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The History of Cashmere

By November 5, 2019 FASHION, IN THE MEDIA, INSPIRATION, Travel
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Cashmere has a long history going back many hundreds of years. The origins of this natural fibre comes from the cold, mountainous regions of China, Mongolia, India, Turkey and Afghanistan. For centuries, local people sought the hircus goats for the fibres of their coats that were long, silky soft and warm to help the animals survive the harsh conditions of winter. The fibres were combed off the goats and made into blankets that were prized for their superb warming ability. Early written accounts in the 15th century, describe the high quality of fibre from the kashmir goats of the Kashmir region. Thus the name Kashmir stuck and for many years Kashmir yarn was traded within the region.

Fast forward to the 18th century and the rise of the Imperial powers. Traders brought kashmir items back along the Silk Road from China to Europe and the Americas bringing much excitement. Initially kashmir was available exclusively to royalty and the elite members of society. It was considered the height of luxury and cashmere shawls or ‘pashminas’ particularly were a symbol of status and the pinnacle of a fashionable aristocratic woman. Even Napoleon was reputed to gift his wife Empress Josephine pashminas leading to a large and famous collection of pashminas.

The story of cashmere was advanced considerably, when in the 19th century interest by European manufacturers turned to creating mechanisms that could replicate the production of cashmere fibres into yarn as was witnessed in the East. Areas such as Scotland became powerhouses of cashmere production and a new era for cashmere was born. Cashmere rapidly gained popularity, particularly the cashmere sweater and twin set, sweater and cardigan- items that everyone wanted to have and show off. This would have perhaps continued, however popularity began to dwindle during the 1980s when cashmere was appropriated by high end designer brands who marketed cashmere as a luxury, highly expensive quality only accessible to the ultra wealthy.

In the last 15 years, cashmere has seen yet another shift, appearing on the high street for much lower prices. The proliferation of cashmere has meant a renewed increase in popularity, however mass production has also meant it is difficult to ascertain quality. There are now many brands claiming to sell cashmere, however the product is in reality a blend of cashmere and other fibres to achieve an inexpensive product or a lower grade, short haired cashmere item.

It is clear that cashmere has had many twists and turns in its history and it is hard to say what will be the next chapter for this yarn especially with the rise of mass production of the quality. What do you think? Do you own any cashmere? We are probably a bit biased here at Les 100 Ciels, but we do believe there isn’t anything quite like 100% pure cashmere-it is so soft and comforting to the touch and its warming qualities are undeniable- it is truly something to cherish..

Want to learn more about cashmere quality? Read more about this exquisite yarn here.

 

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Winter Style

By October 25, 2019 FASHION, INSPIRATION
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Sometimes when the weather is grey and freezing cold, the last thing on your mind is looking fashionable. It may seems a better idea to stay indoors hiding under a blanket and if you have to go out, you contemplate taking the blanket with you! Winter style doesn’t have to be an oxymoron. We’ve got a few tips to see you through the winter months looking your best.

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Our number one tip is to invest in warm  jumpers. With the arrival of fast fashion, lots of cute and cheap styles are available but while they might be nice to look at, they probably won’t last the winter and they definitely won’t help keep off the winter chill. Instead, invest in high quality fibres which are known to be warming like wool and cashmere. These are made of long natural fibres which work to retain the heat close to the body. We also recommend going for some classic colours such as grey, navy or black. These can act as the foundation of your wardrobe and be easily matched with other items of clothing.

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Our next tip is thermals. You would be forgiven if thermals bring to mind 1940s men wearing longjohns- not the most attractive thought! But it’s fair to say that thermal garments have come a long way and new technology means there are lots of great options on the market. They can be worn as tights or a worn under a chunky jumper for a layered look. Thermals also come in lots of colours so you can add a pop of colour to your look while keeping very warm. Yay!

