Creativity on the Catwalk – Fashion,Embroidery and stitch at the NEC

I had a fantastic time on Friday at the Fashion, embroidery and Stitch show at Birmingham NEC. This was a show dedicated to all things fashion and design, and without doubt the high point was an inspiring fashion show entitled ‘Creativity on the Catwalk’. Here are some of the highlights of that show.

Butterick/McCall’s/Vogue Patterns

Using the best designs from sewing patterns in a range of beautiful metallic tinged colours, this collection featured an array of flirty Prom style dresses in many different styles. There were silhouettes that referenced the 1950s and 1960s, with both full skirts and shift dress styles. Loved the use of raw silk and Vivienne Westwood style strapless bodices.


Gill Arnold – deconstructing Chanel

Gill Arnold is a dress-maker extraordinaire, offering training in all aspects of clothes construction. Her collection was a celebration of glamour, in eye-popping reds. There were Chanel style jackets, jersey dresses and a Halston style red dress that was just stunning. Gill also gave a talk at her stand that showed how the classic Chanel boxy tweed jacket is constructed, complete with a little bit of Chanel design history for interested fashionista’s.

Fabrics Galore – Royal wedding fever.

Fabrics galore showcased their Kitsch range of new fabrics that are a celebration of the nuptials of Kate Middleton and Prince William. These cotton fabrics include a range of Royal insignia and crowns. The models also came on stage bedecked in cute bunting, perfect for a street party.

Coats Crafts Amy Butler – Soul Blossoms

US designer Amy Butler’s fantastic new range of prints and patterns from her Soul Blossoms collection was a highlight for me. Showcased to the sounds of ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ by The Beatles, this was a psychedelic collection that reflected the inspiration of travelling through India. The waterproof jackets and tunic style dresses were perfect for Summer festivals.

Lizzie Henderson – The Creative Textile Route

Fresh from success at the Clothes Show Live 2010, Lizzie Henderson had decided to take the creative textile route. This collection was reminiscent of Westwood, Galliano and McQueen,with checked and plaid fabrics, bustles, English tweeds and flat caps. There were Westwood style crowns adorning capes modelled by a Kate Middleton lookalike. There was also a touch of the  New Romantics in the hooped skirt.

Warwickshire College Production Theatre – Romance and Turrets.

Another team fresh from Clothes Show Live were the students of Warwickshire college Production Theatre under the auspices of tutor Tracy Bridger. There collection was based on the twin themes of Romeo and Juliet and the majestic Warwick Castle. There were Black Swanesque tulle dresses and Gaultier style corsets. There was a beautiful blue/green strapless dress that was just beautiful.

University of Wolverhampton – a 1001 inspirations!

The flamboyant collection produced by the students of Wolverhampton University drew on many inspirations from Russian Dolls, wildlife and Urban chaos.There were glorious orange prints, Lady Gaga style skirts and Avant Garde designs. This was a collection full of clashing colours and styles.

University of Cumbria – distressed denim and corsetry

This collection had lots of distressed denim with patchwork and industrial style customisation.  Artists Julie Tristam, famous for the pink bra dress on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square, and Ashley Smith were involved in this collection, which also included Isabella Blow style puff-ball dresses and floppy hats.

Grange Academy – A Midsummer Night’s dream

Working with an Artist in Residence, Heather Kubachick, the students from Grange Academy created costumes with a dreamy woodland theme.  Using leaves and petals in net and voile fabric, they have created a floaty, colourful collection that was very pretty.

The School Run fashionista!

According to a recent poll conducted by Debenhams, six in ten moms feel pressure to dress to impress whilst doing the school run. More than 1/3 wear  heels when they are walking/driving their little ones to school. On average,  they spend one hour and 15 minutes getting ready to drop the kids off. Why is the school run now a fashion event?

