, using the corset from a black coast two-piece and a gorgeous fishtail skirt which had a more traditional top half, with lots of beading that I didn't think was quite right for Linda. I tied a man's cravat around the waist with as a sash to add a pop of colour and accentuate her teeny, tiny waist! Then the fascinator tied the whole look together.
I chose this white satin shrug for Linda as it perfectly matched the fabric of the skirt, and the exaggerated ruffles created a dramatic, fashion-forward silhouette, which echoed the form of the dramatic fishtail at the bottom of the skirt.
Maisee looks stunning here in a full-on princess frock! The perfectly peachy tones of the flowers and make up complement her english-rose complexion beautifully.
I love Poppy's look so much here! Her face can take a more edgy look and she is rocking this strong make up amazingly! I would have added a leather jacket to complete the look but sometimes it's better not to add too much... (sometimes!)
Lovely Lucy has one of the biggest dresses of all the models on the evening! I wanted her look to be very 'fashion' and create a statement. I adore the way the make up artist has captured her look, here, it's almost identical to what I wanted!
Lucy's hair look originally integrated some flowers pinned around her hairline. However, this was not working very well so I dug out a plastic flower necklace I'd sourced from the Big C jewellery counter, and the very talented hair stylist pinned it into place instead.
Beautiful Beth! This was my boho glamour look for the night. I've added what I think is actually a belt for a necklace, and added black lacing into the back of the dress, both of which give the look a bit of an edge!
Hannah, channeling Marie Antoinette! This dress is just the biggest, most dramatic thing I've ever seen and I knew I needed the styling to be just as extravagant!
I was so pleased with Hannah's hair look; the stylist has captured exactly what I wanted in the image.
I added in layers of hair flowers in vintage, muted tones to create a really dramatic hair piece on one side of Hannah's head. The choker is from Big C bridal and completes the look.
Estelle was my 100% boho bride for the evening. A messy crown plait with a necklace that I sourced from another charity shop pinned in place.
Oh Lynn! This woman is such a beauty. She is another of Big C's shop volunteers and she is amazing. Kindness just radiates from her face, doesn't it?? I went with a classic look for Lynn, to let her true beauty shine through xx
Amanda is another gorgeous Big C shop volunteer, int his much coveted Duchess-of-Cambridge-esque lace long-sleeved gown. Classic, with a twist- she looks fab in this fascinator!
Finally, Isobel, resident Snow Queen for the evening in this stunning, fitted fishtail frock and white fur accessories.
Isobel's look evolved from the original concept but she is wearing this like no one else could!
Thank you Big C for having me, I loved styling these outfits!
What up fash-fans!
Just a little note to say that you should all definitely come along to this awesome celebration of sustainable style at St Andrews Hall on Monday evening!
I will be regaling you with tales of my year-long adventure in #secondhandfirst PLUS its the official launch of the Norwich Fashion Jam 2017- we'll be taking registrations on the night as well as styling all you wonderful folks in charity shop clothing from Age UK Norwich as part of our Charity Shop Style Challenge!
If this wasn't enough 'me, me, me...' then I'd better let you know to keep an eye on the catwalk as I've been working with incredible local charity The Big C to style up a collection of pre-loved bridal wear. Too exciting!
The event isn't actually all about me, though- it's been organised by the wonderful people at One Planet Norwich and there's loads going on, from the chance to graffiti-splash your own denim-wear to a prop-shop photobooth. And the best news is... it's all free!
For more information, check out their event page on Facebook.
See you all there!
Well hello everyone!
I thought I'd share a little bit of what I've been getting up to- which has been mainly leaving my day-job to go freelance, and building a website- which is all rather exciting!
I asked the wonderful wonderful and talented Alexandra Blackburn to take some pictures of me for the website and other such purposes, and I thought I'd share a few of them, mainly because all of the outfits are put together from #secondhandfirst pieces.
The items are a mixture of vintage, charity-shop and jumble sale finds and I LOVE being able to put whole outfits together knowing that nothing was new!
All the shots were taken against the backdrop of our Fine City (not too far from my house- which facilitated lots of quick outfit changes!)
Pink cashmere jumper via British Heart Foundation, faux leather skirt and D&G blazer both also via the chazza (but can't remember which, sorry folks) ex-M&S necklace and shoe-boots both via Oxfam.
Same deal as the above, folks.
Red and black houndstooth skirt, vintage, sourced online. Silk Givenchy scarf (I think it's real!) from Age UK Norwich, 'love' motif jumper from British Heart Foundation.
(The sunglasses were via TK Maxx sorry but they just looked too awesome!)
So you can see the print on the back! Bangle I've added also from the charity shop- I have quite a large collection now...
Claret velour bomber jacket via Big C on Magdalen Street, Velvet 90s skirt and Jigsaw jumper both secondhand via charity shops.
Scarf and bangles both secondhand via the chazza, wool 1980s dress from Harrods was acquired at a jumble sale- it's SO warm and cosy! Boots were new when I bought them several years ago (about 7) and wasn't so strict about my #secondhandfirst policy. They've lasted, though!
Camel Aquascutum coat vintage, sourced online. I feel like a businesswoman from the 1980s- which i think is not a bad thing in any way.
This is only a handful of the images that Ally took- in fact, in most of them I was pulling some quite (unintentionally) hilarious faces- so I will not share those here, but perhaps save them up for some sort of very entertaining 'outtakes' video, later, or in fact a 'GIF', if I can figure out how those work...
Perhaps we could make this a thing on social media- we'll call it 'outtake of the day'!
If anyone else is into it, send me your #ootd pics that didn't make the cut and we could create a whole gallery of them! Ooh, loving this idea!
So on one of my recent meanderings across the internet (which generally involve typing any particular combination of the terms 'fashion', 'body image' and 'feminism' into a search engine (or Amazon- I actually have a scarily large and ever increasing library of books on these subjects to work through! more on that another time...)) and I discovered the amazing Jes Baker - who you should definitely 100% check out immediately even if you have no interest in body image, fashion or feminism (but really, though? Who are these people?) due to her levels of utter awesomeness.
Baker describes herself as a 'body image blogger' and 'fatshion fan'. I immediately fall in love with her again- I adore a good word mash-up. I'm trying to make 'fashtivism' a thing... Get it? Fashion + Activism...? Is it too much like 'fascism'? because that's a VERY different thing and sort of the opposite thing to the thing I'm going for... I'll take all your notes on this, peoples.
Anyway. I found Jes Baker, and then I found this Tedx talk she delivered in Tucson- and you should all watch it. Here you go:
As well as being a completely engaging speaker with great comedy timing, Baker nails it with a logical and reasoned argument as to WHY THIS IS A MASSIVE DEAL and we need to address these issues.
What stands out for me the most, is the fact that we have the power to change the status quo. All of the 'rules' we think we should follow as to what constitutes beauty are actually invented; we have agency over our own lives, even over our own thoughts (I'm definitely going to give the post-it challenge a go!) and we can change them.
Keep up the good work, Jes!