I found the textiles artist Bernie Murphy thanks to Margaret Molloy and her #WearingIrish campaign, and just fell in love, in love with Bernie Murphy’s 2017 collection – her piece or rather pieces of Ireland all imagined, designed and handcrafted in Donegal, Ireland.

My words can’t do her collection justice so I’ve picked just a few of my favourites from her collection:

And, taken these words from Bernie Murphy herself to explain where her inspiration comes from:

“Standing on the shores of Donegal, on the Wild Atlantic Way, feels like standing on the edge of the world; there is colour and texture and inspiration wherever you look. This is where I find my greatest inspiration – where my imagination can feast on the blues and greys of the wild Atlantic ocean, where the fields and hills suggest patchworks, lines and patterns, where the barren lands and peat bogs blend the russets of trees and heather with the neutrals of sheep fleeces and stones… all combine to suggest the structures, colours and textures for my contemporary garment sculptures.”

Maybe it’s the Irish in me as I write this on possibly the hottest day of the year as I shelter indoors – but I feel connected to Bernie’s collection and can almost feel the fabric through my computer screen.

I’ll be interviewing Bernie Murphy very soon about her work.  If you can’t wait till then, feast your eyes on this short film about her work and see Margaret Molloy in all her Wearing Irish glory wearing the Gortyarrigan tunic top (love this) in my previous Wearing Irish blog post.

Well Fashioned Credits

Bernie Murphy is Made in Ireland in Donegal and shipped worldwide

Shop the 2017 collection

Materials sourced in Donegal

100% natural fibres

Irish fashion designers #WearingIrish directory listing by Margaret Molloy

Well Fashioned Made in Ireland directory of womenswear.  


This weekend I’ve mainly been:

  • Admiring the craftsmanship of this amazing crocheted mermaid coat #madeinDevon
  • Trying to keep cool in ethical fashion 
  • Matching this Verry Kerry kimono to the gazebo
  • Wandering around village fairs and buying homemade knitted toys
  • Trying on #madeinbritain swimwear and loving this luxury swimdress from David Nieper.

Well Fashioned reviews of a lovely selection of Verry Kerry kimonos and the David Nieper swimdress to follow soon.

age_of_reason_emma_gutteridge-8011_square_smaller_cropped_copy_grandeI was first introduced or rather stumbled upon Age of Reason Studios when I went along to the Best of Britannia event back in 2014.  Spotting the designer Ali Mapletoft from afar, I plucked up the courage to copy her ahem get a lesson in how to wear a scarf (believe me I needed one) and then walked away wearing or rather making a statement in my I will never surrender scarf.

A rare and wonderful find.

To this day, it is still one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever owned and still looks as good as new despite almost daily wear.  This is one piece of clothing that I’ve never regretted buying.  It is so well made and still surprises me how it can just transform whatever I’m wearing and make me feel seriously Well Fashioned.

I can also wear it without guilt knowing that no sweatshop labour has ever been involved in its making, and I’m doing my little bit to support UK manufacturing and British made.

Indeed, what I really love about Age of Reason Studios is that they are fully upfront and transparent about their supply chain and suppliers and try to source everything sustainably.  They even namecheck their suppliers, including The Pin House for sewing and North Ronaldsay Yarn for its wool, and use older models too which for a gal like me in her 40s is the kinda thing I like and makes me feel that looking good isn’t out of my reach.  I’ll post up some pics soon of me, my scarf and I.

As well as scarves, Ali also designs and prints womenswear and cushions, and sends out great offers in her regular Age Reason Studios emails so sign-up to her mailing list quick.

Well Fashioned Credits

Made in Britain

Listed on the Well Fashioned Made in UK womenswear directory

Images all Age of Reason Studios

The next Best of Britannia London event is 12/13 October 2017

Tips on scarf wearing

 

#wearingirish Margaret Molloy wearing cape by Bernie Murphy, sweater by Blarney Woollen Mill, gloves by Paula Rowan gloves, earrings by Tracy Gilbert Designs & bag by Holden Leathergoods

I should have written this in March but truth be told I was too busy following #wearingirish and coveting Margaret Molloy’s Wearing Irish wardrobe to finish this piece off – but better late than never hey 🙂

But why March? Well March is indeed Ireland’s month. St Patrick’s Day on the 17th March sends us into an shamrock-induced frenzy but thanks to Margaret Molloy, March has become much more than that – it’s also the month of being well dressed and Wearing Irish.

