every girl needs two wedding gowns

Not one, but TWO Alexander McQueen gowns adorned Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge on her wedding day. 

On her way to the reception at Buckingham Palace, the lovely bride was pictured wearing another stunning creation by Sarah Burton; a strapless, white gown with diamante embellishment at the waist, worn with a luxurious angora cropped cardigan--ADORE!

fit for a princess: fashion details of kate middleton's big day

We are so, so delighted that The House of Alexander McQueen was the chosen designer for the Royal wedding gown! What a beautiful and honorable way to pay homage to this extraordinary man, and Sarah Burton deserves a standing ovation. Replications have already begun production, but this creation is insurmountable.

I thought you might find this interesting; I was going to try to recapitulate the details of Kate Middleton's (now known as Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge) Royal wedding attire, but they are so intricate it's next to impossible. Here are the specifics, via The Official Royal Wedding website... 

"The Wedding Dress
Miss Catherine Middleton’s Wedding Dress has been designed by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen. 
Miss Middleton chose British brand Alexander McQueen for the beauty of its craftsmanship and its respect for traditional workmanship and the technical construction of clothing.  Miss Middleton wished for her dress to combine tradition and modernity with the artistic vision that characterises Alexander McQueen’s work.  Miss Middleton worked closely with Sarah Burton in formulating the design of her dress.
The dress epitomises timeless British craftsmanship by drawing together talented and skilled workmanship from across the United Kingdom.  The dress design pays tribute to the Arts and Crafts tradition, which advocated truth to materials and traditional craftsmanship using simple forms and often Romantic styles of decoration.  Ms Burton’s design draws on this heritage, additionally giving the cut and the intricate embellishment a distinctive, contemporary and feminine character.

The design
The lace appliqué for the bodice and skirt was hand-made by the Royal School of Needlework, based at Hampton Court Palace.  The lace design was hand-engineered (appliquéd) using the Carrickmacross lace-making technique, which originated in Ireland in the 1820s.  Individual flowers have been hand-cut from lace and hand-engineered onto ivory silk tulle to create a unique and organic design, which incorporates the rose, thistle, daffodil and shamrock. 
Hand-cut English lace and French Chantilly lace has been used throughout the bodice and skirt, and has been used for the underskirt trim.  With laces coming from different sources, much care was taken to ensure that each flower was the same colour.  The whole process was overseen and put together by hand by Ms Burton and her team.
The dress is made with ivory and white satin gazar.  The skirt echoes an opening flower, with white satin gazar arches and pleats.  The train measures two metres 70 centimetres.  The ivory satin bodice, which is narrowed at the waist and padded at the hips, draws on the Victorian tradition of corsetry and is a hallmark of Alexander McQueen’s designs.  The back is finished with 58 gazar and organza covered buttons fastened by Rouleau loops.  The underskirt is made of silk tulle trimmed with Cluny lace. 

The Fabrics
French Chantilly lace was combined with English Cluny lace to be hand-worked in the Irish Carrickmacross needlework tradition.
All other fabrics used in the creation of the dress were sourced from and supplied by British companies.  The choice of fabrics followed extensive research by Sarah Burton and her team.

The Royal School of Needlework
The Royal School of Needlework (RSN), based at Hampton Court Palace, assisted the Alexander McQueen team in accurately cutting out the delicate motifs from the lace fabrics and positioning the lace motifs with precision into the new design.  The lace motifs were pinned, ‘framed up’ and applied with stab stitching every two to three millimetres around each lace motif.  The workers washed their hands every thirty minutes to keep the lace and threads pristine, and the needles were renewed every three hours, to keep them sharp and clean.
The RSN workers included existing staff, former staff, tutors, graduates and students, with the youngest aged 19.
The RSN’s work was used primarily for the train and skirt of the Bride’s dress, the bodice and sleeves, the Bride’s shoes and the Bride’s veil.

