Month: April 2015

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NE1 Fashion Futures

The North East’s very own annual fashion event Newcastle Fashion Week is taking a break this year and instead will be replaced with a two day, jam-packed event called Fashion Futures. In line with the 60th anniversary of the Fashion department at Northumbria University, one of the most influential and highly regarded institutions for fashion study in Europe.  The groundbreaking Fashion Futures event will acknowledge the University’s contribution to the fashion industry and will showcase the talent of current students, graduates and alumni.

Held over two days at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, the event will provide a fresh new take on the Fashion Week that the city has become accustomed to and will be condensed into two days rather than the usual full week.  The event will include a graduate runway show from Northumbria University’s Class of 2015 on Day One which will no doubt see an influx of international buyers and editors to Newcastle and Gateshead.

Day Two brings Fashion Talks, a series of three talks which aims to help and support young people in breaking into the fashion industry, the line up for these talks includes contemporary fashion designer Henry Holland and Editor in Chief of UK Vogue, Alexandra Shulman.  A panel discussion will be another attraction of Fashion Talks with fashion industry experts including three local designers who all graduated from our very own Northumbria University; Michelle Taylor founder of luxury lingerie brand, Tallulah Love; Charis Younger, Menswear Designer at All Saints; Kate Ablett, Berghaus designer, and Darren Spurling, Managing Director of international footwear designer Terry De Havilland.

The ever popular Fashion Front Row event will return as part of this new fixture on the evening of May 14th providing a showcase for emerging North East talent, I’ll be there covering both days to bring you live updates from the FROW and to blog about the event as a whole and I’m looking forward to seeing what the Class of 2015 has to show.

So however you feel about this event replacing Newcastle Fashion Week, you’ve got to sign up to stay in the know, to sign up for alerts and ticket releases for Fashion Futures visit: NE1 Fashion Futures

Pixie x

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My Foray into Grey with Toni Stephenson

Everywhere you look these days models, street stylers, and the Insta-crowd are all experimenting with hair colour and as a result, there’s been a serious increase in regular norms sporting silvery grey tresses or My Little Pony bright locks

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Generally speaking, this is a trend for über blonde hair.  You need a blonde base, the lighter the better in order to achieve the vibrancy and then a coloured toner is applied over the top which, depending on the porosity of your hair, can last anywhere between three and twelve washes.  I’ve wanted to try out a pure silvery grey shade for a long time, ever since Rihanna and Kylie Jenner pioneered the trend back in early 2014, and now seemed like as good a time as any.  When you’re experimenting with colour, and especially when it’s something unusual with the potential to make or break your entire look, you need the best possible stylist on board, so I enlisted North Eastern Hairdresser of the Year 2014: Toni Stephenson from Hooker & Young’s Darlington Salon to help me in my quest to achieve the ultimate in Nanna Chic.

Hooker & Young is a breeding ground for talent and the Darlington salon is home to some of the North East’s coolest young hair stylists.  On the ground floor, there’s a Blow Dry Bar and a semi private chill out area with the biggest selection of coffee table magazines I’ve seen in a salon in years, in fact, I almost forget I’m there to have my hair coloured as I flip through Teen Vogue.

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I’m led upstairs to the main salon area which is light and area and has the familiar Hooker & Young signatures such as walnut fascias, pale walls and chrome metal detailing.  Simplistic and classic - style never goes out of fashion right?

Toni is petite and pretty, with a mass of achingly cool pink hair and super white teeth, she’s warm and friendly and gets straight down to business analysing my colour treated sandy blonde hair.  Toni talked me through the options for my hair and advised that with my current colour, a grey toner would be subtle and I’d be left with a more silvery effect when my hair caught the light, so completely impulsively we decided to add in some pink and purple just to add some vibrancy and give me a taster to see whether the trend really was for me.  She tells me I can always add more drama if I fall in love with the trend and we all know I have a flair for the dramatic.

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Toni sets about putting packets through my hair adding slices of colour randomly and then when all of the packets are in, she paints freehand on to the remaining exposed hair.  While she’s working, I take the opportunity to quiz her about her prestigious win at the 2014 Hairdressing Awards - Toni scooped the award for North Eastern Hairdresser of the Year 2014 back in December and hasn’t looked back since.  With an interest in colour, and in particular, real vibrant shades, Toni tells me how she practised her dip dye technique using ice and a Barbie doll.  Intrigued?  You should be.  This is a girl who takes her craft to the next level, spending her time researching new techniques for colouring and scouring the more elite fashion magazines and runway shows for inspiration.  She’s constantly thinking about the next trend or the next interpretation she can make through hair styling and tells me that she’s already casting models for the next big event in the hairdressing calendar.  There’s a contemporary edge to the work in her portfolio and she cares as much about the styling of the shot as she does about the hair, to Toni, this is more than just a job.

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So, back to me……

I’m taken over to the backwash by Dan to have a Kerastase Ritual applied, Dan tells me that if you apply Kerastase oil to the hair first to prep it, rinse and then apply the ritual, the effect is amplified.  I feel the need to point out that Dan is completely adorable and is so on fleek when it comes to fashion and trends and is influenced hugely by young, contemporary designers such as Jeremy Scott, Alexander McQueen and Alexander Wang and it’s all detectable in his look.  I’m trying to figure out a way I can bring him home with me after my next visit to the salon.

