As Spring is upon us many of us will be thinking about what gifts we can give to our families for Easter.
For something different and a bit special I reccomend that you pop into one of my favourite chocolate shops. For myself I buy a very small number of delicacies occassionaly but for special people I like to give something beautiful; I think giving something that is beautiful comes truly from the heart.
Easter Egg Couture Charbonnel et Walker and Fortnum and Mason's delicious treats.
Fortnum & Mason.
This year Fortnum & Mason have teamed up with Lulu Guinness to create a range of classic eggs in the Lulu Guinness signature style. Here above are the Rose and Violet egg with a filling of Rose and Violet Cream chocolates and the Marc de Champagne egg filled with yummy Marc' truffles. For me, girl who has never really had a natural taste for alcohol, this is the way I like to enjoy Champagne. As always for full effect, suck the truffle slowly and let the taste disolve on your tongue. Lush.
Charbonnel et Walker.
Charbonnel et Walker has been a place I go to when I want to give something special to someone special. The giant egg above is known as 'Big Bertha' and every year Charbonnel will make them on request and I believe that they will also decorate them to your individual wishes. As well as the beautiful range of eggs they also have an Easter basket (see above) with a collection of small treats. This is pretty handy to moderate the rate of chocolate consumption and spread the Easter fastivities out across a few days. It's also handy as a gift for a group of friends or a family to share.
On Saturday 27th March I attended the Festival of Chocolate at London's South Bank Centre. There where many chocolatiers offering amazing things among them Rococo. Rococo is based in central London and they also have many amazing Easter Eggs this year. My favourite chocolate from them is the Milk Chocolate and Rose bar. I also recommend trying the Earl Grey and Dark Chocolate and Jasmine flavours as well. They are subtle and an inspired creations. The Motcomb Street store also runs a Chocolate School. I recommend looking at their web page link
http://rococochocolates.com/ to find out more.
Quilts 1700 - the Present Day at the Victoria & Albert Museum
20th March until 4th July 2010.
The V&A have spent several years putting this exhibit together and I would like to offer my congratulations to them. I was lucky enough to visit the exhibition on the opening day and really loved it.
The exhibition begins with a look at the use of quilting in the domestic setting. The first exhibits show bed hangings and a touching suite of nursery furnishings all lovingly hand stitched. Where inforamtion is known about the makers of these pieces it is included.
The first exhibit is of a the hangings of a Four Poster Bed that had been stitched by children at a London Charity School. The workmanship is very skilled and I think it illustrates that quilting was not just a past time it was also a recognised branch of textille that was popular enough to provide employment to those in need.
The exhibition continues to through a series of rooms featuring the beautiful quilts. There are a images of two below that the V&A let me have but there are so many more pieces that I wish I could show to. I can only strongly recommend that you go and see the exhibition yourself.
My favourite pieces included a sampler by a young girl called Anne-Isabelle Read, aged 10, who lived in the early 19th Century. The piece is a Sampler Map of the country with major towns and counties shown embroidered in silk. As few schools existed for girls then it is likely that this was part of a geography lesson for Anne-Isabelle. I also liked the large quilt hanging next to it the 'Coverlet with Sundial'. In the corner of this piece are four well exectued applique maps. They show the world beyond the domestic setting and perhaps illustrate that the women who made them may not always have had the means to travel but they where aware and perhaps curious about the wider world that they lived in. Perhaps they dreamed of travelling.
The Bishop's Court Quilt. 1690 -1700. Unknown maker. Elizabeth Chapman 1829. (C) V & A Images.
(C) V&A Images.
For me, the most wonderful piece in the exhibition was the Embroidered Casket from Norcott Hall Hertfordshire. I would suggest Googling 'Norcott Hall embroidered Casket' for images of it as, alas, I have none. The colours and workmanship in this piece are out of this world. The Casket is essentially an embroidered sewing box from the 1660's with several panels on each surface showing detail of a lady and gentleman and their homes. The scenes represent daily life and show a gentlman and gentlewoman and their life in the country, perhaps the box was made as a wedding gift. Despite the age of this piece the colours are still vibrant and and it looks as though it was only given to it's first owner yesterday. This is a lucky survivour.
