Makeover photoshoot with Iberian Black Arts



This was the last bit of the Geisha collection ( Part 1  and Part 2), and already drifting towards a Chinese or Manchurian influence.  I had enough good-quality Chinese satin brocade, (proper silk stuff, not the poly/viscose thing, for a change!) to make a skirt, corset and a little bolero jacket. And since I knew that  Threnody in Velvet, who modeled a part of the collection, is not only an amazingly gifted model but a talented photographer and make up artist, I decided to book a little makeover session with the other side of her business, Iberian Black Arts … and I wasn’t disappointed!


Threnody … I know i have posted the image before, but – I cannot get enough of it! 🙂


So a date was set, and I  put some time aside to actually make my outfit. And as luck would have it, I ended up with an emergency commission instead – so had just a day to make something wearable…..

The corset was first – and from the start I regretted the choice of fabric.. the satin frayed like a mad, fraying thing, it wrinkled, moved, had a life of its own. It was too late to get fusible interfacing, so had to just get on with it and relay on roll-pinning and pure luck – and hoped the cat wouldn’t mind the amount of bad language that issued forth during the production…


I do mind, you know…. foulmouthed creature!

In the end, success was just partial, I didn’t  manage to get rid of all the wrinkles, but since it was not an item for sale I decided to leave it as it was and maybe trust the power of Photoshop….

On the day  I grabbed the outfit, accessories etc – and since I was asked to bring another outfit just in case we had time to shoot more I packed  my ‘snow queen’ gear too…

On arrival at Patricia’s studio we did not waste much time and got straight down to business.  That is, I was munching on my sandwich whilst we were  just getting the final details of the make up and hair – I had set up a board for inspiration, so we looked through different photos to get a clear idea of the styling.

The calm scene before we started…



Make up and hair took a bit of time, but not too much – and it was time well spent on a pleasant chatter, as well as deciding on some editing options, etc, and then it was time to  don the gear, lace up and pose!

One important thing to mention beforehand – I am not a big fan of over the top post-production (Photoshopping, etc). I mentioned this, giving examples of what I definitely didn’t want –  I wanted my body to stay the way it was, with no reduction etc,  and  my face basically unchanged as well –  I often see the results of the popular boudoir make overs where  ladies are virtually unrecognizable in the final image. This is fine if you are working on a product shoot ( though even here I tend to have problems with overphotoshopped models setting impossible standards), but not really for a personal image –  everybody who knows me will just chuckle at a weird attempt to look much younger and much slimmer, and so I asked for minimal amount of post production. This is actually also why I chose Iberian Black Arts –  the images  showcased  in the portfolio were a  high quality ones, but not overly ‘over the top’.

And to be honest – the make up and the light worked wonders on their own…. well, see for yourself below……


After we finished shooting, I got the proofs the same day and chose the images I liked most, for editing. We discussed background options for both looks and the rest was just Patricia working her magic….

The  Chinese look ( with a spectacular yellow kanzashi made especially  for the shoot by Kikuya Kanzashi )






and the Snow Queen one…





By comparison, see the uneditted  behind the scenes shots – three of the proofs, straight off the camera, showing me having some fun…:




standard pose for all my shoots….




As you can see  the skin tone was smoothed and lightened to work with the  styling for the image, the corset wrinkles magically disappeared, but it is still recognizably me, my body with slightly glamorized face. Happy with that:-)


Altogether, I must say I was delighted with both only the experience and the end product – highly recommended – If any of you folks would like to have a go at a makeover with Patricia ( Ipswich based), do give her a call, you won’t be disappointed – and the prices are good too! I found it a great way  to showcase my work as a designer and maker, and have a bit of a girly fun as well – so work and play combined 🙂






Christmas at Holkham


Yes, it was this time again. just like previous 3 years ( post here  and here), we were working at the stunning Holkham Hall. 2 weekends full of lovely singing from the Upper Octave, bell ringing,chatting with visitors and marvelling at the house. The house was decorated lavishly – as always. This year it was birds that were the inspiration behind the decor:-)

but have a look for yourselves… 🙂


the table in the kitchens…




everything polished to a high lustre….



staff resting after a hard day’s work – from Black Knight Historical



downstairs was decorated too…







all a cake…



the Marble Hall hosted a full flock of swans… glorious!






Peacocks reigned in the main reception room…



with small peacocks in the biggest christmas tree ever!

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the tree in all its splendour…


more swans and other animals in the Winter Wonderland section


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my favourite part of the house:_)







south dining room was all bedecked in warm colours, feathers and sweets…


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more birds!



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and a certain satyr….


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my favourite tree – the Partridge and Pear tree. very simple, so elegant!


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another favoutire, an antler tree


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the Swan Princess


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the Brussels sprouts room – loving the livid greens and the turkey!

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and the character – the Holy King and the snow queen 🙂

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Lady Augusta

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amazing Upper Octave

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random rabbit





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and, once again, the Hall in its glory


The outside was just as festive, with entertainment, food, carriage rides and gift shop full of excited visitors – but snce we were working inside, we did not manage to capture any of that! we did catcha fe pictures one morning bfore the work – featuring the new stock dolmans from our shop


dolman snow1 dolman snow2 dolman1



And after greeting and chatting to  about 800-900 people a day, on finishing the work I was fit for just one thing… a snooze in a warm bed!


Happy holidays to those who celebrate them!




2 Faces of Winter: Polaris


This was the second part of the project 2 Faces of Winter, and whereas the first one, Desolation, was all about the bleakness of the season, this one, Polaris, was to be all about the sparkle of the freshly fallen snow,  quiet, fluffy and cold, reflected either in the weak sunshine, or, better still, in the cold moonlight on a starry night.  Link to my inspiration board here 

  I had a skirt , all in feathers, and a bridal coat from our Winter Bride collection lat year – but needed  a proper wintery corset and headdress to go with them.

