Monday, 26 May 2014

New brand to watch - d'or et d'argent

I haven't blogged in ages but hopefully will get back into the swing of it again! One of the first things I wanted to mention is a new, luxury contemporary fashion brand called "d'or et d'argent" which I am totally excited about!

d'or et d'argent is founded by two friends who met in Shanghai back in 2012 and have now officially launched the brand. This first collection consists of photographic printed unisex t-shirts, my favourite being the stunning 'SeaFuji' print along with the 'Poker Queen' crop top.

I've been ooh-ing and ahh-ing at their wonderfully presented lookbook where the styling really makes the brand stand out on its own as it nods to a more elegant approach, rather than the typical 'street' aesthetic typically associated with t-shirts. It shows that a t-shirt can be smart!

I have also had the pleasure of seeing the 'SeaFuji' t-shirt in person and the print is beautiful! ... I must also mention that the quality of the fabric has an amazing hand-feel to it. I am super excited to see what the brand will come up with next!!

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Soap.

I've wanted to make my own soap/creams/lotions for a very long time because my skin is SO particular, I was fed up of spending money on products that either didn't help or made it worse. My skin is mostly dry but it probably doesn't help that I love a steaming-hot shower and can be a little lazy when it comes to moisturizing my body...and don't even get me started on my hair - I wash it everyday - this fact usually makes anyone cutting my hair gasp a little. Then I came across an article about all these ingredients in commercial beauty products that sounded awful and I truly believed either caused or did nothing to help with my skin - hence why I wanted to make my own!! This was the only and final solution!!

(I am now also currently on a semi-natural shampoo routine which I will blog about later as I threw away all my L'Oreal's, Pantene's, Aussie's! .... definitely worth reading!!)

Back to soap - soap-making seemed like such a huge expense and I felt that I needed to dedicate a lot of time to get started as it is so technical and specific... and I didn't want to do it the easy way either - i.e. Melt & Pour.
Finding time proved to be very challenging due to my full-time job and running my Etsy shop - which I only had about 4 days each month to spend time on... but I could not get soap out of my mind and if there was something I could make with just my hands, then I wanted to do it even more!

Anyway, I can't remember what provoked me, but as it was coming up to my birthday (January), I decided that I wanted to use the day to get something I really wanted, rather than the usual shopping vouchers/gift cards (not that I am ungrateful of those dear family). So, I asked my family to chip in and send me on a soap-making course! I hadn't found one yet, but they all agreed and all I had to do was to tell them how much they had to send.
After hours and hours of searching online for a soap-course in London that looked genuine, I settled for 'Make Soap' by Melinda Coss...there was something about it that made me choose her course, over the others I came across... but I didn't know why, yet.

The day-course was still a month away by the time I had booked myself into it, that I decided to dig out an old soap book ('the handmade soap book') I bought ages ago, to try to get myself familiar with the terminology, and possibly a bit of a head-start, just so that not everything sounded alien to me!
Lo-and-behold, guess who the author of the book is? Melinda Coss! ... That was why I was drawn to that particular course! It was fate! I knew for sure this was the right course for me.
I remember when I got the book and found it terribly overwhelming but excited too ... cocoa butter, shea butter, poppy seeds, camomile, honey, coconut oil, lavender... all these yummy ingredients needed to make soap... but I really felt I had to be in a classroom environment to confidently start making some myself, especially with the use of sodium hydroxide (lye) .... this was why I left my book on the shelf and never returned to it, until now... after reading about all the horrible things I've been putting on my skin and hair!
So, yesterday was the day of the course!! I was totally surprised at the 20+ people who attended it! The course started at 09:30 and finished at 15:30. It started with Melinda giving a brief introduction to soap-making .. about the ingredients, colours, safety precautions and also to answer any questions we had. We were then split into three groups at a long table each and my group was led by Jackie, also a professional soap-maker like Melinda ...and she was brilliant! In fact, everyone there was just lovely and always available to answer any questions.
I remember thinking how pretty much everything on the table could be found in my kitchen.... I had read about it beforehand of course, but I guess it didn't really register until I saw it all in front of me.
We started with doing a basic 'swirl' soap and followed a recipe step-by-step, while Jackie explained it all in more detail as we took turns doing each part. I couldn't believe how straight forward it actually was, the main thing was to be very specific when it came to measuring everything.

I couldn't repeat the entire process off the top of my head at this moment in time, but after reading through Melinda's book again, after attending the course... things really made sense and not so hard after all!!

