Tata Naka – a lesson in colour, pattern and quirkiness

Back in 2000 when I started knitting and only dreamed of doing it for a living, Tata Naka had just launched their label and had shown at London Fashion Week for the first time. It was a beautiful, whimsical collection which mixed modern shapes with vintage fabrics from their birth place Tbilisi in Georgia. I particularly coveted a pale pink, hand knitted jumper in a batwing shape where one sleeve had been replaced with beautiful, delicate lace.

Fast forward 15 years and they are still as innovative as ever, using bold colours and patterns in wearable shapes, often with a wink to their heritage or an interesting period in time.

On the 11th February, Vogue.com posted this mood board from their upcoming collection:

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This glimpse into the story behind the upcoming collection, showing, amongst other things, a little nod to Asian styles and shapes, shown through the multitude of images of classic Asian actresses and the Chines dragon print. It is no secret that I love colour and especially appreciate it when used in AW collections. This all made me more than a little bit excited and the resulting show was not a disappointment. These prints are mouth-watering, as is the colour palette:

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I also love a good, bold monochrome print and in a long-sleeved, maxi-length dress it is a complete winner

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Why not throw it together with another pattern? Bingo! The pleated multi layered skirt can cover a multitude of sins as does the polo-neck cut top.

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To me this is a garment for our (generally not very warm) English summers, to a wedding or party when you really can’t face uncovering your arms or permi goose-bumped legs:

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And if you are self-conscious about revealing your stomach (which is pretty much all of us) then:

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Their prints are pieces of art, it’s as simple as that. Who doesn’t want a suave, cravat wearing man on their skirt?

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Did I mention warm? Actual, warm looking winter clothes. For winter! And crushed velvet! Oh, you’ve come a long way since the early 1990s..

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And lots of white too. It just gave it such a fresh and light feel. Nothing dour here..

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And finally – no collection loved by me would be complete without a mullet relating item, seen here as a side-mullet top…

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This last one might just be overkill but so what. It is fashion fun at its best and not a dead animal in sight.

(all images from vogue.com)

Urtekram – Danish Organic Hugs for your Hair and Skin

My local health food shop (Well Natural in Salisbury) is small but manages to cram a lot into its shelves, stocking everything from vitamin supplements to vegan chocolate and even a little coffee shop. The staff aren’t particularly knowledgeable, especially when it comes to being vegan (I’ll probably have a little rant about this in another post). But it has been a life saver over the past few newly vegan months.

I’ve been able to research brands they supply to see which would be suitable for a vegan with über sensitive skin like mine and was excited to see a new brand: Urtektram on the shelves in the shampoo section. The excitement came, not only because it was cruelty free and vegan but because it have ‘NO PERFUME’ in bright yellow on the front of the bottle – score!

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In the days prior to my enlightenment regarding my allergy triggers (fragrance/SLS/lanolin etc) I had to wash my hair wearing rubber gloves. This has been a source of great hilarity for my friends and family.  I still do in fact, many years of bad reactions has left me nervous of risking days of steroid ointment and white cotton gloves as my poor hands recovered. I’m very fond of my yellow marigolds! However, in order to test how gentle a seemingly ideal product is, I give it the no gloves test over a week. It has been a revelation. The only other shampoo that I have found as good as this has been Jason Naturals Fragrance Free. However, I think this beats it hands down. I have super-fine flyaway hair and it leaves it clean and residue free. It also foams which makes it easier to ensure you have cleaned it thoroughly. I used to wash my hair every other day but this easily adds one more wash-free day which in the long is better for you hair. You can see from the water on this bottle that I have just used it!

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In the last few months I have been researching the positive effects of certain natural plant and nut oils on sensitive skin and it is really interesting to see that the main ingredients of this shampoo are Sodium Coco Sulphate ( a mild, non irritating surfactant made from coconut oil) and aloe vera. There are lots of interesting articles around Sulphates on the internet, most around the negative effect of Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulphate which are irritants and often both toxic and carcinogenic. But it is not ‘Sulphates’ that are the problem as there are many that are useful and not harmful to you or the environment, the issue is the word that comes before it. If you see a sulphate that you don’t recognise – check it before you buy.

Urketram is a brand that has been around in Denmark since 1972, selling herbs at a time when awareness about the environment was “an idealistic matter of the heart to a few people”, they pioneered the use of organic and fair trade produce. In the 1990s they led the way in bringing organic products into the mainstream and their stockists are ever-increasing. Their name is a clever play on the traditional Danish word for a herb seller, “urtekræmmer” and the work for a hug: “kram”.  They have a new fan in me. My local shop only stocks their shampoo and conditioner so I will need to look online for other products in this range and see if they are great as this.

Molecule 01 – A fragrance for those who can’t wear frangrance!

I had never heard of Molecule 01 before this week:

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I am totally allergic to fragrance/perfume, both essential oils and synthetic scents make my skin very upset (think nasty rash) so I have to wear it on my clothes or hair. This doesn’t bother me massively – but it would be nice to be able to spray something onto my skin.

Molecule 01 was recommended as it has no fragrance related ingredient – in fact the only ingredient is described as ‘Escentric Molecules Molecule 01: Iso E Super (65%)’. The company who make it claims it ‘smells different on everyone, but amazing on everyone’. They also say ‘The scent has a subtle, velvety, woody note which will meld with your natural pheromones, vanish, then re-surface after some time, making it totally individual and personalised to the wearer. You will rarely smell this fragrance on yourself, Molecule 01 perfume is more about the effect it has on others’.

Understandably I was keen to see if this was the answer to my perfume woes.

Well, the good news is that I had no adverse reaction to it on my skin at all, no irritation at all – score! The less good news is that it just doesn’t smell that great, a bit pine-fresh air freshener for my liking . On top of this, I really couldn’t smell much at all after the initial spray and I kept checking my wrists to see if the smell would ‘re-surface’. It didn’t. I asked both Victoria and my husband what they thought of the smell and they both looked a bit blank, indicating that I smelt of very little.

Maybe I’m not in turn with my pheromones (and maybe my husband isn’t either which would be a bit sad) or its rather a lot of hype about nothing.

But hey – no rash!