Where in the world is Minnie Mélange?

This online address has been the home of ‘Minnie Mélange’, since my first post commenting on Cate Blanchett wearing Givenchy couture to the Academy Awards. (Good times!)

However, there comes a time when a young lady must vacate her comfortable surroundings and venture into the less-known.

Akin, to Beyoncé leaving Destiny’s Child and Yves Saint Laurent departing Christian Dior, it’s apt that Minnie Mélange too must take flight. Moving Home

Where am I going?

Practically just around the corner. You can now find the updates that you know and (hopefully) love at the new address: www.minniemelange.com.

Though, not everything has changed. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram remain the same – so make sure you’re there too.

What’s left to say?

Only that I have the kettle on at the new place and I would love to see you there!

Minnie Meets… WAYO

The word kimono is defined in the English language as a long, loose traditional Japanese robe with wide sleeves, tied with a sash. Translated directly from Japanese, it’s composed of two words; ‘ki’ meaning ‘wearing’ and ‘mono’ representing ‘thing’.

Wearing-Thing? Sounds like much of my wardrobe!

In Japan, the youthful population once saw the kimono as a symbol of antique femininity, an expensive investment that was in complete contrast to the trends and style of the Western world. However, within the last decade, it appears young Japanese women have re-embraced the traditional attire. Leeyong Soo, international fashion co-ordinator at Vogue Nippon said;

‘I think some women are getting tired of following Western culture, and want to get back to something that’s not only Japanese, but wearable.’

Therefore, it’s no surprise that Western culture is also seeking to embrace this ‘wearing-thing’.

Within the designer realm, Gucci and Saint Laurent produced Kimono-inspired pieces for their Spring 2014 collections. On the highstreet, Topshop, New Look, Warehouse, Boohoo and River Island, each have entire sections on their website dedicated to the Japanese style.

Buying a kimono-inspired piece would result in immediate satisfaction but would ultimately equate to it hanging in the back of my wardrobe for all of eternity.

WAYOThus, I was a little over-excited when I was introduced to the WAYO: An authentic way for Japanese culture to infiltrate your wardrobe, for men and women alike!

WAYO, derived from the Japanese term ‘wayosecchu’, means a blending of Japanese and Western styles.

Dublin-based owner / designer, Emily Waszak wanted to find an eco-friendly way to incorporate vintage kimonos into Western fashion.

Sitting across from Emily in Clement and Pekoe, we discussed ethical fashion, expanding a business and boyfriends!

1. How would you describe yourself?

I think of myself as a textile designer but my role with WAYO is in more of a manufacturing capacity and as a fashion and accessory designer.  You could also say that I’m a stylist as part of the development in designing for WAYO, includes an important selection process in going to flea markets, choosing specific kimonos and there’s an element of problem solving to it too.Though, I still do textile surface design in attempting to blend the two cultures. 

2. How did WAYO first begin?

My father is Japanese and although I grew up in America, I always had a huge interest in Japanese culture, mostly fueled by my father. As a child, I always had a fascination with sewing; both of my Grandmothers were incredible tailors and seamstresses. When I moved to Japan some years ago, I started going to flea markets all of the time. There, you can buy two kimonos for ¥500, which is the equivalent of less than €5. It’s because people don’t wear them anymore, they have them and they’re just taking up space.I started buying them, I didn’t even know how to wear them but I was just in love with the textile.  I love fashion and I love silhouettes but the kimono is the perfect garment for me as it just showcases the textile – it’s a canvas. As I began to collect them, I learned about the textiles and researched how to wear them, which is a huge process.

My boyfriend at the time thought that Americans wearing kimonos looked silly, so he suggested taking the fabric from the kimonos and making something else with them. It got me thinking, I’m Japanese-American, how can I take my love of these two cultures and fuse them?

3. Transforming kimonos into accessories offers an ethical element to WAYO. Was that in any way intentional or intrinsic to your brand?

Yes, definitely! Prior to WAYO, I was a print designer, I hated my job. I felt so guilty that my work wasn’t sustainable and I spent a long time trying to figure out ways to design that was. I realised that I had over thirty kimonos and thought that perhaps I could use them to create something else.

