Staying Close to Home

No matter where you are in the world, inspiration is never far away.  On my doorstep, the rural North Yorkshire Dales is a perfect place to reflect, to marvel and to unwind. 

I am fortunate to have lived and grown up in Nidderdale, an AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) renowned for it's spectacular scenery. Remote yet reclaimed, the breathtaking natural surroundings never cease to humble and inspire. One thing I always notice more when I am at home in the countryside is the imposing scale of the sky; it's expanse more vast, it's colour more intense, it's impact more dramatic.    

Returning home for some time over summer, the following snapshots portray the impressive countryside where I live. Not surprisingly the area has featured in numerous films, and what a stunning setting for a photo shoot!

Set 1375 ft above sea level, I recently visited The Coldstones Cut, an intriguing piece of public art designed and created by artist Andrew Sabin as a sculptural response to the Coldstones Quarry. Juxtaposing the curious conventions of a contemporary streetscape with the authentic solemnity of ancient stone constructions, The Cut is ambiguous and multi-dimensional. 

As a vantage point, it enables visitors to view the working quarry and appreciate the magnificent views of the surrounding area, however fundamentally it acts as an interpretive medium for the surrounding landscape, its industrial heritage and its relationship with the quarry. 

Amidst winding paths and exposed vistas, one of the features of The Cut is a 360 degree geographical dial which shows the direction and distance of major cities and landmarks around the world. New York, a favourite city of mine, is exactly 5388.2 km away. Yet as much as I am captivated by the bright lights, eclectic cultures and imposing architecture of the city that never sleeps, closer to home there is also much to be inspired by.  

Haute Couture: The Polaroids of Cathleen Naundorf

In a visual world dominated by highly-manipulated, instantaneous digital imagery, it is uplifting to see the enigmatic beauty of analogue photography portraying the captivating splendor of haute couture. 

In a recent publication of polaroid images, german fashion photographer and painter Cathleen Naundorf conveys the otherworldly allure of haute couture collections by prestigious fashion houses Armani, Chanel, Dior, Lacroix, Elie Saab and Valentino, as "a gesture of homage to the unique nature of the haute-couture fashion".

Using a large format camera with polaroid film to capture exquisite garments in theatrical settings, Naundorf's images exude enchanting elegance; the nostalgic essence of her photographs encapsulate a timeless quality, reminiscent of the works of iconic photographers such as Richard Avedon and Irving Penn.

Each image is suggestive of an enticing story; sombre, thought-provoking, ambiguous...    

Les Mariees

L'Enfant Terrible

Valentino En Rosa

La Fille En Plâtre IV (version 1)

La Miroir Vivant I

Moulange de Louvre

La Nuit Blanche

Kew Gardens

My Little Darling

The images above are featured in the publication 'Haute Couture: The Polaroids of Cathleen Naundorf' and are copyrighted to Cathleen Naundorf.


This week I have been doing lots of writing, and I can finally share some of the content here on my personal blog. 

When Sophie Benson, the talented stylist and fashion director of independent visual arts and fashion magazine FAKE, asked if I would like to write a guest blog for the magazine, I decided to write about a designer I was lucky enough to meet briefly at the party organised by HMAGAZINE and Swatch watches in Madrid a few weeks ago.  ‘Davidelfin’. Perhaps a name not so familiar in UK fashion, but in Spanish fashion, (and on the discerning, international fashion stage) well, who hasn’t heard of Davidelfin? I knew little about Davidelfin at the time, but there was a conspicuous buzz of excitement created merely because the talented designer himself was there. I have since discovered why...

‘Katharsis’, Davidelfin’s colourful collection for Spring/Summer 2012, is bold, bright and I believe, brilliant. The word ‘Katharsis’, the purging of emotional tensions in psychoanalytical terms, and the cleansing of undesired elements by regular definition, is an intriguing yet fitting title for such an invigorating collection. Featuring the intensity of vivid colour against the purity of crisp white, I particularly like how experimental tailoring compliments structured silhouettes. I also love the unconventional styling accessories of bright lips, mix-matched heels and odd socks; indications that this eye-catching collection is a lot of fun to wear!

Davidelfin Katharsis Look 1
Davidelfin Katharsis Look 22
Davidelfin Katharsis Look 3
Davidelfin Katharsis Look 18

In contrast to the multihued S/S collection, Fall/Winter 2012 is monochromatic. Neutral tones and dark leopard print convey a more mature, understated quality, yet the ‘WILL’ collection still has a playful edge.  Balancing the modern and the classic, the essence of sophisticated nonchalance and minimal chic has been perfected. Needless to say, a selection of the womenswear pieces from this collection have duly been added to my Autumn/Winter wardrobe wish list. (Namely the skirt, blouse, shoes, bag and necklace in Look 8!)

