Shoe Repair London, Handbag Repairs London - The Restory, London

Exotic Leathers: The Ins And Outs

Emily John
 Oscar De La Renta Croc Bag '18

Oscar De La Renta Croc Bag '18

When we hear the term exotic leather we automatically think of snakeskin, crocodile or ostrich. But the spectrum of exotics is much larger than that; in fact, the definition of exotic leather comprises alligator to chicken legs and even elephant skin. Due to rising demand for exotics, luxury fashion houses are now trying to make their products even more exclusive by acquiring animal farms and tanneries. For instance, LVHM owns a crocodile farm while Kering invested in a tanning facility, specialising in crocodile skins. So why is exotic leather so covetable? Mainly because of the unique texture, colour and feel. And while bovine leather is flooding the market, only 1% of globally traded leather is exotic- adding to its value. Because of the great variety in exotics, here we will explore the precious skins that frequently pass through our atelier and also touch base on the tanning process of exotic leathers. Want to see exactly how we repair exotics? Take a look at our case studies Snakeskin Louboutin Pumps, Exotic Skin Clutch & The Miami Croc Bag.

ALLIGATOR

Alligator skin is soft, delicate and highly expensive. Despite its softness, alligator does not tend to stretch out, mostly due to the hard scales that can have a bony structure. However, the skin is more pliable than that of other reptiles. Therefore, alligator is usually easy to cut, stitch or fold. And how do you tell alligator and crocodile apart you wonder? Luckily, crocodile has dot-sized pores on the croc scales while the alligator remains smooth in texture. 

 Hermès Alligator & Lizard Kelly

Hermès Alligator & Lizard Kelly

CROCODILE

One of the most sought-after exotics, crocodile is very expensive and a somewhat durable but mostly a delicate material. The most expensive type of Hermès leather is for instance the Matte Porosus crocodile sourced from Australia. The Porosus can be distinguished by the small markings on the surface that are the remnants of the sensory pores to help the crocodile navigate in water. This type of crocodile skin, that’s taken from the belly of the animal, also has very fine, symmetrical scales- that makes the leather so expensive. Crocodile skin is available in a matt or shiny version, where the latter is buffed vigorously to achieve the desired affect. Ironically, both alligator and crocodile skins must be kept away from water to prevent spots that do not fade.

 Gabriella Hearst Croc Bag

Gabriella Hearst Croc Bag

SNAKESKIN

Generally produced from commercially farmed sea snakes, the leather is thin, flexible and delicate. Snakeskin has a very particular grain and scales that protect the snake from outside elements as it sheds off the dead skin. The size of the scales depends on the age of the snake and the area of the skin that was cut. Snakeskin can appear dry after the tanning process and natural colour pattern is normally bleached to achieve evenly coloured skin. Besides bags, snakeskin is mostly used to create footwear.

 

 Burberry Snakeskin

Burberry Snakeskin

OSTRICH

Out of all exotic leathers, ostrich is the most durable and has a thick, luxurious feel. The natural oils in the leather keep it soft and supple and prevent cracking despite extreme exposure to heat. Though it has water resistant qualities, it should be noted that the skin naturally darkens over time. Each follicle that contained a feather leaves a quill pattern –and an actual hole - behind and the area with the most feather socket markings is the most coveted and naturally also the most expensive piece of the leather.

 Gucci Bamboo Ostrich

Gucci Bamboo Ostrich

STINGRAY

Stingray is the Superman of exotic leathers as it’s almost immune to scuffs, scratches and sometimes, even punctures. Unlike any other material, the fibres present in the leather run inconsistently, which makes it difficult to tear. Additionally, stingray doesn’t stain and is naturally water resistant. On the other hand, the very rigid skin with small bone like scales is very difficult to cut or sew into and can break needles. And because of the limited size of the leather panels it takes much longer to manufacture.

