PORTRAITS : TOM FLATHERS
Summer in Britain, not exactly known for its days of blazing hot sunshine and wonderful warm evenings. It more often tends to be 5 random days in mid June reaching over 25 degrees (which obviously happen on days that you are stuck inside) which are then followed by weeks on end of on and off rain with the occasional bit of hail thrown in for good measure. Not exactly the best weather for cracking out the shorts and the T shirts really. Now shorts aren’t exactly a best friend of mine with my tree trunk legs preferring to be in their happy place being wrapped up in 3 pairs of tights. However when if I see a beautiful summer dress then it will tend to weasel its way into my bag and somehow end up back home with me. This ‘summer’ has been no different with long, short, patterned and plain ones all being added to the collection. So even when the weather is looking no better than truly pants I just try to embrace the breeze, throw on my favourite floral dress and remember there must be at least 1 place in the world right now which is 30 degrees and sunny.
This gorgeous cherry print dress from Topshop pretty much ticks all the boxes for me. With its collared shirt detail down the front, to its pretty blue and red print, to the fact that is manages to have no funny cut out sections and actually have with fully functioning sleeves! Actually managing to find a dress with sleeves that isn’t ridiculously short or low at the front has seemed to be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Last year urban outfitters came up trumps and this year it has seemed to be Topshop’s turn. From this i’ve learnt 60’s is the way to go with it’s slim fitting shift dress/shirt dress shape and pretty cherry pint print nicely bringing a touch of vintage to a modern outfit. Despite my yaking on about it being a gorgeous summery daytime piece I definitely think that this piece will stand the test of time being able to take you from day to night and summer to winter. Whack on a good thick tight and a chunky knit jumper and your good to go for a wonderful wintery look.
PHOTOS | TOM FLATHERS
So here it is finally, then end of my first year of university has finally come around with only 3 more days left to go. With most of the country having broken up already and having fled their dingy halls bedrooms and in the words of Michael Mcintyre got thoroughly “gabzeboded” on the final night of term, it been something that has felt like a long time coming for me. However its finally approaching and I can safely say there is nothing more I want at the moment that a good old rest back home.
I’m not going to lie it was a strange experience starting over as a first year again, especially with the first time around not exactly going to plan. It definitely made it all the more nerve racking knowing that it so could easily not be all plain sailing and that this is my last chance at getting it right.
I can’t say that I have exactly fitted well into the model “student lifestyle” with going out to get drunk, a light workload and living around constant noise all being things rather low on my list of priorities. Their have been many moments when I have just wanted to run away and leave it all behind with only the fear of what the hell would I do instead keeping me going.
However despite all with this, if there is one this that all of this has taught me it is that even if you feel like you are trapped in something that you don’t enjoy, it really doesn’t have to be like that forever and doesn’t have to be the rest of your life.
With uni not giving me the enjoyment that I needed I had to push myself to find things that I did enjoy and that made me happy knowing that they won’t necessarily find their ways to you on their own. At periods when you haven’t had a day of in 3 months and have been working all nighters to get shit done you wonder at times have I gone too far. However having experienced a couple of “pinch me” moments over the past few weeks, its nice to feel like all your hard work has been paying off and not just lead to nothing.
Anyway, despite this all seeming a bit doom and gloom I am actually feeling rather positive about what is ahead. Uni does eventually seem to be looking up, i’ve found somewhere I’m looking forward to living in and some good things to focus on, hopefully the only way is up from here.
For someone like me who likes to live life at 100 mph it can be scary to look at a 7 week gap in the diary and see very little to fill it. However I am going to make sure that I take this time to properly relax, recharge and fill up on some good old country air and be back ready and rearing to go for the year ahead.
So Monday the 16th of January came and went. To most people this is another normals day but apparently over recent years it has been coined as the most depressing day of the year. With the all the fun and festivities behind us and just enough time to let some of those new years resolutions starting to slip away, it can be all to easy for mid January to turn into a bit of a downer. However, having spent one to many evenings alone in the flat nursing a one too many bowls of weetabix and nearly resorting to watching everything in my subscription box a second time round, i’ve finally unearthed myself from under the duvet to get out and get proactive and try to set an example to myself for the rest of the year. Only time will tell if this works out or not! So here is a list of my best ways of trying to bust the new year blues this January!