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Probably one of the easiest ways to look fashionable without making much effort is investing in outerwear. The options are plenty- from puffer jackets to trench coats, coatigans (yes, that’s a real thing! It’s a mix of a cardigan and a coat),and there are plenty of long and short coats in unique cuts to suit all women. The key is to think about your lifestyle and your particular style. If you work in a corporate environment, a good choice for you might be a longline, classic coat that can be versatile but still look smart for formal occasions. However if you spend a lot of time outdoors you probably will be looking for something that’s more waterproof and warming!

 

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Next up, footwear. The lack of weather appropriate footwear is the downfall to many fashionable women. There is nothing as horrible as looking fabulous but having soaking wet and freezing feet- a reality for a lot of women in UK. We believe there is sweet balance to be found with a fashionable shoe that also works practically for your needs. A knee high boot is stylish and can elevate an outfit, but so can a patent brogue. It all depends on the weather where you live and your taste! Having a few pairs of shoes to choose from is a good idea to mix and match your looks.

 

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Finally accessories are your best friend in the winter. When you are bundled up from head to toe, sometimes an accessory is just the thing to lift an entire outfit. We take the term accessory to have a broad meaning covering jewellery to hat, scarves, belts, bags, even an umbrella. Try a few ideas out and don’t be afraid of experimenting!

Have you get any tips for fabulous winter style? Let us know in the comments section below.

 

 

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Autumn Winter 2019 Fashion Trends

By August 23, 2019 Editor's Picks, FASHION, IN THE MEDIA, INSPIRATION
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As we near the end of summer, it’s that time when we start thinking about the arrival of the new season and inevitably our wardrobe. Today we’re highlighting some of the most exciting fashion trends for the Autumn/ Winter 2019 period so you’ll be ready and in the know once the season begins!

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1. Utilitywear

Yes , it is back again! Utility wear is one of those trends that comes back again and again. It is reminder that you can never go wrong with some utility inspired clothing in your wardrobe. For the coming season, try the trend in a neutral palette such as head to toe tones of brown and beige or go for the statement utility wear jacket or coat that you will last for years to come.

 

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2. Floral Noir

Florals, a summer favourite, have been appropriated for the colder months this season. All florals will be big this coming season, but unlike summer flowers, the trend leans towards a brooding, romantic style- think deepest-red roses stumbled upon in a forgotten garden in the dead of night. We love this trend as there is lots of room to transition from the summer months.

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3. Neon Brights

If you thought that neon bright colours were for the hot summer months you’d be wrong! This autumn/ winter we will be seeing neons in all shades and we’re pretty sure you will be seeing some head to toe neon looks prowling the streets day or night! If you love the idea, but it all seems a bit too much, consider adding just a pop of neon to your wardrobe. Neon shoes, accessories or trim details on your clothing are the perfect nod to a season trend without the fear of being mistaken for a road sign!

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4. Luminescent

Metallics were all over the runways, especially in gold and silver tones. They appeared in full metallic looks or sparkling separates. Metallics can add that extra texture and brightness to your outfit and is much easier than you would think to go from day to night. Pair an iridescent faux collar on a simple grey sweater and you’ve instantly vamped up your look.  You can also go big with the trend and wear contrasting metallics for a bold, statement look.

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5. Sharp Suiting

This season, the revival of tailoring is back and here to stay. From menswear inspired suits to waist cinching, slim and trim designs, there’s a lot of variety built into the trend. Choose your favourite and get the look! If you’re tired of wearing same old suits, why not try wearing a silhouette you’ve never worn before or add  your own unique touches, such as extreme shoulder pads (also a trend this season) or details like brooches or embroidery.

 

What trends do you love? Whether you love all of them or just a few, the trick with fashion trends is to just have fun with them. Don’t take it all too seriously and remember to make it your own. In the end, there is nothing quite like personal style to outlast any fashion trend!

 

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Style icons through the decades

By July 30, 2019 FASHION, IN THE MEDIA, INSPIRATION
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Over the years, there have been a few key female figures who have firmly held the title- style icon. These women were true trailblazers in fashion during their times, setting trends and creating movements. The true marker of a style icon is their lasting inspiration to women of all ages and periods. We have selected a few of our favourite style icons over the decades.