Back in March 2016, Margaret Molloy began to share examples of Irish fashion design on social media with the hashtag #wearingirish and it quickly became a passion project of hers. She soon turned the hashtag into an international fashion campaign aimed at promoting the best designers that Ireland has to offer.

Throughout March 2017 Margaret encouraged people around the world to buy at least one item of Irish fashion and post a photo of them wearing it, or an old Irish favourite, in the hope of building Ireland’s reputation for fashion. Margaret uploaded a photo or two a day on her own social media accounts, including instagram and #wearingirish spread like wildfire.

Her campaign hit the headlines too with the likes of Irish Central, the largest Irish website in America, following Margaret’s example and highlighting some of the great Irish designers that featured in her campaign.

So what happens now that March is over?

Margaret Molloy is on a mission to make sure #wearingirish isn’t just forgotten until March 2018. She has created a directory of her favourite Irish fashion designers to help people find and celebrate the best Ireland has to offer. She’s also still #wearingirish and so are a lot of people – just check them out on Twitter. I hope to post up some of my favourite #wearingirish outfits soon and I’m saving up for some of these great finds: cape by Bernie Murphy, dress by Caroline Mitchell knitwear, dress by Tina Griffin Design, dress by Manley, dress by Niamh O’Neill and bag by Holden Leather Goods.

Her campaign has also encouraged me to write about and feature Made in Ireland and highlight some of the very best Well Fashioned #wearingirish womenswear here on Well Fashioned. To be honest, it didn’t take much persuasion seeing as my family is Irish, and I’ve just returned from a holiday in Ireland where I was surrounded by head turning Irish women of the Well Fashioned and #wearingirish kind.

So, please await a regular Well Fashioned feature on some of my favourite Made in Ireland and #wearingirish finds and thanks to you Margaret Molloy for the introductions. Really hope to get chance to interview you soon.

In the meantime, please check out my Made in Ireland directory. I’m slowly updating this and hope to feature #wearingirish makers who make their womenswear in Ireland. I‘ll also highlight any that are ethically-made too.

And, here’s a link to Margaret’s online directory of Irish fashion designers wearing Irish. Treasure this, but beware it could give you a serious shopping habit.

Well Fashioned Credits

Images all care of Margaret Molloy and #wearingirish.

Kate Hills, founder of Make it British and Meet the Manufacturer

I sadly missed this year’s Meet the Manufacturer on the 24 and 25 May in London but over 5,000 people did not – going some way to show just how popular UK manufacturing and British-made brands continue to be.

And, so it should be. By buying British you are spending your money where it matters – supporting skills and craftsmanship of the highest quality*.

However, with Meet the Manufacturer aimed at bringing the best of British manufacturers together with buyers and designers looking to have their products made in Britain, it might not be the most obvious choice of a go-to event by a blogger like me.

But I’m on a mission to be Well Fashioned, and attending the likes of Meet the Manufacturer has served as a great introduction to many womenswear brands I’ve previously never heard of, and those brands that ‘Make it British’ and make it well-made and ethically too.

This year’s event was also a little bit different in that it included a carefully selected showcase of British-made brands on show, including Made in Scotland Elizabeth Martin Tweed, Carpet Bags and Yull Shoes, pictured above.

British fashion designer Patrick Grant, director of E.Tautz, Norton & Sons of Savile Row and a regular on TV and radio also took to the stage talking about his new Community Clothing project as he seeks to revive British garment manufacturing via a network of factories in the north of England and Scotland saying “We have a sustainable business model in clothing, with everything made to order in the shop and with the fabrics, woollens and worsteds manufactured in Britain.”

I’ve heard really great things about Community Clothing especially their jeans, so hope to blog about them soon and try a pair on for size.

