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Monthly Archives

May 2018

Hibiscus Flowers and their Symbolic Meaning

By | Fashion, Food for thought | One Comment

 

I first saw the hisbiscus flower whilst living in Cascais near Lisbon in the late 1990s.  I was so struck by its vibrancy, along with the brilliance of all the other native flora, that I experienced my own blossoming as an artist.

I recently designed a scarf reflecting the various pinks that hibiscus manifests itself in, and it made me want to find out a bit more about this enchanting flower.  It has some really interesting meanings and uses, and I thought I would share a few of the facts that I discovered with you. 

The word hibiscus comes from the Greek word Hibiskos, meaning mallow, as the plant is from the Mallow family.  It grows in hot, humid climates and there are over 200 varieties.  The red variety is known as the Rose of China/China Rose.  In China the hibiscus is associated with wealth, glory or fame.

All hibiscus flowers are short-lived, and so in many cultures they symbolise women and youthful or delicate beauty or perfection.  Conversely, in South Korea, they represent immortality, and in Malaysia, they seem to have a bit more vitality as they are known as the celebration flower.  For these two countries the flower is so significant it’s represented on national symbols or currency.

But the hibiscus is perhaps most famously associated with Hawaii where it is the state flower, and the one used to make the famous welcome gift of the lei.  To the Hawaiians the flower symbolises power, respect and hospitality.  Though interestingly, women also wear it behind their ears and which ear they choose communicates a message about their availability to men. 

In Africa and the Americas (amongst other places) the hibiscus flower is widely drunk as a tea.

The health benefits of hibiscus tea or Agua de Jamaica, according to the website organicfacts, include its ability to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, disturbed digestive and immune system, and inflammatory problems.  It helps cure liver diseases and reduces the risk of cancer (allegedly).  It can also speed up the metabolism and help in healthy, gradual weight loss. It is rich in vitamin C, minerals, and antioxidants and helps in the treatment of hypertension and anxiety.

N.B If you are going to try this please make sure you buy it from a reputable health store and seek their expert advice before taking the tea, particularly as it can interact with other medications.

In Britain the hibiscus was widely used as a decorative design in the Victorian era.  In fact, it is still a common motif on many fabrics and objects worldwide, like these beautiful clothes and accessories.

So there you have it; around the world the hibiscus flower variously symbolises health, delicacy, beauty, glory, immortality, power, respect and hospitality.  For me, it means inspiration, and journeying.  To everyone, it’s an iconic, stand-out emblem, and always in fashion.

Why not stand out in your own luxurious hibiscus scarf or pocket square and discover what the beautiful hibiscus flower means to you?

The three hibiscus designs above at shopblueflamingo.com/shop/womens  are: 1) Hibiscus on silk scarf, 2) Hibiscus on cashmere and 3) Hibiscus on silk pocket square for men.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog.  As always please leave your comments below.  I love to hear from you. 

Jude x

The Royal Wedding of Harry and Meghan Markle and how to take inspiration for your wedding outfit

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The Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Saturday May 19th 2018

 

Did you see the stunning Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle? I was equally enthralled by the wedding guests’ arrivals to see what they were wearing.  I have compiled a list of the most eye-catching celebrities further down this blog, and some tips on how you can incorporate their look into your own wedding outfits if you are the lucky recipient of an invite this year.

I felt like it was as intimate an occasion as a royal wedding could be whilst still being inclusive due to it being held at Windsor Castle which enabled the joyous crowds to line the long route to the chapel. 

The gorgeous Meghan Markle arrived stepping elegantly out of the Phantom Rolls Royce wearing a stunning creation by Clare Waight Keller who had earlier in 2017 been appointed the first female artist director of Givenchy — a brand Markle had been a fan of for many years. While a French couture house may not have been the most obvious choice, Keller ticked the most important box — a Birmingham-born Brit who could fly the flag for British fashion at the most-watched royal wedding ever. – HarpersBazaar.com

Now for those showstopping guests, below from left to right: Serena Williams in a gorgeous blush pink Versace ensemble.  Oprah Winfrey looked amazing in blush tone dress with matching shoes and hat.  Apparently Oprah had a very last minute change of heart with her beige outfit, deciding it was a “no no” colour for the wedding photos so Stella McCartney’s team worked over night on Friday to get the new  dress ready for the wedding!  Oprah’s beautiful hat was a Phillip Treacy creation which had been in her wardrobe since 2005; only new feathers were added for this occasion.  (Stella McCartney got a second look-in on the wedding as she designed Meghan’s halterneck evening dress).  Gina Torres, Meghan’s co star, chose a red and white embroidered tulle dress from Costarellos’ Spring 2018 collection topped off with soft pink hat.   Joss Stone wore a floral number with a cream fascinator to finish it off.  She also carried a pink scarf/stole which I think really added a touch of elegance.

