Marvellous Marwood


I'll officially own up to it.  Style Salvage Steve and I are in fact sad acts who sit at home getting excited about PDF lookbooks, designer blogs and pictures of factories at work.  Our blogs don't work in tandem but there can be a crossover and in this instance, I couldn't help but follow up on his post about accessories label Marwood – actually, accessories is too broad a description – specifically Marwood is all about neckwear.

In menswear I feel like a jaunty skinny tie or a dicky bow tie has become rather hackneyed and pushed into a style cliche but designer Becky French, who began Marwood after stints at Aquascutum and Ralph Lauren, sheds these associations by creating her bow ties and ties by turning to supremely well crafted materials such as woven silk, wool and traditional English spun lace.  Furthermore, it specifically the English lace that also means Marwood's neckwear has an appeal to women that French herself emphasises through her lookbook as well as her very inspiring inspiration blog.



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ÔªøÔªøÔªøIt was this lace that also got me intrigued by its craft and inception and why French decided to use it so heavily for her first collection for Marwood.  This isn't just a British made product for the sake of stamping 'Made in Britain' on the box and by utilising a dying trade, French is in fact upholding a tradition that is worth preserving if the lace used in the ties above is anything to go by.     

How did you first hap upon English lace makers and what is it particularly about English lace that makes it so special?
A friend had visited an English lace manufacturer and thought it would be of interest to me. Since starting the Marwood blog I have loved the behind the scenes process and found it integral to designing the product… knowing how things are done and why; the amount you learn from the manufacturers is invaluable. Also, I had just picked up a vintage English lace collar piece as inspiration and so the timing was perfect.

I visited the family-run lace manufacturer and found that they've been making specialist spun lace using Leavers machines since 1845, creating their own unique patterns along the way. John Leavers developed a machine in 1813 that produced patterns and backgrounds at the same time. The Leavers machine introduced the production of intricate lace patterns similar to those created by hand – these patterns are created by trained draughtsmen. Leavers lace can be cut and it won't fray due to its construction of loops and twisted cotton. The recognisable feature of this factory's lace is small cotton nodules that are raised off the surface.

Is it a dying craft?
Definitely. When I went to the factory I was shown around every part of the process by Kate who works there. The fascinating machinery and process is so specific and requires constant man power and attention to draught the patterns, set up the machines, fix them, understand them and maintain the standards. It is this man power and expertise that is a rarity now as people aren't training to do the jobs and many of the last ones in the know are reaching retirement.




Through her blog, you get the feeling that French is determined to explore the full extent of possibilities and nuances of the necktie communicated through her research imagery and daily snaps that she takes herself.  She may even move onto another product with the same level of dedication once neckties are exhausted but for now, her quest to revive this sartorial tradition in a way that doesn't feel cheap or cliched (see the piles of elastic bow ties at any random high street store) is in full swing with this first collection dropping into shops like bStore in June.  She's also fuelling the bow tie/neck tie cause for girls and though I've never quite pulled it off with finesse, her words and imagery present a compelling case…

What are your favourite instances of women in ties/bowties and do you think that it's quite difficult for women today to incorporate it into daily wear?
I love Patti Smith's iconic look – the tie is not too precious on her; done up or undone it looks effortlessly cool. Having said that, the YSL tuxedo look is always fixed to perfection and that is one of the most provocative looks created for a woman. It can be tricky for women to incorporate a tie in to daily dress without it looking forced but I know friends who wouldn't think twice about it and they would rock it in their own way – it just depends on someone's personal style. It can definitely work though!


Boyy oh Boyy


>> How well did you do in the sales?  Officially speaking, people were going a bit bonkers for the discounts and for once, I partook heavily both online and in person.  I thought Paris soldes, which start later than they do in the UK and US would reap me some bargainous benefits.  No such luck as clearly Parisians get an early start and diligently mine the sales in the first few days leaving barely anything after a week.  Yesterday though, after an afternoon tea meeting at Liberty, I wandered about the ground floor looking at the sad items on the tiny sales table left that are now 75% off.  When the items are hanging around in singular form on a little table, it's a little like a church jumble sale.  I also love it when tags have multiple crossing out of prices.  Makes the discount that much more prominent.

In the accessories section, I found this Boyy box chain-decked bag that is almost like a minaudi√®re because of its size but is made slightly more functional with a long chain strap.  I don't know too much about Boyy, the accessories label from New York other than when I see their logo, I get flashes of Boy London which has gone through a rollercoaster from cool to naff and back to cool again.  I gather it's fairly well-established but then again, what I know about bag labels is about the same as what I know about jeans – which is next to nothing.  This 'Yves' bag by Boyy of New York caught my eye last time I was in Liberty when it was hovering at the ¬£300 mark.  This time, at ¬£140, I couldn't resist – I mean there were four prices crossed out on the tag – hurrah for the power of the red biro pen.




Seeing as I've recently been able to free my hands of a handbag completely, thanks to a pair of Valentino x Gap combat trousers with its bazillion pockets in which I carry the tried and tested essentials (Oyster card, debit card, phone, lipbalm, keys and camera if needs be), I'm now in no fear of the tiniest of bags and this one is rather minute.  Just about everything fits in.  And I could always resort to a few pockets if needs be. 



On another note, I'm sure the amount of chanis, hardware and the overall 'rad/edgy/dark' feel of the bag will put naysayers off who are sick to their stomachs of well… anything 'rad/edgy/dark' or are the type to get sick of things very easily in the fickle nature of fashion.  Still, I'm not going to fight the desire if a little box bag dangling with chains and chainmail is floating my boat.  Even if I'm not myself remotely 'rad/edgy/dark'.   