Be it tap dancing or tiddlywinks there is never a better time than any than at the beginning of a new year to pick a new hobby. After all the socialising of the party season I will be the first one wanting to turn into a bit of a recluse and spend the best part of the month hiding under a pile of pillows. However taking up a new hobby will not only get you your creative juices flowing and your brain back into gear but it could also give you the opportunity to socialise more and meet more like minded people. And who knows what might happen, you find that you rather quickly become the best miniature model cake crochet-er in the country! (Genuine failed hobby of mine #807)
Now hear comes the old cliche of starting off a new year by getting fit and healthy. By this I really don’t mean you have to go out and sign your life away to a new gym that you will use once, get intimidated by the large muscly men and continue to spend your evenings at home binge watching Lost with a large bowl of trifle (got to put the weetabix down on some occasions). Getting the so good old fresh air pumping through your lungs from a simple walk around the park or leisurely bike ride can do you the world of good after being cooped up inside all day. After all, it will give you an excuse to try out that new pedometer that you were so lovingly given by your mum for christmas, not as a hint or anything!
With Brent and Bridget making their returns to our screens last year, cinema has definitely been on good form recently. But with awards seasons now well underway the beginning of a new year is always brimming with brand new brilliant films to take a good gander at. Whether it be action or animation that tickles your fancy, I find its a great way to pass the time in the cold winter night.
Lambs may not have started leaping, daffodils may not have started growing and spring may not have sprung quite yet however spring doesn’t have to be here quite yet to have a good old clear out. I always find having a good old cleanse of your surroundings at the beginning of a new year will make for a much happier and healthier you. All the stuff which we have manage to accumulate over the year that we have desperately convinced ourselves that we need can either be chucked out or given a brand new how for someone to love more than you. And besides, you need to make some room for all those brand new christmas presents anyway.
I know its a pain but with most of the tins of biscuits laying bare and selection of various cheeses all finished off, its time to put down the tin of quality street and find actual proper meals made with actual proper healthy things and stuff. I’m not saying go on some crazy celery juicing health kick (if celery juice is even a thing) however after having one to many batch cooked, reheated bolognese’s at the end of last year I definitely think it is time to broaden my culinary horizons and try something which isn’t 90% pasta!
Now I just have to go and put all these into practise!
Well for starters Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you all had a good day and are still sleeping off the food comas and hangovers that you acquired from a little bit too much of everything. I can safely say having a day reserved pretty much for eating far too much food while watching far too much tele was just what I needed.
This year christmas has been rather different for me. With being wrapped up in the crazy old world of Panto, working all the hours god sent up until christmas eve and getting back to work on boxing day, I was far more excited this year for christmas day than usual if for nothing more than a nice day of rest!
I would never usually consider myself the most christmassy of people. Don’t get me wrong I love the idea of christmas, spending the day with the people you love, eating some great food and getting a couple of nice presents along the way but somehow between childhood and growing into an adult the whole occasion somewhat lost some of its magic. Maybe it was from at the age of 13 being told by your parents Santa isn’t actually real and you no longer get a stocking or being given one to many body spray sets you seriously start to question how badly you must smell or being forces to watch the christmas day episode of Eastenders year on year (evidently I don’t have the most festive of parents!) Also with usually only letting myself vaguely entertain the idea of christmas until after my birthday is done and dusted (3rd Dec), which by this point advent calendars are all sold out and Black Friday present deals have been and gone I tend to miss the bandwagon.
But as I said this year I have been determined to make the most of christmas, enjoy my time of to relax and see family and try to forget about the last stressful term and before a probably worse one. So I decided to put together a little collection of the ways in which this year I will try and make myself enjoy the festive period. None of these are going to be ground breaking, I’m sure probably all of you do this already but these are just a couple of ways I will be spending my christmas hollibobs!
I really have been rather crap on the tele front this year. With not even getting around to watching what was once the highlight of my TV calendar, Strictly Come Dancing, christmas will be a bit of a shock to the system with actually sitting down to watch some TV on an actual tele! With christmas specials in abundance (outnumbered being this years personal highlight) and the good old classics being pumped out to fill the gaps (how can anyone not like Blackadder), its the best time of year to have a good old TV binge and enjoy watching Chicken Run for the 8th time.
