Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Beautiful Sparkling London

This post is just a quick one to share the treasures I come across at the V&A Museum this weekend. We went to London to see The Libertines at Hyde Park, which was well worth the ten-year wait, went on a midnight wander past Big Ben, the London Eye and back up past Buckingham Palace (feet were so sore by this point!) and caught some of the Wimbledon final at Duke of York Square!

Waiting in line to get our books signed

It would have been rude not to have dropped by the V&A whilst in the area, so I had a quick look around before catching up with my friend watching Wimbledon. With my increasing interest in travelling to Nepal someday, I wanted to see some of the statues and artefacts from this beautiful Buddhist country. I immediately gravitated towards this gilded copper statue of Bodishattva Avalokiteshvara studded with semi-precious gemstones, which was made by Newar craftsmen for Tibetan patrons, and the statue originally held the stem of a flowering lotus in the left hand.

Bodishattva Avalokiteshvara

Bodishattva Avalokiteshvara

It wasn't long until I found myself in the fashion gallery, which featured stunning works from 1750's to the present day. With my love for embellishment and embroidery, and being a bit of a magpie, I was bowled over by the intricate designs as I came in from the left. The virginal yet opulent ostrich feather designs on a Balmain gown, carefully entwined encrustations on coral shoes by Roger Vivier for Dior, a heavily decadent purple creation by Rébé, more gorgeously embellished shoes by Roger Vivier and a gothic lace and crystal choker necklace by Dior all dazzled under the show lights.

Pierre Balmain

Roger Vivier for Dior


Roger Vivier


I left with too many books (I only ordered some online a few days previously as they have an amazing 70% of sale!) and not enough pictures, though feeling inspired to make a solid start on some special hand embellished and embroidered pieces! Will post more on the embellished project soon...

Melanie xx

Michelle for Engage Magazine

Earlier in the year, I met up with with the lovely Michelle Taylor of Tallulah Love, to interview her for the launch issue of new local magazine Engage. It was a while back that the editor of the magazine, James Tennant, kindly approached me to write fashion articles for Engage. After a small discussion on what type of article to write, would it be a how to wear? An interview? A review? James was keen on the idea of promoting designers from the North East in keeping with the theme of a local, community-centred magazine, and I immediately thought of Michelle. Who better to interview for the launch issue than the founder of the most successful lingerie company in the North East, an inspirational lady who is very much an important part of our local fashion network? Luckily, Michelle was more than happy to meet for a coffee and a catch-up, and it was delightful to see her again and talk about her recent exciting adventures with Tallulah!

After our interview and catch-up, and me getting all misty-eyed over the Tallulah bras Michelle had with her, we thought it would be a wonderful idea to do a present swap with Tallulah Love Lingerie and Melanie Kyles accessories! She had already offered me a set of 'Frillies', an unashamedly soft and feminine  set of bra and knickers adorned with peachy frills, lace and ribbons that I'd been admiring for weeks. They feel soft but surprisingly durable due to the carefully selected mesh, and are completed with an embroidered Tallulah signature, they made feel like a princess the second I had them on! Showing her some of the accessories I had taken to a vintage tea-party stall at Newcastle University, she fell in love with the teal floral collar so I offered to make her reversible cuffs to match.

Floral 'Dusty' Collar
Floral 'Dusty' Cuffs (original)
Floral 'Dusty' Cuffs (reversed)

A few weeks later once she had returned from a much deserved holiday and I had made her cuffs, we met back at her favourite cubby hole in Pink Lane Cafe to do our gift swap! I also  met her lovely intern Lucy, who took these pictures of us with our gifts:

Buttoning Michelle into her new cuffs
Michelle and I with our beautifully wrapped parcels
Match made in heaven
My gorgeous set of Tallulah frillies

Michelle was kind enough to later send me some photos of her wearing her new 'Melanie Kyles' collar and cuffs (unfortunately it wouldn't have been quite the same if I returned the favour of me in my new frillies!), and she looks stunning! Here she has paired them with a statement necklace and metallic corset in true pin-up style...

