Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Interview: Dawntroversial

With a mane of shocking pink hair, you would be right to assume 25 year old Dawn Smith isn’t likely to send a mundane pair of shoes out into the world. After turning a hobby into a business ‘Dawntoversial’ shoes was created. Why shoes? It started when she was a young child. In between tending for her pets, a jumble of goats, geese, peacocks and dogs, she seized any given opportunity to get creative. ‘I remember making my mum a pair of shoes when I was about four, out of cardboard and painted them. She put them on and politely said that they weren’t comfy enough to wear. I then took them away and put bubble wrap inside them for her. I thought that was so funny.’ She’s certainly come a long way in a short amount of time. Only just starting her business in July of last year, the X Factor has already borrowed five of her unique shoes, some of which are currently on tour with the X Factor contestants. More recently one of her designs, the wonderful ‘My Little Pony’ boots, were heavily photographed, blogged about and even featured on websites such as VICE and WGSN after being worn at London Fashion Week in February.

Living in Glasgow her whole life, she appreciates the city and the inspiration it gives her. ‘Glasgow is an amazingly fashion-orientated city full of great culture, people and architecture. I am constantly inspired by the people I know here and new people I meet all the time from models to designers. I also love seeing new ideas and business’ coming out of Glasgow. It’s amazing.’ Although it seemed an obvious path to follow, fashion wasn’t the route she initially went down. Instead, she decided to go to university and came out with an Architectural Design Degree which she uses to influence her work. ‘I couldn’t see myself not being involved in fashion in some way or another, I love it too much.’ Considering herself an artist rather than just a designer, she creates pieces of art on every shoe, slowly moving onto more sculptural and decorative looking pieces. ‘They’re all very outlandish and crazy.’

All of Dawn’s creations are hand made by the lady herself and she is proud to announce every customer receives their very own pair of personalised shoes. ‘Every shoe I make is bespoke so no one else will have the same pair of shoes as anyone else. I like speaking to each customer about exactly what they would like and creating something special for them. That matters most to me as a designer.’ A self-confessed night owl, ‘I always stay up until three a.m. every night’, she fuels herself with Radio One, green tea and chocolate which undoubtedly helps when spending up to three hours on one pair of shoes. It’s not as simple as sticking on a few gems here and a couple of studs there. ‘I have to waterproof them, lace them, wrap them up and post them. I have to Dawntroversialise them.’ Dawn’s signature style is a space or galaxy print shoe all of which she hand paints herself and to achieve this look it is essential she uses the perfect colour palette. ‘I love metallics, silvers, turquoises and purples. They work well together when creating cool, futuristic looking galaxy shoes. I love them looking edgy.’ It is clear to see that Dawn enjoys her craft and the creative aspect of her work but when asked what her favourite part of designing is she answered, ‘when a pair is finished and I deliver it to the customer or send it to them. The emails I get are amazing and the response is always positive. Making them happy makes me very happy.’ By giving her customers something as carefully thought about and personalised as her creations are, there is no doubt this helps her business go from strength to strength.

Dawn is currently preparing to showcase a new collection of fourteen ‘crazy shoes’ at Glasgow’s Nightwalk Fashion Show, founded by Angie Koorbanally for up-and-coming local designers, models and makeup artists to showcase their work. Considering she normally leaves everything to the very last minute and gets it done on next to no sleep, this is obviously a project she is very excited about. What’s her favourite pair from the collection? ‘A pair covered in cream lace with rainbow roses, lilac chains and small sugar skulls all over them.’ Oh, nothing too flamboyant then. To compliment her ridiculously unique footwear she has also been working on some one-off pieces of clothing too, favouring sheer fabrics, lace and netting, ‘there’s something a bit revealing and cheeky about these materials and having to layer them or wear them with a nice bra or body underneath.’ It’s going to be quite a show.

Considering the distance this talented woman has come in such a short amount of time it would be ignorant to suggest that she hasn’t got an exciting future lined up ahead of her. With plans to create more clothing, shoes and to visit Tokyo, ‘my friend and I have been discussing going to Tokyo with an empty suitcase and buying so many of the crazy, cool and cute things which are so reflective of the city style and harajuku girls’, her main fashion goal is to keep evolving her Dawtroversial business and present her work at more established fashion shows. For now. ‘I am constantly changing what I am doing and changing my mind in terms of my ultimate goal which I think is ok. I get bored easily. I might fall back on architecture of photography, I’m still finding my feet in the fashion industry but I’m sure I will slowly but surely move into the career path which is right for me.’ So, ultimately, where does success lie for this Scottish lass? ‘In happiness. I would rather be doing something I like and be poor, than be earning lots of money and be working my ass off in an office. Being my own boss is something I consider to be a sign of success, I love being in control so that makes me happy.’


