A few months ago I was delighted to be asked by the amazing Kobe Fashion Museum in Japan to take part in an exhibition they were putting together about the history of tartan , and its modern use.
My work was to feature as one of only 6 current fashion designers selected , as an example of how we wear and use the fabric now.
I was greatly honoured to be asked to take part.
Here is a picture of the amazing Kobe Museum , which looks like the star ship enterprise ( Another bonus as I am a bit of a Trekky )
I was asked to create 2 unique outfits , and given free reign of the colours and details. I was also asked to write a short piece for the catalogue , which would describe my work , my personal journey in fashion and how my work now fits in with the use of tartan.
Here is the page of the catalogue which features my work
As you can see, its in Japanese ! so here is the translation
Psychomoda , which means ' Crazy fashion ' is located in the heart of Edinburghs historic old town, an area , steeped in Scottish history and Culture.
On the premises I designs and create couture garments for women of all ages, with a distinct British and Scottish influence. As well as a ready to wear selection.
Tartan , and other traditional fabrics feature prominently . The designs however are a break with tradition.
Fabrics , colours and patterns are combined in an striking way to create an adventurous and bold look. New , old , recycled and modern fabrics are thrown together in a bright display of colour , pattern and texture.
The traditional use of Tartan in Scotland is that each family , or Clan as they are known, has their own pattern , and should wear only that design. However, more frequently now , people chose which one they prefer, breaking with that system . Also , now tartans are designed and created for other groups. Sports teams for instance , or geographical
It is available in a massive variety of patterns and colours and lends itself to experimentation in cutting and folding, creating striking effects and combinations, juxtaposed with other fabrics.
My use of tartan in this way originates in the punk youth culture era during which I grew up . This culture instigated a creative revolution in The UK, as young people questioned the often unfair traditional class system and its constricting expectations.
As with all youth cultures , a favoured way of dressing emerged , and tartan featured heavily within that framework.
Breaking with tradition and its sometimes restrictive values is an important feature of my work. By mixing tartans with each other , Chopped up and pared down it becomes re invented through new connections. Cultures combine . and discourse is created .
Fashion , is an expression of culture , and a statement about ones own position within it. My own culture is varied and expressive, and I design to empower the wearer and hope to inspire boldness and confidence.
For these two outfits , I have specifically chosen new and modern tartan fabrics. They are both named after Islands , geographical areas , and not specific to Clan names. As such , they are not associated with the historical dogma of Clan identity or ownership.
The pink is called 'Discover Islay ' , it is woven in only 1 mill situated on the Isle of Islay , and was designed to display the beautiful colours of the landscape of the island.. I have coupled this with a modern pink Harris Tweed, woven on the Isle of Harris exclusively , and green velvet.
The second outfit is ' Isle of Skye ' Also designed to show the colours of the flora of that island. This has been woven on mainland Scotland at a mill in the highlands , and I have also used green tweed and purple velvet to accent those beautiful colours.
For the future , I foresee myself continuing down my exploratory fashion route, providing unexpected clothing for adventurous people. It is a great honour to be included in this exhibition and that my work is considered culturally relevant. Thank you for reading.
Here is a snapshot of the garments that I took instore before posting them off, as you can see I have embellished them with hand worked beading in a thistle and heather design to work with the origins of the fabric.
I am very excited that the exhibition is touring Japan , making a least 3 more stops over a 2 year period.
If you are over there , pop in and have a look !
Here are the garments as they will appear in the exhibit
Capes April 16 2018, 1 Comment
For a good while now I've been into capes .
They're something I've allways liked personally and seem to have passed into the realm of fashion classic . Worn with jeans and boots for example they are the epitome of casual chic.
I was spurred on to make some by the chance find of a couple of vintage beauts . A little cleaning and loving care was all that was needed to restore these gorgeous pieces to life.
The tartan one was so popular on face book it sold in 10 minutes and never made the website ! The classic 60s style black and white one is still available in store and on The website as we speak.
