Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Featured Designer: Annelise Michelson

Compellingly dark, dangerous femininity is at the glittering core of rising jewellery icon Annelise Michelson's distinctive pieces. A soft, feminine sensibility with a bewitchingly tough and menacing edge haunts the French fashion darling's work, making Michelson's inimitable necklaces, bracelets and ear adornments popular with high-fashion, often leftfield trendsetters including The Kills Alison Mosshart, Alexa Chung, Rosario Dawson, Eva Green, Adrian Brody, Zelda Williams and Robin Wright-Penn.
Born in Paris to artist parents, Annelise first developed her very own, distinct aesthetic through close relationships with talented artists and craftspeople during her youth and young adulthood. She cites her godfather, a professional tailor, as a crucial influence on her creative development. Surrounded by beauty and inspiration, Michelson seems to have had very little option but to create. She graduated from Paris's Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture before going on to work with high fashion houses Lolita Lempika, Hermes, Paul & Joe and Vanessa Bruno.

It was not until friend and famed stylist Carine Riotford asked her to create one-off, bespoke pieces for a French Vogue shoot, that Michelson uncovered her vocation. Since launching her very first collection in October 2010, Annelise's sensational costume jewellery, made exclusively from French materials, has appeared in countless fashionable publications and has been seen bedecking the glamorous arms, necks and ears of many of the fashion world's elite. Her latest collection, Carnivore, is now available, though only a limited number of pieces have been produced. 
Annelise's Inspirations

Masculinity, femininity, power, danger, softness, sensuality and a glamorous androgyny all contribute to the ultra-desirable, high-contrast aesthetic at play in
http://www.avenue32.com/designers/annelise-michelson Annelise Michelson's quirky designs and perfectly calibrated pieces. This is jewellery which blithely toes the line between the feminine and the butch, the gothic and the girlish; all without ever putting an elegant foot wrong. The designer has her bohemian upbringing and Parisienne haute couture education to thank for her well-developed, articulate aesthetic sensibilities. Faultless Gallic design and craftsmanship, meanwhile, certainly exert their influence on Annelise's entirely French, handmade pieces.

The Carnivore Collection

It is another, rather better established French icon who inspired Michelson's latest Carnivore collection. Marie Antoinette, who the designer describes as “feminine, yet dangerous”, heavily influenced the carnivorous tooth-like, crown-shaped rings, decadent rosary-meets-bondage leather and gold necklaces and stand-out, statement ear wear. The collection has been met with rapturous critical approval and, as each piece is a limited edition, a certain fevered devotee-ism. As Annelise's array of admirers continues to grow and to covet her stunning pieces of jewellery, her reputation as an effortlessly chic, upcoming jewellery maven becomes increasingly concrete.

Trend to Watch: Ear Cuffs

It's rare that a wholly new, wearable jewellery concept comes into existence, yet the ear cuff has been a crucial trend in recent months, decorating the cartilages of many of the most fashionable and fabulous. For a look which lends glamour but not fussiness, try Annelise Michelson's sharply geometric, triangular, gold-plated cuff. Wear with a messy, flyaway updo to expose the prettiest part of the ear.

Monday, 27 May 2013

The Black Pinafore Collaboration

Debora Baudoni is the talented dressmaker behind The Black Pinafore
I came across The Black Pinafore on Etsy whilst searching for a 1950s reproduction dress. I wanted something to wear for work and I found exactly what I was looking for in Debora's shop.
My work dress, made by Debora. Photo Rachel Spivey

The Black Pinafore is based in Sarzana, Italy
The beauty of Etsy is that it connects you with talend people from all over the world so it feels like you are corresponding with someone much closer to home. The whole experience was so easy. We decided on suitable fabric and trim and I sent her my measurements. Considering it was a hand-made dress, I received it relatively quickly. I found the whole experience to be a really enjoyable one. Debora was a delight to work with and luckily her English is far better than my Italian which stretches to the total sum of one word 'bella'.
More images of Debora's 'bella' creations can be found here.
From that intial order, I asked Debora if she'd like to collaborate further and we got together on a photoshoot project to showcase our services. I ran a competition and asked entrants to send me their photo with a description of why they would like to be styled vintage. I chose five lovely ladies to take part.
Debora and I corresponded with ideas on outfits, and hair and makeup styles. The winners had their makeup applied by Wendy Donaldson, who is part of the Kitty Wink team and I did their hairstyling. Chris Alty of CJ Shtterspeed did the superb photographs. 
We did the shoot over two days on the Bank Holiday weekend in May. 
We couldn't of asked for better weather. On the Saturday we went to local Duxbury Park with our first two models.
Duxbury Park was so quiet
The following day we went just around the corner to Astley Hall with the remaining three models.
The models received many admiring glances

People approached us to ask questions and we got so many compliments, it was lovely. 