So I might of missed out on this year’s Meet the Manufacturer, but don’t think I’ve missed out completely as I’ve been before and highly recommend and have spotted some great Made in Britain finds in the list of exhibitors. You’ll find me at the front the queue next year, to be sure.

If you want to know more and find some great Made in Britain womenswear, then check out my growing Made in Britain fashion directory. Kate Hills of Make it British and Meet the Manufacturer fame also has a fab directory of Make it British clothing and accessories, Still Made in Britain and its Still Made in Britain clothing listing and the Grey Fox for his UK-made menswear list. Yes, it’s menswear but only of the well-made kind and, of course, there is nothing to stop us Well Fashioned women wearing menswear too.

*Now, I know, Made in Britain doesn’t always mean sustainable, and it is a very sad fact that sweatshops exist on our shores. My advice on the Well Fashioned front is to try and choose well. Choose those brands and makers that are ethically made and can tell you who made my clothes. Be part of the Fashion Revolution ‘be curious’ and always ask who made my clothes?

Well Fashioned Credits

Photos of Kate Hills and Patrick Grant courtesy of Meet the Manufacturer and Make it British.

I know, it’s completely the wrong time of the year to be talking jumpers but after a day of house hunting and looking round an old but ‘going to be cold’ i.e. ice on the inside of the windows in winter type of house, my mind wandered off to the need to stock up on jumpers and thick waffle blankets. Yes, we like the house despite the threat of cold, and there’s nothing like being well prepared.

Also, with a little boy of my own, I’ve got a serious compulsion to keep him cosy and warm by dressing him in an Aran jumper just like my mum used to do to me. Yes, itchy neck and all. I want him to have my kind of childhood so funnily described by the actor Stephen Mangan when he talks about growing up with Irish parents and holidaying with them in Ireland (really sorry but I can’t find the link to the interview). Who knows Stephen might see this and help me out 🙂

And it’s got to be the real thing – the Aran jumper that is – the real, genuine article that’s been made to last a lifetime and is well fashioned at its finest. Only the best will do as I’m looking for three jumpers that after serious wear and in many years to come will be passed down the generations (who says jumpers can’t be family heirlooms): one for my little boy, one for me and also for my partner too. He has Irish roots as well (with a bit of Cornish thrown in) so I’m sure it will be a strong, and indeed well fashioned look when we take to the streets in our ultra-warm and thankfully no longer itchy Arans.

So, one day, I’ll finally get to visit the Aran Islands but until then I’ve been doing my research on where to buy an Aran jumper and luckily stumbled across this old article in The Telegraph by Johnny Morris and his quest for the real thing: Aran sweaters.

It’s well worth a read, along with the rest of his grail trail series which sadly no longer seems to run. You can find them all here on Johnny Morris’s Bespoke Traveller archive, including this one on French Knickers. Read at your pleasure.

So where can you buy an authentic, well fashioned Aran jumper?

Johnny’s recommendations for buying a genuine Aran jumper are:

Inis Meáin Knitting Company that designs and knits all its beautiful garments on the island of Inis Meáin, Aran Islands, Co. Galway, Ireland where they are based. They specialise in menswear but have a great selection of Aran jumpers for women although I’m more drawn to their menswear and the thought of being all wrapped up and protected in an oversized crew neck sweater.

Inis Meáin is stocked in shops over the world and online. They also have a factory shop on site which I hear has amazing views of the ocean. Definitely one for a future visit as part of my factory shop tour.

An Tuirne makes handcrafted Aran sweaters and knitwear all hand knitted by women in their homes on the Aran Islands and sold at the An Tuirne shop at Kilmurvey Craft Village on Inishmore.

Founded by Andrew Greaney and Rosemary Faherty, each An Tuirne garment has the knitters name on the label, and you can order made-to-measure jumpers and they sell sweaters for men, women and children.

So two great places to start my search for some soon to be much-loved Aran jumpers. I’ll keep you posted and photos will follow soon, along with (hopefully) more details and interviews with Inis Meáin Knitting Company and An Tuirne.