Looking at my wet hair in the mirror, I can already see that it’s far paler than it was when I arrived and my squinting instantly looks lifted and brighter; Toni tells me that because of my eye colour I’m far more suited to ash tones of blonde and there’s definitely truth in that.  As she sets to work drying my hair, the flashes of pink are visible through the underneath section and there’s a gorgeous lilac shade at the very front section, think Rogue from X-Men but replace the white with lilac and you’re on the right track.  The rest of the hair is a mix of gorgeous ashy tones of blonde and there are some gorgeous darker silvery tones there in a shade called Cindre.  When it’s dried my first thought is that I BLINKING WELL LOVE IT!

Despite going through the bleaching process to lift up the colour first, albeit using the far more subtle Babylights technique, there’s very little breakage or visible damage that you often get afterwards.  I had been worried that because my hair isn’t full head blonde and it’s not über white, that the colours may be dulled but nope, they’re definitely there and they’re definitely noticeable.

Toni tells me that because these colours are toners and not permanent hair-dye, they will fade and wash out depending on how porous my hair is and in the weeks following they faded with each wash, eventually fading to a gorgeous creamy blonde.  This is one of the really great things about this trend, it’s very temporary which means it’s incredibly versatile.  You could be pink one week, lilac the next and blue the week after that, it’s a great way to update your look without too much commitment and if you aren’t keen on a particular colour then fear not, it’ll always wash out.

I’d absolutely recommend Toni as a stylist, if you’re stuck in a hair rut, aren’t happy with your current stylist or just fancy trying something new, then I’d say you could definitely do worse than trying out the North Eastern Hairdresser of the Year!  Toni takes into consideration the products you use at home, how you style your hair yourself, your lifestyle and even the colour of make-up you like to wear before advising you on what she see’s working for you.  Gorgeous and conscientious, two big plus points you would have never even considered right?!

So, my experimentation with colour has absolutely left me wanting more.  Yes, I was tame but come on, I’m not exactly 17 or Kylie Jenner so testing the waters first was perfect for me.  So now I’m feeling brave, I’m already planning my next look and Toni, if you’re reading this, I’m thinking full head grey with some super icy pale blue, you feeling me…..?

Pixie x

Hooker and Young have salons all over the North East.

To book an appointment with Toni Stephenson call 01325 468994

NB All photos are unedited in order to give the true impression of the colours achieved.

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Chez Mal Launch at Malmaison Newcastle

Last night saw Newcastle’s elite strutting down the red carpet to the long-awaited launch of Chez Mal at the city’s iconic Malmaison hotel.  The hotel has long been a feature of the skyline on Newcastle’s Quayside and is a firm favourite amongst visitors to our beautiful city because of it’s relaxed atmosphere and fantastic customer service.

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Recently there’s been a movement of change at The Mal, as it’s affectionately known, and it’s all down to one man, new GM Vince Garrington.  Boasting a CV that any hotelier would be proud to have, Vince and his team have brought the Newcastle Malmaison right up to date with a multi-million pound overhaul to the hotel’s bedrooms, brasserie and bar area.  The hotel has long been known for its dark and ambient lounge bar and making a change this big was a bold move by Vince but boy has it worked.  By opening up the window space at the front of the hotel and moving the brasserie into this area, the change is dramatic, light floods in and the views over the Tyne are spectacular.

As most of you know, I’m the Fashion Partner for The Mal and as the dress code for the event was “Dress To Impress” I wanted to make sure I didn’t let the side down.  I wore a Stella McCartney culotte jumpsuit with my trusty Kurt Geiger heels and some simple jewellery with a cute Mulberry clutch (and my signature pompom).

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On arrival guests walked the red carpet and were greeted with a glass of champagne, as far as receptions go you don’t get much better than that.  There was a dedicated press area for guests to be photographed - all a very slick affair and that’s before we even got up the stairs.

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As we made our way to the top of the stairs, we were once again stopped by paparazzi for our photograph with the amazing Chez Mal light installation in the background.  We were again greeted by two gorgeous girls who advised us of the timings for the evenings events, the cocktail station locations and the beauty zone set up.  This is one of the great things about the Malmaison, they really know how to throw a great shindig and every last detail is covered, with thoughtful extras including a Mini Pamper Lounge with a Benefit counter for make up touch ups, a Le Petit Spa just in case you fancied a little sprucing and even the very simple touches like appointing hostesses to keep the evening flowing.

First up, the bar area is amazing, with more than a little U.S. influence, it smacks of New York cool.  Packed to the rafters with fashionistas, bloggers and North East celebrities and personalities, the atmosphere was palpable and one of real excitement.  Local celebrity ITV newsreader and all-round gorgeous person Rachel Sweeney took to the floor to perform a handful of soulful numbers and man can this girl sing!  Styled to rock and sporting an amazing Twenties inspired ‘do styled by Chris Summerly of North East based award winning celebrity hairdressers Hooker & Young.  Being one of my homegirls, Rachel has told me many times before about her previous singing career but wow, the girl got game!

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Local singer Annabel Pattinson performed a set of 14 songs and she’s definitely one to look out for, she’s such a great performer with a really cool look too, no doubt we’ll be seeing more of her.

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Hot on her heels was Essex boy Mark Wright (formerly of ITV2’s The only Way is Essex) who put on a 90’s DJ set (surely the best era for music, right?!) and was then promptly mobbed for selfies by baying fans - he willingly obliged of course, even pausing to clean someones camera at one point, well if you’re gonna be photographed it’s got to be perfect, am I right?!  Scarlett Moffatt and her family from the hit TV show Gogglebox also attended the event and they’re straight up hilarious.  I can honestly say that I’ve never watched a single episode of Gogglebox, but after meeting Scarlett, I just might.

