Archive for April, 2011

Kate Middleton has only been a member of the royal family for a few hours but already she has made her mark, with her understated glamour in the dress, flowers and decoration of the abbey. Far from the pomp and circumstance of previous royal weddings, today’s occasion simply reflected the personal taste and interests of the couple. Fresh, natural and simple, classic yet modern.

The best kept secret about the wedding was revealed as Kate stepped out of the limousine outside Westminster Abbey. And she could not have chosen a better person to emulate, a hollwood icon turned princess with timeless style.

Grace Kelly, Princess of Monacco, is one of history’s great style icons and today we saw her classic wedding style echoed in Kate Middleton’s wedding dress designed by Sarah Burton, head of Alexander McQueen fashion house. The McQueen signature shillouette of narrow waist and padded hips blending structure and modernity with vintage style wedding dress. The finishing touch was the tulle lace veil edged in floral embroidery – a real fairytale princess.

Do you think when she was little she would have imagined wearing a vintage 1930’s diamond Cartier tiara owned by the Queen of England…

Tradition and history were echoed through Kate’s delicate bouquet of Lily of the Valley, the flower of choice of Grace and the Queen Mother; a nod to the family she has joined. Lily of the Valley are only open in April and May, so a truly seasonal choice.Perhaps the sprigs of Sweet William were for her husband! The fresh green and white colours of the bouquet were echoed throughout the decor.

Many eyebrows were raised as the English Maple trees were brought into the abbey this week, but they created a dramatic but softened effect with the trees contrasting with the architectural  lines of the gothic cathedral. What a spectacle, as Kate glided down the tree lined avenue of the aisle to marry her prince. So romantic.

Far from being a day of excess and waste, William and Kate’s personal interest in the environment have been entwined in planning, with wild strawberries growing round the base of the trees and their request that after the big day the trees be planted in Highgrove (Charles’ residence) as a lasting memory of the day.


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As dress design and wedding style develops through the years, so does the way the guests give gifts to the happy couple.

When puffy sleeves and peach bridesmaid dresses were all the rage, guests were calling up the brides parents to ask what they should buy from a handwritten list pinned up by the telephone, and gifts were duly ticked off as guests called to make a pledge. A slight improvement on previous eras where guests bought whatever they thought the couple would need – usually including 3 toasters and a couple of hoovers. If Ebay had been around it would have seen a plethora of unwanted wedding gifts on its pages…

In the 90’s technology was developing and department stores devised a way to make sure all the gifts for a wedding were purchased from their store. We are all familiar with the John Lewis gift list, where the couple spend an afternoon browsing the store with a ‘zapper’ and giving the guests an easy way to choose and purchase a gift instore or online. This method of creating a gift list soon monopolised the market.

Far from being detatched from reality, the royal wedding embraces the trends and needs of the times. William and Kate, like many couples trying the knot, already live together and so have all the cutlery, toasters and bedding they need. So rather than having the usual gift list of homewares they have opted for the ever popular charity donations option. The Royal Wedding Charitable Fund lists many charities around the commonwealth with focus on youth, environment and the armed forces, causes close to the hearts of William and Kate.

When the ‘alternative gift list’ was first used there was concern it would be viewed as rude to ask for donations or non-physical gifts, but it is now accepted that each couple is unique and the needs they have differ and so can’t be standardised by one type of gift.

The trend for the gift list which encompases a variety of needs is on the increase with couples opting for the charity, honeymoon or a combination wedding gift list. It will soon be the case that requesting a variety of gift types on one list is no longer called an ‘alternative’ gift list.

The convenience of the online gift list can be used for a combination of gifts with an online gift list organiser, such as with Wedding Notebook where you can create your own wedding website with incorporated gift list organiser where you can add gifts from anywhere – online, local, charity donations or honeymoon vouchers.

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If you want to be ahead of the game in searching out new ethical fashion brands and outfits but don’t have time to spend hours browsing the web then you will be excited to hear about the new ethical fashion portal Stylewithheart.com which just launched.

There are hundreds of clothing and accessories brands, some that will be well known to an ethical fashionista, and other new or smaller brands that are worth investigation, for Men, Women, Kids and accessories listed under categories such as Fairtrade, Organic, eco-friendly and Other, which include upcycles brands such as From Somewhere. The site even helpfully separates out companies who offer fairtrade or fairlytraded, for those items which it is still not possible to certify as ‘fairtrade’ with the mark but are traded and produced under fair (and often advantageous) standards.

One of the best things about this site is that it is not just another middleman but more like a directory of ethical fashion. It directs you straight to the original site to browse, rather than taking a cut if you buy through them, and so more of the price of that garment goes to the producer or designer.

Creator of Stylewithheart, Gillian Osrin, combines her passion for fashion with a desire to help people look fantastic with as little impact as possible on the environment.

“So many people told me they wanted to shop for ethical or eco-friendly fashion but thought it was too difficult to find or weren’t sure there would be styles to match their tastes. The idea behind StyleWithHeart is that it is a portal which gathers all the best eco and ethical labels on one site and allows people to shop directly on the brand’s website. There’s no other website out there which features as many eco-ethical brands.”

All the brands are carefully vetted for their eco and/or ethical credentials before being accepted on the site. There is a wide selection of companies, from small boutiques and vintage shops to well-known brands, all of which have their own special story.

StyleWithHeart is not just a fantastic way to find a whole host of fashion brands, but an excellent resource for journalists and students who want to find out more about the world of eco-friendly fashion. Key terms such as organic and upcycled are explained and there are links to useful organizations including the Fairtrade Foundation and the Ethical Trading Initiative as well as a magazine section which welcomes new contributors.