Anyone like me who can be a bit of a workaholic, sometimes it is hard to completely shut down and and forget about deadlines and projects and what I should be doing next. But if there is any time of the year that this can and should all be forgotten about it is christmas. This may be somewhat hypocritical writing this now but just put dow the notepad, sit down, relax and watch that whole series of lost in 2 days with a family size pack or bourbons by your side (to share, obviously).
Anyone around me who knows me will know that I am some what of a foodie. Not in the sense of fancy Michelin star restaurants with caviar and quails eggs but in the sense of just loving a good old bit of grub! With christmas being the one time of year when you can drink and eat chocolate before lunch time and eat cake convincing yourself that its healthy because it has fruit in it, I love to crack out the cooking equipment and make a lovely batch of biscuits or muffins for either yourself or to be a lovely hand made present for a relative.
Now I know this is kind of the obvious thing for people to do over the christmas break but having been away for the whole term without a reading week and working full time over christmas, getting to go home and see some family on christmas day is a rather exciting prospect.
With living in London there is so much going on over the christmas period that it would be stupid to miss them all. So on the small time that I have of I am determined to hit up the christmas markets even if just for the smell of mulled wine and gingerbread, visit Winter Wonderland to see what all the fuss is about and plainly have a nice wonder around the city to see all the beautiful christmas lights.
Every year winter rumbles on around (funny that) and it was finally time to tear myself away from my beloved leather jacket and into something a little bit more practical for the season. Despite last years orange number still being very much in my good books, Zara has pulled it out the bag again this year with this beautiful double breasted grey number which I have had glued to my shoulders.
Not to diminish my love for a good jumper but probably my favourite things about winter dressing is being able to crack out a good old coat and wrap up all warm and cosy. This look really encapsulates all of my favourite styles at the moment of with the ever so practical for the ankles culottes, a good knitted jumper and obviously a good old cosy coat. With the simple accessories of a chunky black belt and small and simple bag, they nicely finish this simple yet stylish look and keep everything very comfy with my Adidas Gazelles .
So another year rattled its way around and I now find myself somehow getting to the grand old age of 21. Seriously, how the flipping hell did that happen! It feels like yesterday that I was playing in sand pits and panicking about what GSCE’s I am going to take ( I can confirm that they were not both happening at the same time).
Anyway, I thought I would bring the celebrations into blog form in a 21 for 21 round up, 21 special occasions to me from the past 21 years. Now I say 21 years, with my memory not serving me in quite as much detail the further back we go I’ve had to sort of narrow it down to the last few years. (but “21 for 21, well from the last 5 years of said 21 years” wasn’t such a catchy title.)
These occasions may not have been special out of their grandure, just out of something small happening to make it feel special. Obviously there are going to be some that get missed too but these are some which have stuck out to me. So after a good old trawl through my Facebook to see what I have actually been up to without further ado in no particular order as I really don’t have the brain power for that, lets get onto no.1.
p.s. those who don’t like theatre may avert their eyes.
In a rather snazzy hotel with probably the best gravy I have ever tasted, we had a great time in a very cool location and managed to get some pretty great photos (even if I did have to freeze my feet off in a very thin dress in very cold water.)
I’ve been involved in many a show over the years from being on the stage to my new life behind the scenes but the final night of Pool (No Water) will always hold a very special place in my heart. On the whole my 2 years at 6th form was a brilliant experience and it was great way to bring them to a close and say goodbye to some wonderful people who I loved working with.
Take me anywhere which involved very high things and very fast things then its highly likely that I’m not going to enjoy it. But with best friends by your side it really did make some scary experiences so enjoyable. From getting on my first rollercoaster, to the creation of “Hampshire rules” in UNO (something even we will never truly understand) and getting well and truly “gazeboed” in a £22 a night hotel in stoke it all made for a very special and memorable experience.
Rather ironically as someone who spent most of their youth performing and now studies costume I have never been much of a fan of fancy dress parties. But our disney themed fancy dress party in 2014 was fab with everyone giving it their all and creating some fab costumes, (maybe not including my slightly below average Mary Poppins), and having a great time and was the start to many a great party to come.
