Amelia’s Magazine | London Fashion Week S/S 2011 Presentation Review: Ascher Scarves

Prangsta, ailment illustrated by Joana Faria

Now, ask here’s a treat. Hopefully you caught Georgia Takacs’ wonderful insight into the awe-inspiring world of Prangsta Costumiers last week: the celebrated (if somewhat unconventional) Alice in Wonderland-esque bazaar in New Cross.

Now I would never in a million years suggest that readers of Amelia’s Magazine come to the site just to look at pretty pictures, rx what with our bursting-at-the-seams stock of fabulous writers, but in order to bring a little sunshine and entertainment to a so far grey Wednesday, feast your eyes on some glorious images and illustrations from Prangsta.

Georgia, who wrote the article, took part in a shoot with the team there, capturing the many faces that pass through the doors and even more of the craft-packed corners of this wonderful find. So here they are. I’m convinced you could look at this place all day and never get bored – I hope you agree!

Illustration by Krister Selin

The latest shoot focuses on a somewhat macabre Snow White, shown with an array of weird and wonderful friends:

Illustration by Rachel de Ste. Croix

Prangsta, story illustrated by Joana Faria

Now, medical here’s a treat. Hopefully you caught Georgia Takacs’ wonderful insight into the awe-inspiring world of Prangsta Costumiers last week: the celebrated (if somewhat unconventional) Alice in Wonderland-esque bazaar in New Cross.

Now I would never in a million years suggest that readers of Amelia’s Magazine come to the site just to look at pretty pictures, what with our bursting-at-the-seams stock of fabulous writers, but in order to bring a little sunshine and entertainment to a so far grey Wednesday, feast your eyes on some glorious images and illustrations from Prangsta.

Georgia, who wrote the article, took part in a shoot with the team there, capturing the many faces that pass through the doors and even more of the craft-packed corners of this wonderful find. So here they are. I’m convinced you could look at this place all day and never get bored – I hope you agree!

Illustration by Krister Selin

The latest shoot focuses on a somewhat macabre Snow White, shown with an array of weird and wonderful friends:

Illustration by Rachel de Ste. Croix

Prangsta also worked with ethereal fashion photographer Ellen Rogers, and the result is astonishing. Rogers’ photographs make heavy use of photographic techniques from long ago, evoking (for me at least) images of Marlene Dietrich in Hot Venus and the eery portraits of death popular in the Victorian age. Whatever they evoke, this marriage of Prangsta and Rogers is incredible.

Photographs by Ellen Rogers

To read the original article about the wonderful world of Prangsta, click here.

Image courtesy of Ascher

On Tuesday I went to see a beautiful collection of scarves from Ascher London, order presented in a suite at Number One Aldwych. Marking their first collection of scarves in thirty years, the collection consists of some brand new designs sitting alongside classic designs from the Ascher library, reworked in new colourways.

Ascher was founded as a fabric house in 1947; their fabrics graced the catwalks of an amazing list of couturiers including Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Schiaparelli, Lanvin and Mary Quant. A husband and wife team, Lida designed and Zika printed the fabrics.

Rose Pom Pom, designed by Ascher studio, was featured prominently in a collection of dresses in Christian Dior’s 1954 collection

Fabric shortages during the Second World War lead to a rise in the popularity of colourful headscarves as an easy way to liven up dull uniforms. During the 1940s Ascher took advantage of this trend, initially reproducing nineteenth-century prints in vivid new colourways.

A selection of scarves from the Ascher archive

Later, they became the first studio to approach and join forces with artists to produce scarves from illustrations and paintings, boasting another impressive list of those involved: Matisse, Derain, Berard, Moore, Cocteau, Nicholson and Sutherland.

Image courtesy of Ascher

Sam Ascher, grandson of Lida and Zika, talked me through the current collection along with some vintage scarves and artwork from the Ascher archive. This included a rare opportunity to see some original and never-used ink illustrations by Cecil Beaton, complete with his handwritten instructions outlining the repeat pattern.

All of the scarves are made in Italy using luxurious silk twill, silk chiffon, cashmere and modal with hand rolled edges and the quality is immediately apparent.

Screen printing (rather than digital printing) allows the designs to be reproduced exactly, so that each design is as perfect as if it had been hand-painted. Some multi tonal scarves are produced using up to ten screens, ensuring each of the artists’ original brushstrokes is retained in perfect detail. There is definitely no cutting of corners where Ascher is concerned.

The collection look book features an illustrated guide of How To Wear Your Ascher Scarf. Names like The Sports Car and The Parisian Loop conjure up images of glamorous femme fatales racing around the Home Counties in classic cars. The whole collection captures the optimistic glamour and elegance of the post-war era.