My mother had always said that the silk from kimonos was of great quality. I took apart the kimono and designed a deliberate pattern where I was wasting as little kimono silk as possible in creating WAYO’s range of silk ties, bow-ties and bags. There’s almost no waste at all and it alleviates almost all of my guilt! WAYO also gives me an outlet to express my appreciation of the work, history care and art that is integral to kimono design. It’s an extraordinary process that we in the West often define as merely cherry blossom and cranes but it’s so much more diverse than that and I’m really proud to showcase the kimono tradition.ntkiku3

4. How long does the metamorphosis from kimono to accessory take?

It depends! The actual ‘taking it apart’ process takes so much longer than I ever anticipated. You would think that because they’re all hand-sewn, it’ll be easy to just rip apart but the work that goes into them is impeccable. Plus, you don’t want to damage any of the fabric.

Sometimes, it could take me a week to get the whole kimono taken apart, pressed, cleaned and cut for one piece alone. There isn’t any set time as it often even takes me a couple of weeks alone to select which kimono I am going to use – particularly if any of the fabric is damaged, which occurs regularly. The fabric dictates what and how much I can produce. 

5. When you lived in Japan, you almost bulk-bought kimonos. What do you plan to do when your reserve of fabric runs low?

When I was in Japan, I bought lots of kimonos for just me, because I ‘needed’ them. Well, that’s what I told my husband! I had a couple that I didn’t want to wear so I used those for WAYO. Then, I started buying them online or my friends in Japan would ship them to me. About this time last year, I went back to Japan for a month and went bananas! I filled up three enormous suitcases but when I arrived home I fell in love with so many of them that they were moved into my ‘to-wear’ stash and some of them were more damaged than I initially thought.

However, if I run out, I can always go back to Japan but if you know what you’re looking for and have the necessary vocabulary, eBay can be a great source for kimonos. Although, if you’re not fluent in the language of kimono though, you can be easily duped!

6. What has the reception in Ireland been to WAYO so far?

In Ireland, I’m still trying to figure out what the market is. Irish consumers are different to American consumers. In the US, I have some very specific costumers – people who I never would have expected. There’s an older gentleman who loves the neck-ties because they’re funky but art almost. Then, there’s the sustainability-crowd who are more interested in the rejuvenation of the garment. I also sell quite a few ties to women who prefer androgynous styles of dressing. To me, it’s really cool that my whole idea of design in general is blending cultures and that’s reflected in my customer base. 

I’m still learning about the fashion landscape in Ireland but I really feel there is a population here who deem a value in craft. In Dublin specifically, there is a really great community for WAYO to call home. 

btorange2

7. What’s next for WAYO? How do you plan on developing the brand?

I want to continue creating accessories, menswear – I really enjoy that and I feel it works. In the future, I would love to create womenswear but I just don’t feel that I have the capacity for that yet but it’s something I aspire to. A lot of the linings in the kimono are cotton and they’re just as gorgeous as the silk.  If I’m ever able to expand, I would like to incorporate the traditional Shibori dyeing into the WAYO brand. 

As of this week, WAYO are available to purchase in The Loft Market in Powerscourt Shopping Centre but if you’re not Dublin-based, you can find Emily on her website WAYO Textiles and on Facebook.

Who / what would you like to see featured in the next ‘Minnie Meets’?

And the IFTA goes to…

Last night, the newly renamed DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel (the Burlington, to you and I) played host to the 11th annual Irish Film and Television Academy Awards.

I’ve commented upon the stylistic choices of the attendees for the past three years but what paraded down the red carpet in 2014, impressed me greatly. This year, it appeared a more conscious effort was made to champion both upcoming and established Irish designers on the red carpet, from both attendees and hosts alike.

As the IFTA’s are held to celebrate and mark the talents of our island’s most successful in the domains of film and television, I think it necessary that the fashion domain heralds a nod too.

Thus, if you are listening Academy, I think it would be a great (and possibly profitable) idea if you broadcast a pre-show of the couture and conversations that happen on the red carpet. Unsurprisingly, I’m also willing to host it…

Laura Whitmore - IFTA 2014First up, one of the night’s hosts; Laura Whitmore. The Bray native arrived onto the red carpet in a beautiful floral-adorned, full-length dress by John Rocha.

In the middle of the ceremony, Laura changed into a creation by upcoming Irish designer Oliver Duncan Doherty; a juxtaposition of simplicity and decoration with the most embellished shoulders I have ever seen. If I’m honest, I preferred Laura’s second dress – though, I’m a fan of shoulder pads!

Aobhín GarrihyOther young design talent included Eamonn McGill for model Nadia Forde and Sean Byrne’s ethereal blush gown for Aoibhín Garrihy.

At previous award ceremonies and events, Aoibhín often arrived in leather bodices and studs, courtesy of Emma Manley, but this feminine silhouette and colour palette was a real crowd pleaser – by that, I mean Twitter liked it!

