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The history of utility clothing


During WW2, and more precisely in 1941, a utility clothing scheme was introduced by the British government to aid the economy and help the war effort. This scheme produced cheap clothing for both men and women that were referred to as “civilian uniforms”. This type of clothing (labelled with a distinct utility mark, “CC41”) was introduced for several key reasons:

  1. Raw materials (cloth, wool, leather etc.) were in short supply and had to be conserved.
  2. There were no workers to make clothing as most had left to fight.
  3. Clothing prices needed to be kept low so that the civilian population could afford clothing of a reasonable quality.




The government knew that in order to make the scheme a success, they needed to make utility clothing interesting and appealing. Thus, in 1941, lots of skilled designers were hired, creating the Society of London Fashion Designers. High end designers such as Digby Morton, Peter Russell and Handy Amies contributed to make a remarkable range of clothing. There was an initial period of doubt and dislike by the general public and a concern over wearing identical clothing. However, this soon changed! Over time, there was a newfound appreciation for the minimal pleating, patch pockets and muted colours. The designs were simple yet still very chic and above all the clothing was highly durable in a time when clothing needed to last! Moreover in a time of stringent clothes rationing, the scheme was helping to bring equality to the general public, democratising fashion and making good quality clothing affordable for everyone.




Utility clothing became a real source of inspiration in the post war era, capturing the imagination of designers such as Coco Chanel celebrating a more liberated version of the feminine silhouette. For others, utility clothing inspired a revolt against the austerity of the period and designers like Christian Dior were driven by a desire for excess and lavish expressions of femininity with voluminous dresses starting an era famously referred to as the “New Look”.  

Undoubtedly, utility wear has had a lasting impact on fashion and brought about novel interpretations of clothing and yet is so powerful that we still enjoy wearing this style today!




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Pancake Day Recipes


Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day, is upon us and we are really excited to get our frying pans out and have pancake flipping sessions around the kitchen! It’s the one day in the year where no one can judge you for eating an entire stack for breakfast…. we think. Historically speaking, Shrove Tuesday was the last day to use up eggs and fats before the fasting for Lent began (40 days before Easter). This year we will be celebrating the day with sweet and savoury options, varying from crêpes to American-style pancakes, plus a variety of delicious toppings!


Sugar & Lemon crêpes



  • 125g plain flour
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp melted butter
  • 300ml whole milk
  • Butter, lemon and sugar, to serve



Sift the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre of the bowl and add the egg, some melted butter and milk. Whisk the ingredients all together to form a thin batter. Heat a small frying pan and add some butter to prevent the mixture from sticking. Pour in the batter and cook at medium heat for one or two minutes, flipping the crêpes with a spatula to make it cook on both sides. Once placed on a plate, sprinkle with sugar and lemon juice.


Spinach and Courgette crêpes



  • 500ml coconut  milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 220g buckwheat flour
  • 1 tbsp melted coconut oil, plus extra for frying
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 large handfuls of spinach
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil leaves
  • 1 large courgette, grated

For the filling

  • 1 fennel, sliced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 400g tinned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 avocado, peeled and sliced



Starting with the fillings, drain the chickpeas and add the tahini sauce, olive oil and salt, mix to create a mixture. Separately, bake the fennels for 30-40 minutes, till tender and crisp. To make the pancake batter, add all the remaining ingredients to a bowl, and blend on a high speed. In a small  pan, add coconut oil, and gently drop in the mixture. Cook for a few minutes on each side. Once on a plate, add the chickpea mixture, the fennel seeds and the avocado, and serve with a sprinkle of olive oil and pepper.


Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce



  • 125g plain flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg whites
  • squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest

For the Blueberry sauce

  • 1/2 tablespoons squeezed lemon juice
  • frozen blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons sugar



Starting with the filling, pour the frozen blueberries in a pot with some water. Once defrosted, add the sugar and mix until it gets smooth and thick. Leave on a side. To make the pancake batter, drop in a bowl all the ingredients, including the ricotta and blend at a high speed. Take a small pan, add some oil, and gently drop in the mixture. Cook for a few minutes on each side. Once placed on a plate, add the remaining fresh ricotta and the warm blueberry compote. Serve immediately.