Veil and Jewellery
The veil is made of layers of soft, ivory silk tulle with a trim of hand-embroidered flowers, which was embroidered by the Royal School of Needlework.  The veil is held in place by a Cartier ‘halo’ tiara, lent to Miss Middleton by The Queen.  The ‘halo’ tiara was made by Cartier in 1936 and was purchased by The Duke of York (later King George VI) for his Duchess (later Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother) three weeks before he succeeded his brother as King.  The tiara was presented to Princess Elizabeth (now The Queen) by her mother on the occasion of her 18th birthday. 
The Bride’s earrings, by Robinson Pelham, are diamond-set stylised oak leaves with a pear shaped diamond set drop and a pavé set diamond acorn suspended in the centre.  Inspiration for the design comes from the Middleton family's new coat of arms, which includes acorns and oak leaves.  The earrings were made to echo the tiara.  The earrings were a personal gift to the Bride from her parents for her Wedding Day.
Robinson Pelham have also designed and made a pair of diamond earrings for Miss Philippa Middleton.  These earrings are more floral in nature to compliment the headpiece worn by Miss Philippa Middleton during the Service.
A tourmaline and diamond pendant and matching earrings have been designed and made for Mrs. Carole Middleton.  Two gold stick pins, one with a single gold acorn at the head and the other with an oak leaf, are also worn respectively by the Father of the Bride, Mr. Michael Middleton, and the Bride's brother, Mr. James Middleton.

Wedding Shoes
The wedding shoes have been hand-made by the team at Alexander McQueen and are made of ivory duchesse satin with lace hand-embroidered by the Royal School of Needlework.
Alexander McQueen (genuine Royal shoes not pictured).
The Bride’s Bouquet
The bouquet is a shield-shaped wired bouquet of myrtle, lily-of-the-valley, sweet William and hyacinth.  The bouquet was designed by Shane Connolly and draws on the traditions of flowers of significance for the Royal Family, the Middleton family and on the Language of Flowers.
The flowers’ meanings in the bouquet are:
Lily-of-the-valley – Return of happiness
Sweet William – Gallantry
Hyacinth – Constancy of love
Ivy: Fidelity; marriage; wedded love; friendship; affection
Myrtle: the emblem of marriage; love.
The bouquet contains stems from a myrtle planted at Osborne House, Isle of Wight, by Queen Victoria in 1845, and a sprig from a plant grown from the myrtle used in The Queen’s wedding bouquet of 1947. 
The tradition of carrying myrtle begun after Queen Victoria was given a nosegay containing myrtle by Prince Albert’s grandmother during a visit to Gotha in Germany.  In the same year, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert bought Osborne House as a family retreat, and a sprig from the posy was planted against the terrace walls, where it continues to thrive today. 
The myrtle was first carried by Queen Victoria eldest daughter, Princess Victoria, when she married in 1858, and was used to signify the traditional innocence of a bride."


the soulful adele

I have recently fallen into a deep obsession with Adele's second album 21. She lays bare a very personal collection of music that is incredibly soulful. I cannot get enough of her raw and powerful voice. Check out the song Someone Like You from her album 21


asian inspirations

I must admit, I haven't devoted enough time to the world of fashion over the past month since partaking in Toronto's LG Fashion Week, so I devoted my evening to the Alexander McQueen Runway Archives and came across the captivating pre-Spring/Summer 2011 Collection. This collection is bold, but uniquely feminine. Sarah Burton moves fashion forward by creating graceful, but strong shouldered dresses and jackets. The most fashion forward pieces in the collection, and my personal favourites, are the kimono inspired suits and gowns. The crimson red, yellow, gold, and jet black colours capture the the timeless beauty of the traditional kimono, with a touch of modernity. I absolutely adore the traditional sash or obi (literally meaning 'sash' in Japanese) sewn to the back of the gowns. The kimono inspired pieces show Burton's ability to create feminine and elegant collections, with an edge.
Image courtesy of The Lovely Room.

Image courtesy of Polyvore.
Image courtesy of Polyvore.
Image courtesy of The Lovely Room.

Image courtesy of Polyvore.


introducing alias grace

Image courtesy of Try Handmade®.

You all know I've been quite busy lately, and with my new job on the get-go, I don't see it slowing down. So on account of this, I've asked my dear, dear friend, Alias Grace, to be my ghostwriter to help me keep you entertained. If you've been tickled by my obsessions, I'm sure you'll treasure hers!

Welcome Alias :)

book review: the bell jar

Image courtesy of Goodreads.

The Bell Jar is poet Sylvia Plath's one and only novel, and it is neurotically lovely!

