Thursday, 28 June 2018

Fashioned From Nature: My Day at the V&A

Beetles, Bustiers and Breaking Taboos
The exhibition is shedding a light on the cruel history of the Fashion Industry, and how it needs to change

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The exhibition asks viewers to think about their clothes and their relationship to the world. Image: V&A

I went to see the Fashioned by Nature exhibition at the V&A yesterday. At the beginning of the exhibition were a couple of waistcoats with gorgeous embroidery showing flowers and monkeys. The jackets themselves were made of silk and another natural fibre and dated from the 1780-89. The detail and intricacy was unbelievable. The lines of thread were so carefully coordinated and planned, so painstakingly sewn into the fabric. Craftsmanship like that isn’t easy to come by these days, certainly not that kind. Imagining somebody wearing that waistcoat is difficult: it’s delicacy and beauty somehow render it impractical.

Men's waistcoat , 1780-89, showing Macaque monkeys. Image: The Guardian
In the next cabinet were some examples of lacework. These were extraordinarily delicate and detailed. Metres and metres of hand-sewn lace, coiled like a ribbon. I thought of the craftsperson, bent almost double, the night encroaching on them as they strained their eyes to see, the light of a single candle guiding the needle in and out of the fabric like a lighthouse signalling to a ship.

But that wasn’t the full picture. Beside the exhibits were notes explaining how the raw materials were sourced and processed. Here the full story came to light. Flax and cotton gathered and woven by slaves. Factories where women and children were taken advantage of and paid next to nothing. Workers exploited, garments made in bulk by vulnerable people, water sources polluted, air spoiled, indigenous populations abused or neglected, animals slaughtered and insects harvested, natural resources badly managed, creatures hunted almost to extinction for hats and corsets. It was eye-opening and appalling.

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Slaves in a cotton field, c.1850. Image available under Creative Commons license
The thoughtlessness that has bloomed in fashion which grew out of the ever-growing need to express wealth and affluence in dress, and the desire to imitate nature, has often caused populations and habitats to decrease dramatically in size. The lack of respect for animals, fellow humans and ecology is staggering. The thing is though, it’s definitely got a lot to do with class. The amount of money it took to get hold of these materials, and in such large volume, must have been astronomical. Exotic beetles, wolves, raccoons, cotton, etc. had to be imported to the UK and must have cost a fortune. The people who eventually wore the clothes would’ve had little to no idea where it had come from, or the cost to the environment of their garment. The consumer was worlds away from the manufacturer.

Muslin dress decorated with beetle-wings, 1868-9. Image: V&A

These days you can easily find out where your garment was designed and made, but there are so many steps in between these two processes that your garment could have travelled half the world before being worn by you. And you would never know, just as you would never know how the materials your garment was made of were made or harvested, processed and worked into their final form. You wouldn’t know who had laboured over your garment, or who designed it.
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The Who Made My Clothes campaign is taking off! Image: The Joinery

It calls for transparency in the fashion industry, to abandon the whims of the consumer by reducing the influence of fast fashion, and for more compassion for the environment. It also demands research into the manufacturing of materials alternative to those made from oil (polyester, nylon etc.). There are so many ways to make clothing sustainably if you do the legwork and don’t cut corners. Prolific designers such as Stella McCartney have already declared war on non-sustainable fashion. Speaking to Vogue, she said: "If you’re lucky enough to have a business on this planet, you have to approach it in this [sustainable] way." The Stella McCartney website has more details of where the brand stands on issues such as the environment, nature and people. 

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One of Stella McCartney's latest collections was shot on a landfill site. Image: Stella McCartney

It really doesn’t need to be difficult, and the more people do it, the less it will cost in the end. I really hope people are woken up out of this crazy dream where the clothes they buy don’t have a huge, hidden cost to the planet and its population. Because nobody in their right mind would realise how detrimental conventional fashion practices are to the planet, and then carry on as before. Nobody.

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Emma Watson wears a dress made from recycled plastic bottles, by Calvin Klein. Image: Teen Vogue

Fashioned From Nature is now showing at the Victoria and Albert until 27th January 2019
Text: Ophelia, admin assistant at Madia & Matilda 

Sincerely Madia & Matilda

Sunday, 17 June 2018

How to Wear: the White Blouse

Carrie, Hunter, Greta, Sitara and Serina!

Blouses shouldn't be difficult. They are, in fact, extremely versatile and come in all shapes and sizes, for all occasions! Not sold yet? Keep reading... 

Carrie - Chiffon Blouse

Our Carrie blouse. 

Blouses in this style are perfect worn smart or smart-casual, e.g. for work. 
Team with neutral trousers or a pencil skirt for a bit of class! 