 

The Seoige sisters. Where to start?

Gráinne & Síle Seoige

Both dressed in Theia Couture, Gráinne and Síle looked sensational on the red carpet last night.

As a designer, it must be extraordinarily difficult to design for sisters – ensuring that one dress or sibling doesn’t outshine the other. A difficult feat which Don O’Neill reveled in. The two gowns were similar enough to compliment each other whilst simultaneously allowed the differing personalities to be explicitly exhibited.

Seated at the same table as President Michael Higgins and his wife Sabina, the Seoige’s were dressed better than many a royal or a diplomat!

Caroline Sleiman

Also on my best-dressed list was Caroline Sleiman of Hennessy Cognac Ireland. I’m not sure who Caroline’s dress is by, but the detail is exquisite.

If you hear a whisper of a designer, holler at me!

Update: Thanks to the ridiculously talented Grace Moore, I now know that Caroline is in Turkish-Irish couturier Umit Kutluk! Incroyable!

Deirdre O' Kane & Karen KosterWhilst many attendees looked to designers for both bespoke and couture creations, some attendees sought dresses from the highstreet. Two of my favourites?

Best actress nominee Deirdre O’Kane in Fran and Jane and Xposé’s Karen Koster in Coast.

If I was allowed, I would wear Deirdre’s sequined blazer all-day, every day! I mean, it’s exactly what my local Tesco needs…

At the IFTA’s, it wasn’t just the ladies who impressed sartorially, quite a few of the men did too!

Jamie Dornan - IFTA 2014The hashtag for last night’s event was completely hijacked by the fan club of Jamie Dornan. Thousands of tweets were sent!

These are best divided into two schools of thinking; The first half congratulated him on his two IFTA awards whilst the other half focused on salivating over him in a tuxedo.

Both groups had a point!

Don’t worry, I too am wondering what is written on that piece of paper at his foot.

Two particular gentlemen strayed from the traditional dress-code of a black suit.

The Stag’s Andrew Scott’s choice of a navy suit was refreshing whilst Darren Kennedy wearing a suit of his own design (a collaboration with Louis Copeland) was just what the red carpet needed.

Andrew Scott & Darren Kennedy

Every year, I hope someone emulates Henry Holland in Mary Katrantzou. Lads, someone make it happen next year – please and thank you!

But now, the most exciting part. Well, for me anyway!

THE TOP FIVE!

In fifth place, host of IFTA award-winning programme ‘Operation Transformation’, Kathryn Thomas.

Kathryn approached one of my favourite Irish designers for her red carpet look, Umit Kutluk. It takes great bravery to adorn your derriere with feathers but Kathryn carried it off with tremendous amounts of panache!

Angela Scanlon & Kathryn Thomas

In fourth place is fashion-darling, Angela Scanlon. One of three people to choose John Rocha last night, Angela was the perfect embodiment of Rocha’s collection.

In joint-second place were Love/Hate co-stars Lynn Rafferty and Charlie Murphy.

Lynn Rafferty & Charlie Murphy

If you follow Lynn on Twitter, (which you should) she documented her pre-IFTA preparations in a series of tweets that made you wonder whether or not she would actually make the ceremony. Thankfully, she did!

Lynn and Charlie’s nod to old Hollywood were comparable to the gowns found on the most international of red carpets.

Finally – first place? I imagine you have a fair idea as to who it might be! (The picture on the right is more than a hint…)Amy Huberman

Last year, VIP magazine ran four pages on a pregnant Amy Huberman gracing the IFTA red carpet.

This year, her choice of designer Helen Cody alone, should guarantee her approximately five pages.

With a background of having worked in French Vogue and under the incredible Azzedine Alaia, Cody and Huberman are a match made in red carpet heaven. Kudos Amy and Ingrid!

Almost one thousand words later, that’s my insight into the fashion of last night’s film and television awards. However, who or what impressed you most at the IFTA’s? Who did I miss?

As always, you can comment below or tweet me a photo!

 

You can do it, put your back into it…

Firstly, I must apologise for the terrible pun that is the above headline. However, once Ice Cube gets into your head – it’s difficult for you to stop singing it over, and over, and over again.

Standing at one hundred and five centimetres, brings with it an array of challenges when both dressing oneself and buying clothes and accessories. Thankfully, after twenty-three years, I’ve gained huge ground in this field. Thus, causing me not to have to bolt around the city stark naked – a plus for both you and me.