We literally made a block of soap from start to finish in only a couple of hours, then we had a nice lunch break, then Melinda took us through a chart of working out the ratios of oils etc and then resumed to make another batch. This time, we did it using Goat's Milk.
I remember buying a handmade body butter once with Goat's Milk in it and it absolutely STANK!! So, I was preparing myself for this ... however, it only smelt a little... but after adding the Lavender essential oil, there was no more smell... Jackie also advised that if we wanted it unscented, there would be no smell after the curing period, if we did not add a fragrance. So, not quite sure what on earth was in that body butter I bought!! Again, I couldn't explain this process right now either but I am challenging myself to recreate the two recipes I tried on the course, at home. So will keep you updated! In the meantime, I will just annotate some of these photos I managed to take during the course!

Each table made enough to be split amongst all the participants on the course - here, we are pouring in the soap mix into paper cupcakes. One is plain and one has poppy seeds added to it...
...and this is how they looked after being decorated with lavender seeds and flower buds. Super cute! At this stage, they would then need to go through 'curing' for over a month, but the benefit of the course is that you are able to take these to 'cure' at home... so, I can't wait to use mine next month! ...although admittedly I did squash mine on the way back!
We also had the opportunity to buy supplies ... I decided to just get a mould and a blue colouring... and get everything else at a later stage as I knew I wanted to perfect the most basic soap recipe first... before I dived in to doing the more fancy recipes, which I don't think I would do anyway.. I imagine my soaps to be quite basic and natural looking. (I will come back to this in a few years time with my glittery soaps and wonder what on earth I was thinking saying this ha!)
Jackie showed us how to create the swirling effect, which is pretty easy. It is done once it is in the mould, and then left to set for up to 24 hours before cutting.
But of course, we had to take it home! ... so it only got a couple of hours...but it still looked great after removing the mould. However, leaving it for longer would have given it a much cleaner cut as you can see. Nevertheless, this seemed like such a fun part! ... but having to wait for a month before being able to use it is going to be hard!!
The other thing I really remember Jackie teaching us is that even though we start off using sodium hydroxide (lye) to bind everything together ... during the 'curing' period, the lye actually evaporates entirely ... so you truly are left with a bar of soap that literally contains the most natural ingredients.
I am so glad I decided to go on a course, rather than figuring it out at home, as I think I would've made a lot of easy mistakes. It was absolutely worth it!! I do hope to possibly sell it at some point too, I mean, clothes, vintage, books, jewellery and fabric just isn't enough stuff to have in my Etsy Shop right?... 
But don't worry, I think it will take me a while!! ...and I'll be using all my friends and family as guinea pigs! My next aim is to go on Melinda's business course about the legal requirements of selling it ...and I also have my eye on the creams and lotions course too... oh, so much I want to do!!!

Friday, 7 February 2014

Haute Couture SS14.

I haven't blogged about the catwalks in ages!!! So, as a quick catch up, I am starting with the SS14 Couture shows with a quick collage of my favourites!
First up is Christian Dior ... so so beautiful! You can see heritage references in the collection but totally modernized. The shoes are jaw-dropping but my favourite pieces were the ones with tiny paintings which looked as though they were framed by the garment, they seemed to tell a little story of their own.
Maison Martin Margiela is always one that I know I will love, before I've even seen it. I loved the 'fly' mask styling and how the fabric selvedges were left exposed. I've always loved Margiela's raw aesthetic and is definitely one of the shows I look forward to seeing each season.
Lastly, the beautiful Valentino.  How can you not love the sheer musical note dress and a slightly darker tutu dress with a snake wrapped around the silhouette. I'm never really keen on safari themed collections, but Valentino makes it work.
Images from Stylesight.com│ Assembled by nuvonova

Friday, 31 January 2014

Reykjavik, Iceland.

It's my birthday and so I decided to go on a long weekend break with my boyfriend to Iceland! Our main destination was to visit the Blue Lagoon- simply because I have wanted a swimming pool in our hotels whenever we've gone on holiday, but I've never been able to get one at a decent price/location ... so I made this holiday into a swimming one!! 
However, we were asking a couple for directions when we got into Reykjavik, and when we responded that we were mainly here for the Blue Lagoon, they scoffed! ... the type of scoff I would do if someone said they traveled all the way to London to see Big Ben.