Hunter - Blouse
The Hunter blouse
This kind of blouse is very versatile. Tuck into trousers or high-waisted shorts for a super Summery look, or wear as shown and show your casual layering expertise. 

Great Greta!
Simple and understated, this blouse is nevertheless a bestseller, and here's why: the oversize look compliments most body types, and the button detail with the backwards collar makes this a gorgeous addition to any wardrobe. 

Our newcomer Sitara
She's new on the block, but she's making a splash! This beautiful blouse draws the eye with its frilled bust and neckline, making it perfect as formal-wear. Also lovely 
dressed down with a pair of jeans. 

Our short-sleeved style, Serina
This v-necked blouse is perhaps the most versatile of our blouses, with its short sleeves and simple elegance. Wear as formal, casual or smart-casual, with trousers or a skirt, or even with dungarees if you're feeling adventurous! 

Sincerely Madia & Matilda

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Kiera Court - In questions

Kiera Court

Meet Kiera Court, Singer Songwriter & self-professed dog lover, as she tells us about her collaboration with Madia & Matilda

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 

I'm a musician and songwriter based in London. In my spare time I like to wear nice suits, drink coffee and am actually have the cool capacity to cut my own fringe. With scissors. I could probably even cut it with pliers if they were to hand. I also really like dogs, but who doesn't?

Kiera is wearing the  Amelia - Dress

How long have you been Singing  for? 

I've been singing for a while - I don't have an exact date, but all I know is that I love it. I just love sounds.

Kiera's Dog Alfred wears Slate Dog lead from our Shop Unique Selection

Is there anything specific that inspired your Madia & Matilda photoshoot?

Mainly my dog. He's my rock and very photogenic - I wouldn't be surprised if he got scouted for Premier Pooch Models (does this exist?) or something. Madia & Matilda feels kind of homely - solid and sustainable like a friend you can always rely on and true to its roots. I didn't want to go too over the top with the shoot and portray the sense of honesty I feel Madia & Matilda conveys in the photos. 

Which is your favourite Madia & Matilda piece of our Summer 18 collection? 

I love the Henny cotton skirt. It's so light and breezy. I could gallop around London in that, hoping on and off the tube without have to groan at the tight constraint of jeans, or unbuttoning of a trouser. It's very classy and would look great in the day with a crisp shirt, blouse or in the evening with a cami top.

Beauty secrets... 

My hair is so big because it is FULL of secrets. 

Seriously though, I don't I have any specific routine as such at the moment. All I do is make sure I'm clean and well hydrated (like a plant). I try to drink a lot of water. A decent amount of sleep is essential too. I think the key to looking beautiful though is feeling it - a warm energy transforms a face and radiates around you. Everyone's perception of beauty is different and remembering that will get you far.

I don't wear a lot of make-up, and when I do, it varies from either dark eyes or bold lips. One or the other. Like boobs or bum.

 Kiera wears Jenna Cropped Trouser

If you can take us to your hometown for a day, where will you take us to? 

I was born in Chelmsford, Essex. If I were to take you there, we would most certainly not go out at night unless it were to the Bassment (get it) bar for some blues, jazz and just genuine good music. Hylands House would potentially be on the cards. That's where I walk my dog sometimes, and my dog comes first. We'd have to hit up A canteen in town though as they do gorgeous brunches. 

Follow you at... 
You can follow me at @kieracourtt on Instagram and Twitter 

Like me on Facebook:

Watch me on Youtube:

Read me on Medium: 

Sincerely Madia & Matilda

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Festival Styling

Looking Your Festy Best

When festival season rolls around, you're going to want to start building a pretty fab collection of clothes to stomp through the mud with. We're talking dresses with high hems so you don't have to pick them up as you tiptoe through the marshes, and cute tees to team with jeans for when the sun's hiding out. 

Our Kiera dress is a perfect style for layering with a jacket or popping a short-sleeved t-shirt underneath. And you'll fit right into the festy atmosphere with this bright quirky print! 

Nothing says Spring and Summer like our Eve mini skirt. Wear with a cropped top, long vest or jumper for an instant Spring-y lift to your wardrobe! 

Felicity - V-Neck Shift Dress

For a bit of flapper glam, you can't go wrong with this fancy little number. The Felicity dress  is a lightweight and classy addition to any wardrobe. It's versatile too— wear it in winter with an oversized coat for some '20s styling. 

Possibly our most festival-worthy garment ever, our sheer Julia dress is always ready for the rave! Slap on some neon body paint or wide fishnets and you'll be ready to go. 

