Rose-Red


I feel that to call Alice Whiting a stylist, which indeed she is, may be misleading. The word calls to mind a woman burdened with armfuls of bags, scurrying around sourcing the correct clothing, shabby chic bread boards and backdrops in just the right shade of mauve; not too pink, not too purple. Working to a creative director's specific instructions; sourcing the goods. 

Alice is a stylist by profession. She is an artist by nature. I first came across her work in Polyester Zine in the form of cakes which straddled the line between saccharine and cyanide (sample icing: "Just another sentimental crisis") and evoked the kind of abject loveliness which I am very much about.

So when I was put in touch with her about an embroidery commission, I was naturally very excited about working with such a visionary woman. As she told me what the commission would involve, my excitement grew.

Initially Alice simply wanted the words "I still believe in happy endings" embroidered on to a white silk corset. However, the garment she ended up selecting was a 1940s wedding dress. This gave us more room to play with, and Alice decided that she wanted the dress to be embroidered with the names of her ex boyfriends, showing that although the course of true love never had run smooth, she was still a romantic at heart.

I was enchanted with the Miss Haversham echoes and that tension between the sweetly feminine and the overbearing, grotesquely feminine in Alice's idea.

We had a quick email ping pong about fonts and also decided the names of the ex boyfriends would be interspersed with Disney storybook-esque roses in red and pink.

I traced the words and roses and applied these designs to the dress using the ancient pricking and pouncing technique.

I started with the most impactful text, "I still believe in happy endings". I sewed around the outlines of the words in split stitch and then filled them in using satin stitch for density and impact. This technique would be repeated for the individual names of the ex boyfriends. Once the words were filled in, another outline of split stitch was added to make the words crisp.

The roses were completed in the same way, but in analogous pinks, purples and reds.

Alice has since told me that the dress is "one of my favourite things ever", which makes me feel just wonderful! I can't wait to see her style it to perfection.



































The Illustrated Embroiderer

If you know me, you'll know I'm fond of a frock (or seven). My room is currently groaning under the weight of 60s dresses, and the surplus has started seeping out into other rooms too. But when it comes to dresses, I firmly don't believe in too much of a good thing. Particularly when it comes to the gorgeous details of my two most recent acquisitions.

Both are not only lovingly hand-crafted, but also feature illustrations by the designers themselves. 



First up is a delightfully atomic-era-esque number by Supayana. I've followed Supayana(aka Yana Gorbulsky)'s work ever since my teens, when I had misguided dreams of becoming an indie fashion designer. Back in the day, Yana spliced and recycled cute thrifted tops to make her own creations. Her green fashion credentials continue to this day, when she makes use of old and unwanted vintage fabrics, and eco-friendly materials in her designs. Her pieces are now much more refined and elegant than they were at the beginning of her career, when the mishmash of her designs could be said to be an acquired taste (it's certainly one I like, though!)

In recent years, Yana has collaborated with artist Olivia Mew, incorporating Olivia's illustrations into her Spring/Summer 2012 collection of children's clothing and womenswear. I couldn't pass up on one of her illustrated fox tops back then, and I couldn't pass up on a foxy dress now, with a sweet illustration designed by Yana herself, of leaping foxes and bunting.



I've followed Caitlin Shearer's work since my teens too (though I suspect initially that had something to do with us both being mildly obsessed with Patrick Wolf!) Over the years I've seen Caitlin's paintings and illustrations mature into an utterly idiosyncratic and instantly recognisable dreamy aesthetic, echoed in her gorgeous Instagram snaps of bouquets of flowers and her own enviable collection of mid-century dresses. If you've never encountered Caitlin Shearer's work before, I urge you to go check out her Etsy shop. Go now.

In 2012, Caitlin began to introduce a line of dresses and textiles illustrated with her original watercolour paintings to her Etsy shop. A delectably tempting plethora of sweet, slightly puff-sleeved, 50s inspired sundresses are available, with illustrations ranging from pastel biscuits to girl scout badges. The Mermaid dress, however, is the one I've had my eye on since then, and after many months of saving pennies, it recently landed in my letter box.

It's even more dreamy in person; though perhaps a little risqué to wear to School! These mermaids are certainly sirens.




Both these dresses are perfect for the sudden Spring weather we're having (I spent my lunchtime today on a picnic blanket in the gardens of Hampton Court Palace, soaking up the sunshine). I'm certainly feeling much sunnier, too.