Quinoa Pancakes with Bacon and Maple Syrup



  • 1 X 250g Quinoa
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 20g cornflour
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 50g melted butter
  • 2 tsps lime zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • To serve
  • 8 – 12 rashers of streaky bacon
  • Maple syrup



Add eggs, flour, baking powder to a bowl and whisk together until smooth. Heat your quinoa in the microwave and then add it to the mixture together with the sugar, butter, lime and vanilla. Leave it to rest for 1 hour. Take a small pan, add some oil, and gently add in the mixture. Cook for a few minutes on each side. Then set aside and fry the bacon until crisp. Serve with the pancakes and maple syrup.


We have willingly tested all these recipes, and they simply taste delicious! Pancakes are the perfect dish to bring together friends and family… and if you have some leftovers, wrap them up and make a long day at the office a little more endurable.





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The Culture Edit – London

By February 18, 2019 EVENTS, INSPIRATION

Looking for the most exciting exhibitions happening  in London right now?

With the end of winter and arrival of spring comes a calendar full of exciting cultural events, from art to photography and beyond! It might still  be a little cold and dark, but our guide to the best events, will leave you itching to get out and embrace all that London has to offer.


Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams (2 February-14 July)

The Victoria & Albert museum is going big this month with their latest exhibition: “Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams”. The biggest exhibition held since “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty”, the V&A will showcase over 200 rare Haute Couture garments, 500 exquisite jewels, gowns and photographs tracing the history and impact of one of the most influential couturiers of the 20th century. If you haven’t grabbed your tickets yet, do so now as they are selling fast!

Victoria & Albert Museum, Cromwell Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW7 2RL


Bedrooms of London (8 February-5 May)

The Foundling museum, in partnership with The Childhood Trust, is presenting “Bedrooms of London”, a new photography exhibition by Katie Wilson, highlighting how themes such as poverty and wealth sit so close together in a vast city such as London, in a comfortable – uncomfortable relationship. A range of stark imagery including the narrow spaces in which entire families are sleeping, this exhibit offers a touching insight into the lives and difficulties of youth affected by poverty across the capital.

The Foundling Museum, 40 Brunswick Square, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 1AZ


Mandela: The Official Exhibition (8 February-2 June)

What does the name ‘Nelson Mandela’ mean today, in a world where disparity and injustice are still so strong and alive? Celebrating a century since Mandela’s birth,  a new major exhibition takes visitors into the private life of the world’s most famous freedom fighter, revolutionary, political leader and symbol of the struggle against oppression. Photos, unseen film and personal effects are displayed to reveal the secrets of Mandela’s epic story till his final years as South Africa’s first black president. It is the exhibition to see, for now and always.

26 Leake St Gallery, South Bank, London SE1 7NN


Bloomberg New Contemporaries (5 December-24 February)

Returning to South London after 20 years,  Bloomberg New Contemporaries is presenting an insight into today’s most outstanding works made by emergent worldwide artists. Showcasing at the South London Gallery, 57 artists have been selected for the exhibition, featuring sculptures, drawings, and videos on several current themes such as migration, gender identity and technology use. Just a few of the artists you will find include names such as Chris Alton, Ayo Akingbade, Kara Chin, Camilla Hanney, Mohammed Sami, Rhona Foster! Don’t miss it!

South London Gallery, 65-67 Peckham Rd, London SE5 8UH


Pierre Bonnard (23 January-6 May)

After 20 years, Pierre Bonnard is coming back to London, more precisely to the Tate Modern, with a major exhibition that will bring together around 100 of the artist’s greatest works. Born in 1867, Pierre Bonnard was, with Henri Matisse, a French painter who became well-known for his unconventional use of colour, illustrating in his paintings scenes of everyday life and capturing the spirit of the moment through his unique handling of colour and composition. At this exhibition visitors will be lucky enough to discover breakthrough works such as: “Coffee”(1915), “Studio with Mimosa”(1939-1946) and Dining Room in the country”(1913).

Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 9TG


Celebrate the changing of the seasons with a heady dose of art and culture. Be sure not to miss these brilliant events that are in London this spring!