If you are looking for a unique 1940s or 1950s reproduction from an original pattern, I cannot recommend The Black Pinafore highly enough. 
Choose your own fabric and see your ideas come into fruition through Debora's superb dressmaking skills. The Black Pinafore

Monday, 10 September 2012

Beauty Vs Beast 2013

It's not every day a girl gets to indulge in two of her passions at the same time. Providing vintage styling and getting close to some cool vintage motorcycles ... bliss!
Ariel Red Hunter
1962 Tiger Cub
A day spent in beautiful surroundings with a great bunch of people - oh - and it just happened to be for an extremely worthy cause. The Myelin Project funds research for demyelinating diseases including Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Leukodystrophies. These conditions are aggressive, terminal and devastating, which at present there is no known cure. Multiple Sclerosis is the most common of the demyelinating diseases and affects adults of all ages.
The calm before the storm

Makeup and hair preparations
I was initially approached to help out with hair and makeup for the calander. Being quite good at organising - and much to my delight - I ended up assisting with pretty much the whole schedule. Many of the calander themes were the brain-child of Nikki Armstrong, an extremely talented makeup artist who works alongside me at some of my vintage workshops and events.
A dear friend kindly allowed us the use of her beautiful home to do the shoot. It was perfect! There turned out to be many places on the land that made superb surroundings for the photographers Andy Monk and Anthopny P Holt.
My friend having a sneaky go on Indiana Jone's sidecar

The pretty lounge was turned into a changing room
Alison, my 1940s beauty
We improvised with the costumes. They were generally outfits we already owned. We begged borrowed and stole the rest. Catwalk Creative Vintage provided two beautiful dresses for our 1960s and Easy Rider theme. 
Beth looking beautiful

Frock 'n' Roll provided a selection of hair flower clips to finish the vintage looks perfectly.
Nikki before
Nikki after - a 'mean' Bonnie (& Clyde)
Our themes: 1960s scooter/flower power, 1970s scooter/Northern Soul, a handful of 1950s Rockabilly and a 1940s theme, Indiana Jones, James Bond, Bonnie & Clyde, Easy Rider, Cafe Racer Girl and The Great Escape/Steve McQueen.
New Hudson Autocycle
What my models get up to in-between shots
Everyone came together to make this event work and that was demonstrated to perfection by the guys who provided the beautiful motorcycles we used to style each month's theme. These guys came from far and wide to help out - some at very short notice, so our sincere thanks go to all of them. Here are two of our many heroes of the day ...
Alfie from Glossop

Gaz from Darwen
Our wonderful female models were all members of the Swan2wheels Motorcycle Club, Hindley Green, Wigan. We also had a few brave male models posing for us throughout the day. All willing victims I might add, enjoying the great atmosphere and doing something, I am sure, that was completely different ... for a Sunday afternoon anyway.
My Best Biker Bud Ben Bond with his new pal Vicki
In addition, the Beauty Vs Beast 2013 calander is being dedicated to the memory of Leah Davies, a beautiful young woman who died tragically in a motorbike incident in August. Her dear Mum and elder sister showed great strength and took part in the calander shoot. Leah was looking forward to modelling for the calander so this we hope, in a small way, is a fitting tribute to her.

A few of the many who helped make this day so special
The finished article will be out soon. 
Saz - like a little cherub

You can pre-order your calander on the Beauty Vs Beast website. And finally! A little bonus for me, although I did have to give it back ...
"Oooh! This would do nicely around Oulton Park"

Monday, 7 May 2012

My Lucky Day

A friend was recently helping to clear a house and came upon some items he thought I'd like. The lady who owned the items was happy for me to make use of them, since they were either going to be thrown away or taken to a charity shop. I returned home from a shopping trip today to find several bin bags on the dining table. I thought all my Christmases had come at once! Here are a few of my favourites:
Suitcase lined in pretty blue and white

I love the yellow straw bag and beaded bag
A closer look at the earrings
More pearls and gorgeous costume jewellery (top of photo)

Delicate pearl necklace
Pearl bracelet (top of photo)

Beaded bag
Last but not least, placed carefully inside one of the handbag pockets was this locket. It contains the photo of an old gentleman and a pet dog. It brought a lump to my throat as it obviously had great meaning and sentimental value to the owner.
Locket with some treasured photos
There were also coats and jackets (which were a bit too big for me) and an assortment of other accessories. I am really lucky to have such a thoughtful friend - what a pal. I'll definitely make good use of most of the items he brought over and make sure the others go to a good home.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Better Than Botox

.... not that I know from experience, but this beauty treatment was painless, much cheaper than a dose Botulinum Toxin  .... and what's more, I feel like a million dollars! It's all down to the talents of photographer Simon Hunt and his team at Alt Studio, Manchester. I noticed recently that a few of my friends had experienced makeover sessions at his studio.
I have to admit I was curious to see what they could do for me. I wanted to do something completely different to my normal 1940s/50s look. A 1920s theme appealed to me so I went along with some pearl earrings, a fur stole ... and just look what they did!

I am a makeup artist and vintage hairstylist so you may think it odd that I am singing the praises of another, but I like to give credit where credit's due  .... and credit is due big style to Nikki Armstrong who had the insight and  talent to transform me into a silent screen goddess in about thirty minutes flat.
I have no idea how she did it! I tried to make mental notes but due to my age have now forgotten them.
Anyhow, I feel like it was a life-changing experience. My insides are happier than they've been for a while and it's radiating outwards into the Universe .... that's surely a good thing!?
The only down-side is that I am admiring my artistic images more often than I should and not getting other 'stuff' done.
This should be on the national curriculum!  Or at the very least, available on the NHS. Having the opportunity to be immortalised in such an artistic way is an experience every woman should have. Simon certainly knows how to make a girl happy. What a great morale boost! I am more than happy to recommend Alt Studio to anyone who wants the star treatment for a day. Take away beautiful momentos that will last forever .... which of course, is much more than can be said of a dose of Botox.
Thank you so much!