Wherever you're headed this year, we hope you have a fabulous time! Be sure to check out our guide to packing for your summer vacays right here. Enjoy your summer!

Sincerely Madia & Matilda

Friday, 8 June 2018

Pink? But That's a Girl's Colour!

Rose, Fuchsia, Barbie, Flamingo...

Debunking the myths around society's much-discussed hue

"Boys can't wear pink!"

"Barbie's favourite colour!"
"You wouldn't catch me wearing that!" *barf*

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Pink, pinker, pinkest! The Mean Girls trio. Image: PinkNews (really!) 
Nothing says divisive, gender-based segregation than the 'pink for a girl, blue for a boy' mantra. Of all the colours of the rainbow, pink has had more than its fair share of misuse and misguided abuse. But what is the origin of the stereotype that pink is for girls? Can boys really wear pink? (Spoiler alert! The answer is yes!)

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The one-and-only Leonardo DiCaprio in The Great Gatsby. Image: Celebsclothing
Historically, pink was actually worn more by boys than girls. The reason for this was that pink, as a diluted but still potent form of red, conjured up ideas of strength, battle, blood and other such manly associations. Although infants and young children were usually dressed in plain, neutral tones to minimise the use of expensive dyes, up until the 19th century the rosy hue was mainly favoured by boys. Girls often sported the calmer, more tranquil blue, thought to better suit their docile nature.

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Thomas Lawrence's 1794 painting, dubbed Pinkie. Image: Wikipedia

So, what changed? In the aftermath of World War ll many people chose to express the end of rationing and society's return to normality in their dress. Designers such as Christian Dior and Elsa Schiaparelli opted for bright, exciting, happy hues under the umbrella of 'pink'. As people began to shop commercially rather than make up their own outfits, it was extremely important to take note of what the icons of day were strutting out in. High-profile personalities such as Mamie Eisenhower and Jayne Mansfield created massive buzz in outfits of unapologetic pink-ness, spurring women all over the Western World to imitate the look. 

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Jayne Mansfield in her House of Love. Image: WordPress

Still, it was only until about the 1970s that the trend started to seriously impact sales of gendered clothing for babies. Toy manufacturers soon caught onto the shift and began to advertise ranges catered specifically to boys and girls, the identifier being blue for boys, pink for girls. Gradually it became what is still is today: the way a young child learned about what it means to be a girl or boy: if they are a girl, they should enjoy wearing pink dresses and play with dolls, and if they are a boy, it's normal to play with fire engines and wear blue. What was initially one of fashion's phases became a hugely influential commentary on the role of gender and colour in society. As a result, pink is the most politicised colour out there. It will define our gender, and even our sexual orientation, if we let it.

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The Pink and Blue Project by JeongMee Yoon. Image: JeongMee Yoon
Hold the phone and shut the front door! You're saying anybody off the street can judge me on what colour I'm wearing that day? That's ridiculous! And it is. As one critic of the pink-for-girls trend said, wearing head-to-toe black used to be a symbol of mourning, yet we don't ask a person if someone's died if they favour the colour. Why should pink be any different?

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Cinderella was a fan of blue. Image: Pinterest
The 2000s ushered in a new kind of pink-promoting pop-culture. Legally Blonde, with the incorrigible Elle Woods, and teen flick Mean Girls, with the immortal "On a Wednesday's wear pink" line, helped to consolidate the idea that any self-respecting female held it in her best interests to wear pink loud 'n' proud.

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Reese Witherspoon rocking pink in Legally Blonde. Image: Cosmopolitan
Despite all of the above, pink is finally being reclaimed as a colour for everyone, regardless of gender or sexual preference. Millennial pink has risen from the ashes of the misinformed gender-based melee, and it's as inclusive as you like! Celebs such as Drake and Jay Z are notable fans of the colour, and have been snapped wearing it out a fair few times as well as in music videos. The stereotype that says pink is synonymous with femininity and sweetness is being discarded en mass. Solange's gorgeous video for Cranes in the Sky shows her wearing a selection of pink get-ups which transcend the mildly nauseating girly vibe perpetuated in the 2000s, and head straight for a new era of inspired rosy loveliness. As told by Stylist magazine, "Pink is the shade of the feminist revolution, radical femininity and the anti-gender construct zeitgeist." 

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Solange in her Cranes in the Sky video. Image: YouTube
Where does that leave me and pink? Wherever you like! It's time to depoliticise and redefine the colour and knock it down a peg or two. It should no longer define you; it's time you defined it: as fun, classy, bold, sassy, powerful and individual— as long as it's up to you!

Our peachy Stone dress: pink 'n' proud!

Sincerely Madia & Matilda