Plath explores the tribulations of being a virgin woman in the mid-twentieth century and, as has been suggested, of her own personal life. Although the protagonist, Esther Greenwood, is leading the path to her eventual confinement in an asylum, she is strangely easy to relate to. Always over analyzing situations, feeling the urge to do everything in life (not just one career path, or one location to live), having a hard time understanding the actions of others, and many more "insane issues" that prompt her (sort of) boyfriend into pronouncing her as neurotic.

The imagery in the novel is utterly wonderful, due to the fact that Plath is a marvelous poet. Even if the plot was lacking, the imagery alone could keep me stimulated until the very last word.

I do highly recommend this novel, although I have a feeling some may pass it off as uninteresting. If not the novel, I suggest you read some of her poetry!


jazzy morning


I spent my morning with Etta James, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Louis Armstrong, and Duke Ellington. There's something about listening to old jazz on a sunny morning that sets the day off right. Happy Friday everyone!


a few things to acquire

In line with my roots in a consumer culture, there are many, many things I'd like to possess at some point in my life. Here are a few fabulous items that I must acquire at one time or another...

This espresso set is to die for. I have no idea where I will ever be able to find these, but from here on out, I will be searching!

Image courtesy of New England Prepster.

How amazing is this shoe closet? This could be a wonderful do it yourself project and it's a delectable way to show off your shoe collection!

Image courtesy of Houzz.

A jewelery box is absolutely vital, and a very large one is even better. This is such a neat way to store your valuables! Again, if you're crafty, buy an old chest of drawers from a thrift shop and transform it into a massive jewelry box!

Image courtesy of deliciously organized.

Okay so this may just be a concept, but it's a genius one at that! Who wouldn't love an origami tea bag?? This needs to be mass produced immediately.

Image courtesy of Chung Designs.

I adore this door. And what an elegant color scheme!

Image courtesy of Fancy House Road.

And last, but certainly not least, I must acquire one of these lovely Cavallini & Co. notebooks. As wonderful as Moleskin notebooks are, sometimes it's nice to spice things up with a unique cover.

Image courtesy of Touch of Europe.

condo makeover {part one}

I have been crazy busy lately! Not only did I score the job that I so desperately wanted, but I got a condo, moved in, and managed to indulge in some DIY decor projects--all in one week! I will post pictures when I'm finished (at least for the time being anyway, when is one ever finished decorating?). In the meantime, here's a collection of my design inspiration...

Image courtesy of stylehive.

Image courtesy of Blog Catalog.

Image courtesy of Ada and Darcy.

Image courtesy of Chinoiserie Chic.

Image courtesy of Greige Design.

Image courtesy of Patricia Gray Inc.


toronto fall/winter fashion week

I had the pleasure of attending the fall/winter runway show for the talented Amanda Lew Kee last week, and it was spectacular. She of course embraced lots of black on black & gray (her use of these shades are always impeccable) in various fabrics (chiffon and velvet, among others). She also incorporated bursts of color here and there with out of the ordinary fabrics, which to be honest, I didn't care for. I absolutely adored her use of sheer fabrics, and I always love her leggings! (And if you notice, all of her models, and Lew Kee herself, were rocking a studded version of the Sam Edelman Zoe booty--I told you it was the go-to shoe!)

The show was hosted at The Heritage Centre at Exhibition Place and the venue was designed beautifully. I thought it was hilarious that they included BBM barcodes on the mannequins, because as sad as it is, that really is becoming a representation of our identity. 

I also enjoyed viewing some of the work by other designers, pictured above. There are some really wonderful pieces for fall/winter this year, it makes me feel a little better about summer always flying by so fast. 

Here are a few of her best looks for fall/winter 2011:

Images courtesy of Toronto Life.


book review: a child called "it"

Image courtesy of Goodreads.

Just finished reading this book, it was a quicky.  

A very graphic and disturbing memoir, A Child Called "It" sheds light on the often secret issue of child abuse. There were times when I had to put this book aside to regain my composure; it's unbelievable that a human being could be treated this way. As horrific as the majority of this memoir is, the triumphant ending is a reminder of what doesn't kill us makes us stronger. 

I recommend this book if you're completely oblivious to abuse, but I wouldn't classify it as a must-read, it's very unsettling.