Images courtesy of Ascher

One of the scarves designed by Henry Moore is described in the look book as Bridging the gap between fashion and fine art, Aschers designs are described as equally at home in a frame or worn on an evening out.

The designs were celebrated with a retrospective at the V&A back in 1987 and they are still held in many museum collections, evident by the two Henry Moore wall hangings on display, which I was told had been unexpectedly sent over by the Tate that morning.

All photography by Naomi Law, unless otherwise stated

Categories ,Ascher, ,Cecil Beaton, ,Dior, ,Givenchy, ,Henry Moore, ,How to Wear, ,Lanvin, ,london, ,London Fashion Week, ,Mary Quant, ,matisse, ,Number One Aldwych, ,S/S 2011, ,Sam Ascher, ,Scarves

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Amelia’s Magazine | Irving Penn: Portraits


‘A good photograph is one that communicates a fact, touches the heart, and leaves the viewer a changed person for having seen it. It is, in a word, effective.’

These famous words, uttered by Irving Penn himself, pretty much sum up the experience of the Irving Penn: Portraits major exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. Running until 6 June, this landmark offering marks one of fashion’s greatest photographers’ passing in October of last year, and is the first exhibition of his work in the UK for 25 years.

Here are a few reasons why you should see this restrospective of one of the world’s greatest photographers:

Celebrate a master
In the 1940s when Penn began his career shooting for Vogue magazine, opulent interiors and lavish settings were de rigeur for these magazines. Penn shook things up with his minimal, austere settings (often in stark studios with floors covered in fag butts). It was this style that he is most famous for, and which has influenced countless artists and photographers since.

Marvel at unique composition
While many photographers employed narratives in their work, removing personal elements, Penn’s focus was on keeping settings neutral and resisting these storytelling fantasies. His were studies of the face; he rarely photographed his subjects at full length, often severely chopping off the tops of heads with his crop. This was extraordinary at the time, and looking at these timeless images now, it still is. Glancing at the iconic portrait of his wife Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn in her harlequin number and then looking at a contemporary portrait of Nicole Kidman from as little ago as 2003, it is only by recognition of the subjects that we can differentiate the era; the ageless elegance of these photographs is truly astonishing.


See REAL celebrities
Penn was one of the few photographers who documented the stars of the 1940s and 1950s, and in an age where getting your tits out on TV makes you a celebrity, be delighted amongst the faces of those with endurable star quality and immeasurable talent –  Rudolph Nureyev, Edith Piaf, Elsa Schiaparelli, Marlene Dietrich and Cecil Beaton to name a few.

Revel at the beauty of gelatin prints
All of Penn’s prints use the vintage silver gelatin process, which gives uncompromising quality and incredible contrast. Looking at the photographs makes a recent batch of DSLR prints I paid a fortune for look like a bad job by Snappy Snaps.

For more information or to book tickets, click here.

Categories ,Cecil Beaton, ,Edith Piaf, ,Elsa Schiaparelli, ,Fashion Photography, ,Irving Penn, ,Lisa Fonssagrives, ,london, ,Marlene Dietrich, ,national portrait gallery, ,Portraiture

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Amelia’s Magazine | Carolyn Massey presents The Gentleman’s Code


The London based duo Tinsel Edwards and Twinkle Troughton will be staging an event all day tomorrow (Thursday 29th) around London as part of their ‘ It Was The Best Of Times, mind It Was The Worst Of Times’ tour. Keep your eye out for a parking ticket on your car – you never know, viagra some lucky chosen few will contain a free signed mini screen print! Be sure to check out their work: and


You’ve known each other since you were 9 years old – how long have work together creatively?

Edwards: We’ve worked together on lots of different creative projects over the years, rx we ran a little fanzine when we were about 10! There’s also the band we used to be in until recently and the record label we have set up.  When we were at college our art work was completely collaborative, we work separately now but often join forces for specific projects and to put on exhibitions.

Troughton: Tinsel has kind of said it all there. I think we are very much on the same wavelength work-wise and have been since we were 9. So ideas bounce off each other quite easily and i think it works really well to help us move things forward.


Have you had formal training? How has this shaped how you work?

Edwards: We both went to art college in London, at the time it was really good to get regular feedback from tutors and students and that will have shaped the way we work in lots of ways. However we graduated in 2001 so it seems a while a go now! Now the way we work is shaped more so by our everyday lives and observations of our surroundings.