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Other local celebrities in attendance included the always amazing Capital FM’s breakfast show, ITV Weatherman Ross Hutchinson and Krispian Kardashian who owns an actual vineyard and is about to be knighted (OK, that last part MIGHT not be true).

One thing that sent partygoers into a frenzy was the arrival of Sting, sporting a full beard and looking dashing he posed for pictures with fans and spoke to guests commenting that both the hotel and the party looked great, before slinking off into the night, possibly looking for Roxanne.

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Lets talk about the food, trust me, at the risk of sounding like a cliché, you will have never seen an event with a spread like this!  I get around a bit, covering Fashion Month in London, Paris, Milan and New York and this was right up there with the best of them.  With charcuterie, carvery, fish and dessert stations at various points around the brasserie all tastes were catered for and the presentation was impeccable.  Constantly topped up and never left looking bare, the food managed to look amazing throughout the entire serving period and with over 250 guests that’s no mean feat.  Even Sparky, who’s a tricky customer, said that the food at the Malmaison Newcastle beats any restaurant or hotel he’s ever been to so there’s a big high-five right there.

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In a genius move there were dedicated cocktail bars scattered around the bar area so guests were never far from their next tipple and with several varieties on offer including virgin cocktails for those who were driving, there was literally something for everyone.  In addition to this there was a regular bar serving craft beers, wines and champagne all courtesy of the hotel.  Huge kudos to the barman with the killer dance moves too.

As far as launches go, and I’ve been to a few both in the UK and further afield, in terms of atmosphere, organisation and event planning, this was honestly one of the best I’ve ever been to.  But that’s the thing about the Mal, they don’t cut corners and they don’t do things by halves.  Vince and his team pride themselves on their service and it really shows, that’s not some schmaltzy statement made by the hotel, it’s something that’s evident from the outset and that everyone was talking about.  From the hostesses making sure that everyone had a drink, to the GM personally thanking guests for attending, it’s the little things and the Mal are definitely good at remembering the little things.

As a hotel, everyone from the North East knows The Malmaison but by broadening out into a real destination The Malmaison have increased their brand power and opened up to a whole new market.  With Cafe Del Mar DJ’s providing entertainment the vibe is cool and chilled, there’s no pressure and it’s not stuffy at all.  It’s the type of venue you could arrive at and stay all evening, literally, you could book a room and roll upstairs afterwards.  If you’re thinking of switching up your nights out and your bored with the same old scene in Newcastle, give Chez Mal a try, whether you go there for dinner or for late night drinks, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Also, I heard the goodie bags were to die for but like Cinderella I forgot something on my way out of the party.  However, unlike Cinderella, I left with both of my fabulous shoes…

Pixie x

 

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Installation view of 'Romantic Gothic' gallery, Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty at the V&A (c) Victoria and Albert Museum London

Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty

I want to be a purveyor of a certain silhouette, or a way of cutting, so that when I’m dead and gone people will know that the 21st century was started by Alexander McQueen.”

Unless you’ve been living under a seriously well hidden rock you’ll know that the V&A is currently hosting a retrospective of the career of designer Alexander McQueen and as far as exhibitions go, this one is pretty damn magnificent.  The Savage Beauty exhibition began its life at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and has since been expanded and tweaked for its hotly anticipated arrival in London, McQueen’s home, and the city where he honed his craft.

Savage Beauty is as raw as it gets, and walking around the exhibition so close to this body of work, it feels almost voyeuristic, like you’re viewing something sacred and holy which was meant to be kept secret…..

The exhibition is presented over ten rooms which aim to showcase the most prolific of themes that Alexander McQueen himself showed during his runway shows.  Savage Beauty takes you on a journey through McQueen’s entire career from his previously unseen 1992 MA graduate collection through to his final, incomplete FW10 collection.

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As you enter Savage Beauty, the atmosphere is palpable, dark, eerie and bordering on uncomfortable, the air peppered with a recording of McQueen’s voice played over jutting soundbytes, an image of the late designer’s face is projected onto a black wall which slowly morphs into the Skull Lenticular.  The first section of the exhibition, London, concentrates on ten of  McQueen’s more famous early pieces spanning three collections: The Birds (S/S 1995), Highland Rape (A/W 1995) and The Hunger (S/S 1996) and runway footage is played behind the installation.  This is your first glimpse at the world and the mind of Lee Alexander McQueen and it’s beautifully poetic.

1. Installation view of 'London' gallery, Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty at the V&A (c) Victoria and Albert Museum London

The next room, Savage Mind, displays some of McQueen’s very early signature tailoring and his inventive cutting techniques, McQueen always designed from the side, saying that this was the best way to see all of the lumps and bumps and to decide how to skim these.  His Kickback Trousers for example, form a perfect semi-circle when laid out flat, but on the body they drape at the back of the knee and create a flattering elongated kickback shape at the back of the ankle.  In this room the famous “Bumster” trousers are displayed, although rather surprisingly from the front rather than the rear.  A sharp shouldered jacket featuring an image of Robert Campin’s The Thief to the Left Of Christ by the Master of Flemalle c.1430 from the FW97 It’s a jungle Out There collection gives an early glimpse into McQueen’s fascination with gothic symbolism.

