Monday 27 March 2017

Niki Groom Makers 4 Refugees Auction

I don't usually share artwork by other artists on this blog, but I have a pretty good reason to break the status quo. Niki Groom, who happens to be one of my favourite illustrators, is auctioning some of her artwork every evening this week as part of the Makers 4 Refugees project. All the proceeds are going to Help Refugees UK. The project has currently raised 5000 with the target being 10000.

Quiet a few years ago, I happened to attend one of the workshops run by Niki, this was one of the turning points for me personally as I realised that illustration was something that I would like to pursue. Her work is absolutely incredible, and I can bear witness to the fact that she can create some fantastic pieces in a very short time. However, her Kenzo painting took a full 3 weeks to complete. The original artwork is all done by hand, and resulting prints are giclee. Every auctioned item will come with a hand wrapped parcel that will include some of Niki's greeting cards, packaged in materials from her personal collection, including some of her favourite pieces of paper, beautiful stamps, and a hand drawn greeting tag. You will be receiving something truly special.

The auction will take place on Instagram every evening at 8pm, starting today (in a matter of hours) with a one-off A4 Kenzo (artists proof) and a hand wrapped parcel. Each day you will be able to bid for a different piece of artwork and Sunday will conclude with a one to one 2 hour art lesson with Niki in Bristol and a hand wrapped parcel.

There has been a lot of ups and downs in the past year, and it can leave us pretty helpless. Makers 4 Refugees is such a heartwarming project, and if you happen to make the winning bid at the auction, you will be a proud owner of some truly meaningful artwork.

 *all the photos courtesy of Niki Groom.

Wednesday 8 March 2017

Lightly stepping into Spring

There used to be a time when the beginning of a new season meant a complete wardrobe overhaul (accompanied by an unsurprising "I'm so broke" period shortly after). Whether or not you fancy yourself as a fashionista, clothes have their own language. No matter how many times we say things like "don't judge a book by its cover," it happens, even if it is just on a subconscious level, and it isn't always a bad thing. A cocktail dress will tell you that someone is doing something special in the evening, shirts and formal trousers in the mornings are a pretty good indication of the office crowd, you can see people who would rather blend in, who wants to stand out and those who always prioritise comfort no matter what the occasion. For the most part, clothes we choose are an extension of our personalities.

There is one other statement our garments make, and in the case of mainstream fashion (designer or hightsreet), this time it is not a message that most people would want to convey. Fashion industry has a very ugly side, from the way the cloth is produced to the way the clothes are manufactured, and even to what happens with them after the wearers have moved on to trendier outfits. Whether or not you agree with the message, choosing clothes that are made a certain way, you become a walking billboard of the brands you wear. On occasion, when out and about, strangers would complement my outfit and ask where I got a particular item. When complementing others, they would often volunteer the name of the brand their clothes are from. You can not underestimate the power of subtle influence like that.

Nowadays I am lot more choosy when it comes to clothes. First of all I am very aware of how much space there is in my wardrobe (or lack thereof to be more precise). So any new item has to be compatible with what I already have (often it will be a replacement for something similar that is worn out) and I also have to really love it. As you can imagine, easy to mix and match basics are what I get most.

The transitional seasons are probably the most awkward. As we are changing from winter to spring, picking an outfit can be tricky not only from an aesthetic point of view, but actually just getting it right to fit with the weather. Mornings and evening tend to be pretty cold, but during the day, especially if the sun has decided to grace us with its presence, it gets a lot warmer, so you are always at risk of either freezing or turning into a sweaty mess mid-day. It is no groundbreaking news to mention that the obvious solution to this particular dilemma is layering, we all know this, yet it still can be a bit of a mission finding the clothes that match the criteria.

Leave Nothing But Footprints is a Canadian brand based in Toronto, who's focus is on flattering, timeless silhouettes in combination with environmentally conscious fabrics that use fewer chemicals and less water to manufacture than synthetics and conventional cotton. I don't normally pay too much attention to the name of the brand, what they do is much more important rather than how cool or catchy it sounds, but seeing  "Leave Nothing But Footprints" on a label did make me ponder a few philosophical questions, and I really appreciate things like that.

Brenda U neck Tee*. If you have a closer look at my wardrobe, the number of t-shirts I have is far greater than any other type of clothes. There are some weeks where I will wear the same jeans but change my t-shirt every day (cut and colour of which will entirely depend on my mood). To be 100% honest, my favourite t-shirts are actually grey. The reason is simple: they match with a lot of different colour shirts, cardigans, and bottoms; they wash a lot better than whites, and if you need to pack light for travelling, they don't get grubby as easily as most other colours. I do have a long body, so finding a good length t-shirt is somewhat of struggle. LNBF tee is not only a nice length but is purposefully a little bit longer at the back for extra coverage, making it really flattering from every angle. The fabric is 95% bamboo viscose with 5% spandex, it feels so lightweight and ridiculously soft (the first day I wore it, I kept asking Mr RF to touch my t-shirt just to confirm how soft it was), I don't think I have any others that feel as nice.

Pauline cardigan*. When it comes to layering, cardigans are kings. This particular one has what I refer to as "waterfall" feature at the front. Personally I think this type of piece is a must for a capsule wardrobe. It is so easy to style up or down, and I practically live in it on weekends. I am that sort of awkward person that likes to look stylish even if I am just going to a pond to look at ducks (whether I succeed or not that is another question entirely, but the point is that is my intention). However, that does not mean I would sacrifice comfort. Even in evening wear I have to have both (yeah I don't want a lot, only for clothes to look really good, be comfortable, ethical and eco friendly, easy right?!). I simply love this cardy, it looks so flattering on, super easy to layer with t-shirts or long sleeved tops. As the fabric isn't heavy, having a jacket on top doesn't restrict movement and it even has pockets! I don't know what my obsession with pockets is, but when dresses and cardigans (especially the longer ones) have them, it makes me really happy.

Abby denim legging*. Finding a pair of jeans that fits nicely can be a bit of a nightmare, I don't think I am the only person that struggles?! My behind is not particularly flat, so  many styles either won't button up in the right size, while a size up will leave a huge gap at the back, or if by some miracle everything looks fine when standing, once it is the time to sit down, not much is left to the imagination. Jeggings are a life saver for me, they look like jeans minus all the awkward and frankly embarrassing side effects. These particular denim leggings caught my eye because of the really cool pin tuck detail at the thigh. It makes them really stand out and it fits my personal style to a t. They look really nice on and I do get a lot of complements when I wear them. I would have loved it if they had back pockets as well  the front ones (or even instead of).  I think that would have made them look even more flattering.  At the hem they have a side slit feature, giving you some interesting options to play with  when it comes to footwear.

I find that my favourite clothes tend to work in different seasons, and this is the case with all of the above LNBF pieces. Weather in London tends to be fickle, and even in summer there are many days that need boots and a cardigan rather than shorts and sandals. I will not be packing any of these away even after this transitional period is over.

If you are currently  looking to update your wardrobe and also want to Leave Nothing But Footprints, I have a 20% off Discount Code for my readers: TAMARA20. It is valid until 22/03/17 EST. It is valid on all online LNBF orders, but cannot be combined with any other offers.

*PR sample, as always all of the above is my honest opinion, based on personal experience with the clothes. I chose all the pieces and wouldn't write about them if I wasn't prepared to part with my own money to get them. Just to clarify, I am not getting any commission if you use the above discount code.