A Night At The Museum

It was a cold but clear night. Travelling from the wilds of the Essex salt marshes to the heartland of England’s shoe industry – Northampton – went myself and my husband, on Friday 23rd November 2012.  Our destination was the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery home to the world famous shoe collection – the second largest shoe collection in the world (the largest being in Ottawa, Canada), no less.

We had been invited to the Press and Celebrity Private Evening Viewing of the fabulous collection of Milly J Shoes and I had been looking forward to this evening for weeks!  Milly couldn’t have picked a better place to launch her exhibition – Northampton Museum is “Heaven on Earth” for shoe lovers and I fell head over heels in love with the place as soon as I stepped over the threshold. As well as shoes, the museum also has a prestigious collection of Italian and British artworks, including work by John Collier and David Hockney.  But let’s get back to shoes….as I was saying, the ground floor of the museum looks at shoe fashions, shoemaking and the significance of shoes and in the comfortable Shoe Lounge, currently exhibiting until 6 January 2013, is the fantastic artwork shoe creations of the delightful and unique Milly J.

Milly J Shoes – one-off art to wear shoes and shoe sculptures are unique and the work and creativity that goes into each and every item needs to be seen in the flesh, photographs cannot do them justice. I found myself looking at each and every shoe with awe and wonder – I have seen them before in photos on Milly’s website – but up close…well, the details blew me away!! The shoes are works of art, no doubt about that, but wearable too …and ever since Jodie Marsh stepped onto the This Morning’s set in her “teapot” shoes designed by Milly J …other celebrities and non celebrities have been clamouring to own their own unique pair and be part of the Milly J Shoe  Envy Club.

So, which were my favourites?  I loved the Red & Black Vampire Diaries court shoes that matched the dress I was wearing that night…but they are owned by a lovely lady called Emma, who won’t part with them (understandably!) I also had a crush on the green lace up army boots …little army figures climbed up the heel and around the shoe …they would look fab with my jeans although my husband did point out that one trip and the little man at the front would probably come to a sad end!

 My husband Adam loved the boots made for TV personality and MMA Announcer Bret “Hollywood” Freeman …they started life as a pair of Jeffery West white boots and with a little magic from Milly they have been transformed into boots full of skulls! Designer Guy West (Jeffery -West) also admired the transformation! (Jeffery – West are also exhibiting their 25th Anniversary exhibition in the adjoining room until 9 February 2013 – to the delight of my Adam and Bret who had a quick mooch around that exhibition too!)

Bret “Hollywood” Freeman opened the proceedings with a toast to Milly J and her achievements in just less than a year.Milly J presented to the museum a special exhibit called the Tap Shoe – this was a shoe in a black/white check (reminiscent of traditional bathroom tiling) with a tap and plug on it….hard to describe but it is a fab piece of artwork….

 

Milly J is certainly a talented lady …apart from wowing us all with her creative shoe artworks, she is a lovely chatty and friendly lady with a proud, supportive and equally lovely fiancé Mark, and her main forte is actually being an actress and classically trained singer …and she blew me away with her fantastic rendition of In The Summertime ...it was just a fantastic evening and the fabulous cupcakes with edible shoes on them also deserve a mention … these were provided by Cuppies ‘n’ Cream …delicious Natalie, thank you.

So, here are some of the gorgeous Milly J Shoes creations…made with lots of love…

Wedding boots with a difference…and the Birdcage…

Liquorice All sorts …Breast Cancer Awareness Shoe..

For photograph enthusiasts…these were another favourite of mine…

Oranges…ideal if you’re feeling fruity…

At the Cafe – look at the detail – menu board, tablecloth, crockery…

Rubik’s Cube…

Secret Garden…

Another pretty one…ladybirds and roses…another favourite contender..

 

 

Dotty Tea Pots..

 

 

 

 

 

These have removable candles on the front with faux flames …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And now I’m pleased to welcome to the blog the unique lady that is Milly J. Hi Milly, I really enjoyed meeting you and seeing your creations close up… so please introduce yourself ..

I am Milly J, aka Emily J, the shoe artist

Your shoe designs are amazing! Where do you get your ideas from?