2. Installation view of 'Savage Mind' gallery, Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty at the V&A (c) Victoria and Albert Museum London

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The Romantic Gothic room is breathtakingly beautiful, set in an eerily dark and atmospheric room, the display is almost too much to take in.  There are strong references to the Victorian Gothic aesthetic that McQueen excelled in, garments featuring hair as a centrepiece and the famous Black Swan takes centre stage, emanating a certain sadness that you can’t fail to feel when you look at this awesome display of craftsmanship.  It’s this particular room which holds pieces from McQueen’s final unfinished collection and it’s here that you feel part of an important moment in fashion history, McQueen was working on these pieces when he died and they’re dark and twisted and beautifully intricate.

“I don’t think like the average person in the street - I think quite perversely sometimes.”

images-13 Installation view of 'Romantic Gothic' gallery, Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty at the V&A (c) Victoria and Albert Museum London images-14

Romantic Primitivism takes us deeper into the mind of McQueen, in a room where the walls are adorned with skulls and bones reminiscent of a catacomb and in the ceiling a hanging bubble plays the short film Irere directed by McQueen and John Maybury to accompany the SS03 collection.  The smell of leather and skin hits you immediately and it’s the first time you appreciate just how close you actually are to these masterpieces.  This section of the exhibition explores McQueen’s interest in the animal world and in particular the survival of exotic creatures in the wild, his FW97 collection: It’s a Jungle Out There was inspired by the Thomson’s Gazelle with McQueen saying his interest was borne out of the fact that “the life of this particular creature is over before it has even begun”.

“Animals fascinate me because you can find a force of energy, a fear that also exists in sex……”

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The adjoining room houses the Romantic Nationalism section of the exhibit and it’s perhaps the most emotionally evoking room in the whole exhibition, and certainly the most dramatic.  Darkly romantic and rebellious, the pieces in this display make a clear statement about patriotism.

“As a place for inspiration Britain is the best in the world, you’re inspired by the anarchy in the country….”

Presented in a room of red walls, on the left plinth the MacQueen tartan takes pride of place and music specially composed by John Gosling is played, creating a sense of spine prickling drama, the dress worn by Sarah Jessica Parker to the 2006 Met Gala is displayed and up close, McQueen’s genius in cutting is evident, matching diamonds and creating lined patterns rather than matching the tartan repeat.  Pieces from the FW08 collection entitled The Girl Who Lived in the Tree are displayed on the right, a collection which was inspired by an Elm tree in the garden of McQueen’s country home near Fairlight cove in East Sussex and a story he created about it in his younger years.  The collection was tinged with irony and pastiche and very romantically nationalistic with swathes of red and white and a million feathers.

His patriotic loyalty is never more evident than in this room, McQueen was once asked about his heritage and what his Scottish roots mean to him, his reply? “Everything.

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From here you make your way into the most breathtakingly heart wrenching room in the exhibition: The Cabinet of Curiosities.  This forms the beating heart of the exhibition and the room is double height featuring various screens showing runway footage and iconic pieces displayed in gallery format.  There are over 120 pieces on display in this one room and it’s understandably a lot to take in, it’s overwhelming, like a feast for the senses and when you first enter the room, you literally don’t know where to look.  In the centre of the room is the now iconic spray painted dress from No.13 SS99.  Just laying eyes on this dress pulls on my heart and I feel a real sense of privilege.  The installation is set up to mimic the positioning of Shalom Harlow as she stood centre stage on that spinning disc, minus the Fiat plant robots, and it’s such a powerful display that it actually moved me to tears and I wasn’t the only one who felt it.  There’s a real sense of awe in this room, just being amongst so many amazing pieces reminds you of what a talented and courageous designer McQueen was.  Throughout his entire career, No.13 was the only show that ever made the designer himself cry and when you’re there, right in front of it, you can understand why.

The Yashmak from McQueen’s SS00 Eye collection was painstakingly rebuilt for The Cabinet of Curiosities and is displayed in show on a screen nearby, other pieces on display in this room are the Armadillo boot, first introduced in the SS10 Plato’s Atlantis collection and worn by Lady Gaga in her promo for Bad Romance, the Butterfly headdress made by Philip Treacy for McQueen to accompany his SS08 La Dame Bleue collection and the mask and Crown of Thorns from the FW96 Dante collection.  This is a room that has been designed for viewing, there are bench seats in the centre and you could seriously spend all day looking at these objets de curiosite which have been staged so beautifully.

6. Installation view of  'Cabinet of Curiosities' gallery, Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty at the V&A (c) Victoria and Albert Museum London images-17 3. Spray painted dress, No. 13, SS 1999, Model - Shalom Harlow represented by dna model management New York, Image - Catwalking.

2. Butterfly headdress of hand-painted turkey feathers, Philip Treacy for Alexander McQueen, La Dame Bleu, Spring Summer 2008, copyright Anthea Sims images-7 IMG_1465

as you move through The Cabinet of Curiosities, you find yourself in a viewing area with a pyramid set up to display the haunting Pepper’s Ghost created for the finale to the FW06 The Widows of Colloden finale, using a technique pioneered by Harry Swan in the 19th century, the spectral image of Kate Moss is conjured and it is completely mesmerising.  For the short period of time that the spectre appears, the room is silent and the surrounding people are as transfixed as I am, the whole spectacle utterly draws you in and is tinged with an almost palpable sadness.  I spot more than one person wiping away tears as they exit this section of the exhibition and it’s hard not to be moved.  Not one to shy away from a spectacle, McQueen was fascinated by death and the macabre and insisted that “death is part of life, I‘ve always been fascinated with Victorian views of death…. when they used to take pictures of the dead.  It’s not about brushing it under the carpet like we do today, it’s about …celebrating someone’s life.  and I don’t think it’s a bad thing.  I think it’s a very sad thing but it’s [also] a very romantic thing because it means the end of a cycle and everything has an end… it gives room for new things to come behind you“.