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Katherine Hepburn 1930s

An actress who shunned the press in favour of staying out of the spotlight, Katherine Hepburn was the original wearer of androgynous clothing. While her peers wore sequins, curve hugging clothing, Hepburn chose wide leg trousers and loose, crisp shirts. Her style was one of comfort and practicality and fashion houses followed her embrace of traditional menswear with designs for the modern woman. Her style is still referenced year on year on fashion catwalks around the world.

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Ava Gardner 1940s

An actress renowned for her beauty, Ava Gardner lit up television screens effortlessly. She was famous for making the neckerchief popular as well as the belted waist for a cinched in look. Her style was all about the glamour of Hollywood and her dresses and love of blue hues were immortalised in fashion history.

 

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Audrey Hepburn 1950s

Perhaps the epitome of a style icon is Audrey Hepburn. Actor and celebrity fashionista, her simple and classic style burst on to the scene in the 1950s and since then she has continued her legacy as a symbol of classic, elegant style.

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Jackie Kennedy 1960s

The wife of an American president, Jackie Kennedy became a fashion icon with her feminine and poised looks. Her two piece suits became the rage at the time as well as carefully coiffed hair and dark sunglasses. Her style was mimicked across the United States and spread around the world in popularity.

 

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Jane Birkin 1970s

A French model and singer who the world was enamoured with, Jane Birkin became famous for her cool, off duty dressing. It was a simple and effortless sense of style that was truly a diversion from the 70s flower power era and for this it was refreshing and alluring look for the period. Her classic jeans and a white tshirt have continued their legacy into present day.

 

 

 

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Madonna 1980s

One of the most controversial style icons is Madonna, singer and actress who challenged norms and always caused a stir!
From conical bras to patent leather boots and controversial references to Catholicism, Madonna has influenced trends and made huge statements in the fashion arena like no one else!

 

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Kate Moss 1990s

Model Kate Moss defined the 1990s with her pared down and minimalist style. Her thin frame was the perfect base for the simple slips, leather jackets and tailored blazers.  She is as much a style icon today as she was in this period with many looks coming back into circulation!

 

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Sarah Jessica Parker 2000s

SJP had a number of fashion titles under her belt in the 80s and 90s, but in the 2000s she truly shot to stardom with the Sex and the City tv series. Her on-screen character had an addiction to fashion and a shockingly large shoe collection which mirrored the real life woman’s love of fashion. Her style embraced experimentation, the mixing of textures and colours all with a strong feminine streak running through it.

The jury is still out on who will be our favourite style icon of the 2010s. In an era of social media with platforms like Instagram, we have so many more sources of inspiration for fashion and style. We’ll be back with a closer look at our current favourite style icons soon.

Who are your favourites?

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Your Fashion & Interiors Style

By July 19, 2019 FASHION, Uncategorized
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There is so much inspiration to be found for home decoration when browsing online.  The problem is, how do you decide what style to go with for your home?  To make the process of beautifying home interiors in a style reflective of who we are and what we want to express, we’ve turned to fashion. Style is such a personal thing. It doesn’t always follow trends (although it can definitely be influenced by it) and it doesn’t always make sense to others. There are many parallels between how one’s sense of fashion can inform choices for interior design. Both are hugely influenced by what you are drawn to in daily life and both take on board the function, mood, colour and a balance of proportion and details. So whether you’re a home decor veteran or someone just starting on an exploration of taste and style, here are our 3 tips on how to draw from your fashion style to truly express yourself at home.

 

1. Think about your lifestyle and personality

Do you prefer to be dressed in a comfortable and relaxed way or do you usually prefer to dress up and be more pulled together? Are you an extrovert – happy to be the centre of attention in a flowing red dress or are you an introvert or somewhere in between? What kind of activities do you enjoy in your leisure time? These are just a few of the questions you can ask yourself to discover more about what fills you up and makes you feel like yourself. Use this information, when thinking about your home decor. The mood of a home can be a direct reflection of your personality and your typical fashion tastes.

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2. Your existing wardrobe gives hints to your interior design style

Take a look at your wardrobe. What sorts of colours are more prevalent? Are there lots of florals, geometric patterns or perhaps it’s a monochrome palette with solid, clean lines. Preferences in your clothing can provide a lot of information about where your tastes lie and what you might be more predisposed to in your home decor.