I’m also due to pick the brains of the mother of jumpers, Edel MacBride, a very talented fashion designer who’s passionate about Aran knitwear and all her knitwear in Made in Ireland. At this rate, we are going to well stocked up and toasty warm in our future home – just got to find it first.

It’s National Storytelling Week so we are going behind the seams and paying homage to the very best well fashioned stories committed to film – the finest craftspeople sharing their stories and skills for the camera.

Fashion is all about hands and hands need only the very best dressmaking scissors so over to you Ernest Wright and Son and The Putter film from the extremely talented photographer and filmmaker Shaun Bloodworth – tell us your story/show us your skills.

Ernest Wright and Son is a family company that has been hand-making the finest scissors and shears in Sheffield since 1902, and still does so today.

Most famous for its dressmaking scissors, Ernest Wright and Son has embraced the power of the story and used it to showcase the beauty of scissor making to a brand new and growing customer base.  Indeed, The Putter film has been credited with helping them to come back from the brink when back in 2014 the company was at risk of closure from a lack of orders.  The Putter went viral, bringing in orders from around the world – helping to reverse the company’s fortunes.

 

The rest, they say, is history, but a history that lives on with a successfully-backed lifetime lasting kitchen scissors kickstarter project seeing 3,684 backers pledging £248,419 to help Ernest Wright and Son bring back its ‘Kutrite’ pattern of all-purpose stainless steel kitchen scissors, and train apprentice ‘putter-togetherers’ in the techniques and art of putting scissors together.

Sadly, in writing this piece I read that Shaun Bloodworth, The Putter filmmaker sadly passed away last year.  Friends of Shaun are asking people to join the organ donation register.  You can see more of his work his work and on vimeo.

Well Fashioned Credits 

Ernest Wright and Son Limited is based in Sheffield, where they produce the highest quality, lifetime guarantee scissors and shears using traditional skills that have been passed down from generation to generation.  Read more about the history of Ernest Wright and Son and you can see more films about them here:

The disappearing art of making scissors by hand a BBC film by Susannah Reid in which Eric Stones, one of the two “Master Puttertogetherers” at the factory, spoke to BBC News about his disappearing craft.

Making Sheffield scissors – Paul Martin and his ‘Handmade Revolution’ team visited the highly skilled craftsmen at the Ernest Wright and Son Limited scissor factory in Sheffield in August 2012.

All images: Ernest Wright & Son Ltd

 

Day one of National Storytelling Week and I want to share this beautiful film with you: A life at the Mill is a film by artist and filmmaker Jeanie Finlay.

In the words of Jeanie Finlay, A life at the Mill  is “a collection of video portraits of ten mill workers, past and present, living in and around the Derwent Valley, Derbyshire. The film details the important role that work played in their lives, how it felt; to clean a mill, to work all your life, to face retirement, to shut a mill down and make hundreds unemployed and the hole that was left behind.”

Do watch, it’s a lovely film and really captures the love, working conditions, friendships, happiness and sadness of a life at the mill.  A real honour to see and hear people speaking about their lives – storytelling at its very best.  I used to live in Derbyshire so know the mills well, but never heard the stories told so well.

My mum used to work as a seamstress, and in lots of different factories in and around Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, and Ireland, and my dad worked at Stanton Ironworks. Would have loved to have captured them on film talking about their lives.

Wellfashioned Credits

Mill workers: Doug Waldren, Lawrence Leatherland, Audrey Ankers, Brian Fleay, John Mumby, Mary Bowes, Peter Hodgkinson, Linda Coton, Kitty Weston, Dennis and Barbara Basford, and Tony Bowker.

Visit The Derwent Valley Mills for more information on the mills and visiting the area

A Life at the Mill by Fleet Arts and Glimmer Films.  Filmed and directed by Jeanie Finlay, artist and filmmaker.  A Heritage Lottery funded project, with additional funding from Derwent Valley Mills Partnership, Derbyshire Country Council, and Derby City Council.  Managed by Fleet Arts.

Images: Jeanie Finley

Other films by Jeanie Finlay, see IMDb and check out her cracking film about Nottingham Lace.