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A Brief Insight Into Healthy Skin

“The Beauty Doctor can see you now – step into her office”

Fashion and beauty walk hand in hand, our focus on what we wear, how we wear it, how we look; from the way we cut or colour our hair, to the way our skin feels; the face we show to the world is our first impression as to how we will be perceived.  Trying to replicate Queen Cleopatra’s beauty regime can be quite time consuming, not to mention sticky with all that milk and honey!

I met with a new bespoke client recently, an Aesthetics Doctor, Dr Qian Xu, a woman whose speciality is to make both men and women feel and look good in their skin.  I’m not talking vanity here, more the nuances as to the importance of good skin care the benefits of, all quite fascinating.

I don’t know how many of you when hitting puberty, suddenly woke up to find that your once smooth skin was starting to change, pimples suddenly appeared, added to that your body started to take on a different shape.  You’re placated with phrases such as ‘don’t worry you will grow out of it’, ‘it’s just a phase’.  None of which alleviates the sigh when you look in the mirror, saying to yourself ‘how long’, ‘why did this happen’, ‘what can I do’ and no more chocolate, what cruel blow has fate delivered to me?!

Then one day, the voices of the wise sages start to come true, and your skin reverts pimples gone, hooray, but then at the back of you mind, a little voice says, ‘now how do you keep it that way’?

Fashion and beauty make for good bedfellows, the beauty industry is forever trying to keep us staying younger (whatever that means).  So going back to speaking with Dr Xu, it was so refreshing to hear her side of the story, as to why she does what she does, to assist our skin with its forever changing facets.  I learned as in her words “from the moment a client walks through my door to when they leave, I want for them to have experienced an holistic approach to their skin care with science combined”.

Dr Qian Xu – Skin Aesthetics

Results orientated Qian is acutely aware of how empowering it is to know that you and your skin are looking good, doing great, and will continue for many years to come, provided as with all things you look after it.  It was interesting  to learn how many people ‘think’ they know their skin type, and that breakouts are not necessarily the result of a product that does not agree with you.

As our conversation was drawing to a close (I could only keep her at my studio for so long guys, under the guise of measurements and fitting)!  I donned my ‘Master Mind’ hat and quizzed her as to skin care:

A Few Facts and Myths of Skin Care

Is there such a thing as good or bad skin?

NO.  Everyone’s skin is different, some more sensitive, some more oily, some more prone to pigmentation, and others more prone to wrinkles.  It is important to get to know your skin and use the right products for your skin.  It amazes me how many people are wrong about their own skin type, and using the wrong skincare products.  No wonder they are not getting the result they want!

 

Is it only teenagers who are prone to acne?

NO.  Acne is more common in teenagers because of the hormonal changes during puberty.  However, acne is becoming common in adults.  The most common causes are hormonal, stress, air pollution and using the wrong skincare products on your skin.  The treatment of acne should aim to address the issues, not with antibiotics.

 

What role does diet play in our skin care?

Having a healthy balanced diet is vital not only for skin health, but also for general health of the body.  Vitamin A, C and E, as well as omega-3 fatty acids are just some of the nutrients which help to maintain healthy skin.

 

Do I have to give up chocolate?

There is evidence to suggest that having a diet high in sugar speeds up the ageing process.  However, this does not mean you need to cut out all the sugar.  If you love chocolate, you can still have it now and again, just don’t over-indulge.

 

Phew that giving up chocolate question was sailing a bit close to the wind, I could hear some of you holding your breath!  There you have it, a brief insight into healthy skin with some myths debunked; if you would like to talk further with Dr Qian Xu her website is https://www.saclinic.co.uk/ email: info@saclinic.co.uk or telephone 020 3494 4363 for a personal consultation.

Now its time for me to get back to my sewing!

Let’s Talk Sleeves – Sleeves on Dresses

Fashions speak and media say ‘2017 is the year of the statement sleeve dress’.  Well in my book dresses with sleeves have always been a wardrobe staple regardless of the fashion trend or season.

Fashion history has always had some form of dress or dress coat for that matter with elaborate sleeves, if we look to the Orient the Kimono sleeve its drama and embroidered detail warrants attention.

There’s something romantic about a sleeve made in lace for example, it’s ephemeral grace as the lace weaves around your arm, with slight hints of what lies beneath.  Or the way a slim fitting sleeve can lengthen your arms, creating a slender look, then there’s the look of a Bishops sleeve which plays homage to an equestrian look of bold and dashing.