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3. Take note of other elements in your wardrobe

Jewellery is another important indicator of style and taste that can be woven into interiors. Do you lean towards silver or are you more of a gold and brass person. These tones can directly translate into finishings in interior design for example light fixtures or door handles. Also not to be overlooked are other accessories such as shoes and handbags. Do you love leather or natural fibres like rattan for your handbags? All of these elements are possibilities for the home- from leather pouffs to rattan and wicker furniture. Fashion broadens your horizon to the multitude of options that exist for the home.

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With these tips in mind, explore your style and feel free to draw from fashion and interior design styles interchangeably- this is one of the best parts of working with the two design forms. If you love the colour orange but just can’t bring yourself to wear it.. add orange as a pillow, a throw or an accent wall in your home. Or if you love a bold geometric print, but don’t want to commit to it in your home for the long term.. you can add this print into your wardrobe! The great thing about fashion is that it allows you to indulge in bold tastes in a temporary and transient way that sits very well with changes in your mood and tastes.

As a final note, sometimes a firm fashion style can spark a desire to explore its opposite. Your fashion style might be very clean and minimalistic but you feel drawn to bold colours and lush textures for the home. This is ok too. Go with it! Your home is a very personal and private space. Fashion has always been about encouraging experimentation and going with what feels good.  The same is true for interiors. Have fun and create the perfect space for you!

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A History of Linen

By June 28, 2019 FASHION, INSPIRATION
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How one of the oldest fabrics in the world became the must-have fabric of summer

Linen is a firm favourite for summer, loved for its simple and elegant qualities. It is well known to wick moisture away from the body and keep you cool, while being iron-free and highly durable.. what’s not to love!?

This summer, linen has gained huge momentum, appearing in store after store in beautiful designs and colours. Most snapping up the trend do not realise the long and fascinating history behind the fibre, so let’s dive in and take a closer look at linen’s journey through the centuries. 

 

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Linen, made from the fibres of the flax plant, is one of the oldest textiles in the world. Historians believe the flax plant was first domesticated in ancient Mesopotamia and discoveries of linen fabric have been found dating back many thousands of years.  The process of turning flax fibres into linen is a difficult and laborious one. The plant is temperamental and requires a great deal of attention during its growth and once ready for harvest it is a long process to extract the fibre from the stalk. In addition, flax fibres are not elastic, and therefore it is difficult to weave them without breaking the threads.

 

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With such a long and tedious journey to attain this raw material it is a wonder that linen every came about! However, possibly because of this long process, linen became a sought after quality especially among the elite and wealthy. Linen was a symbol of status and a luxury fabric to be seen wearing. Moreover, in some areas, such as ancient Egypt, priests wore linen and it was even used for burial shrouds because the fibre was seen to symbolise light, purity and wealth. Linen was so valued, that in a curious fact, for a time it was even used as currency!

 

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With the invention of the flax spinning wheel in the 15th century, linen production grew quicker and faster and it became cheaper to purchase linen household items. However this coincided with cotton production seeing an increase and it became increasingly popular, eventually surpassing linen. Nevertheless, advancements only continued over the years until linen peaked in the 19th century with large scale improvements in farming practices and as machinery fully mechanised linen production. At this point, linen truly took off. It became available for a variety of uses: bedding, bath fabrics, upholstery, tablecloths and books. It was and still is the preferred traditional support for oil paintings.

 

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Skipping forward to more recent time, in the 1970s, linen experienced another evolution when the bulk of production shifted from household items to clothing. It was at this point that people truly embraced the fabric in a multitude of fashion forms, from the hippie movement, to the cool sophistication of white linen. Linen was appreciated for its hard wearing quality, because it was cool to touch, smooth and loved for the fact that it got softer with repeated washing. Les 100 Ciels incorporates linen styles into our collections year after year and this season we have truly embraced a range of colours and styles to suit every woman. Shop our linen styles here!

 

 

 

 

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