Wednesday, 4 December 2013

No.28 goes all 1930's burlesque!

A couple of months ago at the start of October, we set the wheels in motion for organising a 1930's inspired burlesque shoot between Bad Kitty Corsets, Michael Gordon Photography and myself. Despite a few hiccups along the way in finding an MUA/hairstylist and one of our models unfortunately having to cancel last minute due to work clashes, I'm delighted that it all came together spectacularly last Sunday!

We were kindly allowed to hire out the space in what is one of the best hidden jems in Newcastle, No.28, which is just in the entrance to the Grainger Market. The first thing you notice about No.28 is it's stunning decor of vine leaves, classic statues covered in red lipstick kisses, pearls, flowers and fairy lights dripping from the ceiling and embellished with cheeky paintings and art-deco mirrors. With it's varied and quirky choice of seating, it turned out to be the perfect place for our 1930's vintage inspired burlesque shoot!)

Setting up at No.28

The day officially started when I picked our model Millie Parker up from No.28 at lunch time to take her back to the studios for a corset fitting, hair and make-up. I matched some collars and cuffs to the successful corsets whilst Kelly (of Bad Kitty Corsets) laced her in and out of them to find out which ones were most flattering. As the corsets and girdles are very tailored, personal garments, not all of the size 8 corsets/girdles fit but this wasn't a problem as Kelly had plenty of stunning pieces to choose from! We eventually settled on a simple red corset, an ombre-dyed lemon and turquoise corset (which I think she said took her around 7 hours to dye alone!) and a stunning pink corset with vintage French lace with a matching headpiece. We were lucky that Millie had already came with her hair curled and make-up done, as it saved a lot of time and it only took a slick of Kelly's dark lipstick and magic highlighting brush to complete the look.

When we were all satisfied with the corsets/accessories/hair/make-up, we helped our photographer Michael (of Michael Gordon Photography) and Lucie Cox (our photography assistant notably a talented photographer in her own right) transport their equipment from F6.Studios to No.28. After playing around with a few test shots to get the lighting spot-on, we finally got Millie into her first outfit and began shooting. Amazingly this was her first ever time modelling other than head-shots, so being dressed as a 1930's burlesque girl in the presence of those finishing their Sunday lunches was undoubtedly quite challenging, but she done a brilliant job!

Behind the scenes

More behind the scenes

Unfortunately due to our space being booked till 4.30 and having shot for over 2 hours, we only had time for two of the corsets, but we did manage to cram in a variety of looks by switching accessories including a gorgeous head-piece made by Kelly. Here are a few of the final shots:

Millie wearing leopard 'Dusty' collar and matching cuffs

Millie wearing bespoke 'Anita' collar

Millie wearing bespoke 'Marie' collar and matching cuffs

I think it's safe to say that we all had a lot of fun doing this shoot, and I'm really looking forward to seeing the rest of the final edits! Here are some links to the collaborators sites:

Bad Kitty Corsets

Michael Gordon Photography

Melanie xx

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

"Keep on keeping on"

The past week I have been a very busy bee, recovering from the hard work and excitement that was Gladrags fashion show, preparing some collars to sell at Mr Kringle's Handmade and Vintage Emporium with F6.Studios, doing a PNE business course and organising a collaboration with Bad Kitty Corsets and Michael Gordon Photography for Sunday!

First things first, Gladrags was a great success, with fab goodie bags, flowing drinks, gorgeous clothes (including my collars and cuffs!) and a buzzing atmosphere. As well as the catwalks we were all waiting for, we were also treated to entertainment in-between, with live music by Faye Shearer and James Houston, performances by Newcastle University's dance society, and great banter from hosts Annelies de Jong and Christian Cargill. With sales from tickets and an amazing raffle (genuinely gutted I didn't win one!), we managed to raise a load for charity and put fashion to a great cause! In the run-up to the event, I managed to grab a mini interview for F6.Studios with a few of the organisers at

Here are some pictures of Gladrags, courtesy of The Courier Television:

Backstage modelling Melanie Kyles and Lancelot Knight

Backstage with hosts Christian and Annelies

Generous goodie bags

Gladrags Mojitos

My catwalk with Lancelot Knight

Models wearing up-cycled Swarovski collars and cuffs

Twin-tipped up-cycled collar and embellished cuffs

Some more up-cycled collars and cuffs

Close-up of up-cycled wool cuffs with satchel

The audience (full house!)

Meanwhile at Mr Kringle's on Saturday, I had a wonderfully festive time eating French crepes with Belgian chocolate and getting slightly merry from our Jamie Oliver mulled wine! Originally I was going to produce a range of collars with hand-printed silk linings. I did eventually manage to screen-print some fabric, though by the time I managed to find somewhere in town to print onto acetate, set up my screen and print, wash and dry the fabric, I had time to make only one collar!