I found a beautiful wool tartan blanket and recycled it into this cape which is my own design . I was particularly interested in creating a wearable hood . (I'm allways dissapointed with hoods that don't function on a garment. ) the design is very full and swingy , being almost a full circle . It doesn't need arm slits as it is roomy and stops just above the hands . This one also sold immediately !
I've also sourced the most adorable print cotton blend vintage style linings. When you move your arms , people get a glimpse of it.
I've finished it with a lovely metal clasp.
This seafoam coloured cape is made from vintage wool fabric that I dyed myself.
There's going to be a lot more. . So keep your eyes peeled ❤
Up till a couple of years ago, I sold nothing but made on the premises items in the shop, this was my original concept and was possible for many years because I had 2 lovely assistants , one after the other for a total of almost 20 years.
Here , model Shaolei is wearing a recycled dress in the grunge stye which was popular when I first opened 26 years ago
Both were fully trained designer dressmakers , and together we were able to stock the store and undertake all sorts of couture appointments. We did a thousands of prom dresses , wedding dresses and other special occasion wear. I thoroughly enjoyed those years and the fast paced , deadline driven environment .
Here is a couture silk evening gown created exclusively for the customer .
Here are two couture wedding dresses , two of many I have designed and made
Time moves on and my assistants have left to pursue family life , I decided a change was needed. I decided I no longer wanted to employ an assistant and would go it alone.
But how was I to manage the shop and create enough stock to fill it all the time. ?
I've tried a few different ideas over the last 3 years . At first I tried to keep it all the same. It soon became apparent I could not manage it all alone , I had no time to design for the rails due to the constant demand for couture . Something had to give . I found that couture wedding gowns and prom dresses , although very rewarding in their own right were not giving me enough creative scope so I decided to cut back on the amount of commissions undertook .
To replace this , I started having dresses made abroad and selling those. After a while I decided this was also not for me , as I didn't have enough control over the finished product.
An example of the dresses I was having made abroad.
I started selling vintage and second hand items. I have always loved and worn second hand so I feel I have a good eye for it. Here is an example of a beautiful 80s dress , in store as I write this blog .
This has been a popular service , and has introduced loads of new customers who are specifically looking for that .
I have also re introduced knitwear . I love making knitwear but had no time for a lot of years .
An example of knitwear currently available .
Recently I have also created a line of soaps. Which is an interest I have had for a while .
Altogether , along with my sewn designs , I am aiming to create more of a mixed boutique experience for my customers . I have realised that I can create a more varied walk in experience and be a designer within that environment .
Two examples of my creative work
Selling other things has liberated me as a designer. I feel that now I can return to my passion for developing my exclusive design lead look , whether you have that off the rails ready to wear , or designed and created specially for you .
I am also able to start wholesaling to selected stores around the country , which is a long held ambition of mine.
Wholesaling in Maggi and Suzi Boutique , Inverness
I feel the future direction of the shop is starting to emerge , and my stores identity crisis is coming to an end 😁
Thank you for reading. If you liked my blog please consider leaving a like or comment , or share it for me . It all helps support my business, and I appreciate it ❤
Soap story March 29 2018, 0 Comments
Late last year I took a fancy for creating some soap. It started as a little niggle in my brain when I was at a craft event and I saw that other people had made them. I was a bit intrigued . I saw a lot if beautiful shaped soaps , and attractive designs of things like cupcakes and floral shapes etc.
I thought I would like to have a go. I had no idea what my own soaps would look or smell like but I decided to try and go down a natural path , concentrating on essential oils and natural flowers and spices. This one is called 'Rock the Kasbah '. Named after a favourite song by The Clash . It reminded me of visiting the market in Istanbul many years ago with all its exotic and wonderful aromas . I've used tumeric , honey , lavender , and ginger to recreate that experience.