 

 

 

Here are some equivalent dresses you can find on the high street or on line: from left to right: Calinda soft pink Ted Baker Bardot dress £189 at houseoffraser.co.uk,

Biba ruffle dress in blush pink also at houseoffraser.co.uk  Red lace plunge fishtail dress £45 at missguided.co.uk and the Ivory floral print hem dress £69 from sosander.co.uk

 

 

Why not imitate Joss Stone and hold your scarf? Or another trick to look chic is to tie it around the handles of your handbag.  What about trying the look with the Frida Kahlo design and have your partner wear the matching pocket square for a winning combination? There are many other mens and ladies designs to choose from at shopblueflamingo.com.

For me, the prize for best-dressed guest was carried off by George and Amal Clooney.  George wore a tie and pocket square in gold tones which matched his wife’s stunning golden yellow dress.  It goes to show how powerful the little details can be – choose the right accessory and you can truly stand out from the crowd.  The dress below right is from River Island.  Bottom left Champagne ladies silk scarf from shopblueflamingo.com and bottom right gold pocket square also by shopblueflamingo.com

Thank you for reading.  I hope you enjoyed this blog.  As always, I love to hear your comments.  Please leave them below.   Who were your “best” dressed celebrities or guests at the wedding? What did you like about the Royal Wedding?  What did you not like?  

Jude x

A Flamboyance of Flamingos

By | Fashion, Seasonal | No Comments

I feel I cannot have a website called Shopblueflamingo.com without paying homage to these wonderful birds and explaining where the name ‘blue flamingo’ came from!

Firstly, why flamingos and what does that have to do with fashion?  I was drawn to these stunning birds when I first visited Flamingo Land in Yorkshire as a child.  I remember being totally mesmerised by them.  They just didn’t seem real.  It was as if they were meant to be in a children’s book as a fun loving character, but no, here they were, right in front of me elegantly, nonchalantly doing what flamingos do.  So what do flamingos do?  Well here are some facts:

 

  • They are gregarious birds, preferring and thriving better in larger flocks.
  • Flamingos are wading birds but are genetically close to grebes.
  • The word flamingo comes from the Spanish and Latin word “flamenco”, meaning fire, a reference to the birds brightly coloured feathers.
  • The Pink flamingo (there are also grey and paler versions) gets it’s colour from the food it eats: shrimp, algae and insects. The shrimp contain carotenoids which give the pink flamingos their beautiful colour.
  • To eat they tun their bills upside down in shallow waters and scoop the food up, filtering out the water.
  • They are monogamous and lay only one egg per year.
  • They are often seen standing on one leg with the other tucked into it’s plumage to keep it warm.
  • When it appears that the flamingo is bending it’s knee, this is actually it’s ankle.
  • In the wild they live up to 20 – 30 years, in captivity 50 years or longer.
  • It is acceptable to call a flock of flamingos a flamboyance of flamingos – How cool is that?!!

So, I think you may be starting to get the picture of why at least I chose flamingos as part of the name for my shop.  Their gregarious nature and flamboyance totally emulates what shopblueflamingo is all about, wearing unique, not on the high street, accessory designs on luxurious silk and cashmere – so you feel like the special person you are.   However, I hear you ask? Why blue?

Ok, so blue is my favourite colour but that isn’t reason enough to just throw it into the name of my shop!   In my vivid imagination (some may say weird, but that’s okay, weird is good, it’s extraordinary!!), I imagined a flamboyance of pink flamingos and one of them felt different.  He/she wanted to stand out from the crowd and be ‘blue’.  Blue, just happens to be – yes, my favourite colour – the colour I first painted with in the late 90’s, living in Portugal and embarking on an Azulejos tile painting course (see previous blog for more info).  

So, back to the blue flamingo.

He/she is strutting his/her stuff in the flock and certainly gets noticed.  The meaning behind this is that, oftentimes in life, we try to “fit in” with the crowd even when inside we feel “different”.  Our personalities and passions can often be hidden away as we fear being labelled “weird.”  How do you feel about this?  Do you conform to be accepted?

I was always creative, but it was the easier option, for a while, to conform and “fit in”. So, I hid my passion away for years.  The problem with that is you can only keep it up for so long because it is soul destroying, suppressing that creative energy.  Eventually, my true colour burst out and I started a business in ceramic painting.

I loved it, I felt like me.  My passion was finally out there.  Today, that business is no longer (more info on my website) but I have found my path into the world of using my creative skills to design on ladies pure silk scarves and pocket squares (oh and more recently ties) for men.  It has combined my love of art, design, fashion and entrepreneurial skills in a way I could never have dreamed of when I first picked up the paint brush to do my first design, in cobalt blue powder paint on a bisque ceramic tile all those years ago.

Well my friends, I hope you now understand the meaning behind Shopblueflamingo!

The mantra, or catch phrase I use always is: Be bold, Be unique, Be extraordinary because just like the blue flamingo we are all bursting to show our true colours.  Is that true for you?  

