Goodness me, 2014 was a busy year - and in the best possible way! I've done more and achieved more then I ever thought would be physically possible, with my studies and with the business (not that it would have been in the slightest bit possible without all of the incredible support that I've received - so thank you all!). I thought I'd use the new year as an excuse to look back upon some of the highlights...
I've seen the brand and my design work get some rather awesome coverage in the mainstream press this year (thank you to the wonderful folk at Calico PR!). Some admittedly a little unexpected (such as magazine covers and tabloid centrefolds), others getting me unnecessarily overexcited from the accompanying fashion (such as Pylot magazine above). Most notable was getting my designs published in the Evening Standard and Daily Mail - it was quite the experience having so many friends and acquaintances phoning me to say I SAW YOUR DESIGNS IN THE PAPER!
I spent the majority of my 2013 Christmas holiday sewing frantically in order to get ready for my lookbook shoot with Simon Crinks, taker of many shiny photos (including some of my all time favourite images of my designs!). We had Yazzmin and Emma modelling, Violet Zeng doing hair and makeup and Zoe Anderson of Me. Food. Adventure providing utterly delicious sweet treats (initially featuring in the photos, later ending up in our bellies and causing immense sugar comas). See the entire shoot over here and the fashion video over here!
This year saw the start and finish of my final ever assignment of my Contour Fashion degree at De Montfort University - probably the toughest project out of my entire 3 years there, I'm surprised that I managed to survive it! Given that it was my last ever chance to design a collection without having to worry about its commercial viability, I of course went for totally extravagant corsetry in vintage kimono silk, covered in French lace appliqué...And I must say, I'm pretty damn happy with it. You can see work of some of my coursemates in this piece I wrote for The Lingerie Addict and go back through my old blog of uni work over here (seriously considering adding my last few final year projects to it when I have the time!). There's also a couple of videos of my sketchbook over here and here!
I was lucky enough to be picked to show my collection at Graduate Fashion Week in London at the beginning of June - have to admit that it was pretty amazing to see my designs all out on the catwalk like that, such a surreal experience! That said, I think I'd be pretty happy if I never again had to face the horror that is the backstage of a catwalk again... I wrote a post about my experiences at GFW earlier in the year, you can read it over here.
Hurray, I graduated! In July I got to put on a silly hat, ridiculous shoes (can you believe I didn't fall over in those?) and collect a very fancy piece of paper. Pretty proud of myself that I not only got a first class honours but also was shortlisted for a university prize - seems my knicker obsession paid off!
In August I had my Summer holiday - a break from all things knicker related, instead spending a weekend with corsets! The OCOC takes place at Jesus College, Oxford- it's such a stunningly beautiful setting for what turned out to be an utterly amazing weekend. From the beautiful corsets on show, the things we were taught to meeting so many wonderful likeminded people - I've already signed up for the 2015 conference and I can't wait! This time I'll put a little more thought into my OCOC corset - the one above was made in a bit of a panic! You can also read more about my experience in this piece that I wrote for The Lingerie Addict.
At the end of August I took a big suitcase full of sparkly knickers into Central London for a pop up shop at Wayward Grace. It was quite lovely to see the shop with my designs on the mannequins and shop displays - it was an awesome confidence boost, given that I started the brand out of my own bedroom studio! Zoe (who'd previously provided excellent sweet treats to my last lookbook shoot) brought along the most incredibly tower of macarons (good god were they delicious) and Jemma brought fizz - I met lots of lovely friends and customers, ate too many sugary things and had an all round lovely time! Makes me wish there were more hours in the day as I'd love to do more shopping events - tiny internet photos don't do my designs all that much justice! You can see some more photos from the event here and here.
The Catwalk Edit
I took part in Calico Venture's press day 'The Catwalk Edit', set in the wonderful Chelsea Old Town Hall! This was my first proper 'trade' event and it was lovely to actually meet press and buyers in person after having only spoken to them online before. It was also lovely to see my lingerie designs go down the catwalk as an actual spectator - normally it's me that has to take part in the backstage dressing! You can see photos from the catwalk here and a video here.
Dress up day at the Sparklewren showroom
What better way to brighten up September than dressing up and taking shiny photos? That's exactly what I did with Twig, Jenni and Glo this year! Originally I'd just planned on making use of my camera but I somehow got elbowed into modelling myself! Fortunately I managed to get some of my own snaps of lovely Twig, and Jenni gifted me her polaroid camera which I have recently got *very* snap happy with... The showroom is such a gorgeous photoshoot location that I simply had to return for my most recent photoshoot... More on that below!
Words cannot express my excitement at moving into a proper dedicated studio after so many years of working out of my bedroom. It's amazing in so many ways - increased productivity, better facilities, room for all of my fabrics and supplies and most important of all, being able to separate my personal life from my working life so that both of them are more enjoyable! Video above is from when I'd just moved my things in - it's looking very different now with quite a lot of new furniture. Still a few things that need adding that I've been putting off for the last few months - namely getting my pattern rails screwed into the walls and hanging up the original artwork that Zoetica created for me earlier in the year!
Lingerie Secret Santa
I've been pretty rubbish at keeping this blog updated this year, but one of the few things that I did actually manage to write about was the Lingerie Secret Santa! I organised one originally in 2013 to give fellow designers something to look forward to in one of the most stressful times of year - it was so successful that we simply had to do it again. In my recent blog post I shared the pieces that I'd created specially for Angela Friedman - since then I have also received my gift, this stunningly beautiful set from Evgenia lingerie. I absolutely adore it - the floral silk, French lace and 1920s inspired shapes are simply perfect! Check out the #lingeriesecretsanta hashtag to see what else people sent and received.
UK Lingerie Awards
Well this was a total and utter shock - at the beginning of December I won 'Best New Designer' at the UK Lingerie Awards. It was so unexpected that my first reaction to hearing my name called was to swear and trip over (thankfully it seemed not many people actually witnessed this!). I now have a very shiny trophy with my name on that my mum keeps calling my 'knicker oscar'! It was a pretty damn good way to end the year - an extra special thank you to Catherine from Kiss Me Deadly for writing my rather spectacular application and for putting up with a large chunk of my lingerie related moanings!
I finished 2014 off with a bang with a lookbook shoot that I am absolutely over the moon with - seriously, the images I've been sent are absolutely incredible - plus I feel like it's my strongest collection from a design perspective! The creative team that we got together was absolutely awesome - photography by Jeff Tuliniemi, models were Maxine Anastasia and Gestalta, hair and makeup by Jade Crean, location and the occasional flurry of rose petals by Sparklewren. I think that this is my favourite image from the whole set so far - though it's admittedly a very difficult choice, given my penchant for indistinct and atmospheric polaroids! It's probably Brigante the rocking horse that swayed it for me - isn't he delightful? I keep getting very tempted to steal him though I have a feeling that Jenni wouldn't forgive me...
So, that's 2014 more or less summed up - ridiculously busy in the best possible way! Let's hope this year can be equally exciting, eh? Thank you all for your amazing support during my knicker adventures & happy new year everyone!