There’s a real shift as you enter Romantic Exoticism, this section of the exhibition explores McQueen’s interest in eastern culture and influence.  On display are the designers take on traditional Japanese kimonos and silk trousers all with that dark twist synonymous with McQueen.

“Fashion can be really racist, looking at the clothes of other cultures as costumes.  It’s mundane and it’s old hat.  lets break down some barriers…”

7. Installation view of 'Romantic Exoticism' gallery, Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty at the V&A (c) Victoria and Albert Museum London 11. It's Only a Game, SS 2005. Image firstVIEW

At the end of this room is another sinister installation, one you are almost forced to take in.  Part of the SS01 Voss (AKA “Asylum”) runway show, McQueen put on a completely unexpected live finale based entirely on a 1983 Joel-Peter Wilkin photograph entitled “Sanitarium” which depicted a glass box housing a voluptuous, masked woman connected to a stuffed monkey via a breathing tube, McQueen selected fetish writer Michelle Olley to play the part in the finale and the image has become synonymous with the Voss collection.  McQueen later said of Voss: “It was about trying to trap something that wasn’t conventionally beautiful to show that beauty comes from within.  It’s to do with the politics of the world - the way life is - and what beauty is

8. Installation view of 'Voss', Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty at the V&A (c) Victoria and Albert Museum London images-10 images-6

I find beauty in the grotesque like most artists.  I have to force people to look at things…

As you move away from the Earthy Voss display, you enter the Romantic Naturalism section and it’s exactly that.  There are flowers and beautiful delicate lace in the pieces in this room and it’s almost too pretty for words, each piece is displayed in its own glass case and each piece flows seamlessly into the next like a passionate and romantic story, the lace dress pierced by resin antlers from the FW06 The Widows of Culloden is centre left and up close appears almost fluid.  On the opposite side is the razor clam shells dress from the SS01 Voss collection as worn (and originally trashed) by Erin O’Connor and it’s a sight to behold.  Seeing this piece in print is one thing but being right up in front of it is another thing altogether, you simply can’t describe the craftsmanship and the beauty of this piece, it’s almost other-worldly.  McQueen wasn’t a designer to conform or be limited by materials and fabrics and took pleasure in using unexpected items to create his masterpieces.

“It was time to come out of the dark and into the light.”

9. Installation view of 'Romantic Naturalism' gallery, Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty at the V&A (c) Victoria and Albert Museum London  5. Tulle and lace dress with veil and antlers, Widows of Culloden, AW 2006-07. Model Raquel Zimmermann, Viva London. Image firstVIEW c381590c-bba2-498d-9e0b-bcf229f4c8b7-320x480 111111111

The finale of the exhibition is Plato’s Atlantis.  McQueen’s last fully realised collection shown for SS10 and based on a predicted future in which the polar ice cap would melt and life on earth would have to evolve in order to live beneath the ocean once more or perish; humanity would return to the place from where it came.  Displayed in front of a giant screen showing the same short film used in the runway show featuring Raquel Zimmerman writhing and twisting as she morphs into a semi-aquatic creature, Plato’s Atlantis is futuristic, fresh and delightfully strange.  This is the collection which unveiled the Armadillo boot silhouette for the first time, the Bell Jar dress and the JellyFish print which spawned so many high street tributes.  Hailed as McQueen’s greatest achievement, Plato’s Atlantis is so far removed from anything we’ve previously seen from the designer, and perhaps alluded to a new direction for him, sadly we’ll never know what McQueen had planned for us for beyond FW10 but we do know that it would have been spectacular, and awe-inspiring and beautiful.

10. Installation view of  'Platos Atlantis' gallery, Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty at the V&A (c) Victoria and Albert Museum London  Fashion Week e68204d0-8656-417f-892d-99e17a37b184-803x1020

If you’re a lover of fashion, and even if you’re not, the Savage Beauty exhibition at the V&A is an absolute must see, there is no doubt that you will be transfixed and it’s unlikely that such an incredible body of work from such an iconic designer will ever be on display like this again.  Curator Claire Wilcox was given unrestricted access to the McQueen archives in order to create this exhibition and has done an amazing job in creating the ambience to match each of the definitive themes featured here.  There are footnotes to each piece and in some cases these are hard to find and even harder to read given the sheer volume of people making their way through the exhibition at any time.  I would have loved to see more biographical information about McQueen, his heritage and his rise to become fashion’s enfant terrible, there are many subtle references to Isabella Blow, long time muse of Alexander McQueen but any reference to their tempestuous relationship is notably absent.  However, the exhibition was always going to be about the clothes.

I’ve talked you through what I took from the exhibition but at the risk of sounding like a cliché, this is something you need to experience for yourself, it’s so much more than just looking at beautiful clothes, it’s a feeling, an ambience, a collective experience for the senses.  So give yourself up to fashion and soak up the dark gothic atmosphere of Savage Beauty, and then go and do it all again because you’ll never get another opportunity to be a part of something of this magnitude and you’ll definitely leave there with more questions than you entered with but you’ll absolutely feel inspired.  And if you really do want to know more about Lee Alexander McQueen, splash out and buy the book that accompanies the exhibition, it’s a gorgeous book that you’ll pick up repeatedly in the days following your visit(s) to the exhibition.