Up until recently, I perceived my greatest difficulty as being footwear. Sourcing stylish and sometimes on-trend shoes in a children’s size 11 can oft be impossible. Though, retailers such as Zara, River Island, Stella McCartney and Charlotte have paved the way for both designers and the high-street with their attention to detail in their childrenswear.

My latest grievance? Handbags.

From clutches, to bucket bags, to the hobo and the tote. Over the past several years, I’ve acquired quite the selection but I continue to use the same one or two bags all the time. Why? I have a lot of ‘stuff’.

Most of the time, this ‘stuff’ fits into my Cambridge satchel but when it doesn’t, I end up parading around town with a bag on each arm – a look that even Olivia Palermo couldn’t pull off!

There should be a simple solution – I know what you’re thinking; ‘Just get a bigger bag’. Yes, this does appear to be the most sensible of options but being 3’5″ tall, I’m always faced with the predicament; ‘Am I wearing the bag or is it wearing me?’ Having trialed what most of the high street currently has to offer, I’ve concluded that most of the bags are wearing me.

Having drawn this conclusion, I’ve made a brave decision – one which my siblings and friends don’t wholly agree with. I’ve decided to embrace the backpack.

Will it look like I’m going to / coming home from school? Probably. Will I find it difficult to find one that’s both affordable and ‘me’? Definitely.

I’ve spent the past week scouring the internet and the results are presented pictorially below. Which one would you choose or is it more than a tad ludicrous for me to attempt this look at all, at all?

You Can Do It, Put Your Back Into It

(You can find pricing and store information for all of the backpacks on Pinterest – Yes, people are still using that social network!)

My Hero Brush

How many of you would be able to say that your father was the source of your first insight into make-up and cosmetics?

Forgive me if I’m wrong, but I’m assuming that we’re a rare breed.

I’ve often been shopping for cosmetics with my Dad, whilst the sales assistant can’t comprehend that it’s not me looking for concealer and highlighter, but him. They direct all conversation and sales pitch to me, until my Dad expertly commands their attention, often proving that he’s more fluent in the language of make-up, than even them!

From a young age, I was taught the precise method for blusher application, how to ensure your foundation doesn’t leave you with a ‘mask’ and most importantly, the necessity of translucent powder.

Growing up with a father who infiltrated both film and television sets and many theatre stages, brings with it multiple memories and life lessons – make-up being just one of them.

As I arrived into my teenage years, the make-up lessons became more intense and we often debated on how best to apply products. He was raised in the school of sponges and applying foundation with your finger-tips. He believed that using brushes resulted in more product being left on the applicator, instead of your face.

Up until now, I had been unable to prove him wrong.

My Hero Brush - Ciara Daly

Ciara Daly is a make-up artist based in Belfast. With a litany of courses, workshops, products and even a retail space part of the ‘Ciara Daly’ brand, their impact on make-up and cosmetics in Northern Ireland has been immeasurable.

Having met some of the team at the RDS ‘Irish Beauty Show’, I was extremely impressed by their work ethic but wasn’t wholly convinced t that their ‘My Hero Brush’ would do everything that they said it would.

However, I was wrong.

This Kabuki brush fits compactly into my (already too big) make-up bag and the circular pad ensures that my foundation is applied evenly and is massaged into the skin to eliminate caking.

Ciara Daly - My Hero Brush

The brush loses few hairs and having been my primary foundation brush for almost three months, it continues to be as brilliant as it was on first usage.

Though, don’t take my word for it.

It’s often that I open my make-up bag to find the ‘My Hero Brush’ missing. It’s usually being held to ransom by either my Dad or sisters. Ciara Daly even managed to convert them – and they’re a tough crowd!

The brush costs €30 / £25 and whilst that may seem a tad expensive, it is an investment that you will be reaping the rewards from for months to come.

You can shop online and find out more about Ciara Daly on both Facebook and Twitter.

What’s your first make-up memory?

#OWNIT

Nicole Richie once said that “I admire anyone with their own sense of personal style”. As someone who arrived at the 2013 Met Gala with grey hair, I can imagine Ms Richie admires herself more than a couple of times a day.

Whilst many may be inspired by the garments paraded down catwalks, or even those who sit front row. My wardrobe is often amended due to the personalities and people behind some of my favourite personal style blogs.

The concept of someone taking your photo, in the middle of a busy street, with the sole purpose of documenting the new or old items in your wardrobe, is more than a tad terrifying to me. What do you do? How do you choose a location? What pose is best? Who takes the photos? How do you avoid everyone looking at you?

Such innate (and irrational) fears have cemented my decision to leave personal style blogging to the professionals: Erika and Anouska.

