Like many people, I have always dreamed of going to Paris after years of studying French in school and college.
When the opportunity arose, I was very excited to see all the tourist attractions, attempt to speak French and of course the renowned sartorial elegance!
We landed in Paris early on a Thursday morning and made our way into the city. The first thing we visited was the Luxembourg Gardens.
These beautiful gardens were originally created solely for French royalty but are now accessible to the public.
We had a very early flight so I was extremely casual on the first day! (PS I’m not normally a double denim girl but I think I can work it in light denim) Outfit details on Lookbook here.
The gardens and Luxembourg palace.
We grabbed lunch and headed for the hotel which was in a great location within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower.
After a quick power nap, we set off to the Eiffel Tower. On our way there we passed the Ecole Militaire which was a training academy for Parisian cadets from poor families. Napoleon himself was once a student there!
Wearing Eiffel tower socks to the Eiffel tower because I have my shit together!
The queues for the tower were massive so we went on our way and took a stroll across the Seine to the Trocadero.
The Palais de Chaillot is located here, it’s an impressive building with relief sculptures and Roman-style columns but unfortunately, parts of it have been covered with graffiti which is horrible!
Then it was time for Palais de Tokyo, one of Paris’s few modern art museums. We went in the evening so it was quiet and peaceful unlike many of the other museums and attractions.
Palais de Tokyo had a variety of contemporary exhibits, from a floor transformed into a cracked desert landscape, a whole exhibition devoted to hypotheses of apocalypse (my favourite, grim as it sounds!), upside-down chandeliers, giant skeins of yarn, what looked like a giant plastic bag but was apparently a meteorite and silent videos.
Paris is renowned for the Mona Lisa, Impressionists, etc. so many visitors don’t even think about visiting a modern art museum.
However, I would highly recommend Palais de Tokyo as the atmosphere is so much more peaceful than the big museums and you can really enjoy a stroll around.
The Louvre was amazing but I felt like I’d been hit by a train by the end! That may be in part because my travel companion insisted on doing all four floors in one afternoon…
I loved Paris but I will say it’s not possible to fit in all the tourist sights in a few days, you’ll run yourself ragged if you try.
I was exhausted every day and my feet were in ribbons from walking around in the heat.
I’ve always loved art and I’ve been noticing some amazing art prints reproduced on clothing which I think are worth sharing.
I have a diverse taste in art but most of the pieces I’m showing here display Renaissance art. The Renaissance or Rebirth was a time of immense creativity and rich cultural developments in the Middle Ages in Europe.
My favourite painting has to be Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and I bought this printed sweatshirt from Romwe.com.
Sandro Botticelli was assigned to paint this by the famous Medici family who were a wealthy family who were great patrons of Renaissance artists. Romwe are currently offering a 5% discount on many of their sweatshirts including this one which is about €31 with discount available here.
I also really like this iconic painting American Gothic by Grant Wood. It’s slightly sinister looking and contrary to popular knowledge it is meant to depict a father and his spinster daughter, not a married couple.
In fact Grant hired his sister and a man to pose as the figures. It is one of the most widely parodied pieces of American art and was controversial for its depiction of rural Americans.
Romwe have taken this painting and transformed it into a sweatshirt which looks great styled with a beanie hat. It’s also included in their offer, check it out here. The print is on the reverse as well as the front and makes for great casual wear.
I bought this gorgeous blue circle skirt from Romwe again. I wore it on my holidays in Barcelona with a black tank top and black studded flats and it was perfect for light holiday clothing.
This skirt can be hard to match because its super colourful and loud but pastels go really well with it and black also.
I bought it back in May when it was on offer and they also offer 15% off your first offer so it’s a real bargain! You can buy it for approximately €30 here.
Fresh in Temple Bar were doing a similar Mona Lisa skirt before but I cant find anything like this now.
Hopefully they bring out some styles like this again soon, until then check out their Facebook to see their stock, its one of my favourite little shops and everything is one of a kind. Great for vintage denim, original pieces and they have a selection of studs for all the customising junkies out there!
Zazzle.com have a range of artwork ties, bags and other accessories. Some of them are expensive and I don’t know what the quality is like but here are some of my favourites.I love Van Gogh’s work especially the beautiful “Starry Night over the Rhone ” which is featured on this rucksack.
Zazzle have loads of cool products worth checking out and a great range of Christmas gifts. They have lots of smaller items like ties, badges, wristlet bags and cosmetic bags printed with these designs if your budget can’t stretch to one of these.
A different style of bag with Michelangelo’s iconic painting. This design is available on several types of bags with varied prices.
I love the story behind this painting, Michelangelo was commissioned to paint frescos ( a type of painting on damp plaster) on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome and had to endure very uncomfortable conditions whilst creating this. Contrary to popular belief, he actually was standing, not lying on his back yet it must have been very uncomfortable having to work looking upwards all the time. This painting is instantly recognisable and has produced many imitations and parodies.
We need to pay more attention to our own fashion designers here in Ireland for the industry to prosper and below is an interview with a really talented designer Sarah O’ Neill of Harlow & Harvey.
I first came across the label Harlow & Harvey in a store called Zebra in Galway. This store (now closed) had amazing stock and I was really impressed by the Harlow & Harvey collection, amazing dresses and fringed blazers.
Recently I contacted Sarah for an interview about her work.
Can you tell me about yourself and how you became interested in fashion and design?