Michelle looking gorgeous in her 'Dusty' set

As well as wearing her set on nights out with the girls, she has also worn them for important business meetings and working in Tallulah HQ! Here is a lush picture of Michelle looking glamorous at her desk wearing her 'Dusty' collar with a simple jersey dress and cardigan...

Michelle working at Tallulah HQ

I'm over the moon with our swaps, I adore my 'frilly' set and I'm so pleased Michelle is loving wearing her new accessories! The first ever issue of 'Engage' magazine has now launched, so for all you lovely people that live in or near Gateshead, keep your eye out for the magazine where you will find my interview with Michelle and hear about her latest Tallulah adventures!

Here are some links to see more from Tallulah Love:

And if you don't have access to Engage magazine, the articles will be available to read online once the magazine is published!

Melanie xx

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Ooh La La! Behind the Scenes at Cafe Rouge Newcastle

For quite a while now I've been meaning to get my accessories on Asos Marketplace, the pinnacle of online fashion boutiques. Originally I thought it would be ok to take some quick pictures, just basic studio close-ups against a white wall. However after checking the boutique guidelines, I found out not only did I need a model (preferably a model), but I also had to find a setting which wasn't a studio, which is when I realised the project was going to be more than a few quick snaps.

Although it meant a lot more work than I'd initially thought, it was also a great excuse for a themed shoot (and I LOVE an excuse to put a theme together!), so I started scouring Pinterest and fashion glossies for inspiration. I needed to find something fairly neutral that would fit with all of my accessories, but I also wanted something with a bit of personality which reflected my style of clean vintage, smart yet decorative and a little romantic. Eventually, I settled on what I found to be the perfect theme of a Parisian-style cafe shoot. After putting an advert for two models online and receiving an amazing response (which was both heart-warming and overwhelming), I decided on working with two models who I already knew, both of whom are gorgeous and lovingly down-to-earth.

Kayleigh Falcus, who also designs and makes jewellery (more on that later), is daintily petite with doll like eyes, killer cheekbones and has a real 'English rose' look about her. I originally knew Kayleigh from Newcastle College where we started our degrees, though it was only more recently I met with her properly for an interview that I actually got to know her a little better. The other model for the shoot, Lauren Marshall, I met only a matter of weeks ago where she modelled at Newcastle Fashion Week. Lauren has a bit of a Liv Tyler look about her, with bold eyebrows, full lips and masses of dark glossy hair. A spring chicken to the modelling scene, she was super excited for her first location shoot.

Kayleigh (Hair/Makeup by Maxine)

Lauren (Hair/Makeup by Maxine)

Looking for a French-style cafe in Newcastle, the first place that came to mind was Cafe Rouge on Grey's Street. Though there are a few lovely independent cafe's with cute outdoor tables down charming back alleys such as 'Cafe De Vie' and 'Intermezzo', Cafe Rouge had a strong French vibe mirrored through their petite woven chairs and flower arrangements, gold trims, film posters and the all important French window decals, which worked perfectly with the Parisian theme. My only hesitation was that with it being a popular chain store, the chances of us actually being able to shoot there, particularly if it happened to be a sunny day (when the outdoor seating gets jam packed), were pretty slim. Thankfully, I was proven wrong when I spoke to the assistant manager Maxine, who said that it would be ok for us to shoot there and was really interested and excited at the prospect of a fashion shoot at Cafe Rouge!

With the theme, models and venue sorted, I then went about finding a few of outfits which were versatile and would compliment the accessories well. As I wanted to show off the versatility of the collars and cuffs, I decided on two outfits each, one smart-casual and the other more evening. Eventually I settled on two chiffon tops with skinny jeans, a black long-sleeved body-con (very Audery Hepburn), and a Jessica Rabbit-style pastel jumpsuit. I especially made a couple more 'Cupid' collars with Swarovski crystals for the shoot, as I'm keen to start bringing more embellishment and embroidery into my work, particularly after Newcastle Fashion Week!

