Tag Archives: barnard castle

The Dress Agency CIC

The Dress Agency CIC is like no other clothing store I’ve come across before. I’m going to do you a huge favour and pass on the info about this little diamond of a thrift shop! You’ll be unable to thank me enough if you love high end, good quality labels such as Burberry and Vivienne Westwood at ridiculously low prices. Plus the added bonus is The Dress Agency CIC invests its profits back into the local community, so essentially you’re making the world a better place by shopping! Yay, go you!

 I was enticed into the shop by a window display showcasing an outfit Jackie O or Marilyn would have rocked in their hey day. The handmade salmon pink halter dress, made from fabric printed with ladies in cloche hats, flared beautifully from the waist, complimented by pale pink courts and a fresh white ladies umbrella to battle the turbulent weather. A clever use of colour against the grey backdrop of the looming clouds and slick tarmac. Next to the ensemble sat a pair of black Converse mid boots, a black spotted dress with a draped long-line pink lounge jacket and a popart style handbag, possibly Paul’s Boutique?! I had you at Jackie O, right?

The Dress Agency has expanded massively over the last three years which speaks volumes about how people are shopping for clothes in 2015. The main store compromises three street level rooms with rack upon rack of garments, shoes, handbags and jewelry plus a newly converted basement level that is beautifully designed to show off a huge vintage collection, including feathered hats and gloves against the backdrop of the original Smith fire range, exposed brick and coal chute. Eeeee they don’t make them like that anymore! (must be said in a geordie accent for full effect)

Owner, Leah Hobson was kind enough to explain just how a CIC led business works and allowed me to take a few photo’s of my favourite pieces currently in stock. (Its fair to say we also spent over an hour discussing favourite labels, The Bowes Museum YSL event and why Mulberry changed their design fob from silver to bronze…..I know…random)

  What is a CIC I hear you cry? Its basically a community interest company. Leah invites clients to bring in good quality clothing and accessories which when sold, The Dress Agency takes an agreed cut and reinvests that profit into training and employment opportunities for local people. Leah has connections all over the North of England and provides a friendly service to those seeking specialist items such as prom dresses and 1970’s vintage wedding gowns to original embroidered velour lounge suits (think more Golden Girls and less Juicy Couture).

After trying on every Burberry Mac and Irregular Choice shoe in my size I dragged myself back out onto the Barnard Castle high street. If you live in the North East and love fashion you simply must go visit The Dress Agency. I’ve added more photos to my Inspiration page….you can find them here.

Friends in the North West….we need a Dress Agency all of our own…..who’s with me?! 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Full Circle Fashion

In just a matter of hours I’m going to my first ever red carpet, fashion event. As a little (and not so little) girl I often dreamed of what it would be like to don a beautiful gown, slip on some Louboutins and generally look a million dollars smiling and waving to the crowds. It doesn’t help my shredded nerves at all that Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz are reportedly attending! Eeeek.

My first taste of high-end fashion was when The Clothes Show came to BBC One, Caryn Franklin (Oh her silver streak!!) and Jeff Banks became my style mentors each Sunday evening and having to wait a whole WEEK for the next episode was complete torture! I spent my early years in Barnard Castle (in the glorious North of course) where I regularly visited The Bowes Museum with my mum and older brother. Even as a youngster I was fascinated at the old-fashioned clothes and toys on display, I’m still awestruck 25 years later at founder of the museum,¬†Josephine Bowes’ pink taffeta ball gown which stands proudly along side regular exhibits from some of the worlds most famous designers. My love of fashion was born in those four walls.

Full Circle Fashion

Style is Eternal, hugging your brother outside the museum is most definitely not!

I moved away to the big city (Liverpool) and studied Fashion and Textiles design at St Helen’s College with the most awesome bunch of friends and tutors a frustrated artist can ever hope to meet. From recycled fashion shows (I strutted down a catwalk dressed in shredded bed-sheets and a corset at one point) to cheering on fellow class mate, Kirsty Doyle in her Project Catwalk triumph I had endless fun learning pattern cutting, history of art, screen-printing and photography (to name a few components of the course) and learned how to charity shop like a pro. Life skills!¬†Since my colourful college days I’ve worked in retail, merchandising, media and PR. I’ve had three beautiful children and chased off two husbands…..I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve moved house, dyed my hair and cleared out my wardrobe….things and people have come and gone. But Barnard Castle still feels like home and fashion is still very much my first love.

As a trainee fashion journalist I’m back in Barnard Castle for a few days as somehow I’ve been invited to the VIP launch of Yves Saint Laurent, Style is Eternal, the first exhibition in the UK to present a comprehensive display of the French fashion designer’s work and life…..at The Bowes Museum. I was tempted to write a piece on how much of a privilege it is for a museum in the North to host such a high profile event…….and while it is a major event I think it belongs at The Bowes, where Style is Eternal.

I’ve laid out my gown and carefully chosen my accessories ….no Louboutin’s for me just yet but I’d like to think Josephine would approve.

The exhibition runs from July 11th to October 25th so you too can fall in love with fashion. Tickets available here.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,