Thursday, 22 March 2012

Fashion moment - Tattoos

Tattoos dubbed by many as ‘tramp stamps’ are commonly associated with those who insist on wearing clingy velour tracksuits in public or perhaps notorious gangs in South American prisons. Although these are negative connotations, at the Jean-Paul Gaultier Spring/Summer show there was a definite nod to tattoos. From neck-pieces to tights and even the model’s themselves showing off their own ink, it was definitely the focus of the new collection.

“Not one great country can be named, from the polar regions in the north to New Zealand in the south, in which the aborigines do not tattoo themselves,” the great Charles Darwin said this expressing how widespread the phenomenon of tattooing once was. Although it is believed that the first tattoos were probably created by accident, women in Ancient Greece soon became fascinated with tattoos and considered them as exotic beauty marks. Quite the contrast to the way we receive a tattoo peeking over someone’s exposed under-garments today.

Tattoos were still very much associated with ‘primitive natives’ in Britain until Captain Cook returned from his voyage to Polynesia. Tattooing then became tradition in the British Navy. This lead to the nautical trend in tattooing. Popular tattoos consisted of swallows or anchors and we see this echoed in Jean-Paul Gaultier’s designs. Anchors were printed on to white tights creating the illusion of the models having these images tattooed on their own skin.

Jean-Paul Gaultier isn’t the only one using tattooed models on his catwalk. After Nicola Formichetti used Rick Genest, also known as Zombie Boy, for his Autumn/Winter 2011 Thierry Mugler catwalk show, he is also now the face of Brazilian label Auslander for their Spring/Summer ad campaign alongside androgynous male model Andrej Pejic. Could this be a step towards tattoo’s being widely accepted as art or even fashion? Or is it just a technique to cause controversy to get campaigns and collections recognised? Either way, it’s working.


Monday, 19 March 2012

A slight contradiction.

Although yesterday I decided to preach to you all about how much you needed 'it' accessory, the umbrella, and how April showers were well on their way I am about to contradict myself. Although you will definitely need an umbrella at some point (and I am again going to remind of you of the lovely Fulton creations) you will also need to think about investing in an equally important weather-related item; sunglasses.

Now due to being very clumsy and, if I'm being honest, careless I've never made the choice to spend an extortionate amount of money on a pair of sunglasses. Instead I decide to pick up Primark wayfarers in various colours for one pound each and then continue to scratch the lenses in my bag or sit on them. Needless to say they don't hold up too well. I also have been known to haggle and stock up on poor imitation Ray-Bans in Turkey. Not my proudest moment.

This February I was lucky enough to visit my Dad in Peru where he is currently living and the weather was beautiful. I strolled around in flip-flops, got out last year's shorts and frolicked in the sea whilst England was snuggled up under a blanket of snow. Before heading off to South America I wanted to treat myself to some new summer gear but it being February and all, I didn't have a lot to work with. I headed to Primark to get some shades that were so cheap it didn't matter if I lost them in the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately I was left with two options, some diamante encrusted, over-sized 'diva' glasses or some large, black wayfarers that sat wonkliy on my face. Needless to say I went for the latter. So I headed off, wonky glasses in tow, into the sunshine.

My Dad greeted my brother and I in his usual fashion, wearing his Ray-Ban aviators indoors, at nighttime. A few days later we were reclining on some sun loungers when my Dad said to me in his Spanish accent, 'These wayfarers are back in fashion?' Yes, indeed they are Father. He continued to tell me he had some old Ray-Ban wayfarers from the 80's back home which he didn't use anymore. My heart skipped a beat at the thought that he might hand them down to me in some Father-Daughter ceremony. In the end he did give them to me, minus the ceremony and since then I have been too scared to wear them. Until today. Tomorrow is officially the first day of spring and at least I know I'm prepared for rain or shine!

Spring is here! Some pictures I took from just outside my front door!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Brolly good Madam!

Her Royal Majesty. The Queen of England. The ruler of our Kingdom. An 85 year-old woman with penchant for Corgis and matching her umbrellas to her clothing. Although I am not stating that I am going to stock up on attire similar to Queen Elizabeth’s, I am giving her recognition for her dedication to maintaining a colour scheme in all her outfits. When I first saw the photos of her perfectly coloured umbrellas it made me happy. Here is a woman who dresses herself in beautiful colours and honours us by using a clear umbrella so we can see her lovely little face. Why hasn’t this been done before? Spring is approaching and although we have been blessed with some unexpected sunshine, we need to remember we are in England and more often than not we’re going to experience some pretty glum weather. We’ve got to be realistic- we are definitely more likely to need a carefully co-ordinated umbrella than a pair of Havaianas.