I have a two-year old, and whilst not actually doing the school run, I take my little one to play and stay twice weekly. I started off going in jeans and flat shoes – all the better to get down on the carpet to play with cars and train sets. But I was amazed at  just how some of the moms were dressed. Tight skinny jeans, teamed with high heels and Rick Owens style leather jackets seemed to be the norm for some of the moms, with glossy Cheryl Cole hair and a full face of that clever barely there make up. I felt quite dowdy in my jeans,flats, scraped back hair and no make-up look, although I was able to play with Baba in a way that skinny jeans would never allow.

I have since decided that the school run yummy mummy’s are split into two distinct categories. Allow me to introduce them to you.

The Claudia

The Claudia mom follows the perfectly groomed example of Claudia Schiffer. From the top of her glossy hair to the tips of her heeled shoes or boots, Claudia treats the school run as another catwalk appearance. Markus Lupfer luxurious knits are about as casual as Claudia ever gets. Elle McPherson is another honoured member of this group. She even wore red leather trousers to do the school run. These mommys are  never without sunglasses, even if it is a wet Wednesday morning.

The Liv

The Liv follows the example of the lovely Liv Tyler. The school run is when you drop the kids off at school, not a photo opportunity. Therefore, warmth and comfort are the name of the game. chunky knits, flat shoes and Ugg boots all make an appearance. Jeans can be boyfriend style rather than skinny, even converse pumps can make an appearance. SJP is a member of this group, with her cute beanie hats and Ugg boots. These women still wear the inappropriate sunnies…but they are celebrities after all!

The Debenhams poll cited that 39% of women cited competition with other moms as the reason for the glamorous school gates look. Clearly, the Claudia’s have a lot to answer for. 13% dress to impress the hot single dads,whilst 37% admit that they change straight back into something more comfortable when they get home.

So, which mommy are you? Do you paint your nails before you leave for the school run, or are you dragging something from the bedroom floor whilst trying to  get the kids to brush their teeth? Whether you’re a Claudia pounding the playground catwalk, or a Liv kicking a football with the kids, the school run promises to remain an interesting and fashionable experience for all involved in it.

Selfridges dish the treats at the Radisson Blu, Birmingham.

It’s been quite a busy week for Birmingham fashionistas. If the visit of Markus Lupfer wasn’t enough excitement, Selfridges bought a little bit of London style to the 2nd City on Thursday, when contemporary womenswear buyer Alexandra Iancovici and a team from Selfridges Birmingham hosted a special fashion day at the fabulous Radisson Blu hotel in Central Birmingham.

The executive suite in the Hotel, was transformed into a luxurious  and relaxing girlie haven, complete with chill out music and candles from The White Company.  Bobby Brown make up artists were on hand to provide makeovers, whilst an array of amazing clothes were available to try and buy, along with designer bags and covetable shoes.

I chatted to Alexandra about the purpose and ideas behind the day. She told me that all the clothes available on the day had been on Sale in the Oxford Street branch of Selfridges, and hadn’t previously been on sale in Birmingham. Loyal customers of Selfridges, Birmingham had been invited along to have the opportunity to see something new, from different labels and also to have the opportunity for one to one consultations about new fashion trends,colours and shapes.


Amanda Wakeley gown


I was talked through the collection by Alexandra. There were some amazing pieces there, from designers like Balmain, Rick Owens, Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen and Roland Mouret. French cool was represented by several pieces from Isabel Marant, whilst Osman Yousefzeda and Roksanda Ilincic were also available, showing Selfridges support to hot UK brands.


Westwood jacket



beautiful Roksanda Ilincic dress


I fell in love with a gorgeous fruit print dress from Stella McCartney, a beautiful off-white dress with lapels that draped down its back from Alexander McQueen and a brocade style classic Westwood dress.  There were touches of celebrity style – a Vionnet dress worn recently by Natalie Portman, Balmain jeans similar to those worn by Kate Moss. A butterfly print dress from Alexander McQueen proved to be popular, as did the Rick Owens stretchy leather and jersey pieces.

This was fashion heaven – amazing clothing and accessories, fashion advice and pampering beauty treats. If that wasn’t enough, there were glasses of Champagne and tasty nibbles for when the shopping was finished. All in All, another fantastic Selfridges fashion event to savour.


Alexandra Iancovici from Selfridges with an Isabel Marant jacket