Alongside the fabulous work that dress designer and maker James Maciver does with stoning my dresses with crystals from Crystal Parade and making sure the fabrics are dripping in sequins and rhinestones, I always like to add and add and add. Crystalled by Jane creates shatteringly fabulous bling shoes, but sometimes I add more, I add beading, trimmings, extra colours etc to add sparkle and connect my entire outfit from earrings to bracelets.
Now put your guilty pleasure for Strictly Come Dancing to one side and instead think of all the fabulous beading of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Three decades which I have an unhealthy obsession with: the sparkle of sequins, the shimmer of glass, the shine of metallic! With such choice the creative possibilities really are endless. By emulating details from these eras, you can sew simple embellishments around arms, hems or necklines. And if your fabric is printed or has a woven pattern you can create patterns and designs using stones in areas of embellishment repeatedly along these edges.
Either way, using tonal or matching colours of stones applied to your dresses will give a luxurious feel. And if you think it needs a little something extra, adding small pops of colour or a metallic will help.
Crystal Parade offer a fantastic range of beads, sequins and crystals online. If it’s vintage, you’re after then Etsy is a good source. However, with so many vintage fairs and shops about, you may find a haberdashery stand selling salvaged beads or even an item of clothing beyond wear that you could use the beads from. Crystal Parade are Preciosa's authorised distributor here in the UK and offer such an amazing range of stone sizes and colours that even the simplest outfit can be turned into a showstopper!
For the ultimate in luxury glass cut beads and crystals have a particularly illustrious history in fashion. We’ve all heard of Swarovski, but they have now removed themselves from the loose stone market. Preciosa beads are an amazing choice and share a similar European heritage as Swarovski. I’ve bought a lot of vintage in the ‘name of research’ I know that inevitably its rarity is sometimes reflected in the price tag. To make sure you are 100% happy, ask to have a small sample sent if possible, a couple of beads stuck to a card will do. Beware of vintage sequins from the 1930’s! Up to and including the 1920’s sequins were made of metal, but the lightweight versions of the 1930’s (before plastic) involved the use of gelatine. Although they are absolutely stunning, once in contact with water or warmth, they simply start to dissolve into mush!
Also, machine washing any sequins or stoned encrusted dresses is a no. Its best to spot clean and dose them in fabric freshener. I use vodka and water in a spray bottle on armpits and any body odour. The vodka kills the bacteria, and the smell is gone. Buy cheap vodka though, no one wants to waste Grey Goose.
For over-the-top jewellery Taurus jewellery shop in London does some amazing costume piece, but I cannot resist the artistic and fabulous pieces Butler and Wilson create. They can be expensive, but they last and are made is solidly.
Be creative with your clothes. Add glue on stones along a hem line, neckline. Add beading to a sleeve edge or sew on stones dotted around. You’ll be amazed how adding your own embellishments can change an old top to your new favourite top. Be creative! Embrace your inner sparkle!