Friday, 3 August 2018

Club Tropicana

Summer is well and truly here and I've recently been working on some summer designs to get me in the mood. I've also been creating some fun items for my store. I'm so inspired by the tropical references that are out there at the mo - from flamingos and pineapples to toucans and tropical leaves. The colour palette of the design reference below is nice and fresh. I love the peach and mint combination with a touch of acid green to funk it up.

And if you're looking for something a bit brighter, the colour palette below delivers! I love the funky combinations of purple and pink with orange and yellow thrown in.

Cheeky Leopard has been busy creating some fun summer items and my favourite one at the mo is this fab pineapple cosmetic bag in shades of yellow and turquoise.

The bag has a turquoise gingham lining and I decided to add a bright yellow zipper as a contrasting pop of colour. This is a great size for carrying smaller items in your travel bag.

For more pineapples you can find this little selection in my store.

The most recent item to be added to my store is this fun flamingo glasses case. It has been printed onto a beige background which makes it slightly more sophisticated! The pink and white polka dot lining ties in with the pink of the flamingos.

Toucans are still a popular tropical reference and these little guys are so sweet. The toucan coin purse is big enough for small change, notes and credit cards and has a black and white spotty lining.

The toucan tissue holder is a fun way to carry tissues for this summer sniffles.

Friday, 27 July 2018

Amazing Alaia

The other day I made a pilgrimage to the Design Museum in Kensington to visit the exhibition of Tunisian-born Azzedine Alaia. He was a designer well known for his beautifully structured haute couture collections and was someone who generated excitement and respect throughout his life.

Alaia was best-known for his sensuous, body-hugging forms and he loved to experiment with the latest stretch materials and tailored leathers. On entering the exhibition you are greeted by this stunning collection, named 'Sculptural Tension'. Alaia originally trained as a sculptor and he always considered his clothing in sculptural terms.

Up close, you can see how he has used silver studs to embellish the inside of the pleats to this animal skin print outfit.

Chainmail links are like chiffon on the dress below, created in 2017 in the last months of Alaia's life.

Alaia used leather constantly throughout his career and his use of it was ground breaking. The 'Revolutionary Skins' section of the exhibition shows one of the first leather garments to gain attention in the fashion world. It's a leather coat from 1981, where steel eyelets were used as the only embellishment, and the powerful style of the coat was to define the style of the coming decade.

The dress below shows how Alaia could use leather in a way that it emulated other lighter fabrics such as chiffon and silk. The ruffle at the shoulder and the beautiful darts at the waist make it hard to believe that this is made from leather.

The 'Exploring Volume' section of the exhibition looks at Alaia's fascination with fashion history and the influences he took from the 17th and 18th centuries. He has re-imagined them using contemporary technologies and attitudes to the body.

As well as having an interest in creating form-fitting shapes, Alaia was also interested in volume and creating sculptural shapes that could redefine a woman's body and he pushed the idea to the extreme. Look up close at the bottom of this dress and you see the amount of fabric that has been expertly inserted into the seam, with an air of lightness and ease.

The dress below has a wonderful form-fitting bodice.

See how each pleat is perfectly uniform. The mirrored plinths make it easier to see the detail.

Black was Alaia's favourite colour and he would often use it on its own, combining a number of fabrics in a single garment to explore their different textural qualities. The section called 'Black Silhouettes' highlights this. I loved the leather dress below where pleats have been created in leather and edged with gold beads.

The simple use of black often meant that the dress became a graphic silhouette and you had to look up close to appreciate the workmanship that has gone into it.

Alaia gave his ideas form by draping, cutting and pinning fabric directly onto the statuesque models he worked with. He combined rigorous technical skills with an understanding of how women want to feel. This is beautifully shown in the red dress below which was in the 'Fragility and Strength' section of the exhibition.

Alaia was obsessed with testing the properties of materials. He gave soft fluidity to leather, and here he gives chiffon strength. These dresses are as powerful as a tailored suit, showing Alaia's technical ability in his use of the fabric. Chiffon is a very delicate fabric and can be difficult to work with but he makes it look effortless.

The final and most dramatic section to the exhibition is the 'Wrapped Forms' section that focuses on his use of stretch fabrics.

These dresses seem simple but each band of fabric is precisely engineered and cut to specific dimensions. The dresses were inspired by Egyptian mummification and join Western and Eastern traditions.

This wonderful exhibition is open until 7th October 2018. I highly recommend a visit.

Friday, 20 July 2018

Sizzling sausages

Sausage dogs are such an iconic image and a breed of dog that is loved around the world. There are so many fabulous dachshund items out there to satisfy any sausage dog-lover and their distinctive silhouette lends itself to all sorts of interesting items.

This sturdy Brakeburn backpack comes in a pleasing mustard yellow colour and has padded shoulder straps and a selection of zippered pockets to store essential items in.

This dachshund tie was designed in support of the San Francisco SPCA's sheltered dogs and features beige dachshunds with tiny red collars on a chocolate brown background.