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Robert Burns Night

By January 24, 2019 EVENTS, INSPIRATION

From haggis to kilts, we’re celebrating all things Scottish this week. Roberts Burns night is an annual festivity celebrated on the 25th January, to commemorate the life and literary works of Burns in a night of eating, drinking and merrymaking. Over the years, it has also become a landmark of Scottish pride, and an opportunity for restaurants and bars around the UK to offer everyone a chance to soak up some Scottish culture.

Born in 1759, Robert Burns was a world-renowned poet and lyricist who shaped the Romantics literary movement. Inspired by the works of Alexander Pope, he shaped 18th and 19th century poetry in the UK. Burns’ most famous works include, “Auld Lang Syne” (1788) which is sung all over the world at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s.

But what’s the best way to celebrate this night?

A home-cooked haggis dinner with friends or a more formal supper is among the options. Traditionally, guests are meant to read out loud the famous “Address to Haggis” poem before they can start eating their meal. A traditional menu (usually haggis) is then served alongside whisky, wine or ale and entertainment for the night includes bagpipe playing, renditions of Burns songs and Scottish dancing. It’s definitely a night which celebrates cultural heritage and traditional experiences.

To get your haggis fix this Burns night, here is a list of traditional dishes (other variations may exist) and the best Scottish restaurants to have them in:

  • Mac & Wild – Fitzrovia

Fancy a burger with a Scottish twist? Mac & Wild bring us the best of the best of Scottish sourced produce. Specialising in classic wild venison, beef, steak and seafood and of course, whisky, they mix tradition with contemporary food as they serve Haggis pops and Tattie tots for starters. Mac & Wild are offering special Burns special nights ranging from a Burns Silent Disco, a Burns special set menu on the 25th of January and Haggis making classes.

(65 Great Titchfield St, Fitzrovia, London W1W 7PS)



  • Deeney’s – Leyton

Deeney’s café only opened in October 2018 and already has a cult following. Their haggis toasties called the ‘MacBeth’ have been going down a storm with customers. For a veggie option there’s the ‘Lady MacBeth’. They are also hosting a special Burns night which is available to book now.

(360 High Rd Leyton, Leyton, London E10 6QE)



  • Boisdale – Belgravia

Enjoy your haggis, neeps and tatties alongside the finest live jazz music in the heart of London. Boisdale serves the finest Scottish cuisine, book now for 4 course meals in celebration of Burns night.

(15 Eccleston St, Belgravia, London SW1W 9LX)



  • Ghillie Dhu – Edinburgh

Lots of fun and amazing food, Ghillie Dhu is the perfect choice if you are looking for an authentic Scottish night, accompanied by ceilidh dancing every Friday night. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, the menu includes abundant portions of black pudding and brie parcels; haggis, neeps and tatties; poached Scottish salmon with lemon and dill cream, and much more.

(2 Rutland place, Edinburgh EH1 2AD)



  • Ubiquitous Chip – Glasgow

Open since the 1970s, this Scottish legend is well-known among the locals as “The Chip”.  Located in the picturesque Ashton Lane, this bistro-pub offers a modern spin of Scottish classics and food locally sourced.

(12 Ashton Ln, Glasgow G12 8SJ)


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Les 100 Ciels X M2M

By November 30, 2018 BEHIND THE SCENES, EVENTS
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This season we are proud to support Mothers to Mothers (m2m), an International non-profit organization focusing on bolstering African healthcare systems, while delivering empowerment opportunities for women. From their launch in Cape Town, South Africa in 2001, m2m have developed to address the causes and effects of HIV, delivering benefits at almost all stages of life.  m2m employ, train and help to empower HIV-positive women as community health workers. These “Mentor Mothers” work in local communities, supporting understaffed health facilities to ensure that women and their families get the health advice and medication they need and are supported on their treatment journey.

In support of their work, we at Les 100 Ciels have committed to donate the profits of the sales of our Kasia 100% Cashmere jumper to the m2m cause. As part of this commitment, we organised a workshop in collaboration with The Yard Café in London, inviting the members of the Mama Club and our customers, to join together to take part in an embroidery class and awareness raising talk. The aim of this event was to support a good cause and build awareness of m2m amongst our customers and the general public. 

