One of the great things about my job is that I get to see the latest collections from all the high-street names. Earlier this month I had a sneak peek at the Joules and M&S Autumn/Winter 2015 ranges.
It’s interesting how popular retail brands are embracing (it seems to me, at least) illustration and craft trends.
Joules’ mash-up of watercolour style graphics and animal motifs, plus monotone vintage florals with textures of beading, piping and pom pom trims, make use of a wealth of textile finishes and bring a fun sense of playfulness. Joules is well known for its cohesive colourways, season after season. AW15 is no different: the collection’s strong navies and cyans, with pops of magenta, neon and dusky pinks, really allow the illustrated designs to sing.
M&S also reference the handmade – perhaps even more overtly so. Its folk collection features motifs that evoke narrowboat flower painting and digital style blooms that are reminiscent of embroidery grids – all in a rich palette of purple, cerise, turquoise and dark navy.
Its upholstery ranges also reflect some of the trends I’ve seen in craft, particularly the woven, geometric style designs.
I have worked very closely with M&S Home in the past and know the retailer works very hard on giving the consumer a range of looks from which to choose. This season, its folker items are contrasted with a more opulent, almost Gatsbyesque, Deco-influenced items. However, here too I see the influence of the artisan. Not only is there a celebration of indulgent fabrics (velvets, chenilles, silks etc) but the key thing for me are the painterly references – its stunning marbled-effect wallpaper being most notable.
The retailer has extended the marbling theme to its dining collections. Its Nordic range of eye-catching plates have an almost watercolour-like quality. Apparently as they are individually made, each item is unique.
Last Saturday evening Dr B and I enjoyed two delicious aperitifs with kale juice as the main ingredient.
I love eating greens and I’m particularly a fan of kale (homemade spaghetti with kale pesto is a true ‘hug in a bowl’). Kale is such a versatile leaf and I’ve loved the recent trend for using it in cocktails.
We made a Kale Collins with kale juice, gin, soda water, agave syrup, cucumber and celery leaves poured over ice. The kale juice was made by blending a bunch of kale leaves, a little cucumber and a stick of celery with a cup of water and then passing it through a sieve to remove the unneeded fibrous parts.
It’s an incredibly refreshing tipple, surprisingly light and great for an early summer evening. We make a mocktail version the following morning simply by leaving out the gin and substituting the soda water with sparkling mineral water. It really works a treat.
We then whipped up a lovely Kale daiquiri by shaking kale juice, freshly squeezed lime, ice, white rum and ginger syrup, pouring into a coupe and garnishing with mint leaves and lime slices.
It was gorgeous. Very moreish. Too moreish in fact!
The start of May means bluebells in British woodlands and I’m lucky enough to live next door to a place that’s full of them – here’s some pictures I took while out walking.
You can find both English and Spanish varieties of the flower at this time of year but, while the Spanish version is just as pretty, it can be a bit of a nuisance. According to reports it spreads everywhere and can hybridise with our native bloom, possibly ousting it from its natural habitat. In short, it’s the plant version of the grey squirrel.
Thankfully we don’t seem to have any Spanish bluebells in our local woods and the few bluebells at the bottom of our little garden are English too. I’ve enjoyed studying and drawing the home-grown blossoms.
I love the carpet of blue, violet and green that graces our woodland at this time of year and it inspired me to create a repeat pattern design. I’ll be using this on fabric and paper designs soon, so watch this space…