“There is no way back for me now, I’m going to take you on journeys you’ve never dreamed were possible…”

Pixie x

The exhibition runs until August 2nd 2015 at the V&A Museum and tickets and further information can be found here: http:/www.vam.ac.uk/savagebeauty

All quotes used in this article are by Lee Alexander McQueen.

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Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, in partnership with Swarovski, supported by American Express, with thanks to M∙A∙C Cosmetics, technology partner Samsung and made possible with the co-operation of Alexander McQueen, runs from 14 March – 2 August 2015. http://www.vam.ac.uk/savagebeauty

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Unveiling the Basement Speak at Lola Jean’s Newcastle

I recently attended the launch of Basement Speak at Lola Jean’s in Newcastle.  For those of you who don’t know, the original Lola Jean’s bar in Tynemouth has been a cult hangout of über cool folk from the North East since it’s launch and naturally, building on the success of the first bar, a second was opened in the former GodFather restaurant site in central Newcastle and although the decor has the same eclectic feel to it inside, the venue is smaller and never quite received the same rave reviews as it’s sister bar in Tynemouth.

The bar prides itself on its extensive range of cocktails and the mixology expertise of its bar staff however, a quick look at most review websites will give you an indication of which Lola Jean’s bar is more highly regarded - you get where I’m going with this.  I’m not usually one to publish a negative review however I feel that this one is justified.  It’s not a review of the bar itself or the new Basement Speak as a venue, but more a review of the actual launch night.  Anyone who knows me knows that I can’t resist a speakeasy, in fact I seek them out and I love the secrecy that went into planning and running the original speakeasys of the prohibition era.  Now the speakeasy trend has been around for a while with some really cool venues and club nights popping up in and around London involving secret doors, secret passwords and even secret knocks, when it’s done right the effect is fantastic.  So, when I heard that Basement Speak was launching, it got my attention.

This was a launch I was excited about, I threw on a vintage denim button through skirt and a leopard print blouse with more than a subtle nod to the seventies and headed over to Lola Jean’s bar with ideas for this post already whirling though my head before I’d even set foot in the place.  As you head into the main bar area, there are set of steps down to the basement just to the left of the bar and this is how you enter the Basement Speak.  There’s an amazing (and huge) hand painted sign announcing your entry to the Basement Speak on the way down the staircase - not very covert at all but beautifully painted nonetheless.  At the bottom of the stairs, you head through a door that has a look of a confessional about it and then you’re in….

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The space is small and cosy and there’s exposed brick with alcoves for candles, it’s kind of like a secret cave where the cool kids hang out.  We were handed a lavender infused tequila shot which was completely amazing and I headed to the bar to find out whether, given the bar’s interest in mixology and infusions, this was infused on site or bought in.  I asked a barman who simply told me that “You would have been told the answer to that when you were given it”.  There were various cocky and rude comments, all from the same barman and we weren’t the only people to be a bit miffed about it.  It’s not the level of service you’d expect from an upmarket venue like Lola Jean’s, especially given the hype surrounding the Tynemouth bar (justified BTW), it’s this type of venue, the bar staff almost have an element of entertainment to their role, you want to see them putting their skills to use, you want the spectacle and ultimately, service is a huge part of that.  It’s kind of an unwritten rule that on launch night you put on a happy face whether you’re happy to be there or not, it’s opening night after all and you want people to be wowed and to want to come back for more, Basement speak at Lola Jean’s just didn’t manage to pull this off.

So that’s why this review is short and sweet; I didn’t stay for too long after that, put off by the rude comments and repeated eye rolls of one particular member of bar staff, despite the attempts of his colleagues to apologise for him, it really put me off and that’s a real shame.  I’m such a huge fan of the speakeasy scene and I wanted so bad for it to be good but it just wasn’t.  The price of the cocktails and the level of crap you’re given from seemingly entitled (in my case one specific) bar staff in there just don’t stack up and that’s why I won’t be back.

If you’re really into the speakeasy scene and want to find out what basement Speak is all about, then go check it out, you might just enjoy it, but if you don’t, don’t say I didn’t warn you….

Pixie x

To find out more about Lola Jean’s Newcastle visit their FaceBook page: https://www.facebook.com/lolajeansncl

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Ladies Pamper Evening, As You Like It

I was invited to a Ladies Pamper Evening this week at eclectic nightspot As You Like It in Jesmond, given that it’s one of my favourite hang outs I jumped in with both feet.  As You Like It is an amazing venue set on the outskirts of Newcastle and spread over three floors, each offering a different vibe.  Quirky and cosy, AYLI claims to be “Newcastle’s most beautiful restaurant” and it’s easy to see why; attention to detail is huge here, right down to the floral wallpaper and perfectly mismatched chairs, it’s no wonder it was once voted “seventh sexiest restaurant in the world” by The Observer.

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The event was held downstairs in Frangipani, a “chintz free function room” which still offers an intimate feel despite being a large space.  I worked a hard Seventies look (very Tom Ford) and I swished through the door, all leopard print blouse and vintage denim skirt still sporting straightened hair from an earlier photoshoot.  I arrived to a warm welcome and a Cherry Bomb cocktail in a vintage style jam jar glass so was already winning before the event had even begun.  The room opened out into a softly lit pop up boutique for the evening with stalls from Salisa UK, Love Niche and even Ann Summers.