I started experimenting . My biggest problem was simply not knowing a single thing about it. I had to start from scratch. This was refreshing for me in a way because with the sewing and knitting I rarely , if ever don't know how to proceed 😁 it was a steep learning curve. I've never done anything even vaguely sciency before , and working out accurate measures to fractions of a gram , and calculating the percentages of allergens etc was all challenging to me. At times I thought I would not be able to do it , but I pressed on. Learning as I went.
I soon realised that even if I only were to give the soaps away to friends and not sell them , that I needed to cough up the money for a cosmetic safety assessment if I were to carry on. So I saved up ( it's expensive ) narrowed down my ideas to 8 products ( the assessment package I opted for , you could get 8 done at once ) and had them assessed.
I've designed my soaps specifically to be genderless , and I feel they would be liked by everyone . At first , my husband thought I had just gone a bit daft , but now he uses them all the time. Especially the patchouli based products.
I've used classic scents such as patchouli and lavender but added depth and interest with things like ginger and lime , and unexpected elements such as golden syrup , tumeric and honey . They're strongly scented and have usual elements. I have not used any synthetic scents , or 'parfum ' as it is labelled. This one is scented and coloured only with Patchouli , mixed spices and muscovado sugar.
I'm pleased with the results. It's been a very interesting journey for me, a hobby with the added bonus that people seem to like them and buy them too .
The emphasis is the scent and so I kept the bar in a traditional easy to use shape. I want people to actually use them and not leave them lying around looking pretty.
When you open the wrapping the aromatic scent explodes. The whole bathroom smells beautiful 😀
My hope is that once this collection has paid for itself , I will introduce a range of moisturizing cream. I've so many ideas .....
This one is Gin and Tonic , and that's exactly how it smells. 'Wow ' is the first reaction people give when they sniff it 😁
Fashion Able , was an event to celebrate diversity and promote body positive ideals as well as fair trade and local business.
some of my girls dressed and ready , picture by Wullie Marr . Models , from left to right , Toyra , Daniella , Ira , Stacy . With Gail centre.
Gail, and Louise. Louise wore one of my corset and skirt sets that I made for her previously .
I was lucky enough to be one of the featured designers. The show was fantastic , very well attended and had a real buzz about it. All of the collections were lovely , and I wa also very happy with the way mine was presented. Lovely Louise , opened the event with a foot stomping hand clapping rousing rendition of 'Scotland the brave ' on her bagpipes which made everyone smile and set the atmosphere with a bang. Gail Porter , as compare was both charming and funny , so with the introduction out of the way , my set was on first.
Vaya wears , sequin long top from my vintage and second hand range , size 10 £10 , soft waistband tartan mix asymetric skirt , £45 long metallic leopard print red scarf £10 petticoat , original 50s vintage from my own personal collection and not for sale.
Torya wears , Wool mix skirt with fitted waist £85 , vintage skirt worn as underskirt £10 , waistcoat £75 , quality second hand chiffon leopard blouse size 16 £7
Stacy wears boned laced bodice with velvet and tartan and lace trim £135, fitted wool mix tartan and velvet fitted waist skirt with recycled velvet underskirt £135, leopard print leggings £10
Raygan wears , leopard print vintage blouse size 16 £10 , and soft waist asymetric skirt with velvet , tartan and lace £50
Olga wears tweed , tartan and lace boned bodice with embroidery birds and flowers , £150 , matching recycled tafetta and black lace overlay soft waistband skirt £85
Ira wears Soft waistband tartan and tweed mix skirt £45 , tafetta skirt worn as underskirt , £10 and stretch leopard dress tied at waist , both from my quality second hand collection £10 each
Heather wears Tartan and tweed soft waistband skirt £45 with vintage brooch ,£10 ,skirt worn as underskirt , and chiffon leopard blouse both from my quality second hand range £10 each.