I’m Neon Till I Die, I’m Neon Till I Die


I'm afraid to tell you that for one hour of the day, I defect towards the sports sections on BBC and Guardian to scour for any newsbites to do with Arsenal – I have indeed become the doting football fanatic's girlfriend prompted by the saying that 'If you can't beat them, join them' – it was afterall my fate seeing as I earnt a few ¬£¬£¬£ waitressing at Arsenal's old Highbury grounds when I was at uni.  Therefore it should come as no surprise that during the Christopher Kane show, this was knocking about in my head… I very nearly sang it out loud had it not been for decorum's sake…

"I'm neon till I die… I'm neon till I die… I know I am, I'm sure/swear I am, I'm NEON till I die…"

Listen to this snippet if football chanting isn't on your audio radar…

It all started off with these fat chunky markers.  I've been highlighting text since I was a small tot.  Nope, not because I was a child genius and read hefty research papers whilst watching Playdays, but because I went to Chinese school where using different highlighter colours to signify the various accents on characters was the norm.  I then progressed to adding a few more colours if I felt like being a bit fancier, but these are the core three – don't even want to think about how many packs I've gotten through over the years…


I'm pretty sure Christopher Kane didn't actually do what I did here and started defacing lovely black and white photographs of Princess Margaret but when the key phrase of the collection was "Princess Margaret on Acid", I couldn't help but do this just to see how the seemingly-demure-but-secretly-raucous Marge would look doused in neon…

It suits her I think…


Kane got it devastaingly spot on of course when he first sent a neon-filled S/S 07 collection and he affirmed it again for S/S 11 when he declared "Neon gets me going.  Every other color is so banal."  It wasn't a repetitive affirmation and after much thought, if anything, this particular neon slicked collection this time round is cut through with a host of other motifs and made up in fabrications and cuts that serve to counteract the hyper-hyper notion of neon.  I especially love these images here which I snapped in the showroom where distorted lines and colours are derived from a seemingly solid chunk of neon. 



So the tug and pull between the ladylike and acid-derived visions begins with an argyle twinset and perforated leather lace effect dress, purposely made to look like the sort of vinyl or oilcloths that you cover tables with – actually thinking back, what I should have done to make my mother's doily table cloth and PVC sheeting combo more exciting was perhaps to throw a vat of neon paint all over it – a complete imagined act of rebellion that would only live in my head and not in reality. 




Wouldn't it have been immensely cool to have seen Princess Margaret wearing neon box a pleat knee length skirt and neat jacket standing next to Queenie in her not so neon knee length skirt and neat jacket…



The lines on the lace dresses and pieces were the subtle seams at work to elevate what could have been a very flat lace dress.  Kudos to Kane for having the tenacity to find a neon lace supplier as apparently he had difficulting finding anything neon for the collection.



Luisaviaroma have got the first online dibs of these line-ridden lace dresses.  Why colour in white lace with a highlighter if you can afford the real thing eh?  Oh right, that's it – I may have to resort to doing the former…




I particularly like the contrast between the very neon-neon lines and the darker shade of green in the lace…


My only bugbear with this collection despite the triumphant chant that was going through my head resides in these tattoo printed dresses, derived from the tattoos seen on Yakuza (Japanese gangsters).  I'm not Japanese but sadly put any tattoo print that vaguely involves dragons, Kanji characters, lotus petals and florid lines on me in particular, and you get the Chinese version of a chavvy girl, that looks like she's been hanging out with her Triad boyfriend too much and also has a heavy addiction to the bleach bottle.  That's just the one singular complaint.  Show me an Asian gal who can rock them with aplomb and I'll retract…


I do like this type of super sheer silk jersey that Kane has been using for a few seasons making his t-shirts something of a must-buy when his legendary sample sale comes round in London. 

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The finale though erases any traces of the prints gone before as an intricate beading passage finishes the show off taking the collection to a different part of Asia especially as the patterns reminded me of henna mehndi  skin decoration.  This kind of tat, I can get down with seeing as it's done in the most minute of colourful beading, reminiscent of the final beaded passage in Kane's S/S 10 show but this time round, a rainbow comes to pick out these lines, supported by a neon lace background.  


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In a simpler abberation, beads adorn the holey knitwear that form part of the collection's stable sales pieces.   

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If there wasn't any highlighter on the feet, I'd be worried.


His final keyword given to Tim Blanks was 'Cyberdog', a pretty hilarious affirmation, which leaves me nothing to say but a plea to the man himself…

Come on Christopher, let's just get together and talk about how we loved scribbling with highlighters, watching biopics of Princess Margaret thinking she was a babe and an intriguing minx, and daring ourselves into venturing inside Camden's Cyberdog and being secretly a little petrified…

Oh, and get yourself a website…! 

Monki-ing Aroung Pt 3

>> 'Allo, 'allo – this is me trying to add gravitas and depth to what is essentially is a squeal about my wardrobe.  They cut out the bit where I RAVED a lot about the Ikea Stolmen system, probably because they didn't want to give a free shout-out to the Swedish home giant.  But like I said before in my previous wardrobe construction post, Stolmen gets the big thumbs up from me (as well as the two dudes from Express Wardrobe) so if Ikea wishes to send me extra shelves, brackets and poles for me to run down the street demonstrating to people why Stolmen rules, then I'm happy to do so. 

I believe next week will be the last episode so it's bye for now.  We'll save the blubbing for next time…