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Why craft skills will be extinct if we don’t bridge the generation gap

Where would the established ateliers/fashion houses be without the delicate hands that construct fine garments?

A tailorOr the tailor whose precision of drawing directly onto cloth, comes with years of experience and patience; the pattern cutter whose eye for clean sharp lines transforms fabric into a 3D form.  These are fine trades and crafts, one destined for extinction if these skills do not get passed on.

So there aren’t as many people buying haute couture nowadays in its purest form, yet handcrafts are not just relevant for the luxury market, but life itself.  One of the reasons why vintage fashion has gained such resurgence in recent years, is because of the creative design, their uniqueness of being one-of-a-kind; fine detailing, construction, just some of the components that give these garments their point of difference.  But what about the person behind those seams?  You know I just could not resist that pun!

There’s a thought process doing the rounds, stating, ‘if you are over the age of 50’, you are more museum piece, than a valuable contributor to today’s society, especially in the creative industry, its sheer madness.

It’s imperative that we start having the conversation now with those whose skills should be celebrated, from my perspective hand-sewing, embroidery, beading, setting the perfect sleeve, are just a few examples I learned from seasoned professionals over the years.   As part of my school curriculum Community Service was not because I had been to the Magistrates Court, but part of something that would now have the fancy title of ‘Life Skills’.  We would visit Retirement Homes and listen to the stories of our peers, and even pick up some tips if they were crafters.

In our pursuit for the next shiny object that will hold our attention for all of 5 minutes, we are missing out on that pot of gold that can equip us with knowledge and techniques that we can use for a lifetime across the board.  The conversation I hear from the public now in relation to some purchases are, ‘they used to do such good… or they had such great quality…’  It’s not just the fashion industry that is missing out, but commerce in general.

My mum taught me to knit, sew and crochet, these skills were further enhanced at school where we had sewing classes; apparently such creative classes in schools are now an indulgence and not the norm.  My sewing teacher Mrs Shirley was a stickler for detail, in addition to sewing techniques I learnt patience, (unpicking a seam for the umpteenth time with either make you or break you)!

I for one thank my mum and Mrs Shirley for passing on their creative gifts enabling me to make my dream a reality by becoming a fashion designer.  I really do hope that the current generation take heed, and start listening to the stories, and learning the skills of our peers, that invaluable gift called experience can leave you forewarned, letting hindsight take a back seat for a change.

www.coralturner.com

 

 

Holiday Glamour Fashion

The escapism that a holiday provides is also an opportunity to dress up, not that we should need an excuse to don our fine attire and strut our stuff!

Truly Blue Handkerchief Hem DressHowever, time away from the daily routine of work, bills and housekeeping is also time away from your regular wardrobe, whether that be enjoying the tropics or discovering other town and cities in the country you live.  I’ve compiled a few holiday glamour tips for you to include in your packing.

 

What to wear, and what to pack?

Holiday Packing

Clothes that are interchangeable, made in fabrics of quality, a splash of colour and colour blocking, yes a yellow cardigan does work with a purple dress.  The camisole top made in a fine rib jersey, cotton shorts and a lightweight swing cardigan, that’s one look.

Skirts bias cut, mini, maxi or in-between worn with wedge shoes, a striking belt if warranted, again the camisole top can make its appearance, with eye catching jewellery gemstones or costume, again a look of individuality.

Jersey fabrics and mixed fibres travel well so dresses, short sleeved or sleeveless, lengths can vary depending on your comfort zone. Whilst it’s tricky to compete against the panoramic scenery that is nature’s myriad colour catwalk, abstract and print dresses of bold design are equally breathtaking.

Footwear: sandals, wedges, kitten heels, high heels, to daringly strappy and high, it’s all part of the fun.

Your evening wear is another opportunity to sparkle, an evening trouser suit in jersey lurex fabric or the handkerchief hem dress that doubles from day to evening celebrating sun-kissed legs.  As the evening turns a little cooler out comes that gorgeous sparkly shawl/shrug, the silk scarf with tassels, the pashmina.  Clever cover ups placed gently around your shoulders for that after dinner walk along the beach front, or coffee on the veranda.

A holiday wardrobe can also be the starting point for the transformation you always wanted to embark upon, above all, remember to have a fabulous time and take lots of pictures!

 

 

Curvey Women: Compliment Your Curves

21-Learning.