Troughton: It was quite funny because we went to separate art colleges, I went to Kingston which Tinsel was rejected from and Tinsel went to Goldsmiths which I was rejected from yet we ended up collaborating anyway and holding identical degree shows in each college. We had to go to each others crits and tutorials sometimes and so our work had quite a cheeky nature to it as it was a bit of an ‘up yours’ really, I think we still like to be playful in what we create together.


How would you each describe your work individually and collaboratively?

Edwards: My work is a wide ranging commentary on all sorts of observations that I make in everyday life, I am interested in challenging and protesting about different things to promote and inspiring positive change.  I love the idea of Do-It-Yourself, and continually promote the idea of personal responsibility in my work.  I see my work as politically active, not because it references particular political events or current affairs, but because through my observations, questions, statements and slogans, I aim to instigate positive action and change on both an individual and wider level.  
The themes in my work vary widely, it can be an honest personal narrative, it can reference the everyday, or highlight social and cultural issues.  I often use humour to deal with these themes.

Troughton: I make work which is heavily influenced by Britain both now and as it was 2-300 hundred years ago. Up until recently my work was predominantly describing British quirks, questioning what we as Brits were modern day slaves to and using humour as a main tool to depict my ideas. While these elements are still running through my work it’s now got more political in many ways, I’m also questioning a lot of our cultural habits which actually stem back from a long time ago. I guess I’m looking at how on the surface everything changes yet underneath many things don’t change at all. 

Collaboratively: Both of our work stems from observation, and although in very different ways, the work is a response to life in Britain today.  The content and theme of each artist’s work is very different, but it stems from similar observations and concern. The approach is also similar, in that we both paint in bold colours and often use humour.


Where does your inspiration come from? Childhood/training/location?

Edwards: Inspiration comes from all sorts of things, life in London is a massive influence, music and art, people’s attitudes and social observation.  Style and technique wise I love text and all things typographic, I love Pop art, big expressionist style painterly work, vintage graphic design.

Troughton: Inspiration comes from the media, newspapers mainly. I look at both snippets in the papers and the stories that dominate. Currently I am finding so much inspiration from more historical reading, both fiction and non-fiction. I’ve been reading Dickens and factual books about the Victorians and am basing a lot of research on historical reading combined with the scouring of newspapers each day. I also am inspired just by basic observation of day to day life. As an avid people watcher there is plenty of inspiration on the streets of London alone! Visually, I don’t have a list of artists who inspire me, that can pop up at any moment when visiting exhibitions. Just a small example: I got masses of inspiration recently from the historical collections at National Portrait Gallery but was also very inspired by the HUGE Maggie Thatcher painting by Marcus Harvey (although I had already done my Maggie painting I do need to point out haha!) so I think I take artistic inspiration from all over the place.


Who are the artists that you most admire?

Edwards:There are soooo many artists I like for lots of different reasons! But if I had to name a couple I would say that I love Bob and Roberta Smith, because he is honest, challenging, funny, political and very frank and open.  And I really like Tracey Emin, also because I really admire her honesty and fearlessness.  I’ve always found her work very compelling.

Troughton: I guess my answer above answers some of this. Artists I really like though… I also love Tracey Emins work for very similar reasons to Tinsel. I love Jeff Koons’ work, especially his paintings which I personally just thought were out of this world, it’s always good to see work which leaves you feeling like you’ve got so much to aspire to! It makes you want to change and move things on and think bigger.


How important is it to have a presence on the internet these days? Do you use Twitter and other social networking sites?

Edwards: I’m a bit reluctant to get sucked in to Twitter, and it took me a while to join Facebook!  But it is really important to have online presence, its a brilliant way to showcase your work and promote exhibitions, and to find out about other artists too.

Troughton: Urgh I am not too good at things like Twitter…I’m not sure people would want to follow my daily thoughts and actions like that. I don’t mind using those things as a platform to show artwork and to let people know about events, and I also don’t mind them for keeping in touch with friends old and new…but that’s about it…

What would your dream commission be?

Edwards: Erm!!! It would be really funny to be asked to do something for the Queen, or perhaps a bonkers old millionaire rock star, or a politician…. I would love to work on album covers for bands.  On a more serious note it would be absolutely amazing to be commissioned to do something like the fourth plinth, a big public commission which could be used as a platform to voice something really important and relevant to people’s lives.

Troughton: Dream commission?? Haha, yeah something for the Queen would be excellent. At the moment I think I would love to be commissioned to make a very large scale painting for a pubic space which was going to be used as a future insight to modern British life and our social issues. Something which freezes time to show future generations what life in Britain was like in the 2000s-2010s, showing both good and bad elements. 

How did you come up with the idea for your event this Thursday?