Give a group of 18 year olds some free time and access to some camera equipment and what do you expect them to do? Make a short film of course. with my silver screen debut (maybe more slightly grubby tin screen would be a more apt analogy) we spent 3 days from day break to dusk filming
Genuinely one of the funnies nights of my life with the Student Theatre at Glasgow scratch comedy night proving sometimes that we may just be students, but there is definitely a lot of talent within us.
Obviously getting a phone call while standing on a windy and rainy mountain in the middle of deepest darkest Shropshire trying not to be blown over was not quite how I imagined the moment I found out that I had got into drama school. Drama school was aways somewhere that I had dreamed of going to. It may have previously been for acting but now for my new life backstage in costume I was over the moon to finally be moving down to London to one of the world’s leading schools.
This is one going a bit further back but devising and rehearsing this show basically turned into having a huge laugh and a giggle with obviously working hard to get the job done at the same time, obviously ;). I had a fab few years at Lightsdown Theatre School from being a student to a teaching assistant leading to far to many good memories and shows to mention with it being the highlight of my week for a long time. I will always hold some of the shows we did here as some of my favourites I’ve done and it was so great to be part of a group of people having the same passion for performing and theatre that I did.
With the story line being such heartfelt one of a true story I will probably won’t be the only person out there who has any emotional attachment to this film. However, this is definitely one of my favourite films I have ever seen added to the first occasion of seeing it being with a very special person.
Proving that all the hard work, late night, blood, sweat and tears had all payed off (even if I haven’t used any of that knowledge since!)
I think getting to sit next to Sam Claflin on the premier night of Me Before You, a film which I loved from the book and had waited so long to see was a stroke of luck leading to an evening that I will never forget.
From Billy Elliot to 42nd to Macbeth and all the others in-between, all of these shows have lead me to some great times with some wonderful people and have shaped me and inspired me to pursue what started as a passion into a career.
As a theatre lover it is probably considered some sort of a crime to have only ever seen 1 show by the Royal Shakespeare Company but seeing Death of a Salesman in Stratford upon Avon in 2015 was a wonderful first show to see and the first of many to come.
I never imagined being someone who has their own textile design collection but at the end of my foundation year I had just that. Now it may not be on your Debenhams bed lined quite yet but now having my range of makeup bags with new designs sat waiting to be sewn together after my small break due to pure busy-ness, I’m determined to keep going with it.
Something starting as a new hobby just over a year ago has turned into something that has grown to be a big part of my current life. It may not be getting 1000’s of views a day with sponsorship deals coming in every direction but I still love styling and putting together posts each week for the little community on here. It may also have had a couple of face lifts and content direction changes, but it is still the good old miss spelt, badly punctuated and poorly scheduled Fabric Forward at heart!
Kind of the thing which started off Fabric Forward in the first place. From those first few shoots me and Tom did in our home town we have trawled the country in search for cool photo locations and have come up with some pretty cool shots (if I do say so myself). I look forward to many to come!
Its not everyday that you find yourself in a room with the walls entirely covered in pink fur and Ru Paul booming over the speakers. However some how I did. As part of uni we were tasked to dress some mannequins to be shown at the Barbican Ball this year running along the theme of Vulgar which is their being exhibition going on at the moment. If you follow me on Instagram you my have seen a couple of pictures from the event on there. I’d never done anything like this before and was a really cool experience to be part of (along with having a new appreciation for people who dress mannequins, and I thought actors were difficult sometimes ;). )
This summer I became a member for costume of The National Youth Theatre and with it being their diamond year at the end of my course I got to work on their Diamond Anniversary Gala at the Shaftesbury Theatre in hair and makeup. This was my first occasion working and going backstage of a west end theatre so it was all very exciting for me. Despited being full of the worst cold I have had in years I powered on doing more victory rolls and beehives than I have ever done in my life. It was a long and tiring day but it was all worth it seeing such a great show come together (Plus and having Matt Smith acknowledge my existence in the corridor twice was the icing on the cake!)
This year I lucky enough to get the chance to do some work at The Libertine at The Theatre Royal Haymarket on The Libertine doing wardrobe maintenance on a Saturday morning. It may have only been washing and ironing shirts, but its washing and ironing Dominic Coopers shirts.