My inspiration comes entirely from my belief in what is possible. I do not hinder myself and I am not scared to take a risk and surprise myself. I am from a theatrical background and this has put me in good stead to truly go out with an idea and see it to the end process. My skills in communication, my love of surrealism, my upbringings abroad, culture, society, anthropology and food. Though what really inspires me are the people that come to me. By talking to them and building a rapport of what makes them tick is very important. By having a hook in any form of work, your work will breath life.
In your opinion, what has been your wackiest design?
To be honest, to me I know that those that perhaps are more “middle” of the road would see my designs as “whacky”, though it’s when you read the titles and start to understand the meanings behind the shoes, they make complete sense. Though in terms of un-conventionalism, I’d have to say, the Mad Hatter’s teapot. Not just due to the actual design, but also due to the whole psychology of the Mad Hatter Character. A totally bonkers entity that sees elements where perhaps elements are not apparent. I took this mentality and tried to create this through a shoe.
Have you got a favourite out of all the shoes you’ve designed?
Yes, the Guardian Angel Shoe. This shoe was created almost straight after the passing of my brother. It is a shoe that is steeped in sensitivity,  based on “real” situation that is so very dear to me. A shoe that speaks of taking flight and letting what will be rest.
What do you like best about being a shoe designer?
The uninhibited nature of being an artist is so very liberating. Be able to realise that art is simply what works. Being able to create for not just yourself, but others too. The non selfish aspect of designing is so very special too, sharing your work with the world.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing  ?
I am at heart not someone who is hindered by what the market perhaps may subtly tell us to wear.Like my work, I like to be free in the notion that there are so many possibilities for me to fit in to. So it could Boho, Rockabilly, preppy… what ever works for me.
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?
I love etsy. As it’s an avenue where you can really enjoy hand made creations that are created by fellow artists and designers, from the heart. None of that manufactured, processed malarky!
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
I want to own a really nice Boho coat. I already have one, but another wouldn’t hurt! The type you can find in Camden. With silks and embroidery that speaks of craftmanship and skill.
Boots or Shoes?
Any works for me :-). I after all am a shoe person full stop. I love demonia boots to look at but I also love a dainty shoe to ponder over.
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc
Thanks Milly …it was lovely to meet you …and don’t forget if you are in Northampton pop in to that gem that is the Northampton Museum and be mesmerised, as I was!!! In the meantime, check out her website and have a look at all the other creative works not shown here…Milly J surprises me daily with new creations!!! 
Linda x
Photo Credits: Adam Hobden Photography; Linda Hobden
 

 

 

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Time To Party

Welcome onto the blog the delightful Anne of Essex’ee Legs….Hi Anne, introduce yourself :

I am Anne Tyler, owner of Essex’ee Legs, based in Brentwood Essex UK
When choosing stock for your shop, do you have a set criteria or do you go with what grabs you at the time or a bit of both?
I try to introduce a couple of new brands every 6 months or so. I generally look for good quality brands. When choosing the stock; I have to like the items I am selling and have confidence that they will sell well, I have made mistakes along the way but hopefully, have learned from them 🙂 I try to be different from the High Street, but do stock some everyday hosiery as well. I like to take the more glamorous route as I find these are the styles my customers want.
What has been the most popular style and colour in recent seasons?
Suspender Tights have proved to be the most popular style in recent seasons. This style first appeared around 2009 and its popularity doesn’t diminish, and is still a best seller. All the brands have come up with different interpretations of suspender hosiery and they are still selling very well.Black is still the favourite colour with greys not far behind.
Have you had any strange hosiery requests ?
 A customer once asked me to find black fishnet footless hold ups for her wedding day! I found these and she was delighted.
 What’s your most favourite item in your collection, current or in the past?
Seams have to be my personal favourite. They are so classy and chic. I am loving the Jonathan Aston Opaque Backseam Tights at the moment. They are new in for AW 2012 and are gorgeous.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
At the moment, I love smart stylish pencil style dresses and skirts with heels and seamed hosiery.
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?
Particularly like Reiss, Monsoon, M and Co and M&S online for outfits. Shoes; so many stunning styles about online, love Reiss and LK Bennett, but a special treat as very expensive.
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
Some new outfits for forthcoming Festive Season, and a pair of Black LK Bennett shoes I’ve got my eye on!
Boots or Shoes? 
Both! Boots generally for Winter days, shoes for nights out. Has to be heels, hate flats!
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc
Twitter: @EssexyLegs
Thank you Anne!  As ever, join us on Facebook  
 
