Tuesday, 16 September 2014

The Windows of London Fashion Week.

I took a couple of hours out from the fair today for some window theropy - here are my favourites.  All dressed up for London Fashion Week and all inspired by last season's Chanel Supermarket theme, created by the great maestro of fashion, Kaiser Karl Lagerfeld.

Kaiser Karl's Chanel Supermarket - the inspiration.

My first stop was Selfridges - so famous for their windows particularly at Christmas and national events.  All the windows were dedicated to London Fashion week with different themes for each designer portrayed.  I just chose a couple of them to show you - with the supermarket product theme.

Mochino's Beer and Popcorn - fabulous!

Cheese Dress and Biscuit Dress - Gorgeous!

I moved on down Oxford Steet and WOW!  Look what I saw in Debenhams -

window after window of supermarket inspiration!

Blue Wash Checkout

Lipstick Red


Winter Greens

Beauty Pinks.

On to Bond Street - and here is the best bag!  The supermarket theme taken to new territory - £1,200.00
I would start saving up but it's too late - the blue ones are all sold out!  Anya is now taking orders for black, grey and navy versions!  

I love this bag!

London Fashion Week is now so big in the British calendar that the Fashion Week Windows of London are becoming as famous as the Christmas Windows.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Shooting Christmas in St Leonards on Sea

Last week, I drove down to the south coast with Jo, my assistant, to shoot our newest collections.  Our photographer, Caroline Arber and her husband Bob, have just bought a very elegant Victorian villa in St Leonards on Sea, and we are the very first to shoot there.  As you can see from these few snaps, it really is a beautiful place and the perfect backdrop for my products.

The 1st shot - Black Magic Christmas

Black and red magic!

More Black Magic!

Caroline's wonderful French and Swedish furniture add a certain 'Je ne sais quoi' to the proceedings.

While we were there we went to the beach at nearby Hastings and saw the amazing fishermens' black wooden huts.  Here's Jo wearing one of our new T shirts beside one of the huts.

Jo wearing Love Bird Sweatshirt

Look out for our new T shirt collection - coming soon.

Caroline and Jo 

Looking for the next location beside the sea in Hastings. 

Hoping to have a bit more time to see the old towns and check out the famous vintage and antique shops next time we go down to shoot.  A really lovely piece of the great British seaside.

Happy New Home Caroline and Bob.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Prepping for a Photo Shoot

Today I’m preparing for a photo shoot down on the south coast.  While I gather up my newest collections and props, it takes me back to the one we did in Cornwall earlier this year.  

A perfect day

It was the most beautiful summers day – blue sky, blue sea.  Not bad for 12th March!

September 2014 issue.

Commissioned by Country Homes & Interiors magazine – the results are in the September 2014 issue, which is on sale now.

My Seaside China
I scurried around setting up china, plumping up cushions, making beds and creating little niches to catch the camera's eye!

Mixed-up china

My China Black Collection
How did that dog get in there?

My Eye Cushion
             The Eye is one of my favourite cushions - yet it didn't make it into the magazine!

Vintage Tattoo Collections

The funky Vintage Tattoo Collection  has travelled far since the shoot - now available in New York, London, Tokyo and Hong Kong.

The last shot

Pimm's O'clock!
                                                           It’s a wrap!

                 To see more - pop out to buy the magazine or check our press area here:
                 Press, Country Homes & Interiors.

                 Praying for great weather again this week - watch out for more shoot news soon....

Friday, 15 August 2014

A Little Store in Tokyo

It started in Paris when we launched our Vintage Tattoo Collection at Maison & Objet.                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Jo was applying the tattoo treatment....

Yoichi, from HP Deco, feeling the pain!

              While exhibiting in Tokyo in June – we met our friends again from HP Deco

We were invited to visit their store and after battling across Tokyo through heavy rain - 
           we entered an oasis of total and utter beauty, a mini department store....

                                                   ....filled with wonder and delight.

                    We were mesmerised!  

                                                               Look at these snaps ....

The power of colour!

The dark and mysterious Tea Bar

Birds of a feather!

Exquisite antiques

Marbled pottery.

Flying fishes.

Beautiful brollies for the rainy season.

Upstairs - a kimono can be made just for you.

           And then I spied my Seaside Collection, casually displayed upon a garden bench.

My Seaside Collection at HP Deco

                           Then a photo opportunity with the staff .....

.                            ...and a lovely present of specially blended tea to take home.

Tea from a very special store in Tokyo.

                     Looking forward to our next visit to Japan.....

Friday, 13 September 2013

'Send Us Your Snaps' Competition!

Our lovely customers often send us photographs documenting the weird and wonderful ways in which they display our hand-embroidered pieces.  Some of these are so cute, showing their babies and dogs snuggling down with our cushions and throws.  Some, on the other hand, are a little more risqué – it might compromise our reputation if we publish them!

Jan and Jo, demonstrating an alternative function for our tea cosies...