 Marco de Vincenzo Stingray Heels

Marco de Vincenzo Stingray Heels

LIZARD

Even in the realm of exotics, lizard is a bit of a rarity. Made out of the hides of African water monitors, lizard is also a very delicate skin type that runs the risk of drying out if not regularly serviced. It’s what we would call high maintenance leather, as it requires special attention and should be kept at a comfortable temperature to avoid peeling or, as previously mentioned, drying.

 

 Hèmes Lizard Kelly

Hèmes Lizard Kelly

TANNING

There are two main processes in exotic leather tanning, namely vegetable tanning and chrome tanning. Vegetable tanning is a method whereby natural tannins, from tree bark and fruits and leaves, are used to give the leather a certain shade of brown. It’s an eco-friendly alternative to chrome tanning- a highly chemical process, which can damage the environment. However, the largest drawback of vegetable tanning is that it tends to discolour when damaged by water. Contrary, chrome tanning allows for more vibrant and opaque colours without the risk of discolouration due to the chromium sulfates and salts.

 

Whatever the skin and whatever the tanning method, exotic leathers require a bit of extra help to preserve longevity of a product. That’s why The Restory treats these as bespoke and individually tailored services so all you have to think of is passing it down to the next generation. Our Client Services Team  will answer all your exotic leather queries sent to service@the-restory.com

London's Most Insta-Worthy Gardens By Cameron Landscapes & Gardens

Emily John
 The Garden at Annabel's

The Garden at Annabel's

Wondering who’s responsible for that spectacular garden at the newly reinvented Annabel's?  Let us introduce you to Cameron Landscapes & Gardens, an award-winning garden service in London who, besides creating one of the the most instagrammable garden settings in London, is also responsible for the beautiful designs at The Bloomsbury, The Ivy and The Marylebone. With extensive horticultural knowledge, they can add beautiful colours and textures to your garden and offer perfectly tailored, unique designs for both domestic and commercial spaces. And if you are planning on hosting a few garden parties this summer or thinking of building a whole new roof terrace; George Brooke- who oversees their design team- is here to give you a little inside scoop on garden design.

 

George Brooke Cameron Gardens

What inspired you to start a career in Garden Design and has this always been a passion of yours?

I have always loved being outdoors but garden design was not a vocation from a young age.  It wasn’t until I went to work at Tatton Park Flower Show during my time at University that I realised my interest.  This was my first exposure to garden design and I really enjoyed the balance and diversity of its many parts - plants, aesthetics, design, practicalities and attention to detail.  Then post university I obtained my diploma from the London College of Garden Design and worked for myself for a year before joining Cameron Gardens.

 

Tell us a little bit about the work you do and how your typical day looks like?

At Cameron there is no such thing as a typical day as there is always an interesting mix of things to do, which is part of the reason why I enjoy it so much.  Having said that, my day normally starts with site visits or calls to the commercial installation teams and then an office based meeting with the design team to ensure we are all on track.  The rest of the day consists out of client meetings, new business pitches, designing, plant ordering and planting visits to round it up.

 

You handle a very diverse range of design projects from roof terraces to domestic country gardens, which do you enjoy the most and why?

Everyone at Cameron Gardens specialises in different areas and has a particular love for different spaces. I enjoy dealing with a variety of garden spaces, whether inside or outside, small or large they all have an individual characteristic to them but one of my favourite types is the City Roof Terrace. They are always a fabulous surprise, offering spectacular views and providing somewhat of a secret world.  And often connected with an internal living area, they are required to blend in with this space and ultimately enhance it. Although the range of planting used on a roof terrace is completely dependent on the client's brief, one should take certain factors such as area access, the strength of the terrace and of course the workable space, into consideration. In most cases it’s more efficient and helps reduce the weight load, to use pots and planters rather than building planting beds. Additionally, a roof terrace often comes with a wonderful view, so you would want any high planting one may consider to safeguard privacy to also allow for views of the inspiring cityscape.

 

What are key trends in gardening for this summer?