For a touch of zing to your outfit without being too zingy, these sausage dog socks are perfect. I love the unexpected colour combination.

Brakeburn has also created some fab wellington boots to match their backpack. Something to brighten up a rain day!

For those chilly nights, this reversible knitted hot water bottle cover is perfect. I love the quirky placement of the sausage dog.

Cheeky Leopard has created some fun sausage dog items that include a glasses case, tissue holder, card case and coin purse. You can find them all in store here.

Friday, 13 July 2018

Frida Kahlo at the V&A

Last week I went to the Frida Kahlo exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Frida was the flamboyant Mexican painter who dressed as colourfully as she painted, but this exhibition was much less about her bright and arresting paintings and more about her life, with photographs and film footage of her experiences. Most of the objects in the exhibition were items found from her home, which had been locked away for 50 years after her death, effectively in a time capsule.

Items in the exhibition included her prosthetic leg and red leather boot which was beautifully decorated with a Chinese dragon.

They also had the plaster corset painted and decorated by Frida Kahlo. She suffered a lot of pain in her life due to polio in earlier life and a traumatic car crash which she never really recovered from. Decorating these items was a way of coping with it.

My favourite part of the exhibition was in the final room where there was an amazing collection of her outfits accompanied by a small selection of her artwork and bright photos of herself. I love this photo below which shows Frida against a turquoise wall with pink flowers in her hair.

Frida embraced the traditional Mexican dress and this became her signature style, which involved long, full skirts (enagua) and boxy tops (huipil), all in fabulously bright colours.

Needless to say, the exhibition shop had some wonderful items to choose from including the fabulous colourful top below. I realised that these tops are actually very simple to make as they are effectively two squares sewn together so I've decided to try my hand at making one of these. Watch this space for an update on the next Cheeky Leopard venture!

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Japan House

The other day I paid a visit to the wonderful Japan House which has recently opened on Kensington High Street. It's the new cultural home of Japan in London and includes a gallery, theatre, restaurant and retail floor thoughtfully curated with Japanese products. Even from the outside it has a Japanese aesthetic - low key and undemonstrative.

The ground floor houses the retail section and I immediately homed in on the brightly-coloured printed paper items. I love the origami paper and mini envelopes, as well as the paper-covered bins above and the brightly coloured, embossed tea canisters below.

I always love the blue and white colour palette used in Japanese design and there were these lovely little cups for sale (used for sake or soba), as well as the patterned tenegui fabrics below, of which I became a bit of an addict when I lived in Tokyo!

The simplicity of Japanese design was even applied to the way that items were displayed. Everyday home items were showcased as museum pieces, such as these woven soba utensils below.

A beautifully simple tray and bowl are displayed so dramatically and lit from above using stark white light. This silver lunch box sits next to its blue and white furoshiki fabric wrapping.

There is also a large area to relax on sofas and armchairs. Drink a calming cup of green tea bought from the counter at the front, and take in your calm surroundings.

The work of Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto is also on show. On the ground floor he has created an exhibition that uses everyday items. By placing small-scale human figures next to these items, they suddenly change context and become architectural spaces. He believes that the inspiration for architecture can come from anywhere, whether it's a kitchen sponge ('People live in nooks and crannies') or a pile of staples ('A house like bookshelves? Or bookshelves like a house?'). A plastic fruit bag ('A transparent cave') or a circuit board ('Complex, or simple?'). Can you spot the mini white human figures on each piece?

Downstairs in the gallery space, Fujimoto has an exhibition of his ongoing projects and works he is known for but also current experiments for the future.

Many of his forms are very organic and you feel that his thought process is ongoing as he builds his pieces in paper and card. Many of his pieces consider the social interaction of humans and show constructions on many different levels where architecture and nature blend together.

Friday, 29 June 2018

Marvellous moustaches

The moustache has been a popular motif in design and fashion for quite a while now and I love the fun and simple play on graphic styles that have been incorporated into all sorts of products.

For the home, you can have a fab print to hang on your wall. The product by Redbubble (below left) takes popular moustache styles and adds a jaunty french phrase to each. The print on the right, from Simple Sheep Design, is simple but immediately recognisable as the moustache of a very famous singer! I love the acid yellow background.

Other fun moustache items for the home include salt and pepper shakers and bookends. The two below are made from wood and cut into a simple moustache design.

The designs by Hus and Hem are fab and quirky and this Lars cushion below is a great way of adding an injection of quirk to the home.

Even baby can have a moustache decoration in the bedroom. I love the modern colours of this  mobile paired with a cool grey wall colour.

Of course, the popularity of moustaches as a fashion statement means that there are plenty of interesting grooming products out there, from moustache brushes to waxes and soaps to keep your moustache well quaffed.

Cheeky Leopard loves a moustache print and has made some fab items that you can find in store. They include glasses case and tissue holder - perfect for the moustachioed man in your life.

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