With only two days to go and the weather having being temperamental all week, I checked the forecast and realised it was set to be raining on the day of the shoot, meaning it would have to be set indoors. Knowing that the lighting would be different inside (and needing natural lighting to fit in with Asos Marketplace guidelines), I headed over to take some test shots with my professional camera. Realising how much background there would be inside the frames and unable to get the background to blur unless it was a good ten meters away, I realised that I needed a professional photographer who knew how to handle indoor shoots. I posted a last minute plea online to see if anyone would be interested in helping out, and thankfully with the help of Kayleigh, Penny Edwards of Pennyjane Photography kindly agreed to join us! With a portfolio including a great range of indoor and outdoor fashion editorials, and having worked with Kayleigh several times before, she was the perfect candidate.

Photographer/Model Selfie!!

As well as working with Kayleigh, Lauren and Penny, I was delighted to be working again with Maxine Ayre of Maximillion Makeup and Hair. I hired Maxine only a few months ago for a collaborative shoot at Lane 7 for Darkus Magazine, and she was very easy to get along with, very professional and extremely talented. She kindly agreed to squeeze us in between dropping her children at school and an appointment after lunch which was ideal, though it's a shame she wasn't able to stay and watch the shoot. For the look we were going for, Maxine created a brown smokey eye with bronze-rose lips and carefully curled dishevelled up-dos, which had the perfect balance of looking glossy and sophisticated to a really high standard but without looking overly dramatic.

Hair/Makeup by Maxine

Hair/Makeup by Maxine

On the morning we met up, it was luckily set to be a gloriously sunny day (never trust a weatherman!) and we headed to F6.Studios to get everything prepared. Getting into the vibe of the shoot just a little, I ran out and bought us all some croissants for breakfast, and we had a good play around with finalising the styling whilst listening to Bad Rabbits in the background and the sun streaming through. Kayleigh also brought some of her own jewellery for the shoot which worked amazingly. Minimal, elegant and extremely versatile, Kayleigh Falcus jewellery makes great gifts as it can be worn with almost anything and will always add a touch of class!

Kayleigh Falcus Bracelets

Behind the scenes with Penny, Kayleigh and Lauren

Behind the scenes Kayleigh wearing a 'Cupid' collar

Behind the scenes Penny and Lauren wearing a 'Cupid' collar

All in all it was a really successful day and was far better than I had imagined, the sun was out all day, the outfits worked perfectly with the jewellery and accessories, we managed to get some amazing photographs (credit to Penny, Kayleigh and Lauren) and we even finished half an hour early. We provoked a lot of interest with passers-by on Grey's Street, which included a comment on 'the things places do nowadays to get customers' whilst Lauren was draped over the Cafe Rouge sign, myself (a little merry by this point) dashing down the road with a single pink rose I bought from the Grainer Market as a spur of the moment prop, and just the general beauties that were Kayleigh and Lauren. I was even inspired to buy a French newspaper, which ended up being a copy of Le Monde where we strained to conceal the images of hooligans on the front cover but managed to get it in a few shots. After the shoot unfortunately Penny and Lauren had to set off, but Kayleigh and me met up with the lovely talented Michelle (Tallulah Love) and Elaine (Dimesso Designs) for a little catchup! I can't wait to see the final images and hopefully by the end of this week, my accessories will be available to buy from Asos! Will post as soon as the pics are up...

Melanie xx

Image credits to Maxine Ayre, Pinterest, Kayleigh Falcus, myself.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

The Late Shows with F6.Studios

In addition to Fashion Front Row, I also took part in The Late Shows with F6.Studios on Saturday, talk about a busy week! We had our 'Night Owl' event on in a specially set up studio with creative photographer Jon Meikle taking pictures, which had a brilliant turn out and was great to the pictures become more elaborate as the night went on...

Lucie and Michael looking dandy on the other side of the lens

Gang of owls!