Well, at least until now…

Boohoo.com #OWNIT

When Boohoo.com contacted me, asking if I would like to be part of their #OWNIT campaign, saying no was not an option.

What is #OWNIT?

It’s Boohoo.com’s capsule collection which irrevocably injects personal style into the most bland of wardrobes.

From culottes, jumpsuits, bomber jackets, metallics and printed two-pieces – it will most certainly add a little more flair to your take on fashion.

Choosing a monochrome, floral printed playsuit, I attempted to style the garment in two different ways – with each piece hailing from Boohoo (except the wig, of course).

Profiler

With both rain and hailstones battering the Emerald Isle, the photoshoot took place indoors.

My mother was employed as both Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington, my sister Natasha was Annie Leibovitz and I was Lena Dunham, attempting a ‘fashion’ pose.

My first attempt at a personal style piece was almost a familial bonding exercise but was huge amounts of fun and I discovered that when pouting, I don’t look like Victoria Beckham, but more akin to a trout.

Smiling is my new favourite thing!

Boohoo.com #OWNIT

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Boohoo.com #OWNITBoohoo.com #OWNITI would find it extremely difficult to pick my favourite piece but I was hugely enamoured by Boohoo’s array of accessories. From a stag ring, to a hat with bear ears and oversized sunglasses that consume my entire face – my whimsical side was in sartorial heaven.

You can shop all of the above items on Boohoo.com but I’ve tried to make it a little easier by assembling them all on Pinterest for you. You’re welcome!

With Summer a mere number of showers away, I can’t wait to wear this playsuit without black tights.

What would go well with it? Why, these amazing sunglasses from Boohoo’s Summer collection, of course!

Boohoo

A huge thank you to Louise McDermott, Pauline McCaul for all of the alterations and my family for their artistic direction! 

#OPSHfashtag

If your interests are invested in the domain of fashion and style, you’re probably already fluent in the trends filtering through the AW 14 collections from London and New York.

However, if you care little for how the monogrammed ponchos in Burberry Prorsum will infiltrate the collections of Penneys and River Island, you probably read somewhere or another that Kendall Jenner sat front row at the Topshop Unique catwalk beside Anna Wintour, Sir Philip Green and Kate Moss.

Why? One, popular culture is oddly obsessed with the movements of all things Kardashian/Jenner (minus Brody, of course) and two, because it appears fashionable worth is quantified on the sartorial selections of both you and your best friend – whether they be new-found at fashion week or life-long from the school yard.

Leading examples are Stella McCartney and Kate Hudson, Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen, Beyoncé and Solange, Victoria Beckham, Kate Beckingsale and Eva Longoria, Phil Oh and Susie Bubble, Sofia Coppola and Marc Jacobs, Cara Delevingne and Jourdan Dunn.

As much as admire many of the aforementioned individuals, it must be noted that when one employs a make-up artist, a hair stylist and can borrow exceptional garments from an endless number of international designers, it’s a little easier to be ‘chic’.

Closer to home, Jennie, Sarah and Grace McGinn of OPSH are my favourite exemplar of family and friends who never copy, but continuously complement each other’s style.

Fashionable Friend

 

Prior to launching OPSH, the McGinn sisters are taking to the various social networks to scout the country’s most fashionable friend – with your help, of course.

Just for a moment, filter through your Facebook friends and Twitter followers. Does one person stand out for their take on dressing and accessorising? If they’re merely an acquaintance, prepare yourself to become fast friends – it’ll be worth it, I promise.

On your part, the competition is simple. Merely upload a photograph of your most polished pal, send it to the internet via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and denote using #opshfashtag.

From there, a panel of esteemed judges including blogger Erika Fox, stylist Courtney Smith, designer Emma Manley and fashion journalist Rosemary MacCabe shall review the entries and select their most stylish.

But, what’s in it for you though, right?!

You both win a photoshoot with the incredibly talented Conor Clinch, a feature spread in U Magazine, a two-night stay in Kelly’s Hotel and a free ensemble or two from Vero Moda and ONLY. My favourite prize though is a gift of bracelets from Alex and Ani – it may sound slightly dramatic but I’m not sure that I could live without mine!

ElaineI’m in the middle of making my #OPSHfashtag nomination. It has to go to one of my closest friends, Elaine. As even in a Hawaiian shirt and ridiculous over-sized sunglasses, she’s still one of the most stylish (and craziest) people I know!

If you’ve any questions about the competition, you can find OSPH on both Facebook and Twitter. Sure, you might as well tell them I sent you!