Above is quite a silly one showing Jan and Jo on a photo shoot last week, wearing the bespoke Fortnum & Mason tea cosies we created for the store's 'Mad for Tea' exhibition.  Below are a few of our favourite images sent in by customers in the past – we’re sure you’ll agree with us on how beautiful they are!

… And because we enjoy receiving your pictures so much, we’ve decided to offer the fantastic prize of £300 of Jan Constantine textiles to one lucky photographer!

This is Baby Freya, our friend Dean's baby daughter, surrounded by Love.

Image sent to us by Jo Welch

So, if you have a particularly lovely, interesting (and not quite so risqué) photo that you'd like to enter, please email it to info@janconstantine.com with your name and – if possible – a short descriptive paragraph by 30th September 2013.

Image contributed by Pinar Ozbey-Trottier - www.narinukimages.com 

All entries will be displayed in the 'Send us Your Snaps’ gallery with the entrant's name and brief description.  The winning entry will be chosen for its content, beauty and authenticity (note: it is not expected to be a professional photograph – even a mobile upload will do!) and the winner will be contacted via email or telephone.  The winning image will be announced via email newsletter during October.

Get out that camera, and good luck! 

Friday, 12 July 2013

Royal Babymania... Win Royal Cushions!

The Royal Baby – or ‘Baby Cambridge’ – is due to be born on July 13th.  After months of making headlines, the baby is likely to generate still more media attention this summer.  Journalists and photographers have already begun congregating outside St. Mary’s Hospital, London, where the birth is expected to take place; the baby's arrival will be officially announced to the public via a notice attached to the palace gate.

Diana and Charles with baby William outside St. Mary's.
(img src The Telegraph)

The media hype will reach its peak over the next couple of days, as the date approaches.  There have already been instances of Royal Babymania, however…


* The Royal Baby made it onto The Times New Power List earlier this year, coming in at number 10 under the title ‘The Duchess of Cambridge’s Child’. 

*An online shop, The Royal Nursery (
www.royalbaby.com) professes to sell items for ‘the baby that deserves everything’, including a $1499 solid gold feeding spoon. 

"Not All Babies Are Born With a Silver Spoon in Their Mouth"
- The Royal Nursery

* The Royal Nappy, a new book by Nicholas Allan, proposes to tell the history of the royal nappy from Henry VIII to the present, through the story of Nanny and the ‘Royal nappy cabinet’, and tells of the advantages of different nappies for different occasions (“parachuting nappies” and “shiny nappies for palace floors – whee!” are examples, according to The Guardian). 

Front cover of The Royal Nappy, by Nicholas Allan

* The Royal Baby has been tweeting from three different parodic Twitter accounts, and already has a Wikipedia page, having been referred to by The Washington Post as “the world’s most famous baby”. 

* Betting shops are expecting baby-related bets to reach £300k by the time the baby is born.  At the moment, the most popular possible names are Alexandra and Victoria (the majority of bets are expecting a girl), or George if the child is male.

*A recent Vogue
article described the Duchess of Cambridge on a skiing trip, teaching a child to toboggan; the description ends with the ridiculous statement “after that she went inside and ate a bowl of pasta for tea”.

So why is there such a hilarious fuss about the Royal Baby?  Apart from the obvious – everybody loves babies, and the British public have an endless fascination with the lifestyles of the monarchy - there is perhaps another reason.

The Duke and Duchess of York with their daughter, later to become
Queen Elizabeth II.
(img src The Mirror)

Following the Succession to the Crown Bill, male heirs will no longer take precedence over women in line to the throne.  According to Francesca Rice in Marie Claire, the birth of a female child could be “a seminal moment in the fight for female equality”, in that whether the child is female or male, it will become third in line to the throne.  Rice also points out that the Equality (Titles) Bill, which would allow female heirs to inherit hereditary titles, is scheduled a second reading in parliament – if the Royal Baby should turn out to be a girl, a huge overhaul of tradition is a possibility, hugely affecting the lineage of the British aristocracy.

Babies or children in important positions are no anomaly historically (Edward VI is an example from English history, having ascended to the throne at the age of nine), and apart from the Royal Baby, there are possibilities of similar changes to tradition elsewhere in coming years – the Dalai Lama has recently suggested that, for the first time in history, his selected successor may be female.

Painting of Edward VI as Prince Edward in 1539,
by Hans Holbein the Younger.

All members of the royal family were, of course, babies at one stage.  An exhibition at the Museum of London, ‘A Royal Arrival’, presents a collection of baby clothes to the public – baby clothes owned by the monarchs of the past.  Items include a cap worn by Charles I, a vest and mitten worn by George III and a nursing apron thought to have belonged to Queen Victoria. 

And so, in the spirit of royal textiles and Royal Babymania… we would like to announce the arrival of our Royal Baby cushion, to be released upon the birth of the Royal Baby.

