Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Flower Power: Laura Ashley & Orla Kiely for Uniqlo

What do you get when you cross Japanese super-brand Uniqlo with the heritage of two of Britain and Ireland's best established print designers, Laura Ashley and Orla Kiely? Answer - two limited edition collections at Uniqlo, combining their sleek, modern shapes with two very different twists on Spring's most popular motif: flowers.
 Laura Ashley Limited Archive Collection for Uniqlo
A staple on the British High Street, womenswear label Laura Ashley was established by husband and wife team Laura and Bernard Ashley in London, 1953. Armed with a few home-made print screens, fabric and dye, they set about designing prints for headscarves. This small venture literally blossomed into the brand we know today. Floral designs in a country garden style are now synonymous with the company, found on everything from dresses to home furnishings. 
Laura Ashley for Uniqlo
Such a long, well established design history has left a sizeable archive; an archive the team at Uniqlo were able to make use of when choosing prints for their collection of t-shirts, tops and scarves.
Orla Kiely for Unique
Where the Laura Ashley collection showcases delicate florals and a muted pastel palette, the Orla Kiely collection is bold and graphic. Kiely studied textile design at the National College of Art & Design in Dublin before moving onto postgraduate studies at the Royal College of Art, London in 1993. Department store Harrods were so impressed with her graduation show, they commissioned her to design a range of hats. From then on, Kiely went on to consult for and work with a number of British High Street stalwarts like Marks & Spencer and Debenhams. Her own solo collections were next to follow, thus establishing her label worldwide.
Orla Kiely for Uniqlo
As with the Laura Ashley collaboration, Kiely and the team at Uniqlo dipped into the designer's print archive to find inspiration. The result is a vibrant collection of t-shirts, shirts and scarves, adorned with Kiely's signature retro flowers and fruits. 

Floral prints are a popular and familiar sight in Spring fashion collections from designer to High Street, helping to cast of the winter gloom and revel in the promise of light and colour. Uniqlo's clever partnerships are well-timed and perfectly pitched for the time of year, combining their minimalist, unfussy silhouettes with pretty floral prints and bold graphics. Collaborations like these are great for bringing established designers and labels to a whole new audience - variations on a tried-and-tested theme, these blossoms will bloom in the Springtime and beyond - into Summer.

Images courtesy of Laura Ashley & Uniqlo

Monday, 5 March 2012

Two Years Old

On the 2nd March, this blog celebrated its second birthday. It was a quiet, understated affair - given that its author was away from her computer at the time. But life wouldn't be half as much fun without celebrating; even the little things that make you smile and feel glad, and the personal victories and small triumphs that make a day complete.

There are many things this blog is not. It is not prolific, it doesn't boast a massive following, and references to my personal life (while certainly present in some posts) do not make up the true substance of my writing here. But that's not to say this blog is not a personal journey, because it is.

The Beau Monde Gallery is a window into what really inspires me, what gets me thinking and what fires me up. Thoughts, feelings, flashes and sparks of inspiration culminate here into posts dealing with anything from history to photography, fashion, art, food, film and much more. I only write about what truly interests me - what grabs me by the shoulders, shakes me and pulls me in. My greatest wish when sitting down to begin a post is that this passion is evident in what I write. 

One day soon, I hope to make a career from writing. While I'm trying to make that happen, I continue to write with honesty, not only in ensuring the integrity of the subject matter, but also with heart.

Thank you to everybody who reads and follows this blog; those I have met and those I haven't...those who stay awhile and those who pass through. My inspiration is gathered from those of you around me (and you know who you are), and for that I can never thank you enough.

Just like last year's birthday post, here's another retrospective in pictures to celebrate a very Happy Second Birthday!

Smiley Beach Art, Cricceith, North Wales
Bright Beach Huts at Llanbedrog, North Wales
Manchester Tart at The Teacup on Thomas Street, Manchester
At the launch of Flux: Stoke-on-Trent - exciting, 100% Stoke made ceramics
Admiring the view - Spain
Beautiful Thoresby Hall Hotel, Nottinghamshire
Flying to Canada for Christmas
Spring Time in the Garden
Wightwick Manor, near Wolverhampton
Massive Lemon Meringue Pie. I ate it all.
Cart-Wheels captured on Black-and-White Film
A Sleeping Beauty in the gardens at Alton Towers, Staffordshire.
 All photos by me.