One of the most current trends is the wildlife friendly garden that allows for a little corner of wilderness into our gardens to do our bit for biodiversity. There is also high demand for British materials and plants as people move towards high quality domestic products with a lower carbon footprint. And we see increased emphasis on the practical use of our gardens with room for outdoor cooking, dining and relaxing for the ultimate outdoor living experience. Growing your own is another noticeable trend, whether it’s a small herb patch, vegetables in pots or a larger slice of the garden dedicated to the good life. It’s important to note that pots and containers can breathe life into the smallest of outdoor spaces and their content can be changed depending on the season and the mood, which is why greening balconies and terraces prove to be so popular at the moment. Internal gardening is also on the rise as even those with no outdoor space can now enjoy gardening. We are also seeing a lot of vertical walls, which is re-greening the urban environment through vertical growing systems. In other words green is in!

 

 The Ivy City Garden

The Ivy City Garden

 The Coral Room at The Ivy City Garden

The Coral Room at The Ivy City Garden

Which standout project in your career are you the most proud of?

All our projects tend to be a result of fantastic teamwork; if I really had to make a choice I would say that I am particularly proud our work at The Bloomsbury and The Marylebone. Both hotels have their own individual styles and areas, and the various gardens and planting we have created reflect the different vibes while working towards the overall brand of the hotels.

For instance, the entrance of The Bloomsbury has an inviting woodland vibe with lush green planting, which evokes an unassuming and welcoming atmosphere. The open terrace has more colour with floral seasonal planting that can be altered with the season to create the desired ambiance. And to complement the interior of the new Coral Room and create a cocktail setting, we added vibrant and bright tropical plants such as birds of paradise, palms and banana plants.

The Marylebone entrance is simple and sophisticated providing an appealing and relaxed feel that sets the tone for the rest of the hotel, which has a mix of corporate and public spaces. The Corporate area is 1980’s in design and the planting provides an inside outside feel, the planting used on the inside echoes that used on the outside terrace. While Brasserie 108 has a continental feel with sleek climbers and ferns, the planting for Pantry 101 is in English country garden style; soft, relaxed as befitting of the cafe. The floral seasonality keeps it ever changing and interesting.

The most enjoyable challenge for all these spaces is ensuring that each zone has it’s own feel but they also link together so that there is a sense of balance and cohesiveness. The planting is specifically chosen to enhance and support the raison d’être of the area. In addition, we want to achieve the look of lush and bountiful planting whilst working with the space allowed and make sure the area fulfils its commercial reason as well.

 

 How would we recognise a garden design by your hand, do you have a signature style?

Every Cameron Gardens design is 100% bespoke and different to any other design ensuring the clients garden is a result of own personal wishes. Even the gardens at The Ivy Restaurants differ from each other depending on the location and the intended atmosphere. 

We pride ourselves in creating beautiful spaces that really answer the clients brief with creative design ideas and planting schemes as we work collaboratively with clients and other contractors.  From a commercial project perspective, we relish the challenge of designing beautiful gardens and covering the commercial requirement.  As a team we are completely focused and pride ourselves on our professionalism, creative flair, complete attention to detail and ability to deliver projects on budget and to schedule.

 

What are the leather accessories you can’t live without and how do you take care of them?

My mobile phone case, which also doubles up as my wallet. It’s has undergone a lot of wear and tear and I don't take care of it as well as I should.  It is in desperate of a fix so I need The Restory’s help!

 

 City roof terrace design by Cameron Gardens

City roof terrace design by Cameron Gardens

And finally, what are your main tips to achieve a peaceful and relaxed vibe in a London city garden?

The most important thing to keep in mind is to make the space your own. Concentrate on including plants that you love in terms of colour and scent for instance. Do you want the flowers for picking or to remain naturally on display? Consider what it is that you need to use the space for and be realistic about how much time you have to maintain it.  If you are someone who enjoys entertaining guests then consider an outside kitchen, which can include an area of herb planting, for example a herb wall or in planters.  Think about the furniture you want, which can be brightened up with some of the fabulous outside materials, which are now available.