We stayed at Apartment K, which is a boutique hotel just off the main street in Reykjavik. To our amusement, there wasn't a door to the lovely stone-walled bathroom ... well, there was a little sliding glass door (that did not sit flush against the wall), so there may as well have been NO door! The hotel room was super clean and self catering as there was even a stove! I loved the little SMEG fridge, the only one I will probably ever get to use in my lifetime (because they cost a bomb) ... and I actually loved that there wasn't a mini-bar because I don't even drink, so we were able to just go out and buy exactly what we wanted and had space to keep it in without the fear of being charged loads of money for a tiny bottle of orange juice.
Below is the staircase of Apartment K ... it was so nice to stay in a hotel with character! ... and I liked that it felt like there was nobody else there most of the time as your room isn't cleaned/bed isn't made daily, only when you leave. I never once saw anyone who looked like a cleaner and actually, we're all adults so we should be able to tidy up after ourselves.
The main street is filled with many coffee shops/bars and small Icelandic boutiques. I didn't see a commercial brand in site, which was so nice!!
When I walked past the Lebowski Bar, I had to go in! Not that I am a huge fan of the film, but more for the fact that it was a bar with a film as it's main theme! 
The inside was like a retro bowling alley, with two big screens playing films from the 80's and also a stream of 80's music ... it was great!!!
As previously mentioned, the Blue Lagoon was the main purpose of my holiday, and it did not disappoint!
I can't describe how strange it is to be swimming around in heated water while there is snow and rain falling from above and not being able to see more than 2 metres in front of you because of the fog/steam in some areas. We ended up staying here for around 3 hours and I was a little trigger-happy when it came to using the silica mud on my face - note: don't go rubbing it into your face thinking it is smooth mud, it has many granules and I ended up giving myself a rash for being too rough!
I absolutely loved coming to the Blue Lagoon and will definitely be returning just for it! 
The other thing my boyfriend and I did, that we didn't plan, was to attempt to see the Northern Lights. Apparently there were super clear skies with a high chance of seeing them... but did we? No.
Of course nobody is to blame and it really is to do with luck, but seeing them would have been a perfect topping to the holiday.
We spent a couple of days walking around Reykjavik, which isn't very big, and I just totally adored the coloured buildings. Like our hotel, these had so much character, and they were everywhere!
Overall, I loved visiting Iceland and I was genuinely surprised at the fact that everyone spoke English and very happy that I did not need to tap into my phone bundle once as there was free WIFI absolutely everywhere!!! Highly recommended.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Film Review: After Earth (2013)

I wanted to watch this at the cinema, but with the ridiculous prices that London cinemas charge nowadays (or it may be more of a case of being older, being wiser blah blah), I have found myself becoming EXTREMELY picky with what I pay a premium for to watch at the cinemas now.
I eventually watched 'After Earth' in the comfort of my home and although it was actually a pretty good film, I was glad to not have spent a lot of money watching it.
The plot wasn't exactly original, but I have to admit that the presence of father and son in a film again (they were also in The Pursuit of Happiness), did have its novelty appeal... but probably more because the thought of me being in a film with a family member fills me with a stir of giggle fits... so I really do admire this with the Smith family!!

Will Smith was great... I've always liked him as an actor and I think his son, Jaden, also has huge potential.

Jaden is the main character in this film, he plays Kitai,son of General Cypher (Will), who, to put it plainly, is a bad-ass. They live on Nova Prime, a world away from Earth and are threatened by the Ursas, which are large, but blind creatures. General Cypher has perfected his technique of killing them called 'ghosting', where he feels no fear, thus disabling the Ursas from sensing him, and allowing him to kill them. 
If I had read this beforehand, I think I would have thought it was totally absurd... but Will translated it on screen pretty well, and made it look quite cool! 
When Kitai accompanies his father on a mission, the plane crashes onto a now inhabitable Earth, killing everyone but father and son (a little far-fetched). General Cypher is injured and requires Kitai to travel across the land to retrieve the emergency beacon which is in the tail of the plane. 
Kitai faces many dangers and overcomes them (not too easily) and then of course, a little predictable, reaches the moment where he too, needs to perform 'ghosting'. 
I actually really liked the run up to him doing this even though it was quite predictable... but, and I don't know if it's because I am slightly feminist, but I did keep wondering how much better it may have been if his sister, Willow, had played his role. All in all, a nice family film.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Comb-bound notebooks.

I love making things that can be made with my own hands... and I find myself jumping from one thing to another, which, is fun and spontaneous but also leaves a lot of unfinished projects! However, I've been desperately trying to break out of this, and ensuring I finish things before the next jump, and I'm happy to say that it has improved! One of my tasks for this year was to totally revamp my handmade books and to update the zodiac traits ones. 
I decided I wanted to make them more unisex, so I got rid of the calligraphy font and the ribbon spine ... replacing them with a neat typewriter font and clean comb binding. 
I started and finished all 12 signs in one smooth go, without starting anything new in-between! You can see/buy them here.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Matt & Nat.

I'm not much of a bag person because I get bored very quickly, so I usually need to use very simplistic ones, not brightly coloured or printed ones that I may tire of after a few days... but, once I find a brand I like, I tend to obsess over it a little! 
Recently, I came across 'Matt & Nat', which are a vegan accessories brand and I bought the large messenger bag to hold my iPad and all other bits and bobs when traveling. However, my little sister spotted it the day I bought it and begged to have it as it was 'the only bag that will fit all my school books'...so, seeing as I am so kind, I let her 'borrow' it...
Anyway, I of course, felt a little dissatisfied that I found a lovely brand where the design was so simple but totally functional for me (lots of pockets inside etc) ... that I proceeded to hunt for my own Matt & Nat bag, this time, it was 100% going to be MINE!
Shortly after, I came across a smaller version with so much space inside and I loved the little outside pocket. Being a designer, I naturally notice the little details, and I have to admit, that I really loved the architectural piece of stamped branding that also synced with the zip pull... this little touch really did make me feel like I had bought something so much more special than on the High Street. Will definitely be keeping my eyes open on this little label!