Cute pic :) masks by Ethan and Michael

A day owl shows her wild side, mask by Stu

We're nightclubbing...masks by Bayly and Stu

 The fashionable couple, masks by myself and Galvan

Galvan, Kahtash and Bayly having a fab time! (mask on right by Dabble Dabble)

The general idea was that each designer-maker created an owl mask in the style of their own work, and visitors were invited to try on their favourites and choose whether they were a 'day owl' or a 'night owl'. The rest of the 'Night Owl' event images can be seen on the F6.Studio blog and Facebook page. Another event of F6.Studios (which I'm embarrassed to admit I almost forgot amongst the chaos) was our very own marketplace. After arriving in the nick of time and hand-stitching the last crystals onto my owl mask in the car (hand-stitching whilst travelling seems to have been a necessity the past week or so, but luckily I've had have plenty practice!), I dashed about collecting collars and cuffs from my display above my desk, and with the generous help of Kate Dunn set up my stall with a couple of Helen's vintage tablecloths she'd managed to dig out. It was a great opportunity to meet everyone properly and sell some bits of work, and hear what their plans were and where they had visited so far that night. It was also really nice to see everyone's work together in the same room ranging from fashion and urban art to a variety of printed work.

T-shirts by Ethan Clothing and artwork by Regina

Katie Prints selling her work

My girly-vintage stall

Simone on behalf of Dabble Dabble

Simone with Dabble Dabble prints

Gorgeous dress by F6.Studios for NE1'sNFW and Stu Borbjerg artwork

Artwork by Bobby

The lovely Kate trying on the 'Blue China' collar and cuffs

More outfits from F6.Studios Collaboration for NE1'sNFW

After being on the stall for since doors opened, I spent the last hour having a look around to see what else was on at Commercial Union House. I spent over a good half hour in our owl area at F6.Studios, tried on my owl mask (couldn't resist...) and tried to direct the by then merry crowds in our direction, who weren't too difficult to persuade... I also had a quick 20 minutes to dart between another couple of floors, B&D Studios on floor 3, which included a beard shave-off for 'Everyman' charity, live tattoos and artwork, and also Ampers and Interventions on floor 4, which had a great mix of innovative artwork including a vibrant exhibition by Jen O'Neil.

The Candy Vortex

Art piece by Jen O'Neil

Art piece by Jen O'Neil

Traditional Chinese script
Cabinet of pocket treasures by JP

Unfortunately it really was a quick dash as living in the middle of nowhere (otherwise known as Rowlands Gill), my last bus was a lot earlier than I would have liked. It was a great night with plenty to see, and everyone who visited seemed thoroughly entertained!

The past few weeks have been rewarding, exciting and a bit of a whirlwind, but it's also a bit of a relief to be able to take my foot off the gas a little for now. There is still plenty to look forward to this summer, including a shoot of my tailored basics with the gorgeous Kayleigh Falcus and Lauren Marshall for ASOS Marketplace, a shoot with Tallulah Love and Dimesso Designs to show off our stunning Fashion Front Row showcase, and an exciting street catwalk arranged by F6.Studios! I'm also delighted to now be selling with new local online boutique Dainty Lou (focuses on beautiful pieces handmade in Britain so is a real privilege) and eagerly awaiting my copy of this months Darkus Magazine (we're actually in print!), which includes exclusive features on our Lane 7 shoot with Ellen Rachel, Kitty Quinzell and Maximillion Makeup and Hair. I'm off to make some more tailored collars for the ASOS shoot (starting with a delicately embellished 'Cupid' collar in a lavender crepe), will post more on that shortly.

Melanie xx

Monday, 19 May 2014

NE1's Newcastle Fashion Week - Fashion Front Row

The last few weeks have been a blur of hard work, craziness and excitement in the run up to two big events this past week, NE1's Newcastle Fashion Week's 'Fashion Front Row' and 'The Late Shows'.

As there are so many pictures I'm going to split this into two posts, so let's start with Newcastle Fashion Week. 'Fashion Front Row' is one of the most sought after slots of Newcastle Fashion Week, the highlight of the Newcastle Fashion Week calendar which showcases the best of local designers and their new collections. Due to such a high number of applicants for this years show at new venue Tiger Tiger, some designers were paired up with others and unfortunately some had to be turned away.

Whilst waiting to hear back from my application, I managed to continue a little work on the 'Romantic Warrior' collection, dip-dyeing an ostrich feather trim (with the kindly help of Helen Rafferty at F6.Studios), sampling fabric flowers and embellishment and embroidery. The inspiration behind the collection was a bit of a modern take on Pre-Raphaelite, traditionally feminine and floral with elements of medieval detailing translated through mainly stitch and embellishment. I had designed a mix of motifs inspired by old wrought iron heart locks, a tiara and the jewelled centre of a 17th Century ostrich feather fan, which worked really well with the 'romantic' theme.