When I was a kid I wanted to be everything from a vet, to an architect, to a filmmaker. I sort of fell into studying Fashion Design, when my sister pointed out a fashion portfolio course in Galway Technical Institute, when I was at a proverbial crossroads after doing some travelling after school. I had always been making clothes and drawn towards the creative so I suppose it just felt like kismet, you know?
From there, I went on to do a degree in Limerick School of Art & Design (hardest four years of your life!) and then launched the label. But to this day, I still want to do everything! Alongside fashion – I DJ, I present a radio show, I do some presenting work and co-run a few other creative endeavours – but they all feed in and out of each other I suppose. Creative things are like that, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
How did you get started with your label Harlow & Harvey?
I started my label with my graduate collection, and was lucky enough that within the first year, I won a few awards (Bulmers Best Use of Fabric award at my graduate show and also ‘Design, Make, Create’ Fashion Entrepreneur of the Year’ shortly after) that both had small bursaries attached so that I could fund creating a diffusion collection and working on the label immediately out of college.
At the time, Olivia Breene was opening a new boutique in Galway (Zebra where I spotted the label first) and she was a great champion of the label from the off, so I stocked with her there initially, and then in London with Rag & Magpie, and now in Dublin with Frock&Fabulous and also via my website (www.harlowandharvey.com).
What’s your favourite part of conceptualizing a design?
The creative process that sees a collection of garments born out of an initial theme is a weird and beautiful thing. It is messy, strange, creative and like an exhalation of ideas which is somehow cathartic so I think that might be my favourite part, creating some sense and order out of the chaos of a theme.
Do you prefer making the clothes or sketching the design and what’s involved in creating a design from a sketch/idea to a finished wearable piece?
Harlow & Harvey is all about strong, identifiable silhouettes and mathematical detailing, in the form of my trademark fringing. I love the dichotomy that is created by the incredibly delicate wisps of hand laid fringe, and the architectural strength that they take on when laid within sexy cut-outs within the garments.
The label is definitely all about the subtle juxtapositions of strength and fragility, and balancing what is revealed and concealed – so I suppose that creating and finishing the actual pieces is my favourite bit of the process – seeing it through from a vague notion to a finished garment is extremely satisfying to my mathematical mind, but the creative outlet of then shooting press for the garments is amazing too!
What are your favourite prints/fabrics/colours to work with and why?
I absolutely love tactile fabrics – so much of the beauty of garments is about the feel and touch of the fabric – it is a multi sensory thing. I love bright colours – reds and purples and vivid blues as you can see in some of my collections – but also I love the simplicity of clean whites and taupes and clean, beautiful prints.
I’m often drawn to animal print for its natural reference, otherwise it tends towards geometrics. I’m not really too tied to any one palette – changing things up keeps things fresh.
Do you think there are many opportunities to work as a womenswear designer or any kind of fashion designer in Ireland?
Yes, of course. I think that now more than ever designers need to work smart though. Because I have always worked Harlow&Harvey as a bespoke label – as in each piece is made to order, giving the client the choice of design, adjustments, fabrication and detailing – I am in the situation where I am in complete control of the label.
Every piece is hand crafted here in Ireland by myself and so I work up garments to order. Things have definitely been affected by the recession but also new opportunities have arisen, for example, Harlow&Harvey now stocks with beautiful rentals boutiques as well – such as Frock & Fabulous in Dundrum, this business model didn’t really exist pre-recession, but now you can rent Harlow&Harvey for events as well as buy.
As well as this, I have created an exclusive Harlow&Harvey for Frock&Fabulous range, which is a series of long gowns with the trademark H&H fringing as detailing. They’re beautiful. You need to be a bit clever, but there is always the opportunity to make the situation work for you.
Do you have any advice for aspiring womenswear designers?
Be bolshy. Fashion is about the hustle, you really have to pursue what you want, and make it happen.
What is most rewarding and what is most challenging about working as a designer?
The multi faceted nature of Fashion is amazing and one of my favourite things about the industry. Fashion is all things. It is about beauty and creativity and whimsy – which appeals to my creative side, but also about mathematics and geometry and precision – which satisfies my nerdy side.
The fact that I get to make beautiful things for people who cherish them is pretty amazing. The most challenging thing for me is trying to find the time to manage all sides of the business – design, pattern drafting, making, marketing, meetings etc – the list is endless at all times so it takes stamina !
What are your aims for the future?
That’s a sort of two-fold answer – Harlow & Harvey is currently moving obliquely to concentrate on bespoke wedding & event commissions – some initial (wedding dress) designs are in the works as we speak which is super exciting, and I see Harlow&Harvey filling the void for modern brides that love the idea and romance of a traditional dress but are looking for a modern, strong, individualistic & beautiful silhouettes with intricate detailing – such as my trademark fringing. For more information people can contact me directly via my website, but I also hope to be collaborating with a select few boutiques to offer this bespoke design service.
In a complete contrast, in conjunction with another project that I am working on, the label will be doing a line of printed garments, which is still in the initial stages, but that we’re really excited about! It’s an inspiring time to be in fashion.
Hope you enjoyed the interview and these gorgeous designs! I’m off to Kings of Leon at the Tennents Vital Festival in Belfast and going to Eminem next week so look forward to posts on these.
Thanks as always for dropping by and don’t forget don’t forget to check out my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook page here.