The Queen purchases her umbrellas from Fulton in London’s East End. Fulton has grown to become the largest supplier of umbrellas and rainwear accessories in the UK today and they have an extensive range to choose from on their website You could go for Her Majesty’s choice of rain protection gear, see-through ‘birdcage’ style for around £16 or perhaps a slightly more detailed pattern. I particularly like the ‘Pink Daisy Pagoda’ for £35. Slightly more pricey but a good investment- if we’re talking cost per use then it’s going to pay for itself especially with the infamous ‘April showers’ looming. In the meantime, I think I’ll keep one eye on Lizzie for future inspiration.

(Images courtesy of



Thursday, 26 January 2012

Amy Winehouse + Couture = A fashion orgasm.

Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week. It's hard enough to deal with the fact I can't attend any of the mesmerising shows but it hurts my soul to not touch, smell, or eyeball the beautiful creations let alone wear or dare I say it, own a design for myself. Although I have been metaphorically drooling over shots of some of the shows so far, I practically foamed at the mouth when I saw the Jean-Paul Gaultier show. A fan of Gaultier anyway, (his S/S11 collection inspired my tattoo fashion moment piece for uni) his show being all beehives and beauty spots left me clicking through the gallery I found at for a little too long. Gaultier injected a little bit of the late Amy Winehouse into his collection with collars replicating Amy's infamous Fred Perry polo shirts, tailoring his trademark corsets to reflect her 1950s style and even had models smoking on the runway to a soundtrack by the singer herself. I now present you with my favourite pieces from the show.

All images taken from

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Hello to you, Mr Beckham.

After stumbling upon this picture of David Beckham for the upcoming issue of Men's Health magazine, I just had to pay my respects to him. Not a fan of football or footballers in general I wouldn't usually dedicate a post to a man of his caliber but these suave pictures are worth a sentence or two. Styled as if he's hopped off the set of a 1950s film, David reminds us that a plain, white t-shirt, a rockabilly quiff and a hell of a lot of tattoos works every time. So guys, take note. It may even land you the cover of Men's Health.

David is launching his own line of men's underwear for high street store H&M. As with his other endorsements, Beckham is the model of the collection. He will grace our television screens with an advert for the collection, consisting of vests as well as briefs, aired on the 2nd of February. Not far from 40-years-old, I'd compare Mr Beckham to a fine wine. I didn't want to end the post with a cliche but he does get better with age!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

What I wore today...

To start off the first post of my blog I might as well declare my love for charity shops. It all started when I was first introduced to the art of 'carbooting' by my friend Amy and her mum, otherwise known as the Carboot Queens. Amy would always show up to school with an amazing vintage bag or on the weekends she would be wearing a beautiful dress and every time I asked her where it was from she would always say, 'My mum bought it for me at the carboot.' Whereas most people would hesitate to admit shopping at carboot sales, she didn't care because she was the one wearing unique pieces or designer gear for not much more than a fiver! They would always know the best places to go, what time to go, how to haggle so it wasn't long before I was tagging along and seeing the second-hand light. Once I got the buzz of someone asking me where something was from and seeing their surprised face when I announced it was, in fact, from a carboot sale I never looked back. I was soon looking elsewhere for a chance to get my hands on some second-hand gems. I turned to charity shops and then the obvious next step, Ebay. Although I love Ebay more than I love my Grandma, nothing quite beats trawling through charity shops and carboot sales, getting the rush when you find a hidden treasure.

When I moved to Epsom I was pleasantly surprised with the array of charity shops I had at my disposal and although the area is swarming with fashion students I still managed to make a purchase each time I visited them. A few days ago I embarked on a charity shop rummage and bought this bow tie along with another blue one for £1.50 each which was certainly a delight. Although it is stereotypical for a girl, my favourite colour, unfortunately, is pink and in typically girly fashion, my bow tie also matched my favourite lipstick colour! I wore it with a white shirt tucked in to some high waisted black and gold leggings from the Topshop sale (always on a bargain hunt) and I embraced the masculine look with some tough leather but also a splash of pink. I will post any future charity shop purchases, along with any other items my bank account can afford, to see what you think of them!

P.S you never feel guilty after a splurge as you know your money is going to excellent causes. It'd be rude not to.
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