Davidelfin WILL Look 2
Davidelfin WILL Look 8
Davidelfin WILL Look 12
Davidelfin WILL Look 9
It’s exciting to share the work of a designer who so skilfully translates his concerns through the creative medium of fashion. With art and emotion as key driving forces of his eclectic work, Delfin believes ‘everything for doing, everything for giving.’  A philosophy I am keen to advocate!

All images from

To see more davidelfin visit

For more information on FAKE magazine visit

Fond d'Ecran

I came across this beautiful editorial photo shoot on this morning and couldn't resist sharing it. Translated as 'Wallpaper', I love the sense of nostalgia and ambiguity created by the images in this sequence; natural, spontaneous moments captured by delicate photography. The stunning synthesis of effortless styling and lavish surroundings is the quintessence of elegance and nonchalance.

A captivating story. Enjoy.

Photography by Ivor Paanakker 

Photography by Ivor Paanakker

Photography by Ivor Paanakker

Photography by Ivor Paanakker

Photography by Ivor Paanakker
Photography by Ivor Paanakker
Photography by Ivor Paanakker
Photography by Ivor Paanakker
Photography by Ivor Paanakker

Photography by Ivor Paanakker @
Styling: Lisa Schuil
Dresses: Nicky Vankets
Make-Up Artist: Charlotte Mailhe
Hair: Sanjay Ramcharan
Model: Patricia Nooyen

Valentino Haute Couture Winter 2012

A paragon of exquisite craftsmanship, Haute Couture is the fabric of dreams, decadence and desire. Literally.
The exclusive, intangible nature of Haute Couture make it all the more captivating; however contemporary couture has started to acknowledge that understated elegance is just as alluring as ostentatious extravagance, if not more so. Valentino's Fall 2012 Haute Couture collection exemplifies this. Pairing minimalism with intricacy, and luxury with simplicity, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli have united their distinct creative minds to create a refined collection of regal beauty. I love the notion of self-effacing luxury. I ADORE Valentino.
Oh to be a Valentino girl! If I was attending a red carpet event (with money being no object) Valentino would be the Couture House I would turn to for a bespoke dress. The contrasts within this particular collection are subtle and stunning, fusing the sensual and the severe. Sheer, floating evening gowns made from crepe, chiffon and lace capture romantic, fragile femininity, whilst demure jumpsuits embody a more modest, austere side of woman. (Women are complex creatures after all.) 

'La Toilette' by Gustave Moreau
'Salome' by Gustave Moreau
Inspired in part by the mystically intense images of French Symbolist painter Gustav Moreau who 'had a love of dark colours but never painted in black', the dark, enticing colour of midnight blue was a notable, enchanting feature of the collection. Signature red, yellow brocade and delicate florals were also prominent, suggesting changing states of the 19th century in an anthology which respects past tradition but celebrates future innovation.

There is naturally an elitism associated with Haute Couture; the fact that only a handful of fortunate women will wear these beautiful clothes (I read somewhere that less than 300 women worldwide regularly buy Haute Couture). However, in the midst of illusion and fantasy, there is a sense of  authenticity in Valentino's collection that is not too far beyond the realms of reality. Dreaming is all part of the magic though...


Although sightseeing was a significant part of my recent visit to Madrid, thanks to my good friend Catherine the highlight of the trip was attending an exclusive party hosted by Spanish Fashion magazine HMagazine and Swatch watches last week on Wednesday 27th June.

Located in a chic hair salon in Malasaña, the party celebrated HMagazine's victory in the 'Swatch from the streets' competition, a competition involving 17  international fashion magazine's such as Dazed & Confused, ID and Nylon, all contending to host the party in their favourite street. HMagazine recorded a video with Spanish band WE ARE STANDARD, showcasing Malasaña as their favourite district in Madrid.

Image from; Mario Vaquerizo, Pelayo, Devid Delfin 
The event was a great night all round, and it was a brilliant opportunity to network and party with the creative crowd of spanish celebrities, photographers, musicians and designers such as  Mario Vaquerizo, David Delfin, and Olfo Bose. DJs Pelayo and Johann Wald played amazing music all night, and despite infernal heat inside the venue, a free bar and live television coverage of the football (Spain vs Portugal) meant that everyone was in good spirits and the atmosphere was incredible.

Most guests at the party were sporting a stylish, new watch from the Swatch Summer 2012 collection and my friend Hannah and I were wearing the Wild Orange Chrono Plastic design, which added an extra bright burst of colour to our outfits (even my already colourful print dress!)

Although I don't speak any Spanish and knew little about HMagazine before talking to the lovely director Anke, it is certainly a publication that I will continue to follow from now on. Flicking through a copy of the magazine on my journey back from Madrid, it features some fantastic fashion editorials and explores an alternative fashion, art and music scene in Spain and beyond. Although I can't translate the written editorial content at the moment, there is plenty of visual content to enjoy for those who can't read spanish like myself. However, even after spending just a few days in Madrid, I have been inspired to learn some Spanish. I own a phrase book, so it's a start!