By Coral Turner, Couture Fashion Designer

Naturally, we all want to look beautiful, and too right!   As a couture designer, I work with clients who are of all shapes and sizes.  The myth of being ‘model’ thin to look beautiful in couture fashions is just that, a myth.  There are designs that need curves, in fact some styles cry out for curves.  Kim Kardashian is renown for being able to fill column inches in both media plus what she wears, and fair play to her.

Clothing size

So what helps and what hinders? Wearing clothes that are too large or small will result in you looking heavy.  Tight clothing clings to every fold and crease of your body, and baggy clothing hangs on you as though you are a lampshade. Clothes that fit you, however, make you look curvaceous and attractive.  I know I have talked about fit before but as a couture designer, it can make me a little cranky to see an ill-fitted garment on a woman, because it takes away from her beauty.

Colours

A patchwork quilt looks great with its mishmash of colours however it doesn’t translate so well when worn as clothing, not the look you are aiming for.  There is the ‘school of fashion thought’ that says  wearing the same colour from tip to toe is slimming.  Notice, I’m not saying to wear all black or beige!  You can easily wear colour-bright bold and beautiful colours. To inject an accent colour to contrast the outfit accessorise  your main outfit.

Stripes 

As a rule of thumb, wide horizontal stripes make you look wide, and thin horizontal stripes do not make you look either wide or slim. Vertical stripes can make you look tall and thin. However, use them sparingly, as they can be overwhelming especially if you are a petite woman.

Jeans

Well cut jeans, those that fit on the waist look great on all figure shapes, what you don’t want are jeans that you are constantly pulling up because the crotch is too short. Boot cut jeans are slenderising , they also make your legs look shapely.

Waistbands

Elastic waistbands are so comfortable I know, but they can also be your enemy.  If you want to create a slimmer look, have part elasticated and part flat fabric. Thick waistbands that sit just above your hips but not around your actual middle are beneficial.

Footwear 

Ankle boots suit the majority of women, however what you want to look at is whether it is too wide at the top of the boot drawing the eye away from the style of the boot and leaving the focus on the gap!  In addition, shoes and sandals with a broad ankle straps can be more complimentary than a thin ankle strap, which can often look as though it is cutting into your ankle as opposed to complimenting your ankle.  Long boots and peep-toe shoes with heels are also favourable.

Accessories 

Did you know that depending on your stature, carrying a small bag can make you appear larger?  Yes I was quite surprised at that, however when amply curvaceous, carrying a large bag will have the opposite effect. Additionally, the same applies with regard to belts and jewelry. Wearing a large belt and a big, long necklace creates the illusion of smaller. It is about ensuring that everything is proportional to your body-shape.

I celebrate curves, as I do a body-shape of straight up and down, they all have their own uniqueness when it comes to design.  That’s the beauty of bespoke and its not just for special occasions, when your clothes fit in all the right places, you smile, the clothes smile, and those looking at you smile!

Black and White Dresses – Off to the Races

As an independent London UK, fashion designer of one-off dresses I don’t follow seasons or fashion trends, so it is amusing to me that the fashion speak is all about black and white dresses or the monochrome look for 2014.

So how do you wear the monochrome look?  Rumour has it that black is slimming, however the colour black on certain body-shapes creates the opposite effect, which is why teaming up with white plays with the eyes of the onlooker yet enhances the silhouette of the wearer.

Depending on your skin tone, too much black near the face and neck can be draining, giving a washed out look, however add a splash of white, black and white striped, white patterned with black such as in a Paisley dress, and there you have elegance and glamour, the natural endeavour of all women, in all that we wear, dresses or otherwise.

If you are off to the races this year, in particular Royal Ascot and Ladies Day, Royal Ascot have become quite stringent with its dress code overall, and in particular for the Royal Enclosure.  So as not to get caught out a note to take into consideration:

Ladies are required to wear formal day-wear with dresses being of modest length falling just above the knee or longer.  Hats also a necessity or a headpiece with a base of 4 inches or more in diameter is an alternative to a hat and is acceptable, however ‘Fascinators’ are now deemed unacceptable as of 2012 (and at the time of writing) in the Royal Enclosure.

Paisley Print black and white jersey dress

Couture dress, black and white jersey by Coral Turner

Taking into consideration the theme of your black and white dress, accompanied with a hat of either singular colour, or as a combination of the two, speaks of being totally chic; Audrey Hepburn was forgiven for her lapse in vocal demeanour as she looked stunning dressed head to toe in black and white in ‘My Fair Lady’ for her day at the races!