Ella wears Baby moda , size 4 years form a selection available , 6 months to 4 years £15
Daniella wears tartan and pinstripe set with boned laced back bodice , fitted waist and hand made leaf motif £300
Daniella wears above set, with knitted drape neck poncho , £45
Cindy wears tartan dress with black tulle overlay and beaded embroidery £225
various ponchos and wraps modelled by
Hayley Thomson , Joy Munro , Nicola Stieger , and Stefany Bellomo
All these garments have been hand made in my Edinburgh store , they can be altered to fit or made to measure for you. As you can see, they look great on all figures and sizes . I have allways designed for all shapes and sizes and will continue to do so . You can be sure your Psychomoda garment will fit and flatter you perfectly
Models full names are ;
Heather Dimarco , Vaya Apostulara ,Daniela Margiotta , Ira Getmar ( @iraofficial )
Cindy Sanders , Victoria Hughs ( @toryawinters ) Raygan Bold. Stacy Paris , Olga Arren.
Ladies , we applaud you :-) :-) :-)
Pictures by Wullie Marr @deadlinenews
If you have read this blog, firstly , thank you for doing that , it makes me happy , and secondly , please click on the like button , so i can see how many readers I have !
So today was the day of the Fashion Able fashion show at Waverly Station, a fair trade , body positive event celebrating diversity in fashion and clothing. I was very happy to take part.
When I first arrived , models were getting their hair and make up done and the finishing touches were being added to the catwalk , and seating. I spied Ms Gail Porter peeping around the corner of the changing tents and just went over to introduce myself. Gail turned out to be a lovely lady and we had a nice chat . she popped backstage to see my
outfits. I asked her for a selfie , and she obliged .
I set up my rail with the outfits I had selected and the girls started coming up for their fittings. the press photographer Wullie Marr arrived , and I had arranged with him to have some girls ready for a little shoot . so the first 4 girls to be ready went off with him to get their pictures taken
Here are Toyra , Daniella and Ira.
Time passed very quickly and it got really busy backstage. My set was on first as they are a bit more complex to put on and take a little time, so I had just about enough time to get them all ready , then we all went and waited in the tunnel for the show to begin. This is allways one of my gavourite times in an event , everyone is excited and a little nervous , but all looking fab and ready to go !
Heather and her adorable daughter Ella, who was a little shy to start with but was delighted with her Baby Moda dress , which I let her keep.
last minute make up touch up for Olga and Stacy
of course , selfies are a must !
Here's another one of me with everyone,s favourite Girly piper , Louise Marshall , what a
total babe she is X
everyone excited , waiting inline.
Vaya dressed and ready ,
Raygan , ready to go on Olga , rocking her lace look
Lou and Gail
everyone is ready and its show time !
Ill blog the show separately
If you enjoyed this blog , please click like, so I know how many readers I have. x
Whenever I have a fashion show to participate in , I'm excited, but nervous. Watching fashion shows when I was a kid always had me on the edge of my seat, and even now I love them so much. Taking part in one as is really the fun side of being a designer.
When I first started up there weren't any to take part in and I had to run them myself if I wanted to show . It's very complicated with a lot of elements to coordinate together and I found the time I had to spend managing the events incondusive to the creativity needed to actually make the clothes. The clothes always seemed to come second place and I was never really happy with my collections .
Fast forward a few years and now I only participate in events that someone else has put together, usually charity events , there are quite a few to chose from but I don't find I can't do them all.
Recently my eye was caught by 'Fashion Able' , a show which started only last year and takes place in Waverly train station of all places ! It's a body positive event, inclusive and fair trade, which are all hot topics right now.
The aim of this show is to include people of all sizes ages and abilities in the world of fashion to encourage body positivity. It's right up my street .
On the rails of my shop I have all sorts of sizes of clothing and I alter to fit on demand. It was therefore less work for me to dress the diverse models than it usually is to put together a collection if size 8s for professional models.
I'm really happy with my collection which came together almost entirely from the rails today, with only a few items having to be made specifically, which were mostly recycled underskirts just to give the outfits an extra element.
I've also incorporated a vintage and second hand elements for the first time.
The story I have put together is Tartan and Leopard. Here are a few of the outfits as a sneak preview .....