All Things Bridal With White Dossier's Gabrielle Taylor

Emily John
 
 Lela Rose Bridal 

Lela Rose Bridal 

 

As the Royal wedding bells are ringing, it suffices to say we are all in the mood for a bit of bridal bliss. Enter White Dossier: a bridal concierge service set up to guarantee that when you walk down that aisle, you feel the very best version of yourself. We had a little buzz talk with founder Gabrielle Taylor on all the latest in the world of bridal so read on to meet your new well-connected, stylish best friend! And for a flash of inspiration, head over to their divine Instagram account @whitedossier that’s sure to take “put a ring on it” to a whole new level.

 White Dossier founder Gabrielle Taylor wearing Inbal Dror at her wedding in Tel Aviv

White Dossier founder Gabrielle Taylor wearing Inbal Dror at her wedding in Tel Aviv

The idea for White Dossier came about not long after I got engaged; after working as a fashion designer for over a decade I knew exactly what I wanted. Despite my clear vision, I really struggled to find what I was looking for and it made me wonder how difficult it must be for brides who don't even know where to start in their search for 'the one'. My own dress hunt highlighted just how useful it would be to have guidance and help to navigate the bridal market- in essence a bridal fashion ‘planner’.  

As a bridal concierge, we want to elevate each client's experience and, of course, enhance their style on the big day and any other events around their wedding. We approach bridal from a different perspective; while respecting its traditions we also encourage our brides to not be governed by them. It’s very common for brides to fall into the trap of settling for a wedding dress they didn’t actually want. It's great to be different and wear something unexpected so we work a lot with both bridal and non-bridal Ready To Wear brands and we often encourage clients to consider the latter as a wedding day option. Sometimes that’s a sure-fire way of achieving a less traditional ‘bridal’ look that’s so in demand right now. Essentially, we want to make the experience of shopping bridal much easier.

Everything is so accessible in the age of social media, but in the same vein, there can be a distinct lack of practical information. Sometimes inspiration really isn't enough; brides need to be able to locate and buy what they've seen online, whether it’s on a Pinterest board or Instagram wall and that's where White Dossier comes in. We cut through the clutter to present brides with carefully considered and genuinely exciting outfit recommendations along with the vital information of the price and the place to get that dream look from. Another facet of the business is our support for emerging and lesser-known designers. Danielle Frankel is for instance a brand we brought to the UK for the first time through a Trunk Show at The Wedding Gallery and who’s also stocked on Net A Porter. She is a great example of the emerging bridal designers we’re supporting and drawing attention to.

We’ve recently noticed an increase in brides who are after wedding dress alternatives like jumpsuits and tailoring. These make for great city and civil wedding options, as well as post ceremony bridal attire. We love when brides with multiple wedding functions really mix up their looks. Brides who don’t want to wear traditional bridal are very much on the rise. They want our help finding a truly beautiful Ready To Wear look that can work as bridal and then enjoy wearing again. It’s always best to buy a wedding shoe you will be able to throw on with your favourite pair of jeans and a classic t shirt long past the wedding day, as the idea of buying a white satin shoe you’ll only wear once seems both dated and a waste. The same goes for bridesmaids and is it’s why the Paris based brand Les Heroines is proving to be quite popular with our clients. It’s not just about the wedding dress anymore; it’s about the entire wedding wardrobe. Although the main focus remains on the special day, the modern brides' needs now extend to pre and post wedding day functions - especially with the rise in popularity of destination weddings. Whether it’s a weekend in the UK or a few days abroad, couples now want to celebrate over an extended period, and that means there are a lot more looks to consider and put together.