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On the outside edge of the room, a brand called Salisa offering a selection of scarves, accessories, clothing and jewellery, all with a very Mint Velvet vibe about it.  Think sports luxe in a cool neutral palette that spans all ages.  Soft touch fabrics and gorgeous buttery soft suede bags invited clients to touch them and owner, Lisa Woodrow was on hand to talk clients through the collection and offer styling advice.  She tells me that her items are stocked in a number of boutiques and stores throughout the region but the bulk of the collection is carried in a small courtyard space just off Sidegate Gallery in Sunniside.  If easy-to-wear separates in soft muted tones are your thing, then it’s worthwhile looking into Salisa a little further.

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In the centre of the space; Love Niche.  We’ve come to know and love this brand, designed by owner Nisha Vedhara, for bringing the glamour and the collection on display today doesn’t disappoint.  Nisha has brought along a super stylish selection of resort wear that wouldn’t look out of place in Monte Carlo Private beach Club, all of which are her own designs and all are equally fabulous.  There’s also a table of accessories which has all bases covered, from snake necklaces through to book style handbags and patterned scarves.  The less expensive diffusion line, Love Niche London is also available to purchase here too and is crowded with Jesmonds Fashion Set for most of the night.

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Mini beauty treatments were also on hand from the girls at City Retreat, Jesmond and these consisted of head and shoulder massages, hand massages, mini manicures and more, there were also Elemis Spa products available to buy on the evening.  Further round the room were displays of beautifully decorated cupcakes for all occasions (sadly not available to eat, just to look at) and jewellery.

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The evening was set up in conjunction with The Chronicle Sunshine Fund in order to raise money to provide specialised equipment to children with special needs and disabilities in the North East of England.  As a mum to a child with disabilities myself, (something i don’t talk about a great deal) I jumped at the chance to support this great event and was pleased to see that it was well supported by the women of Newcastle and that throughout the evening, the atmosphere was positive and non-waning.

thanks so much to As You Like It for inviting me, and also I must say a huge thank you to Nisha Vedhara for gifting me a gorgeous peach tulip midi skirt on the evening, I’m super grateful and absolutely love it, you’ll see me wearing it very soon!

Pixie x

 

To find out more about the partners involved in this event visit:

http://asyoulikeitjesmond.com

http://sunshine-fund.org/about-the-sunshine-fund/

http://salisa.co.uk

http://love-niche.com

http://www.lovenichelondon.com

http://www.city-retreat.com

 

 

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The Botanist Roof Garden Launch

If you’ve visited Newcastle recently you’ll be hard pushed not to notice The Botanist, the latest addition to the old Monument Mall space opposite grey’s Monument and a subtle presence in the skyline as you head up Grey Street towards the heart of the City Centre.  The glass dome houses The Botanist bar and when evening falls it’s swathed in warm light highlighting its existence.  Not so subtle however, is the presence of The Botanist on social media.  So amped was the buzz about this trendy drinking hotspot that it’s clocked up over 30,000 FaceBook check-ins since its original launch in November 2014.  Fast forward to April 2015 and The Botanist is gearing up to add a new string to its bow in the form of a Roof Garden.

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The success of roof terrace bars and roof garden bars is evident in London, with Time Out magazine regularly listing them amongst the best places to spot and be spotted, however there’s not a great deal of choice outside of London.  Step forward The Botanist; with prime real estate at the top of Grey Street, Newcastle and amazing views across the City, the success of this venture was sealed before it was even launched.  With an uber cool vibe and a clientele to match, the addition of a  roof garden elevates the status of The Botanist.

The Press Launch was held April 8th and I was invited with the North Easts premier glossy; La Di Da Magazine.  Intriguingly the invite stated “6.30pm Prompt” so visions of a communal gathering to watch the sunset down Grey Street flooded my mind.  With anticipation, I threw on my best Pocahontas look and hot-footed it through Town Carrie Bradshaw style.  At 6.40pm, precisely ten minutes late, I expected to burst through the door into a passionate talk about the origins of the roof garden idea and have to profusely apologise for my lateness, however the reality of the situation was somewhat different, more “Advance Preview Of A Night Out” than “Official Launch Night” I was handed a cocktail and left to my own devices.

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Tucked away at the top of (a lot) of stairs, the roof garden is exactly what you would expect from The Botanist.  Lots of bare wood, trees decked out in warm light and modern vintage (mintage?) style lighting.  despite being largely open and obviously roofless, the space is warm and this is largely thanks to high level infra-red heat lamps.  The soft warm glow from these transforms the ambience as dusk falls and suddenly an open space becomes one full of hidden places and intimate zones.  A large wooden cabana at the furthest end is perfect for large groups, and as I discovered, a prime people watching spot, it is however, freezing cold as it’s one of the only unheated areas and my posse and I spent the evening with jackets huddled around our shoulders.  Throughout the terrace there are semi-private wooden booths on either side, coupled with the open seated areas The Botanist has you covered.  Well as covered as you can be when it’s open and you’re up on a city rooftop.

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The Botanist roof garden is undoubtedly where the cool kids will be hanging out this Summer and beyond and if you’re reading this from up there then congratulations, you can officially consider yourself part of that set.  I’ve no doubt that this place will be the talk of the town over Summer and even with the speight of new bars opening in Newcastle every month, this one still stands out as something unique and cool.