 Once  the base was all ready ( white cotton sateen, internal boning, bound in silver), it was time to start on the decoration…


experimenting with different textures


snowflakes galore!


layering the bling…




flossing detail

 The headdress was the next step – and since the coat looks a bit Russian I decided to go for the traditional Russian headdress called kokoshnik tiara.

 First – the base, experimenting with the shape


 when I was happy with the shape, i stabilized it, added attachment points and covered everything in white linen first, then silk. The base was trimmed with marabou feathers, and silvery white ferns were arranged on top. then just added bling, and the strings of pearls…

Image Everything was ready, but we had a slight problem… no snow in England. none forecast either for the next few weeks, and it was already the end of January… If we wanted snow we either had to think outside the box – or travel.

 Fortunately my parents live in Oslo – and snow is there aplenty. after a quick look at budget airlines and timing, we were booked on the flight to Norway. A short trip, 2 days, should be enough to do a shoot, catch up with my folks and maybe do some skiing!

 We arrived  on Saturday afternoon and had a brief wait for my parents who were out at the language school, studying Norwegian. we used it constructively – bought gloves, hat, and started making a sledge out of the snow.   in the afternoon we just managed to catch enough light to shoot one part of the Polaris  the results below…


and the sledge! 🙂

for those of you wondering what footwear was used, wonder no longer….


the answer is – reasonable footwear. 🙂

The next morning brought a change of weather – thaw:-(  it was raining a bit and all the snow was gone from the trees, but there was still enough to snatch some proper pictures in the daylight.


Norwegian daylight is sort of more of a UK dusk…





  And the job done, we could relax. Alas, due to the weather conditions, no skiing for us – but fortunately sledges were still game! We hired sledges  at the top of one of the mountains – the route winds down for about 2.5km  and ends at a train station. Very convenient, as the train carries you all the way up –  to the start of the sleigh route!  it was great fun despite the drizzle and dense fog:-)  a few pics below:-)




 After a few hours  of sledging fun, wet and achy (  the route has a lot of moguls throwing your sledges into the air – and sometimes you land ok on the sledges, sometimes you don’t… impressive bruises were gained thus…) we got warm and soothed our pains with copious amounts of tea and cake in the local restaurant:-)


the restaurant… very cool


even cooler…


the interior design did not disappoint…


neither did the cake…

  Next morning it was time to get back home –  tired, bruised, but happy with the pictures! 🙂

Many thanks to my parents for putting us up for the weekend:-)

 Hope you enjoyed them too – all costume pictures by Pitcheresque Imagery, clothes by Prior Attire.

2 Faces of Winter: Desolation


 Following the autumnal fun with Spirit of Autumn, i decided to have a series of seasonal projects – and the next one, naturally was to be Winter.But since I couldn’t make up my mind which part of winter I like more, I have ended up with 2 sub projects; the first one, Desolation,  was inspired by the bleakness of the season – the muted dark colouring, dirt, mud, rain, fog and ice; death and decay – a typical British winter for more of its duration 🙂

I wanted to include some organic bits, just as I did in the Autumn part – but it turned out to be rather tricky! in the end i settled on the lunaria pods ( honesty plant, silver dollar plant) and some twigs.  once that was decided upon, the design was made…


soon after i started collating bits and pieces that would go together – chiffon, bling etc…



The corset (pattern – Sew Curvy overbust) was made in white and black sheer, with pods of the honesty plant sandwiched between the layers. The pods symbolize the rebirth – that even in death there is a seed of life hidden within, awaiting awakening once the seasons turn.


The channels are exterior,  fashioned of a lovely grey tape – I used the same tape to bind the corset.  Boning – usual mixture of flat and spiral steels; some of the steels can be seen between the layers of the sheer – adding a hint of a skeletal deathly character to the corset.


 Additional decoration is provided by the bling – black, grey and transparent crystals emphasising the hip and bust; two big crystal brooches  provide anchors for strips of chiffons – grey and black, matching the skirts, hanging in the front. They also anchor the black chiffon cape.


The skirt is on the big side and was a real fun to make – big cotton base then strips of torn chiffon are randomly attached to the base. Not the most comfortable attire to walk in, but looked impressive while stationary 🙂 . About 20 metres of different chiffon were used…


the base of the skirt, in cotton


attaching the strips of chiffon, with the usual helper….

The crown is made out of frosted twigs and pearl and bead strings – all fashioned in about an hour.

Finishing the outfit was a bit hurried – originally we were hoping for snow, and since no snow was forecast, I was taking the project easy. and then one Monday evening we had a fog – a proper, dense, milky fog. next morning we were both more or less free, so we decided to shoot the thing in the morning, using the fog as a background.

Alarm was set for 6 – if it was foggy we would get up, get ready ( make up, contact lenses, hair extension etc all take time!). and  go and shoot. But when i woke up at 6, no fog was about. I even got up and went outside – the ground was white with frost, but no fog. back to bed then.

And then, at 8 am, with the sun rise, the frost turned into milk white fog….

Make up etc was done in record time and we were off – I even managed to get the contact lenses in less then 5 min, a huge achievement!


on the way to the shoot

It was still bitterly cold and wet – and muddy! we decided to use Harold Odell Park again – a lot of interesting places there!

and the results….









 Very happy with the results –  it was worth doing it with the fog, worth getting cold and getting dirty boots too…


 Hope you enjoyed  the pictures –  all images by Pitcheresque Imagery

The other face of winter, Polaris, is already done – and will sort out the post on that soon!

and in the meantime, the corset is up for grabs at a discounted price  in our shop!