 Prada Feather Trimmed Sandals SS17

Prada Feather Trimmed Sandals SS17

 Emilia Wickstead SS18 

Emilia Wickstead SS18 

A very current bridal trend we are seeing is a shift towards two in one dresses and detachable skirts. From Oscar de la Renta to Berta and Suzanne Neville, a lot of brands are now offering a detachable fuller skirt, enabling the bride to change up her look pre and post ceremony. These individual pieces allow brides to have 2 completely different looks within their wedding day. It’s also a great middle ground if you love the idea of an outfit change but feel it's a little bit too indulgent to have a second outfit while you are about to invest in something you’ll only wear once. If that’s the case, the two in one dress certainly seems to be the answer to your prayers!

Another re-occurring trend is pearls, and while they might have had an old fashioned connotation once - especially in relation to bridal- that’s definitely no longer the case. Used unexpectedly, they can be such a luxurious detail. Danielle Frankel’s bridal collection features a jumpsuit and an off the shoulder gown where pearls are used within the straps or as buttons, adding beautiful colour and texture. These pearls are large and irregularly shaped, adding a very modern touch. When used in a contemporary way, pearls can also make for stunning wedding jewellery. Made out of mismatched pearls, Sophie Buhai's choker is a fine example of a fresh way of incorporating pearls and adding a stunning dimension to your look.

The off-shoulder neckline is more of a staple and less of a trend and we love how designers keep modernising this silhouette. Galvan's debut bridal collection features a stunning full lace off the shoulder gown that is high on the wish list among our clientele. Similarly, capes are having a major bridal moment; short and structured or soft and billowing, they create a serious statement when walking down the aisle and could also be a great two in one piece for your wedding day. And sure to be popular with brides, we expect to see a lot more of beaded capelets as the Art Deco era of the 1920s that was a huge bridal inspiration for SS19.

 Chanel Haute Couture SS13

Chanel Haute Couture SS13

 Danielle Frankel Bridal

Danielle Frankel Bridal

 Miu Miu Glitter & Pearl Sandals 

Miu Miu Glitter & Pearl Sandals 

With the upcoming Royal Wedding and taking into account all the current trends, we can imagine Meghan in a beautiful structured cape for the ceremony and we wouldn’t be surprised if we saw some modern pearl accents. If White Dossier had had the honour of styling Meghan we would have commissioned Stella McCartney to create her dress. She is a designer that stands for sustainability- a cause both Prince Harry and Meghan are committed to- she is British, female and we think this would have been a great alignment for Meagan in all respects. We’d love to see her in something modern and minimal but with a standout detail. 

Engagement and pre wedding parties are such exciting occasions to celebrate with friends and family while the bride often feels more relaxed and carefree. There is only one rule for your engagement, and that’s anything goes! Bride should opt for something flattering that they feel great in because they will be the centre of attention. Our primary advice to clients who are having a pre wedding party is to choose something that’s quite different to their wedding dress. Of course nothing will outshine your the dress and everybody has a personal style but there is something nice about keeping the outfits really separate so your final look feels as unique to you and your guests as it should. For example, if you are wearing a more traditional gown on your wedding day, why not go for a beautifully tailored jumpsuit, or a flirtier mini dress?

When it comes to accessorising, you can look at your wedding in sections: ceremony, party, after party. So you can change up your accessories to suit. How about some great statement earrings after the ceremony for when the vibe is more relaxed and easing into the party? We love helping our brides to mix up their looks without them having to change their dress. We also advise them to buy into their accessories with a long-term vision. A recent client bought a pair of Valentino Rockstud kitten heels and they just peeked out of the bottom of her dress. It gave her look a little bit of a rock and roll edge. Those are shoes that, with a little re-heel and refresh here and there, will last forever. Wedding accessories can actually turn into a great investment, as you’ll wear them again and again. It’s a brilliant excuse to buy a pair of designer shoes that you’ve always wanted!

