Saturday, 22 February 2014

Sparkling boots.

These are the most expensive boots in the world!

The shoes were made for the Business of Design Week in Hong Kong (Dec. 2–7 2013), dedicated this year to Belgian creativity.
They are the result of a collaboration between the Antwerp-based diamond companies Diarough/UNI-Design and A.F. Vandevorst.
A.F. Vandevorst is a Belgian husband-wife fashion design team, An Vandevorst and Filip Arickx.
They launched their first collection in Paris in 1998 after graduating from the Fashion School of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. They are known for their contrasts in fabrics, textures, and colors, often layering silky lingerie-inspired pieces with tailored jackets. Here is the link to their website.
An Vandevorst and Filip Arickx designed a pair of black leather ankle boots with a paisley pattern completely covered 1,527 carats of white and natural, champagne, grey and pink colored diamonds from Diarough/UNI-Design. A team of highly skilled craftsmen set all 38,883 diamonds on the boots. The diamonds were placed on the boots , using 4,753 grams of gold. For the A.F.Vandevorst cross-shaped logo, extremely rare reddish pink diamonds have been used.
Her royal highness the Belgian Queen Mathilde witnessed the unveiling of the diamond boots on the 4th of December in Hong Kong, together with 400 VIP guests.
The Belgian queen with the A.F. Vandevorst designers duo.
If I may be honest, I don't really like the boots.
Although the paisley pattern and the gems are exquisite; the boots neither look stylish or elegant.
This exclusive pair of boots is for sale!
In case you have size 39 (UK 6, US 8.5) and 2.348.000 euro ($ 3.2 million), they could be yours.
Would you wear these boots?
Have a nice weekend

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Chocolate and fashion.

Le Salon du Chocolat, "A must for the chocoholic".

The "Salon du chocolat" is a huge international festival of the chocolate industry. It's first edition dates back to 1994 in Paris and has since been touring the world.
Belgium is worldfamous for it's chocolate. Now, for the first time, the salon came to Brussels, this past weekend.

1. The highlight of the event was  the world famous chocolate fashion show with stunning couture outfits made and inspired by chocolate, designed by the countries top chocolatiers and some of Belgium's most exciting fashion designers. The outfits were worn live on the catwalk at the Gala preview evening for the show and displayed throughout the event.
Have a look:


Fashion accessories:

2. There was a 'Choco Demo' area, where well-known Belgian chefs, pastry chefs and chocolate-makers created exceptional recipes , revealing some of the tricks of the trade.
In the "Chocoland" area children could make biscuits, lollipops , macaroons and chocolate masks.
In the "bookshop area", there was a world of gastronomic litterature where you could have your books signed by the authors.

3. Magnum , the famous Belgian  ice cream surrounded by chocolate, celebrates its 25th birthday this year and was at the Salon with "The Magnum Pleasure Bar".
There, you could create a personalised Magnum.

And there was much, much more...
If you missed Brussels , the Salon will visit Zürich in April , Paris at the end of October and New York in November.
Here is the official website.


Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Discovering Harris Tweed - part 2.

I promised to guide you through the Harris Tweed production process.
How do you get this Harris Tweed ...

 out of pure sheared wool?
1. Washing and dyeing
The wool for the tweed comes mainly from Cheviot and Scottish Blackface sheep.

Before the wool can be used for commercial purposes, it must be scoured, a process of cleaning out the dirt, dead skin, sweat residue, pesticides and lanolin.
The wool is then delivered in large bales to the mills of the tweed producers where it is then dyed in a wide variety of colours for blending.
Most of the dyes used are organic natural dyes .

This picture comes from the book: Harris Tweed: From Land to Street. (c) 2011 Frances Lincoln Ltd. and Lara Platman

available here
2. Carding and spinning
Carding is the process by which the wool fibers are individually straightened and sorted into separate fibers. This process converts a continuous matted web of fibres into individual ribbons of fine loosely organized threads.

This thread has just enough strength to be wound ready for spinning.
For the yarn to have the strength required for weaving, it needs to be spun into a strong thread by twisting it around 6-8 times.
The spun yarn is wound onto bobbins for the weft (left to right threads) and warp (vertical threads) supplied to the weavers.

3.Warping and weaving
The warp and yarns for the weft arrive from the mill and then the weaver sets to work. A major part of the task is the setting up of the loom itself, changing the draft to the correct pattern.
The threads are arranged in groups and colour on the warping frame in the right layout, so that each thread comes off it in the right position for its own unique position in the pattern.


4. Finishing and stamping
The woven cloth is returned to the mill where the first task will be to check it for any imperfections.
Any broken or stray threads are darned and mended.

Dirt, oil and other impurities are removed by washing and beating. It also makes the material softer and thicker.

The cloth is dried and shrunk to the required width , cropped on a machine which basically acts like a mower, removing a certain amount of surface fibre. 
It is then blow-steamed under pressure to give a similar effect to ironing.
Finally it has to be certified by the official Harris Tweed Authority inspector, before it can carry the Harris Tweed Orb trademark label.

Voilà, from wool to tweed in just a few steps; interesting isn't it?
Sources: I found a lot of information on the Harris Tweed Authority blog and here
Enjoy reading

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