I love shopping for vintage items to sell in the shop, digging and delving in amongst all the stuff , searching for that certain something that sets a garment aside from the others, that I can offer to you at a reasonable price, Its a process that can take hours , and I can spend whole days rummaging for them ! I know all the best places, and have it down to an art form !
Here's a picture of me in a 80's jacket I have taken a fancy to !
Some of the vintage I buy is from here in Scotland, but a lot of it comes fro Amsterdam, where they have a lively second hand clothes scene on a scale unparalleled her in the UK. I also find that they have a different selection than we find here, a quirky style, and that often the clothes have been made with lasting quality in mind, as opposed to our own 'throw away' fashion culture.
This original 1960's dress came from Amsterdam
There are many reasons to buy used clothing. , Environmental issues, caring about the working conditions abroad, are of course of utmost importance, and on an individual level, standing out from the crowd, vintage trends or simply looking for good quality at a reasonable price are all interesting and valid points.
When I search through all the piles of stuff for you, I like to think I am providing a service, I am spending my time doing that , so you dont have to ! I pre -select individual items that catch my eye for one reason or another. I like to think that every item I offer has something going for it. I dont just pick up pre- packed bags, or buy by the kilo, which would inevitably lead to me acquiring a load of junk along with a few decent items, therefore, I am never needing to try and sell rubbish to you and trying to pass it off as good.
Beautiful Quality, or Quirky style, all catches my eye, this jacket has both !
When selecting , I have to think of everyone, you cant go looking for vintage with much of an idea in mind, its more a case of looking at what is available and visualizing who or when it would be worn. I try to keep all you ladies in mind, young and mature, slim and plus.
These pictures were taken on a recent shoot, with a mix of 80's 60's and 70's items
Sometimes a batch of vintage might become available in one particular style , for instance, a batch of 1960's dresses, or a batch of 1980's office wear. this week, I have found a treasure chest of smart coats and jackets, suitable for ladies who want to look smart on a daily basis. sometimes, its glam evening wear. Its all good stuff, and I hope you enjoy it . I will post again about WEARING second hand and vintage in the future, and how it can be accessible to all ages and sizes.
This Quality velvet jacket is from the selection I have just added.
Burdz December 08 2014, 0 Comments
I hope you have been enjoying all the beautiful pictures from the bird shoot, or 'Burdz' as we, who were involved have termed it .
An amazing team to work with,
Model: Elaine Ford . Designer: Alison Harm @ Psychomoda , Hair: Louise Quinn . Make up: Susie Bloice , Location: Balgeddie House Hotel with Stuart Milne Falconry Photo: Howard Ashton-Jones @PSBPhoto.
When I was invited to join a small but highly skilled team for the shoot with the birds I was delighted. I've seen some other work with birds of prey before , and thought It could be something my dresses would suit.
When we woke up that morning, it was chucking it down, we really couldn't have chosen a worse day to shoot outside, but I was really excited and nothing was going to spoil the fun.I love a good photo shoot day, and this one was no exception. The Hotel is absolutely gorgeous, and made us very welcome, above is a picture from the gardens, looking back to the bay window where we took the indoor shots., Below is a picture of Lynn,in the ante-room of the grand ballroom of the hotel, which was kindly allowed to us, as a prep area.
One of the models, Elaine, gave me a lift , and Howard, the photographer had arranged the whole thing, so all I had to do was turn up, with the clothes. when we got there, everyone else was already there, and Susie (make up ) and Louise (hair) were half way through Lynn's look. I was amazed, as always at the process, and this time the theme was creative, so everyone was letting their imaginations loose. Their were hairpieces and blushers all over the place.
A very welcome addition to the days proceedings was Susies' beautiful baby, Ella, who was really as good as gold all day, and what a little poppet she is too, So I had a little chat with her while her mum got on with the business.
Hair and make up applied, and fittings done ( nothing to change ) we went out into the lounge of the beautiful hotel. Howard and I had selected a location ,( which was the window,) and we messed about with furniture and curtains until we got what we wanted, which turned out to be no furniture or curtains!
below pictures, messing about with the lights.