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The launch of Fairtrade and Fairmined Gold in time for Valentines Day in February was a great leap forward in the development of trade in the jewellery industry. Hollywood stars, celebrity jewellers and our favourite names are embracing the new status and showing it has the lux appeal.

Historically the allure of jewellery has been the mystery surrounding how beautiful stones and metals are brought together to make glittering jewellery to adorn our bodies as they were worn by only the richest. However, now we understand more about the production processes of the products that we use day to day, transparancy has become the key factor as we want assurance that out luxuries are not at the expence of anothers life.

No longer simply indulging inthe world of luxury, the celebrities we look up are embracing these issues and bringing injustices to light. Livia Firth, the wife of Oscar winner Colin Firth, is a Fairtrade ambassador. She told the Telegraph: ‘We associate gold with love and beauty but there is often nothing beautiful about the way that gold is produced. Tens of millions of small-scale gold miners risk their lives in often appalling conditions and get a raw deal for their strenuous efforts.’

Most of the world’s gold is collected by small scale miners, often in dangerous conditions and exploited by middle-men. And in the race to keep costs low mines are simply abandoned when finished with leaving a large blot on the landscape. Gold certified as Fairtrade and Fairmined (a dual certification) ensures fair working conditions and wages and a guaranteed price for gold despite market fluctuations, and a premium on top of pay to benefit the community.

When CRED jewellery started the idea of fairtrade gold over 10 years ago, they dreamt that one day it would be worn on the red carpet. Luckily Livia Firth backs up her beliefs by living them out. She wore the first ever Fairtrade Fairmined Ecological gold jewellery at the Oscars 2011 ceremony, a set designed and hand-made by goldsmith Anna Loucah in collaboration with CRED Jewellery. Over the awards seasons of 2010 and 2011, as she accompanied husband Colin to pick up his numerous awards for ‘A Single Man’ and ‘The Kings Speech’, she wore only ethical or eco dresses and accessories for her Green Carpet Challenge

Meanwhile, in the USA, actress Brooklyn Decker (wife of tennis pro Andy Roddick) hit the red carpet at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in a Joy Cioci dress accessorised with conflict-free and fair trade jewelry from Diamond in the Rough.

Jeweller to the stars (Christina Aguilera and Madonna are both big fans), Stephen Webster announced that both his label and Garrard, the renowned house he oversees as creative director, will be among the first 20 jewelers in the world to launch Fairtrade and Fairmined Gold. Like longstanding ethical jeweller, CRED, he is starting with wedding and engagement rings, but he hopes that soon his brands will be 100% Fairtrade.

Crown jewellers Garrard have been associated with the Royal jewellery collections since 1700’s, making royal jewellery commissions including Queen Victoria’s diamond crown, many coronations crowns and the Sapphire and diamond ring made for Princess Diana’s engagement ring that Kate is now wearing. Will Wills and Kate be commissioning them to make their royal wedding rings in fairtrade gold?

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2011 seems to be the year of the wedding with some top names tying the knot this year. When most of us just have the 100 or so guests at the wedding to please, these couples will have the eyes of the world on them and the media commenting on every aspect of the big day – not least the Royal Wedding of Wills and Kate.

The Royal Wedding is already set to be a big change from the traditional pattern, and this in turn is set to create trends for couples wanting to emulate aspects in their big day. Here are some of the ways that Wills and Kate are breaking from the norm and creating a storm:

Involve the family
Ok, so there is little chance that Granny will be baking the wedding cake, but Prince William already made the occasion personal by giving Kate a family ring – not least the diamond and sapphire ring that was Princess Diana’s engagement ring.
How you can do it: – Find out if there is some family jewellery that you could wear for the big day – did Granny have a necklace or earrings that will go with your dress?
– My husband and I each had a family ring that we melted down and reshaped to create our wedding rings, incorporating history into our new family
– If you want to cheat and get a looky-likey ring, the Windsor Ring from CRED is made from fairtrade white gold with ethically sourced diamonds and sapphire

Fairtrade Wedding Rings
The Crown jewellers, Garrard, who make the coronation crowns and created the engagement ring created for Princess Diana and now worn by Kate, are one of the first jewellers to adopt Fairtrade and Fairmined certified gold. Creative Director Stephen Webster (Jeweller to stars such as Christina Aguilera nd Madonna) sais that they will be starting with wedding and engagement rings. Will the royal wedding rings be created with Fairtrade gold? If you want to make Fairtrade and Fairmined gold part of the Royal Wedding, sign the petition here
How you can do it:
There are many jewelers making fairtrade gold wedding rings. Try CRED Jewellery, Ingle & Rhode or do an online search for fairtrade wedding rings to find a jeweller closr to where you live.

Alternative Gift List
Instead of the tradition of the royal couple receiving gifts from all over the commonwealth (Princess Elizabeth received hundreds of tins of pineapple from Queensland?!) Kate and Wills have taken the brave step of asking people to give to charity instead. They already have all they need for their modest house in North Wales and so by sugesting small but influential charities from the UK, Australia, Canada and other commonwealth countries, gifts can be given to benefit  disadvantaged young people rather than just the happy couple.
How you can do it: – Ask guests to give to a charity close to your heart instead of physical gifts.
– If you would like a mix of gift types, such as charity donations, honeymoon vouchers and some items for the home, then set up an online list manager such as weddingnotebook.co.uk where you can ask for gifts from an unrestricted number of places.

Go Local
In support of the local economy Royal weddings have always used suppliers from the UK. Having items designed and handmade especially for the big day makes then unique and extra special.
How you can do it: – You may not have a budget of millions to be able to order bespoke items, but browse sites such as folksy.com for one-off handmade items from talented designers around the UK.
– Have your wedding catered by a local supplier. Food will be fresher and often tastier,  especially if you choose organic. Some things are worth paying the extra for.

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