Helen teaching me screen-print essentials at F6

First print - green fingers

Screen-printed, steamed, washed and dried silk

Luckily I had already prepared some other collars from floral cotton and leopard faux-fur (silk-lined and my personal favourite) for the event, so I put these alongside some of my degree work for the table. We also sold organic body scrub by Helen, hand-woven scarves by Lydia, hand-painted caps by Stu, leather tissue holders by Tiago and of course, mulled wine!

Mulled wine-off: Jamie Vs Deliah

Handwoven scarves by Lydia Bayly

Bespoke caps by Stu Murray-Borbjerg

Betty's Banging Body Butter by Helen Rafferty

A handful of collars

Up-cycled, hand-embroidered vintage collar

Leather tissue holders by Tiago Galvan

Christmas mess from Jamie's success

Over the next few days, I'll be sorting out the 1930's inspired collaboration between Bad Kitty Corsets, Michael Gordon Photography and myself. The shoot will be held this coming Sunday and I'm really looking forward to seeing it all come together! Anyhow more on that shortly ;)

Melanie xx

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Getting my 'Gladrags' sorted!

This past month has been a frenzy of birthday celebrations (as is typical of October) and exciting opportunities so apologies for the lack of posts! As well as starting a PNE business course (highly recommended to anyone wanting to set up their own business), I've been sorting out some new accessories for the 'Gladrags' fashion show which I will be taking part in later this very evening. The show is a part of Newcastle University's ongoing 'RAG (raising and giving) Week', and this year is in aid of 'Smartypants' AICR (Association of International Cancer Research).

Gladrags tickets

With eight models to dress and less than three weeks to go, below are some accessories which I had ready prepared. They were the end products of my final degree show earlier this year and were exclusively featured at Event Northumbria as a part of Newcastle Fashion Week, and will be included in tonights show. I'm delighted all of my accessories will be modelled with gorgeous bags from local satchel company Lancelot Knight, and I'm really looking forward to seeing them together for the first time on tonight's catwalk!

Up-cycled Swarovski collar with vintage lace

Up-cycled leopard collar

Up-cycled leather collar

Up-cycled hand-embroidered micro-top

In addition to the accessories I'd already chosen, I decided to make slim cuffs to match some of the collars, the image below (which doesn't show the accessories complete) shows my favourite pieces which I later embellished with a few Swarovski hearts.

Matching up-cycled Swarovski collar and cuffs almost complete

From the same blouse (keeping with the up-cycling theme), Victorian-style lace and Swarovski crystals, I made another basic collar which works well with the rest of the accessories and will really dazzle under the lights!

Up-cycled Swarovski collar almost complete

Detail of embellishment/lace on above collar

Finally I decided to create another sleeve accessory the day before dress rehearsals using faux-fur and black cotton lining, which can be revealed by folding up the sleeves. I unpicked the pattern from an old colour-block top and everything was going well until I got to the sleeves, when I realised how tricky it would be to stitch the rest up without exposing any hems. Luckily working in F6.Studios means there is often help at hand, and Tiago Galvao was my pattern-cutting/machinist knight in shining armour, taking it away and working his magic! Now I know how it's done I'll definitely be making more of these, as they are very unique and versatile in how you can wear them. For instance this leopard-print accessory would look lovely layered over an LBD or even a plain vest and skinny jeans, and it's a great alternative to a jacket on a night out!

Completed leopard sleeve accessory at F6.Studios

Back of leopard sleeve accessory

Now with only three hours to go, I'm going to crack on with making myself a lovely ruby red collar for tonight, where I can finally put my feet up, enjoy a glass of wine and of course, be wearing my 'smartypants'!

For more information on 'Gladrags' or 'RAG Week', here are some links:

RAG Week website:

Smartypants Website:

Melanie xx

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Collaboration with Bad Kitty Corsets - First Look

So asides from battling a nasty virus (drinking copious amounts of hot toddy and sleeping for offensively long hours), this past week or two has seen me collecting images in preparation for my collaboration with Kelly Jane Lamb and her beautiful, hand-made corsets! Half-stealing a couple of Kelly's books, 'Hollywood Glamour Portraits' (John Kobal) and 'Burlesque - the art of tease' (Dita Von Teese) and scouring Pinterest, I have fallen in love with the dark, ethereal images I've come across, this one of Dita being one of my faves:

The stunning Dita Von Teese

Kelly and I met last week to put our ideas together for the first time, seeing which corsets work with which accessories, styling ideas and that sort of thing. Actually putting our products together with inspirational pictures and seeing how well they compliment each other was really exciting, and helped us visualise the final outcome a little better. I didn't realise until I met Kelly with some pictures, that the partially desaturated, selective pallets were characteristic of 1930's photography due to the technology of the time. Unfortunately we couldn't find the pink satin and lace corset so have compromised by adding the fabrics (bottom pic), but here are some images of what we put together:

Idea No. 1

Idea No. 2

Idea No. 3

Discussing the overall theme and appearance, we are now thinking of location, could we shoot in the studios? Would they let us shoot at the beautifully opulent Bar 28 or perhaps even the Lit and Phil amongst the stone busts? Along with fellow friend and studio member Michael McGuire, whose stunning minimalist photography will ensure the final images ooze sophistication, we will (hopefully) soon be venturing on a miniature culture/bar crawl camera in hand! In the near future, will also be looking for size 8 models and a talented MUA who would like to be involved with the project, so more information on this coming soon...

To see more of Kelly's fabulous corsets, check out:

For stunning portraiture, physique and fashion photography, check out these links on Michael:

Melanie xx

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Meeting Michelle

Over the past year or so, I've lost count of the number of times I've heard my business mentor Sarah (director at BDaily: "I need you to meet Michelle!", Michelle being the lady behind the prestigious lingerie brand 'Tallulah Love'. Set up in 2010 after years of industry experience, Michelle launched Tallulah Love with the help of Sarah's business expertise. Specialising in beautifully made, vintage-inspired lingerie, she has a range of achievements under her belt including a monthly column for high fashion 'La Di Da' magazine, a feature in UK Vogue and a recent Tom Ford shoot, and is set to continue with bigger and better things!

Tallulah Love - 'Blue Birds'

Tallulah Love - 'Femme Fatale'

Tallulah Love - 'Dinner at the Ritz'

Following a year of marvelling her gorgeous designs, I finally met with Michelle on Monday. After a long day of working (Michelle had been working since 6.30), we decided to be a bit naughty and go straight for the delicious meringue desserts with a cuppa at the newly opened Carluccio's on Grey Street. As expected she looked every inch the Tallulah lovely in her glossy black heels and red lipstick, and greeted me with a huge smile and a warm hand-shake hug. For the next hour we talked excitedly about her next investment ventures and swooned over her recent   Carravagio-inspired 'Candyvaggio' feature in CR Fashion Book, shot by fashion legend Tom Ford and including what is likely to be the best product placement Percy Pigs have seen...

Candyvaggio - CR Fashion Book

It was great to find similarities in our ways of working with Michelle coming from a design background like myself rather than an entrepreneurial one, and Michelle has learnt to juggle her workload and market herself very successfully. I found it really inspiring discussing how she had gone through the same processes as me both emotionally and professionally, and knowing she was once in my shoes in the early stages of Tallulah Love! An important thing she said to me was to make sure I keep a good network of people around me. I feel very blessed that the people I've met so far in the creative and enterprise industries have been nothing but generous, supportive and inspiring, and it's their belief and encouragement that steers me in the right direction and gives me a bit of a push when necessary! Now I'm off to continue working on my brand logo and make more accessories for my collaboration with Bad Kitty Corsets, blog post  on that coming soon :)

Wishing Michelle lots of luck for future projects, and look forward to seeing more of her! To find out more about Tallulah Love, check out these links:

Melanie xx

Monday, 16 September 2013

A New Chapter

As you've probably noticed my blog has been quiet for quite some time, so much has happened since my last post in June so here's a quick update...

In the past couple of months, I've graduated from my Creative Practice degree (with a 1st!), upped sticks from my student flat in Heaton and moved into F6.Studios with some lovely creatives in the centre of Newcastle. I've taken part in both Newcastle Fashion Week and The Late Shows exhibition as well as having my accessories going live on local online boutique 'Shabby Sheep' (!accessories-/c24we).

Creative messy desk at F6.Studios

View from my stall at Newcastle Fashion Week

Exhibiting with 'Made in Jesmond' at The Late Shows

I've also enrolled onto another PNE enterprise business course in November (a friendly and inspiring lot based on Pink Lane who make writing a business plan a pleasure rather than a chore), and I'm contributing towards the F6.Studios blog ( where there's always something exciting around the corner! I've recently received branded stickers from Moo to make the packaging that little bit more special, and I'm hoping it's not long before I get my own website up and running.

Next on the list is a collaboration with local corset designer Kelly Lamb ( and photographer Michael McGuire (, and a chat with the wonderfully talented founder of Tallulah Love, Michelle Taylor (!

Double-tipped collar almost finished for collaboration

Double-tipped chain collar for collaboration with vintage French lace

Branded stickers from Moo

Stay tuned for more updates, and if you haven't already, follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page!

Melanie xx