Dip-dyeing ostrich feathers
Swarovski-embellished fabric flowers and foiled lace
Intricate detailed silk panels ready for sock suspenders

With only two weeks to go and after a little chasing up from myself and Michelle Taylor from Tallulah Love after discussing Fashion Week, I received an exciting email from Jayne. She asked if I 'would be happy' to showcase with Tallulah Love, which obviously I was over the moon and slightly shocked at, Tallulah Love was the headline act and it meant a great deal that Michelle was happy to let me showcase my collection with her, particularly at such short notice!

Just a few days later, we also had another local designer join in the collaboration, the lovely talented Elaine Humble of Dimesso Designs, who creates dramatically beautiful headwear. With the fabulous team Tallulah of Michelle, her intern Lucy Scorer who designed the military inspired flower girl look and sourced the gorgeous skirt from Kathryn Russel, an amazing illustration of burlesque star Frankii Wilde by Jennifer Lambert and dramatic bustle and train by Phil Woodhead of Buckley, and Elaine's striking headpieces and my bespoke accessories, we managed to pull together an amazing collection in a very short space of time with everyones hard work and expertise.

I met up with Elaine shortly after we found out she was on board to give her some of the dyed ostrich feathers and flowers I was using. I was delighted to find Elaine as genuinely lovely and down-to-earth as I expected, and was amazed when she told me that she originally taught herself millinery from a magazine before getting requests from friends and family, and that's how her business started! Other than my meeting with Elaine we only kept in contact online, sharing pictures of materials we were using and what each outfit was going to look like to make sure everything fit together perfectly. The day of Fashion Front Row was the first day we all came into contact and seen all of our work together, so it was a little overwhelming from seeing individual pictures online to seeing the models stood in front of us, there were a lot of tears and shaking!

Official backstage photograph of accessories

Tallulah intern Lucy tying model sister Amy into 'Showgirl' corset

Gorgeous models wearing 'Military flower girl', 'Showgirl' and 'Lavender'

Pre-show meeting

Designers backstage!

After hours of excitement, tears, headache, running out to buy emergency heels (so many backstage photos, a last minute idea to have the designers on the catwalk and me wearing tatty old pumps) and trying to mingle in the few seconds between with Kayleigh Falcus and Lydia Bayly, it was showtime before we knew it! Unfortunately as there were about 60 people backstage, we were unable to see the show due to how busy the crowd was, but the feedback from our models told us the collection was a fabulous success!

'Lavender' with floral neck band

'Kimono' with embroidered sock suspenders (pic by Peter Reed)

'Military flower girl' with lace-up cuffs

Tallulah 'Darkside' with Dimesso headpiece

'Ganster moll' with silk bow-tie

'Muskateer' with matching neck band and cuffs

Finale 'Showgirl' look with embellished collar and cuffs

Back of 'Showgirl' with bustle by Buckley

Designer's round of applause on the catwalk

It was a lot of late nights and early mornings of hard graft for everyone involved, but the show coming together so spectacularly and seeing all of our hard work pay off made it more than worth it! It was so satisfying to see the final results and overwhelming to see friends and family who were there supporting us, all in all it was an amazing night! It wouldn't have been possible without the support of my family, friends and peers, my mam helping out with some last minute embroidery, Helen helping me understand the many different dyes in the print room, my next door neighbour letting me borrow her iron the night before the show after ours conveniently broke, Elaine stitching the last few press studs onto my 'Showgirl' cuffs when I had a headache backstage and of course, Michelle and the organisers of Newcastle Fashion Week Jayne and Sandra for letting me be a part of this wonderful event! Also a big shout out to F6.Studios who I was working alongside most of the time in the sewing room, who opened the show wonderfully with a stunning collection of their own (check out the F6.Studios blog to find out more!), it's such a pleasure to have shared this experience with such lovely and talented people!

Will post on The Late Shows very soon...

Melanie xx