With the help of a sewing tutor, we have created about 20 embroideries, inspired by the m2m logo, which will then be pressed on our Kasia jumpers and sold in store.

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We want to provide our customers with more information about worldwide issues, while offering the best products with the highest quality. We hope to not only help less advantaged people to have better living conditions, but also to share the message that there is so much we can do as a brand and individuals. If you would like to give a thoughtful gift this year and contribute to a good cause, you can find the Les 100 Ciels X m2m jumpers online and in our St. Christopher’s Place store!

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In conversation with BY SARAH

By September 14, 2018 EVENTS, INSPIRATION

This week Les 100 Ciels met Sarah and Lauren, sisters and founders of BY SARAH, a UK skincare brand focused on high quality, natural ingredients. Read on as the pair chat to us about their bold and empowering mission to bring greater clarity, authenticity and simplicity to skincare.



Tell us about BY SARAH

BY SARAH LONDON is tackling the issue of transparency in skincare and advocating a more conscious way of living. Using only the finest certified-organic and ethically-sourced natural ingredients, we believe you should know exactly what you’re putting on your skin and it’s why we detail a full ingredient list on the front label of each of our products – absolutely nothing hidden, artificial or synthetic. We’re the only UK skincare brand to do this consistently across our collection. Founded and run by myself and sister, Lauren, from our studio in West Sussex, England.


What sparked your interest in skincare?

I worked in the beauty industry for over 10 years and have been crafting skincare at home since I was a young teenager. I took my passion much more seriously six years ago when Lauren was recovering from leukaemia. I was unable to find skincare that I trusted as many natural and organic ranges had long, cryptic and often confusing and misleading labelling. So I made it my mission to create my own blends using best certified-organic and sustainably-sourced plant-based ingredients to soothe and nourish Lauren’s sensitive skin. And the finest of my blends have become the BY SARAH collection.


How do influences from your past find their way into BY SARAH?

When I decided to create plant-based blends specifically to help Lauren, my benchmark was creating skincare that is of the highest quality, completely toxic-free and safe enough to use on babies’ skin (Lauren’s skin was as sensitive as a newborn baby’s). From this place, I saw that there was a real need to make skincare much easier to understand and to be authentic about the ingredients that are used. That’s why we only use the highest quality certified-organic and ethically-sourced natural ingredients and list them in full on the front label.


How has the brand evolved since you launched?

We launched the brand in November 2017 and are thrilled to have won 5 industry-leading awards to date, including our Organic Facial oil being awarded the Best New Skincare Product Launch by The Beauty Shortlist just 4 months after we launched – this was a truly magical moment! We’re having so much fun connecting with our incredibly-engaged following on social media, meeting our customers at events and pop-ups and frequently assessing how we can better serve our customers, whether that’s through specific topics in our blog posts or one-on-one skin consultations with me.

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You act consciously regarding your ethical and sustainable production. Do you also reflect this in your daily life choices?

Transparency and sustainability is at the heart of our brand mission and we’re both intrinsically linked to the brand- that in many ways is a reflection of how we live our lives. We’re big believers that less, of the best, is more – choosing organic products wherever we can is the best way to support this belief. Organic farmers nurture the richest soils for our crops to thrive in which is beneficial for wildlife and the wider environment, now and in the future.

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What is the biggest lesson that you have learned since you started BY SARAH?

Launching a new skincare brand in a highly competitive market is one of the hardest things we’ve done. You need patience – and a lot of it! Celebrating the small wins is crucial in acknowledging how far we’ve come in such a short space of time. Every new customer and positive comment means we’re one step closer to helping people lead more empowered and conscious lives.


What would you like to achieve in the near future?

Starting with bringing greater transparency and authenticity to natural and organic skincare, our dream is to become your go-to wellness brand for all your skincare, lifestyle and well being needs. Watch this space…


What’s your motto?

I live by Lauren’s favourite motto, which is “Live life as if everything is rigged in your favour” – Rumi.


The Les 100 Ciels team are always looking for like-minded brands to collaborate with and we were so excited to discover BY SARAH! Their commitment to transparency and ethical production for skincare is a pioneering force that we are proud to support. A range of BY SARAH products is available in our St Christopher’s Place store in Marylebone.

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