Once your wedding is over, it’s essential to bring your dress to a qualified dry cleaner as soon as you can. Wedding dresses get marked and the longer you wait, the harder it is to get stains out of the delicate white material. And when you do go to the dry cleaners, talk everything through and make sure they are confident in handling your wedding dress. Some beading for example cannot be dry cleaned as it may melt and it’s always good to be informed of the risks so you can make a decision or take it to a place that is better suited to cleaning your dress. 

Whether you’re the bride, groom or guest, The Restory offers professional dry clean advice and restoration services on all wedding attire and accessories. You could re-colour a clutch or even reimagine your wedding shoes by adding beautiful beads and stones as a detail. Book a pre or post wedding collection https://www.the-restory.com/book or email our Client Services Team on service@the-restory.com

 
 Chosen By One Day SS18

Chosen By One Day SS18

 

Azzedine Alaïa: The Last Great Couturier

Emily John
 Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier exhibition at The Design Museum

Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier exhibition at The Design Museum

If you admire Alaïa as much as we do, chances are you are well aware of The Design Museum in London opening a new exhibition this week dedicated to the late fashion designer. Or you might remember that epic scene from Clueless where Cher refuses to lie down on the filthy pavement while being robbed at gunpoint, exclaiming: ‘ You don’t understand, this is an Alaïa!’ Either way, make sure to pen down Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier in your diary as Alaïa himself co-curated the first ever UK exhibition on his legacy.  The exposition focuses on his journey from sculpture to couturier from 1980’s to 2017.  And with more than 60 couture pieces on display, rather than just a retrospective, it will shed light on the brilliant technique and craft that was applied in creating his pieces.

 Alaïa with Linda Evangalista at his atelier

Alaïa with Linda Evangalista at his atelier

Born in Tunis, Azzedine studied sculpture at Ècole des Beaux Arts before choosing to apply his self-taught skills in fashion design. He moved to Paris in 1957 and started working for Christian Dior and collaborated with other esteemed designers like Guy Laroche and Thierry Mugler, before opening his own atelier in 1979.  He invented the body-con style and enhanced the female form through his designs; created on the body instead of a sketch table. His work was made to be worn by Amazons so it was no surprise that the original supermodels of the ’80s specially flew down to Paris to walk his shows. No small feat considering that New York was the centre of the fashion industry during that time.  

Alaïa was widely known for his hospitality as he fed all his guests and workers at his apartment in the Marais, which also served as his atelier, shop and showroom. He was an absolute perfectionist who could spend 5 weeks or 5 years making a dress and he was adamant about doing everything himself, from cutting and fitting to sewing samples. He even altered all the patterns after the catwalk shows so his designs would fit the more average figure of a woman; usually carried out by fashion technicians specialised in this field. He didn’t accede to commercialism and refused to move to the incredulous speed of the fashion system.  Nevertheless, his designs were equally celebrated in Hollywood as in fashion; his impressive client list included Michelle Obama, Greta Garbo and he even dressed Grace Jones as May Day in the Bond film A View To A Kill.

With Alaïa, quality was definitely over quantity and each garment was carefully constructed and finished by his own hand seeing that he was always perfecting his own technique as opposed to following trends.  In continuous pursuit of innovation, he used stingray to construct bra tops and created dresses out of raffia and horsehair. He also laser-cut leather and fabrics to create his signature accessories and fitted silhouettes. He entered into a successful partnership with Prada in 2000 and the brand introduced a line of accessories with perforated bags and studded platform heels that are highly coveted to this day.

Alaia boots.JPG
Alaia bag.JPG

Alaïa’s leather creations are, just like his clothes, made with a sculptural approach and astonishing attention to detail.  His timeless designs are often considered heirlooms that should be preserved for future generations. “Once you start wearing Alaïa you just never stop” For this reason, we are always excited to receive Alaïa's work at The Restory atelier as we can help refresh the colour of your laser-cut leather tote or keep the studs of your platform boots in place! Please contact service@the-restory.com for details. 

- Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier will be open until 7th October 2018

 Azzedine Alaïa with one of his couture pieces

Azzedine Alaïa with one of his couture pieces