Long sleeves on dresses provide an alluring quality, and are a great cover up if you don’t like to show off your upper arms.  Three-quarter length sleeves provide and opportunity to show off bracelets and a fine watch.  Short sleeves are also wonderful in evening wear, and they vary from having a flared sleeve to a petal shaped sleeve of the 40’s as seen on vintage dresses.

There’s a whimsical feel to a sleeve with volume and flare, a throwback to the 60’s bohemian, peace and love, did you notice how everyone seemed much happier in their floral outfits?  The sleeves for that era, crazy patterned flared pleated sleeves, bell sleeves elasticised at the wrists, lots of fringing and tassels, it was all so groovy.

Sleeves can and do make a statement, long sleeves in particular, more distance for the eye to travel.  I think of sleeves on dresses, the same way a peacock struts his plumage, you’re looking so fine, you have to take another look!

(Happiness a ready-to-wear dress, can be found on my website in the collection called Glamour, only one made). 

The Colour of Fashion – Can the Fashion Industry Change Mindsets?

Coral Turner for Coral Turner Couture

Not too long ago I went out to dinner with a girlfriend, we got chatting over starters, catching up on what we had both been doing.  The conversation then turned to business, in particular how was my work in the arena of fashion?

I replied “getting there, one stitch at a time” to which we both laughed,  I then said “I am still learning that when you are running a business, especially in fashion, it bears no semblance to the theories I’ve read of running a business”

My friend then asked ‘do I think its a good idea to have black models on my website, along with pictures of myself, don’t I think I am alienating some of my audience’?

OK, so I know for some of you reading this, who knows me, you may be thinking, this is incredulous right?  Did I leap across the table and force her to eat a piece of garlic bread, or try and put the garnish in her ears, aren’t I offended?!

“No” – why not?  Because my friend is one of the loveliest people I know, I also knew there was no malice or ill intent from the conversation.  What was disturbing is that my friend, whilst we are from different cultures, we are both daughters of immigrants whose parents came from their respective countries in the late 50’s to England.

I had to dig deeper to learn the thinking behind this, as well as being mindful what I ate, I didn’t want to choke on what she would say next, as I played the detective for fashion’s social consciousness (yes, I just made that title up, it has a nice ring to it), anyway…

I then asked “what you said, is that something you actually believe; that my background and colour is a hindrance to my career as a fashion designer”?

To which she replied “but isn’t that what the fashion industry says, I mean how many black female designers of your calibre are there in the UK, they don’t represent you”?

OK, so to some extent she had a point; I’ve lost count of the amount of times I have read from renown fashion magazines ‘as soon as we put the face of a black woman on the cover of our magazines, our sales plummet’ wow!  I thought that the people who were buying the magazines were doing so for the fashion (hence the industry title), alongside the thought provoking articles for female empowerment.  The sisterhood of women, which they claim we are all a part of; that being said what does it say about their target audience, aren’t you now insulting those whose loyalty is based on the article content for which they buy the magazines and not the cover?

How therefore can we talk about equality, women supporting women, and yet pay only lip service to diversity?

I know my fashion is not for everybody, it’s not meant to be, I design and make small collections of ready to wear one-of-a-kind pieces and bespoke, no world fashion domination going on here.  That’s why the saying ‘variety is the spice of life’ makes so much sense.  There is a huge array of male and female designers of colour who are vastly under-represented here in the UK; I know of a few renowned male fashion designers, however for women I can’t say the same thing, why is that?!

So why did I choose to write this article?

  • Firstly, to deny who I am, is to deny two of the greatest people I have the privilege and blessing to know, and share this planet with, my mum and dad.  They were both born in Jamaica and proud of the fact; as with all of the West Indian islands, these countries have landscapes that celebrates the colour of nature, sunsets and sunrises, that even with the best camera you still can’t capture the word ‘breathtaking’.
  • Secondly, March 8th 2017 is International Women’s Day, a celebration for women throughout the world, hence the word ‘international’.  If we are not going to support each other, especially in an industry that is female dominated, we can’t complain when others do the same!
  • Thirdly, and you may think this one a bit strange, there’s the amazing people I have come into conversation with on Instagram.  Through this social media platform, which I tentatively dipped my toe into, a small following of individuals from all walks of life celebrate Coral Turner Couture; they give thumbs up and likes for the content, the fashion images, and photos of models and clients who also come from varying backgrounds.
  • Finally, last but not least, my dear friend who started the conversation; I thank her for having the boldness of heart to share with me her mindset, based on her understanding of the fashion industry.