Edwards: The screenprint in the parking ticket bags is an image of a Woolworths empty shop-front, across the posters in the windows is written ‘It was the Best of Times It was the Worst of Times’.  The work is talking about how although recession can be very difficult it can also be a time for positive change and growth.  We thought that producing a mini print as a very large edition would help to promote that message.  Disguising each one as a parking ticket tied in quite well, when people find them although they might be initially a bit disappointed, what’s inside is actually a nice thing – some free art!
Our previous gallerist Stella Dore actually helped us to come up with a very initial version of the idea about two years ago. Because of the nature of our work, it is often confined to the gallery space, we wanted to do something which would take our work out of the gallery and to a wider audience.

Troughton: The Traffic Warden part of the idea did come from Steph at Stella Dore. We just didn’t know what to do with it back then. Then along the way little flashes of inspiration came to us, such as from reading Dickens. ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’ is an opening line to one of his novels’ and both me and Tinsel felt that opening line was incredibly descriptive of modern life and was also a direct response to our own feelings about the recession. 


Men designing womenswear is something that appears to dominate the fashion industry. We don’t know why, viagra 100mg but men are often able to create clothing for the opposite sex that oozes sex appeal and sassy beauty. Probably, hospital it’s down to the distance of being able to appreciate something that they are not, alongside the aesthete’s almost iconic hero-worship of the female form. Women designing menswear however, is not a similar occurrence, Menswear extraordinaire Carolyn Massey however is shaking up the status quo. With her creations gallivanting across Parisian runways and her third capsule collection hitting Topman stores, this lady knows a thing or two about how a man should dress; and it should be through wearing her pieces.


Graduating from Royal College of Art four years ago, Massey is known for her attention to detail, tailoring and her menswear is branded as gentlemanly. The clothes are durable and investment-worthy, just like something your granddad would wear. During a recent talk entitled “The Gentleman’s Code”, as part of a fashion lecture series at The Museum of London, Massey discussed her interpretation and inspiration of the gentleman in the past and present.

Trawling through the archives of garment history, Massey accumulated an intense knowledge of how men used to dress from the turn of the century to the war and inter-war period. Bringing historical details back to contemporary design is no easy feat. Despite finding beautiful detailing on buttons and stitches, much of Massey’s research led her to conclude that things like personal designer touches (including errors) were maxims perhaps best left to the Victorians. Details such as hand-sewn embellishments would not be bothered with today on a grand scale. After all, our economy runs on a manufacturing basis, and there is unfortunately little swing for hand-stitching and “one-of-a-kind” designer details, despite the exquisiteness of entirely hand-sewn trousers.


(Photography by Matt Bramford)

Instead of lock-stock reverting to historical design principles, Massey subtly attempts to alter impressions of menswear. Traditionally seen as distinctly “un-fashion”, there is an ongoing debate into whether menswear as a branch of the fashion industry even exists. As Massey persuasively argued, menswear changes less rapidly and more subtly than womenswear, and that this can be used to good cause. Menswear should therefore be durable and long-living. Men should buy a tailor blazer or suit or trousers, and keep them forever. What should be thrown out is our culture’s attitude of “throw-away-ability”, our IKEA spawn of buying something cheap because then we can replace it. Don’t get Massey started on Primark.


Despite being influenced by dandy dressers of the past, who wore impeccably detailed and tailored pieces, Massey insists that the notion of the gentleman comes from within; stating during the talk that it’s an attitude and a style of life, not a 3 piece suit from Armani. Massey cannot create these items as a magic cure-all to transform the average gent into Oscar Wilde. Massey holds a great fascination for silhouettes and shapes; the pieces play within being eccentric but lightweight, vivacious but muted, sharp but comfy. Coding is important, and that’s why the military is highly prevalent in her work.


Investigating old regulation army jackets and badging rules, Massey incorporated these touches into her own work. In the same way, functionality is a big deal for the boys; if they need a pocket – they want a pocket. Dappling in the ubiquitously difficult ‘man bag’ territory and Massey comes off strong, demonstrating functionality as key. What can’t this woman do?


(photograph by Matt Bramford)

Carolyn Massey’s dip into the archives benefited menswear relevance greatly this season. Her SS10 collection was classic but contemporary, an increasingly hard balance to hit successfully. With the rise of metrosexuality and unisex brands, good old fashioned tough, eccentric, granddad clobber is hard to find. However, with designers like Massey taking the time to get into the mindset, clothing born from style’s past creates a functional contemporary gentlemen.

For more talks and events (FREE!) check out the Museum of London

Categories ,Bespoke designs, ,Carolyn Massey, ,London Fashion Week, ,menswear, ,military jackets, ,Victorians

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