Blue & Pink Flamingo silk scarf Blue Flamingo silk scarf Blue & Pink Flamingo pocket square Blue Flamingo pocket square

So, please let me know you comments on this blog in the comments box below. 

How the beauty of tile paintings in Portugal has inspired the fashion world

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Looking at the designs below you cannot fail to see how unusual and unique they are.  Take a look around the next time you are shopping and see if you can spot similar influences on clothes, shoes, bags, ear rings, nails and even home accessories.   So where do these ideas come from?   Surprisingly we need to go back into Portuguese history to look at tile painting, or Azulejos painting as it is known, to understand more.

A small selection of beautiful “azulejos” inspired designs in fashion:

A brief history of Azulejos painting in Portugal  •  By David Whitley – 24 May 2014

The Museu de Nacional in Lisbon (left) and a Portuguese tile painter (right)

“The blue-and-white tiles that line the church of Lisbon’s Madre de Deus convent complex tell stories in engrossing detail: Moses and the Burning Bush, the life of Santa Clara, the works of St Francis of Assisi. The tiles, called azulejos, are not only compelling, they are also uniquely Portuguese – which is why, in 1971, the convent became the centrepiece of the Museu Nacional do Azulejo, a museum dedicated to preserving tile art from around the country and across the centuries. The word azulejo comes from Arabic roots and means ‘small polished stone’,”  In the 13th century the Moors invaded what is now known as Spain and Portugal the tiles were much less elaborately painted and quite small pieces.  The technique took a foothold in Portugal in the 16th century.

Read more at here

My Connection with Portuguese Azulejos painting

I first came into contact with this style of painting when I moved with my husband and my (then) 2 small boys to a fishing village near Lisbon. One of the things you couldn’t fail to miss was the huge tile painting on the outside and inside of many buildings. I was intrigued and decided to embark on a tile painting course with a neighbour. I have never looked back. It was my introduction into the art world. After a 3 year stint in this country we had fallen in love with, we returned to the UK and I started a business called Ceramicart, where I painted tiles and incorporated them into bespoke wrought iron furniture.

Three of my own tile paintings framed and now hanging in my home in Portugal:

 

Today I am still working on my passion for art. It is no longer ‘ceramicart’ or tile painting but designing pure silk scarves for ladies and pure silk pocket squares and ties for men, here on shopblueflamingo.com.  One of my latest silk scarf designs takes inspiration from the magical time when I painted on tiles in a workshop with a Portuguese artist, near Lisbon.  This beautiful design pays homage to the traditional azulejos craft, which often depicted images of Caravels (Caravels, small, highly maneuverable sailing ships, were used by the Portuguese for the oceanic exploration voyages during the 15th and 16th centuries in the Age of DiscoveryPrince Henry VIIVasco da GamaChristopher Columbus, and Bartolomeu Dias all used caravels). 

I have added my own contemporary twist with an abstract woman’s face peering through, in the background, to emulate the loved ones who were waiting for their partners, husbands and sons to return safely from their often treacherous journeys.  

The Blue Marine design ladies pure silk scarf that was inspired by the traditional azulejos paintings of Portugal:

Let me know what you think about this blog and the Blue Marine ladies scarf design in the comments below.

Silk Fascination

By | Fashion, Food for thought | No Comments

Silk – luxuriously lustrous, sensual and comfortable, cool and breathable in summer and warm in winter…  no wonder we are so fascinated with this easy to dye and wear natural fabric.

China is the leading producer of silk. It produces about 74% of the world’s supply of raw silk. In many places the dead silkworms are seasoned, cooked and eaten. So nothing goes to waste.

Historically the Chinese protected their silk production for over 3,000 years and anyone caught trying to smuggle the caterpillars and mulberry leaves they fed on were punished by death.  

You may well have heard of the “Silk Road”, which was actually several roads – a network of trade routes to transport much-prized silk from the east to the west beginning over 2,000 years ago. 

Silk Today

The silk used for the ladies scarves and pocket squares for shopblueflamingo.com is produced from the best growing regions in China and it is top Grade AA quality. The undyed fabric is printed with my designs at Adamley Mill in the village of Langley just outside Macclesfield. 

Adamley has been printing fabric for over 50 years.  They still do screenprinting, also rotary and most recently digital. 

The printed fabric is sent to France to be finished by artisans who craft and sew the rolled-edge seams.

Adamley Mill receives the finished and packaged product and inspects the quality before sending them to me to offer to you, my super stylish trend-setters..

So you see, by the time you receive your beautiful unique scarf or pocket square it has literally “gone through the mill”, pardon the pun!

 

                     

The silkworm cycle                                                      The silkworm and the pupae                                   Weaving the silk in China

Silk pocket square and tie set
Hand woven silk tie and silk pocket square set. Pink and Blue flamingo design for ladies scarf and mens pocket square

 

Hibiscus design ladies pure silk scarf

Let me know what you think about this blog in the comments below.