I know this is something that came with moving to a university down here but moving to London is something at I have always wanted to do. I know many a young adult has said this same thing before me but but to live in such a busy and vibrant city with so much going on and the industry I work in centred down here is something I have always wanted. Sometimes feels a bit surreal that I am actually now here maybe partly not being quite as good as you thought it would be (the northern line at 5 o clock on a Friday would put anyone off!) Obviously is it not all plain sailing, realising you need to leave at least an hour to get anywhere and you wont find a cheap supermarket for miles but its the place for now that I call home and I promise to make the most of it.
It may not have been and intoxicating time partying the night away however spent with my nearest and dearest it was a time to say goodbye to the ups and downs of 20 and onto the next chapter of 21.
PHOTOS | TOM FLATHERS
Now I can’t say that I am someone who is out every weekend “painting the town red” or blue or green or any colour for that matter. Staying in at home tucked up in bed with a mug of hot chocolate and an episode of the crown on seems all too appealing. However when it comes to fashion, a good old piece of red is definitely is a good enough to get out of bed for.
If there is any colour that I am going to be wearing that doesn’t make me look like I am going to a funeral then it is going to be red. From tops to dresses to scarfs all of these nestle within my wardrobe in a variety of different shades. Its a good old trusty colour for me with never feeling too girly but is versatile when pairing with other colours. I feel its a colour that never really goes out of season, being bright and colourful for the summer months yet an obviously festive option for the christmas period.
Ever since I saw The Little Magpie repeatedly strutting her stuff in a gorgeous pair of Topshop red tapered trousers, I had been on the hunt to find a pair for myself. Funnily enough after searching high and low from high street to vintage, it all came back to Topshop with exactly what I was looking for. With them being a slightly more muted and darker shade of red I don’t think they end up being too bright and in your face. This style of tapered trouser is definitely a bit of a Chloe signature with them being great at showing of a waist with not being too tight and restrictive.
I’ve never been one to shy away from red on the basis of it being “fattening” because at the end of the day if you like it and feel good in it, the bloody well just wear it!
You know those times when on the way back from and extremely long 2 days in London when you spot a double rainbow and just have to jump out of the car while it is raining to get some all important photos? Well that happened to be us this weekend. As someone who is no stranger to a more challenging shoot, standing out in the rain was definitely not something new to me. Least the addition of not just one but two rainbows was a nice change. (We didn’t totally run to the car as soon as it turned monsoon like at all! with lighting equipment and all.)
Brilliant photos as ever by Tom Flathers
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With christmas very close on the horizon and uni coming to an end for the year as Chris Rea famously sang its time for driving (or for many of us taking a long train journey) home for christmas, with my train station destination being Birmingham New street.
With it having only opened in September of this year I was very lucky to get the chance to take some photos around the brand new Birmingham’s Grand Central shopping centre. When I first visited it a couple of weeks ago I knew with it being such a large open space with great lighting that it would look great for the blog, and low and behold a couple of days ago I ended up there doing exactly that.
Having made many trips to Birmingham New Street over the years and seeing half the station boarded up with this new building being built, it is so nice to finally see the brilliant result. I think its a great addition to Birmingham with the great restaurants and shops it has to offer.
The look for this shoot I kept very simple styling one of my favourite new pieces being this floral teal blue dress from Urban Outfitters. Within the winter months my wardrobe generally takes the turn into mostly dresses, thick tights and jumpers with finding this way of layering being the best way to keep warm and comfy. This one is a great addition for me this year with the lovely deep teal colour and small brown floral print. With the high neck line, bow collar and front pleat, this dress has a rather 60’s vibe about it with being a great way at getting a vintage inspired look.
Urban outfitters never fail to stock some lovely pretty floral dresses and various cuts and colours within their eclectic mix of stock. This one I was lucky to manage to pick in the black Friday sales so made it a lot more reasonably priced for Urban Outfitters.
Along with a simple pair of opaque black tights I completed the look with these patent Doc Marten shoes, adding a masculine twist to the look.
Thank you very much to Grand Central for the opportunity to use their facilities and I look forward to seeing it again.
Blue dress – Urban Outfitters
Shoes – Doc Martens
Photos taken by Tom Flathers