Sunday, 5 January 2014

nuvonova nebula.

I just wanted to introduce 'nuvonova nebula' which is an offshoot of my main Facebook page which is geared more towards films, gaming, and other boy-like things... I guess you could say it is my darker/tomboy side which definitely needed its own page!

You can find it here: https://www.facebook.com/nuvonova.nebula

...but I do still have my usual Facebook page which is more about my shopping finds, my creations, Fashion.. and other girly things I guess! https://www.facebook.com/nuvonova

Friday, 3 January 2014

Film Review: Only God Forgives (2013)

I recently watched 'Only God Forgives' after missing it at the cinema, and I'm glad! I hadn't realized it was directed by Refn, who directed 'Drive' ... therefore the fact that Ryan Gosling says three words throughout the whole film suddenly made more sense!
The film is extremely stylized and in the same vein as 'Drive'... you really need to be focusing on what's going on and making your own opinions of the plot, for it to make any sense once you reach the end.
Ryan Gosling plays Julian, a guy in Bangkok who runs a Muay Thai gym, which also acts as a drugs operation. I guess the Muay Thai part of it made me interested in watching the film, although there is hardly anything of it in the film.
The main plot is that his brother rapes and murders a prostitute, who is avenged by her father. Julian's mother who is brilliantly played by Kristin Scott Thomas (and as I work in fashion, I instantly saw how her character is amusingly based on Donatella Versace), seeks revenge and insists that the father be killed. Julian does not believe it is the right thing to do while his mother later discovers that a Thai lieutenant with a sword (very random, but very cool) allowed the girl's father to kill her son (are you following?). Donatella Versace lookalike then orders her son to kill the guy-with-the-sword .. and then it all gets a bit confusing and by this point I am trying so hard to stay awake because although I have described the plot in 4 sentences, the entire film is VERY slow-paced with lots of other things happening in between.
However, it finally gets exciting and my eyelids perk up when Julian challenges the Thai-lieutenant-with-a-sword to a Muay Thai fight!! The fight was brilliant but I just wish it was longer!!! I haven't been to my Muay Thai sessions for months and watching the fight definitely wanted me to resume! Part of me was hoping that Julian would not win because that would be WAY too farfetched. Of course the Thai guy is going to win! .. and boy was I pleased that he got beaten the **** out of.
Overall, it wasn't a mind-blowing film and maybe if I wasn't so tired that day, I would have enjoyed it a little more... but, good effort I guess.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Giveaway!!! - Please leave comments on the Facebook Page.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Hotel Review: Mama Shelter - Paris, France

This is definitely my most favourite hotel I have stayed at so far! I was totally in awe of my Darth Vader lampshade and couldn't believe that out of all the masks I could have had, I had one that matched my phone cover! The room was spotless and smelt very clean. The only small downside was the lack of lighting, it was literally only a few lamps, but I guess it complimented the overall aesthetic of the hotel... which was quirky!
The restaurant was just lovely and very well decorated. It had a chalkboard ceiling and many quirky touches....and don't even get me onto the food!! ... just wow! ... I was so content with my meal that I even had a little nap on the sofa!
The reception area definitely showed exactly what the hotel was about with a variety of gifts and toys to choose from and I just loved the tree stump seats!! There is also a very relaxed vibe upon entering the hotel, everyone looks so chilled out, even the guests!
I would 100% recommend this hotel when visiting Paris - but it takes about 20 minutes by car to get into the city centre.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Hotel Review: Lindner Hotel Dom Residence - Cologne, Germany

I stayed at the Lindner Hotel in Cologne during my trip to the Summerjam Festival which was located in the central and it was a really lovely hotel! It was very very clean and I liked the modern decor.
The bathroom was also pretty much spotless with all the things you need. I also liked the collaboration with Nivea (my favourite skincare brand), but the odd thing was that the product they had available was only for men.
There were 3 of us in a room (sorry I forgot to take a photo before we settled in!) and I anticipated it to be a small room but it was huge! Again, super clean and the bed was very comfortable. One little thing that bugged me were the curtains which were quite ugly but everything else compensated for it!
The restaurant area was nice but the breakfast buffet, although delicious with a wide variety of food, was very pricey - I think it was $35! ...great for those who can eat a lot in one go and will be full for most of the day, but not for those who can't!
Overall, I would definitely stay at the Lindner Hotels again but will consider eating breakfast somewhere else - or have it as part of the room package which I'm sure would have been much cheaper!