Also, we are now running a competition with a fantastic prize – your choice of Royal cushions, to the value of up to £150!  All you have to do to win is send in your guess of the Royal Baby’s name.  We’ve already received a few unofficial guesses in comments on our Facebook page, but in order to enter the competition, please go to the competition page on our website and enter your choice of baby name and required details (one entry per person only; no entries will be accepted following the public announcement of the baby's name).

Good luck… and enjoy the excitement! 

Sunday, 28 April 2013

The Mysterious Land of Lanterns: Jan Constantine in Japan


A few weeks ago, Jan and (her design assistant) Jo took a trip to Japan for several days to meet with buyers.  The photographs below were all taken during their time there, and are accompanied by some of Jan’s comments on the trip and the people encountered along the way; it was, according to her, “a magical time” for them both.  They were given an incredibly warm welcome everywhere they went, from the British Embassy to the shopping malls and restaurants, and Jan is already excited to be visiting again in October.

 Jan: "This lovely baby, Nene, was fast asleep in
the shopping mall, still clutching her biscuit."

On the Japanese people she encountered, Jan stated that “The biggest impression I had while we were there was how overwhelmingly lovely the people were.  They were so humble, shy, charming and helpful… in fact, they went out of their way to be helpful.  If we ever got lost, they would actually take us to where we wanted to go. They are also very precise and orderly, in the nicest way.”

 Jan: “This is Mayumi, our beautiful interpreter.  She lived
in Britain for several years as a garden designer and
 loves Britain – as you can tell from her sleeve!”
“They all seemed to really love the British, and they say this is partly because of our similarities: we are both islands; we have our Queen, and they have their Emperor; we are reserved people (most of us are, anyway!).”

Jan and Jo with beautiful graduates in Tokyo on graduation day (their graduation attire is much more interesting and colourful than our simple black robe). 


One of the most interesting aspects of the Japanese aesthetic is the concept of ‘wabi-sabi’.   Founded on Buddhist ideas of transience and impermanence, this could be summarised as the belief that there is great beauty and perfection to be found in imperfection.  Intrinsic to wabi-sabi are appreciation of natural objects and the natural world, modesty in style, irregularity and asymmetry; these are combined with sabi‘s connotations of beauty gained with age.  In terms of aesthetics in manufacture, wabi-sabi might refer to the beautiful inconsistencies of certain production methods; the hand-embroidered cushions for which Jan Constantine has become known are all sewn individually, and all have their own tiny unique flaws and idiosyncrasies as a result.  In this sense, they could certainly be said to exhibit the qualities of the Japanese aesthetic.

Kimono from Jan and Jo’s retail tour in Ginza, Tokyo.
Jun'ichirō Tanizaki’s extended essay, In Praise of Shadows*, discusses briefly the Japanese appreciation of “the elegance of age” (p. 19), something that can be easily likened to the British love of history and high culture.  Tanizaki writes that “we do not dislike everything that shines, but we do prefer a pensive luster to a shallow brilliance, a murky light that, whether in a stone or in an artefact, bespeaks a sheen of antiquity” (19-20).  Bright lights, video games and J-pop, though important to (stereotypical) modern Japanese culture, do not epitomise the ideals at its heart any more than fish and chips, the Grand National and Britpop epitomise the oldest values of the British: the real heart of Japanese culture is a love of the natural order and a patina of quiet dignity on all aspects of life.

The following is a haiku penned by Jack Kerouac (not a British writer, but nonetheless a great example of a meeting of Eastern and Western culture).  Again, the transience and imperfection of wabi-sabi is in evidence here:

“Snap your finger
stop the world –
rain falls harder.”

Jan loved this stylishly understated black kimono.
All of these ideas go some way toward explaning the subdued grace of the Japanese artisan.   We British will always adore our cloisters, cathedrals and the smell of cold stone – much like the Japanese, “we love the colours and the sheen that call to mind the past that made them” (Tanizaki, 20).

A workshop in Tokyo.
Jan Constantine’s products come bearing the tagline “hand-embroidered heirlooms of the future”.  It is easy to understand how this might also relate to the Japanese love of antiquity and tradition.  All in all, the British and Japanese concepts of vintage heirlooms and wabi-sabi are quite similar, in their modern meaning.

More happy graduates.

Jan found her visit to Japan absolutely fascinating – as should be clear from her comments on the visit! – and compared the experience to her first visit to New York in her early twenties.  She was so excited that jet lag didn’t effect her in the slightest, though she found it difficult to go to bed (never mind go to sleep!)

Jan and Jo beneath the Thunder Gate lantern.
Next week, Jan Constantine’s agents will be showing her products at Hotel Okura in Tokyo in an event lasting for at least five days.

Jan and Jo at the British Embassy in Tokyo

*Jun'ichirō Tanizaki, In Praise of Shadows (Vintage, London, 2001; English translation first published by Leete's Island Books, Inc. 1977; Japanese original published 1933).