The birds of prey were brought in one by one as required. The first was a lovely little kestrel, who have to wear their hoods indoors so as not to get startled. She looked so pretty in it. I was very impressed with Stuart the bird man, he really knew his stuff, and we learned a lot about their routines, feeding and work they do.
He had an amazing rapport with the birds, which were all in beautiful condition.I would recommend him to anyone.for an educational event or party. the birds are immaculate and obviously very bonded with him.
When it came to the outside shots, the weather and light were horrendous so we were very limited with time, but, like troupers, the girls got stuck in. No princess behaviour there, I can tell you !
To gasps of awe and wonder, out came the big birds, an Eagle Owl which looked straight out of Hogwarts , and an American Hawk with amazing rust coloured plumage . They were released to fly freely and they soared above our heads, I was completely smitten. I didn't know how he was going to re call them, but a simple whistle and a bit of food, and back they came. The smaller garden birds fled, and the crows and magpies started all sorts of defensive behaviour . It was very interesting to see the reaction of the other wildlife to them.
Th fabulous shot with the Hawk landing on Lynn's arm was obviously a little difficult to capture, but with Howard's amazing timing, and Lynn's steadfast pose , in the face off an enormous bird landing on her arm were commendable, especially considering the rain chucking down.
Elaine was also fabulous in managing to remain so composed with the gigantic owl sitting majestically on her glove.
After the shoot ended, and we all packed away and goodbyes said, I was very happy with the way it went. My only regret is that my pearl bracelet snapped while i was standing on the patio watching the shoot, and pearls went pinging off in every direction. So, if you are visiting the hotel, keep your eyes open, you might be lucky enough to find them ;-)
22 years ago when I opened my first shop , I would never have dreamed that one day I would be sitting here writing a blog post , as it happens, we didnt have blogs, or websites, or even internet access. A designer simply designed stuff, and hopefully sold it, from the window, or out and about at markets and craft fairs.
Psychomoda is an extension of me, and my personality. I design and make clothing that is meant to be fun and make you happy when you wear it. I like to inspire confidence, and bring out the sassy side of you.
I make clothes from new fabric, old fabric , and sometimes not even fabric at all ! I create knitwear , and crochet, corsetry, and evening wear, I can break rules, and disregard tradition, I try to use fabrics in a new way, putting them together in surprising combinations and cuts.
I love to hand finish, and embellish with lace and beadwork, vintage notions sit alongside super modern fibres, and the new sits alongside the old on the rails, and sometimes in the actual garments themselves. We have designer made on the premises collections, as well as vintage and budget ranges. sometimes , I just see a bit of fabric and make it into something I like, as a one off piece, or small collection. In the store this all works together in an unexpected riot of colour and design. Its like no other shop, in its individuality. Customers often 'fall in love' and return again and again, for which I am eternally grateful for their support over the years.
I like to think of Psychomoda as if it were a wardrobe at home. ( albeit a big and eclectic wardrobe) there are some luxe designer items that you drool over and bring out on special occasions, some less expensive but still quirky more everyday items, some budget items that you just wear all the time, and some delicious vintage treasures that you inherited from your gran, or bought down the lanes on your last away weekend somewhere trendy.
My old website was an extension of this. A sprawling colourful information centre, an extension of creativity. Unfortunately however, time moves on , and I now need to concentrate more on online selling. This translates as needing a clear cut simple to use , clean website like this. Its difficult to translate my work in this way. Ive never put emphasis on traditional sizing or available colours etc, having always been able to make to measure and adapt designs for the individual, so there will be a transition process. please bear with me, while I reign myself in.
of course, the shop will still be as mad as you are used to, and i will try to project that individuality onto this page. The best way to see Psychomoda, is just to dive in, and thats what I need to do now , so , here I gooooooooooo !!!
Heres a pretty picture, of one of my popular corsetted top and skirt sets, a one off, made from wool fabric. shown here on stage at the Royal Highland Show 2014. picture by Howard Ashton jones.