Linda X
Photo credits: Essex’ee Legs;

 

 

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An Evening of Burlesque and Boudoir

I’m so excited…I’m off to see a West End Burlesque Show and I can’t wait to indulge in the glamour of the occasion! Over the last 20 years or so, there has been a revival of burlesque shows on both sides of the Atlantic. This revival is known fondly as Neo-Burlesque and one of the best known performers is the immensely successful Dita von Teese, who began performing in 1992  – and in the last few years she has made cameo appearances in the Eurovision Song Contest;has been ambassador/spokesperson for MAC cosmetics (as part of a HIV/AIDS awareness campaign) alongside Debbie Harry, Eve and Lisa Marie Presley;has launched her own make up collection “Classics” in partnership with the German cosmetic brand Art Deco; and has launched her own range of lingerie – Australia being the country honoured with the first collection.

Corporate Burlesque Entertainment Booking Sukki Singapora

So what is burlesque? Burlesque is basically striptease with the emphasis on tease – think vintage glamour – feathers,corsets,seamed stockings and nipple tassels!! Although every burlesque performer has their own unique showstopper – Dita von Teese shows are influenced by musicals and films of the 1930s and 1940s – her signature show features a giant martini glass and her feather fan dance was inspired by burlesque dancer Sally Rand and featured the world’s largest feather fans, now on display in Hollywood’s Museum of Sex. In contrast, Sukki Singapora, performs an ultimate fusion of traditional burlesque and Bollywood Glamour.

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Burlesque is a popular fancy dress theme, and as a hen/girly night idea there are dance schools, such as the Pink Kitten Dance School in Bristol, offering burlesque dancing classes where you and your girlfriends can learn to take off your clothes seductively …but don’t worry you don’t end up nude, you just wear lots of layers to practice in!! Boudoir photography often have a burlesque feel to the shots – probably because of the make up, corset ,hosiery and shoes worn …not forgetting the props!

Corsets,tutus or combined corset-tutu dresses are a must….there are plenty to choose from on the internet from specialist corset shops through to fancy dress outlets  – ebay offers a reasonable and good selection too.

Stockings- seamed black stockings, fishnets,hold ups or how about fishnet suspender tights.

Other props could include long gloves,either plain or black lace,gothic style; fascinators….the list is endless and best left to your imagination.  Don’t forget to check out the lingerie sections of catalogue companies such as La Redoute too!

Talented MUA Emma Brooks who has worked in the industry for over 15 years with MAC, and now is freelance, gave me some advice on getting that perfect Burlesque look:

Burlesque Make up is all about the sexy retro era, cat like eyes and a beautiful cupid’s bow shaped red lip. It’s what us make up artists like to call “Flicks and Lips”. Here are the key products to create the look:-

  • Skin – Flawless matte skin to begin, M.A.C  Studio Fix Fluid SPF15, using foundation slightly paler than your natural skin tone.  Powder on top with M.A.C Blot Powder. Apply M.A.C Pink Cult blusher to the apples of the cheeks.
  • Eyes – M.A.C. Bare Canvas paint blended from lash line up to brow bone. Blend a little M.A.C. vanilla eyeshadow all over the top. M.A.C. Blacktrack Fluidline applied with a M.A.C. 266 Angle Brush, to create a cat like perfect FLICK on the eye. Really emphasise and elongate the flick at the outer corner of the eye. Lashings of mascara and Dior Black show kohl pencil. M.A.C Fascinating White in water line of eye. M.A.C. spiked eyebrows to darken and emphasis brows. M.A.C.  12  false eyelashes.
  • Lips – M.A.C. Red lipliner pencil to create a fuller top lip and really emphasise the cupid’s bow. M.A.C Ruby Woo lipstick.
  • And lastly, not forgetting the essential beauty spot on cheekbone using M.A.C. Coffee eye kohl pencil.