The finishing touches for your breathtaking entrance, a clutch bag that is not too cumbersome, shoes that you can walk in comfortably, and with sophistication, eye make-up that hints to definition of Cleopatra’s eyes and you will have captivated your audience at Ladies Day Royal Ascot – enjoy!

http://www.coralturner.com/paisley-black-and-white-jersey-dress.html

BESPOKE LONDON meets DUBAI COUTURE

Bespoke – from Dubai to London

The Silk Devore Evening Dress By Coral Turner

One of the many pleasures of bespoke work for me, are the people I get to meet, in this case the lovely fashionista Noora, a woman who has a flair for fine quality fabrics and a discerning eye for fashion.  All of which makes couture sewing an absolute pleasure.

Our conversation started as it normally does with me wanting to learn about the client, have they had a bespoke garment made before, what was their experience?  In turn the client learns about my background and how I work. It was all very animated, as when talking about fashion, sewing and designing I am in my element, equally Noora’s enthusiasm, her knowledge of design, fabrics, and attention to detail had me even more excited about the making of her couture evening dress, which we would discuss in more detail on arrival in London with her chosen fabric.

At our consultation meeting Noora bought with her the most gorgeous deep navy blue silk devore, the burnt-out ornate design harked back to the etchings of the Victorian era.

Silk Devore Fabric

We discussed the occasion for this evening dress that could be worn for a variety of functions: the length, it was to be floor length, the style lines, semi-fitted, the sleeves, Bishops style, that billow from the height of the cuff creating volume. However, before any of this was translated into the main fabric, having taken the relevant measurements, then drafting the pattern, a toile is made first; this applies to all of my couture/bespoke work.

The toile – long evening dress

Noora's Toile

We then moved onto our first fitting, it is at this point where the client can see how her finished garment will look; the fit of the dress along with comfort is my number one priority.  It’s important to have ease for movement, that the style lines compliment the wearer in the words of Madame Vionnet “The dress must not hang on the body but follow its lines.  It must accompany its wearer, and when a woman smiles the dress must smile with her” – how true.

Adjustments are then made on the toile which will then be relayed to the main pattern, sometimes depending on the adjustments, a second toile is necessary and further fitting required, but this was not the case.

Toile with required adjustments
Toile detail of dress

Having transferred all of the changes to the drafted pattern, and pattern pieces I can now begin the process of cutting out the evening dress in the beautiful silk devore fabric.  Due to the nature of the fabric having a translucent effect in the burnt out areas it was necessary to interline the fabric using silk lining, the luxury just goes on and on.

I learnt that the women of Dubai are considerable connoisseurs’ of bespoke garments; their individuality is expressed through design, which is the nature of such work.  Whilst the industrial era of the 1800’s was to the change the landscape of Britain across the board, with mass production clothing, there would always be those for whom bespoke garments and the personalisation that is it’s hallmark, being for them the only way to dress still remains.

Moving onto the finer detail, the inside of the garment looking as beautiful as the exterior is always paramount, not only does this add support and structure to a garment, but for me it is a deep respect for the fabric.

Inside finish of the silk devore dress
Silk Devore up close inside detail

It now remains for a further fitting of the dress, again we look at the fit, we examine movement, try on with shoes.  Speaking of shoes, Noora had the most divine pair of high-heeled black suede shoes with a bow, they were so alluring that had it not been for her dainty small size, and that I personally would have struggled with the height of the heels, they would have been kidnapped and happily have a home in my wardrobe, no ransom paid!

Sleeveless work in progress
Work in progress: ready for fitting

It’s also at this stage that we look at the finishing touches, such as buttons, we chose a diamante flower which captures the light.

Flower Button Detail

Godet centre back detail

The godet centre back detail, transforms the column style of the dress. With fine couture secrets to add volume!

Noora's dress in progress

Work in progress: one sleeve tacked into place

Back at my studio, the evening dress now goes through her final paces, all the silk tacking thread removed on completion, a gentle press, an overall check, it’s at this stage that I, and the garment I have come to love, get ready to part company for her new home.

It’s the day of the final fitting, as I remove the evening dress from her garment bag, Noora’s face lights up, the gorgeous suede shoes come out again to wink at me before disappearing under the floor length dress. The diamante buttons are closed on the cuff, the voluminous sleeve stands proud, the centre back godet swirls with movement, as Noora walks elegantly across the floor.  Noora smiles, I smile, the dress smiles – it’s time to say goodbye….

www.coralturner.co.uk