Only one question remains though; why 6.30pm prompt??

Pixie x

To find out more about The Botanist visit http://thebotanist.uk.com/location/newcastle

for more information on La Di Da magazine visit: http://www.ladida.co.uk

The Botanist roof garden is now open to the public

 

“Living The Dream” Unisex Screen Printed Sweatshirt £120

Kelly Shaw London 20% Discount Offer - Last Chance!

It’s the final day of the amazing discount offer I’m running with Brit designer Kelly shaw London.  Until midnight today you can grab 20% off any item across the FW15 collection (shown in full below).  the collection, in production now, will be available from August 2015 and every piece is a head turner, you’ll be hard pushed to choose just one item!

Recently shown as part of the Capsule Collective at Paris Fashion Week, Kanye West was spotted browsing the rails and anything with the Yeezy seal of approval turns to gold, case in point: Kim Kardashian.   With silent protest and challenging lines as inspiration, the collection is daubed with digital interpretations of gorgeous paintings by artist Jem Doulton, each piece created in the UK, using materials sourced in the UK.  Kelly Shaw really is a designer who is proud to be British.

To take advantage of this fantastic offer all you have to do is:

  1. Browse the full collection in the gallery or post below
  2. Select your favourite piece(s) (Trust me it’ll be hard to choose just one)
  3. Email kelly@kellyshaw.co.uk detailing the piece(s) you’ve chosen and quoting “Fashion Voyeur”
  4. Sit back and gloat that you’re totally ahead of the curve and amongst the first to pre-order the FW15 collection

Please note that you are ordering from the FW15 collection and as each piece is made individually to order, orders will be fulfilled in August 2015 but you can rest assured that you’ll be amongst the super stylish set come Fall 2015, and of course you’ll be backing a British designer with some super cool fashion credentials!

Of course, you can also shop the equally delicious Kelly Shaw London SS15 collection at http://www.youngbritishdesigners.com/designers/arising/kelly-shaw/

I’ve already ordered the Grey Wool dress at the bargainous price of £308 and it should see me right through Fashion Week with the freedom to run the cobbles in Paris!  I’ve also snapped up the “Living the Dream” oversized sweater, is there any occasion this isn’t suitable for?!  And the Liminal Print Skirt and matching Tee which ooze urban cool.

Let me know what you choose…..

Pixie x

 

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Newcastle Hair & Beauty Clinic Collaboration

Over the coming months I’m going to be working closely with Newcastle Hair and Beauty Clinic to bring you the best and most innovative beauty treatments around.  From regular maintenance treatments such as facials, waxes, gel nails etc. right through to more unusual treatments such as thread vein removal.  I’ll also be testing out some of the most sought after beauty treatments and enhancements to let you Voyeurs know what’s worth spending your hard earned cash on.

In addition to what I already have planned, I’m giving you the opportunity to put forward requests; so, if there’s something you’re really interested in but aren’t quite sure whether it’s for you or whether the results are long lasting, or if you’d like me to do any research for you before you shell out on a treatment for a big event, or if there’s something you’ve just maybe thought about trying but aren’t sure whether it’s worth the plunge, drop me an email at Pixie.Tenenbaum@gmail.com and let me know what you’d like to see me report back on.

A full list of treatments and enhancements currently available at Newcastle Hair and Beauty Clinic is available to view online at http://www.newcastlehairandbeauty.co.uk/services.html

Can’t wait to get started!

Pixie x

“Living The Dream” Unisex Screen Printed Sweatshirt £120

Kelly Shaw London Exclusive Discount Offer - Last Call!

Listen up Voyeurs; It’s your last chance to grab a hefty 20% discount on the amazing FW15 collection from Kelly Shaw London.  March 2015 saw Brit designer Kelly Shaw take her collection to Paris as part of the Capsule Collective during Paris Fashion Week and the collection, dubbed The Liminal Journey, will be available from August 2015.

Kanye West was spotted browsing the rails during Paris Fashion week so you know you’re on to a winner with this collection, all about silent protest and challenging lines, the collection is daubed with digital interpretations of gorgeous paintings by artist Jem Doulton, each piece created in the UK, using materials sourced in the UK.  Kelly Shaw really is a designer who is proud to be British.

The full FW15 collection is displayed below with price information and you can grab a slice of this iconic British designer before anyone else, with a fantastic 20% off but you have to be quick as this offer ends at midnight on April 10th……

To take advantage of this fantastic offer all you have to do is:

  1. Browse the full collection in the gallery or post below
  2. Select your favourite piece(s) (Trust me it’ll be hard to choose just one)
  3. Email kelly@kellyshaw.co.uk detailing the piece(s) you’ve chosen and quoting “Fashion Voyeur”
  4. Sit back and gloat that you’re totally ahead of the curve and amongst the first to pre-order the FW15 collection

Please note this is the FW15 collection and so orders will be fulfilled in August 2015 but you can rest assured that you’ll be amongst the first to own a piece of this iconic British collection.

Of course, you can also shop the equally delicious Kelly Shaw London SS15 collection at http://www.youngbritishdesigners.com/designers/arising/kelly-shaw/

My personal recommendation is the grey wool dress (featured above), with Victoria Beckham vibes and a cool British fashion edge it’s a snip at the discounted price of £308.  Now, all you have to do is choose……..

Pixie x