So, now you’re ready to strut your stuff at the burlesque parties this season… and perhaps attend a show or two yourself! I was lucky enough to interview the extremely sweet, multi national burlesque artist (and model,vocalist & violinist) Sukki Singapora, for this week’s blog..

imageMultinational Burlesque Starlet and proud representative of Burlesque for Singapore, Sukki is one of the most exciting performers to emerge into the Neo-Burlesque Scene. She is the World’s first Professional Burlesque Performer to hail from the “tiny sunny island” of Singapore, capturing the imagination and heart of the nation [ChwennyLand, November 2011]. Using her native roots she has created signature fusion routines which mix Bollywood and oriental gyrations with tongue in cheek showgirl bump and grind.Her acts have been critically critically acclaimed in all the countries she’s performed, and has enabled her to share a stage with high profile celebrities such as UK TV Comedians Rufus Hound and Jason Manford. Little over a year into her career she founded The Singapore Burlesque Society, it’s main aim being to promote and support Burlesque in Singapore, and freedom of expression through the Art. Clearly a talented force making waves in the industry Sukki is also the mastermind behind sell-out revue The Singapore Burlesque Club.Her performances are as lavish and elaborate as her costumes, making this sultry and visually stunning performer not one to be missed.

Hi Sukki! Glad to have you on the blog! I know that every burlesque performer has their own style – and the costumes worn reflect that. Where do you get your inspiration from for the outfits? Custom made or designer etc? For me it’s about creating something individual, rather than simply slipping into something already designed. My inspiration comes from many things,my childhood,my heritage,and burlesque pioneers of the past such as Barbara Yung. it can take months of imagination and reinvention before the finished costume is created. Usually I have designers to help with the basic designs, and then I add and embellish them myself until they’re perfect. Wherever possible I like to start with the material from a sari so that every showpiece has a story to it which reflects my ethnicity.

imageFavourite stage outfit /shoes. At the moment my favourite stage outfit is the one for my “Introducing Miss Singapora Act.” I love the complexity of the beading, and the way it makes me feel. It took so many hours to complete. Often the most glamorous pieces do! And my favourite stage shoes… a vintage 1950’s pair of gold dancing heels. High enough to emphasise the seductiveness of a woman’s leg, but not too high so as she can’t move gracefully. I love the story that comes with dancing in her shoes, and what history they might hold.

Off stage, what outfits/shoes do you normally wear? Off stage, I enjoy wearing vintage. My favourite dresses at the moment are Chinese pieces from the 1940’s. I always like to make an effort, even when “off duty” and never leave the house without makeup! My favourite shoes depend of the occasion. Recently my muse has been Jeffrey Campbell. Definitely my first choice to feel playful and elegant in during the day!

Any advice for wannabe burlesque starlets ? In my experience, I’ve found that the best burlesque acts have a hint of something unique. Something which shows off your personality without trying too hard. Explore your own individualism, and keep practicing. Also avoid cliches when it comes to style. Try not to step on the stage in the head to toe catalogue of a “burlesque” outfit from a sex shop. You can never do too much customising!

Your routines must require a lot of energy as well as skill – what do you do to keep fit? To keep fit I think it’s as much about diet as about exercise. I have hourly intensive workout sessions with a personal trainer two times a week, and on top of that I make sure I rehearse routines every day, I try to eat many small meals throughout the day rather than waiting and eating huge portions, and prioritise proteins and vegetables. I avoid bread and dairy products, although I don’t cut them out completely. One day a week I allow myself to eat whatever I want – in some form or another that usually involves chocolate!
Boots or Shoes? Definitely shoes, and never without a platform or a heel!
Links eg website, twitter,Facebook etc so that readers can find you/or follow you etc
Have fun!
Linda x
Sukki Singapora photos: Photography by My Boudoir; MUA by Sarah Elliott; and corsetry by Kiku Boutique.
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Welcome to my Blog!

Hi! I’m Linda and a big welcome to my blog!

I’m currently running the Facebook group, Boots Shoes et Al , and this blog I hope will compliment the information, friendships and general discussions already being experienced in the group. With this blog I hope to share my passions for fashion, footwear,beauty,music,photography and socialising …!!! I will be chatting to some lovely people about their fashion passions; I will be delving into my make up bag and accessory drawer for product assessments; and, of course, I’ll be indulging in some truly fabulous boots and shoes conversations!

So, let’s get ready to rumble, come on in and join me !!!

Feel free to contact me via comments, Facebook or email.

Linda  x

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