We have a duty to make the most of our talents and choices, yes there will be those that fall by the wayside, I totally understand that.  For my last photo-shoot there were 4 models booked but only 2 showed up, it was their ability to model the garments, injecting some fun and life into the clothes which was the criteria, and not the colour of their skin.

Ralph Waldo Emerson says “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment” as I see it we are either part of the solution, or part of the problem, it’s up to us to decide which.

That said, it’s time I get back to my sewing machine, I’ve got dresses to make http://www.coralturner.com.

 

 

 

 

Wearing Undergarments that Fit and Compliment Your Figure

There was a time when ladies undergarments could weigh nearly 7lbs and take several hours to put into place.  We are talking being squeezed into a corset, petticoats, undershirt, camisole, stockings; if it was winter, additional layers of woolly garments would be required, already I am bursting into a sweat, what a work-out!

Now compare that to today, undergarments of matching bra sets, camisoles that are worn as tops, tights in their varying denier in weight, stockings and suspenders.  Corsets are still popular today, but thank goodness there’s no holding onto the bed-frame whilst being laced into it.

When gravity wants to defy and define us, well fitted underwear alludes to the appearance of a more slender, and toned physique, which in turn makes our outer garments fit better as opposed to over-fitted under garments; an example, if you are bulging out of your bra, running over at the top and the sides, its possible the cup size of your bra is too small.  Its noticeable in a fitted top, giving the appearance of several different sized balloons having a party underneath.

Over-fitted undergarments, just as with clothes that give the appearance of being too tight, not only look uncomfortable but are just that, restrictive and uncomfortable.  There’s many a button that looks on the verge of causing some serious damage if the wearer were to breathe out!  Women have two areas from which they can work, bra’s and panties (yes I prefer the more genteel description)!  Men on the other hand, it would be their boxers or underpants, I haven’t come across the male equivalent term to ‘VPL’ which translates as ‘visible pantie line’.  Do let me know if there is one.

What is visible pantie line?  Its where the panties being worn are tight and visible in trousers, skirts or dresses, why is that a problem?  It’s not a problem per se, its about the way in which the tightness in that area takes the eye away from the contours of your silhouette when wearing a garment. There’s a reason why people say ‘you should walk with your head held high’; when you create a happy union with your undergarments and your outer-garments, the clothes you wear not only look better on you, but can also make you look taller, elevating your confidence.

In the words of Marilyn Monroe: 

To learn more about style and fitting garments, have a look at my website featuring ready to wear one-of-a-kind dresses, or complete the contact form to talk about bespoke garments.

How To Choose Quality Clothing

A friend came to visit me recently,  with her she bought 4 department store dresses that she had purchased from well known brand names.  My friend’s complaint, she had only worn each of the dresses a couple of times, but they were coming apart at the seams, she then asked me “why has the quality of clothing gone down”?

I explained that in today’s ‘fast fashion’ the turnaround to get garments into the shops, and in peoples shopping baskets, quality often takes a backseat as it is worn today, and dismissed tomorrow.  The Oxford dictionary describes quality as ‘a degree of excellence‘; so what makes quality clothing?  The essential components are cut, fit, construction and fabric, without these pieces all working together there is no harmony, the design itself is the icing on the cake so to speak.  A great design, poorly constructed made in fabric that after either dry cleaning, or machine washing has lost its lustre will never return to its former glory.

In the case of my girlfriend, the dresses were beautifully shaped, complimentary style lines, fit her like a glove, which was also part of the problem; the seam allowances were tiny, less than 0.5cm.  Made in woven fabrics these dresses had minute seam allowances especially in the waist and hips, with no ease added in, this means there is no ‘wiggle room’.

Ease is added into a garment to allow for movement, jersey fabrics do not require as much ease as woven fabrics, with the majority of jersey’s there is some form of elastane, think of t-shirts and leggings.  A wider seam allowance, with ease will allow for strain in key areas, allowing for human functions such as walking, breathing and eating!  If my friend were a mannequin the tiny seam allowances would not be problem, and have no cause to tear open.   The industry standard used to be 1.5cm, and with couture garments 1.5cm – 2.5cm.  Therefore in an attempt to squeeze more garments out of the fabric length, the quality of construction, and therefore fit will suffer.  (The picture is of a seam allowance in a bespoke garment).Inside Seam Allowance

Why buy quality clothing?  In the long run you are actually saving money, its an investment.  The next time you are out shopping when you go to try on your garment, see how it feels, is it straining in any areas, have a peak inside and see if there’s a decent seam allowance, look at the finish, how does in feel in your hands, your body will thank you for it.

For more information have a look at the YouTube video we’ve prepared https://youtu.be/sR-k4TTj_-c