The exhibtion moves on through time to look at 19th Century Quilts, such as the two above. in the Victorian era many quilts where made to celebrate events of the day such as Queen Victoria's coronation and the success of the Duke of Wellington. I also love a quilt close to these that was made of vibrant ribbons.
Interestingly quilts where something that soldiers and officers in the armed forces evidently took pride in creating. Servicmen exhibited their crafts along with other goods fashioned by their colleagues. Quiliting was not seen as the preserve of women!
The exhibition moved up to date with pieces from 2009 and 2010. The piece 'Billowing Maenids' is made with stretched silk quilted together and stretched in certain places to give an expansive floating carefree effect. Tracey Emin's piece, To Meet My Past, put the traditional use of quilting into a modern context. Tracey has quilted her story to make memories real like so many people have done and continue to do.
My quilted Rose bag that I adore. I found it in a charity shop
not far from the V&A.
To Meet My Past, 2002. Tracey Emin. The Saatchi Gallery London.
To make my day complete I discovered a brand new quilted bag with a Rose design in a local Charity shop close to the V&A itself. I thought it was a lucky find and very timely. I recommend checking out the exhibition before July. To book tickets, please click this link. www.vam.ac.uk .
If you would like to see more embroidery and tapestry online please look at the Ivory Blush Roses blog spot. It's run by a very talented lady in America. I also recommend checking out the lastest collection by a designer called Louise Gray as she has some pieces in her latest collection that use quilting and embroidery works. I think this shows how quilting still has it's place in the fashion world. The same basic techniques and attention to details required for such detailed work are not as far removed from the world of Haute Couture (High Sewing) as some may think.
On the subject of Couture a very special exhibit about Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco, is coming to the V&A soon and my report will feature on the April News and Events page.
London Show Rooms in New York and Paris.
The British Fashion Council in partnership with Centre for Fashion Enterprise have put together this event in two of my favourite cities, Paris and New York. I have a report coming up on these two happenings that showed off the talents of many up and coming British based designers. Excellent.
The wonderfully unique Liberty of London seems to be steering into clam clear waters following it's sale by Liberty Group PLC early in March 2010. Analysts are predicting a bright future for this well loved store just off Regent Street as the figures look good.
I for one am quite relieved. I was having visions of office suits or bijoux town flats occupying that wonderful old-fashioned building (shudder).
But no fear Liberty is set to remain as we know it for a good while yet.
Young British Designers Pop Up at Bicester Village.
From the 29th March until 7th May 2010 Young British Designers will be selling Ready to Wear and Accessories at 60% off. The names so far signed up include House of Holland, Richard Nicoll, Markus Lupfer, Emma Cook, Osman, Mary Katrantzou, Louise Gray, Sykes, Felder • Felder, Hannah Marshall, Charlotte Olympia, Maria Francesca Pepe and Nicholas Kirkwood who designs some very sought after foot wear.
It sounds good so why not keep an eye out for the next Pop up at Bicester Village?
This is something that will happen each season and I think it's a really good way of taking YBD's out into new territory.
March sees the launch of Fashion Fringe Covent Garden 2010. John Galliano has taken over the reigns of hon. Chairperson from Donatella Versace and says that he's looking for a young designer with a rebellious streak who reminds him of himself a few years back. I think he'll be spoilt for choice!
Entries are now open and young designers will be given a budget and space at the London College of Fashion to create a capsule collection in July and August to be shown at Covent Garden during LFW in September. It sounds like a dream come true! This event is the idea of Founder and Director Colin McDowell and is kindly supported by IMG Fashion. For more information click www.fashionfringe.co.uk.
The winner of the Vogue/BFC Fashion Fund was announced on Wednesday 31st March and I am delighted that Erdem won. I've discovered his work recently and really like it. I have some images on the February News & Events page. He is one of the most interesting British Designers around at this time.
Copyright Angela Cliffe 2009-2010.
Beauty, Grace & Style
One area where Fortnum's go to town on an annual basis is in their selection of hand-decorated Easter Eggs. The egg on the left is dark chocolate, which cleverly makes the design stand out in bolder fashion. It's one of a number of carefully crafted pieces in the display that you could just take home and just look at if the chocolate wasn't so amazing too. When I visited the designer egg counter I found myself staring for quite some time at the beauty of the designs and imagined how happy the recipients where going to be on Easter Sunday. A top treat for someone special.