The Evolution of Kimonos – When Tradition Becomes Fashion

The name Kimono originates from the Japanese word for “clothing,” though, with time, Kimono began to be known as one particular garment traditional to Japan. The kimono is an icon among Asian clothing and is known the world over. The elegant silhouette and the rich fabric of the garment have always caught everyone’s attention.

Today, the kimono has made its way into the world of fashion and is no longer just traditional wear from Japan. It is worn by women all over the world, though not in its original authentic form, of course. Let us have a look at how the kimono has evolved and how something so traditional turned into something so fashionable.

The history of kimonos

The kimono, as we know it today, came into being in the Heian era, which was from 794-1192. Before this period, in the Nara era (710-794), Japanese folk wore clothing that had either a separate upper and lower garment or a one-piece garment. In the Heian period, a new method of cutting cloth was thought out, which is called the straight line cut method. The fabric was cut in straight pieces and sewn together to make kimonos. This made it easier for the kimono makers as they did not have to bother over the wearer’s body shape any more.

So, what were kimonos used for before? Well, they served as the perfect garment for all seasons, given the fact that they were so loosely fitted. The wearers could layer them inside with more clothing during winter or simply wear linen inner-clothing to keep cool during summers. These kimonos were so convenient that they became a part of the Japanese culture. Gradually, the Japanese people began to experiment more with kimonos, wearing them in layers and combining different colours. Men and women wore brightly coloured kimonos, while warriors dressed in colours representing their leaders.

During the Meiji period between 1868 and 1912, Japan was heavily influenced by foreign cultures. The government itself encouraged people to pick up western clothing and habits. The law required government officials and military personnel to wear western clothing for official functions. And slowly, the kimono faded out of their daily lives, now being worn only on special occasions.

Kimono in the world of fashion

After facing a threat of being wiped out of people’s memories, with lesser number of Japanese wearing the kimono as daily wear, the gorgeous garment has now been able to make its mark on world fashion. In recent years, the kimono has inspired many designers across the globe, giving them ideas for new fashion resources.

The craze for all things Japanese in the west began in the second half of the nineteenth century and was known as Japonism. That is also when the kimono made its way into Parisian fashion. Designers started using kimono fabrics for their own designs. The motifs and design of the Japanese fabric were incorporated in the silk by textile makers in Lyon. And that was the debut of the kimono in the Parisian fashion scene.

Around the year 1910, coats and dresses emulating the silhouette of the kimono were first designed. Many famous designers of the time took on the straight cut of the kimono and based their designs on it. As a result, in the 1920s, the fashion scene was dominated by cylindrical designs composed of straight lines obtained by sewing together rectangular-shaped pieces of fabric.

The modern take on kimonos as a fashion trend not only includes dresses or coats designed with kimono fabrics but also the Obi sash that is worn with a kimono. The fabric of the Obi sash has been used by designer Christian Louboutin in a recent shoe collection. Other designers like Vionnet and French designer A. Guery have created interesting new interpretations of the traditional Japanese design. Wasoukan, a shop in London’s Notting Hill, is the first kimono boutique and matcha bar in the city, where the in-house designer Noriyuki Ikeda strives to make the Japanese garment popular.

This is how the world of fashion is. Something that goes out of fashion in one era comes back into fashion when you least expect it. The kimono has been a symbol of Japanese tradition, and no one can think of Japan without associating the garment with it. With time, its popularity among the Japanese decreased, which is common to most traditional attires in other parts of the world. As people have become more industrious and need to move around more freely, traditional garments have given way to more comfortable and convenient clothing.

Particularly with women becoming independent and going out of the house for education and work, it is no longer feasible to always be decked up in their gaudy traditional clothing. Yet, the kimono stood the test of time and sneaked into modern world fashion.

Sure, these modern takes on the traditional Japanese garment are not truly representative of the garment’s original magnificence. Still, this adaptation has succeeded in popularising the kimono among the youth, both in the west and in Japan itself. Japanese fabric has found a place in global fashion and is being used to design everything from dresses to footwear.

There are many other traditional garments that have lost their relevance with time. Many of these, despite being equally magnificent, never found their place in global fashion. But the kimono, owing to its simplistic elegance and rich history, has impacted the world of fashion for good. Browse through our wide range of quality nightwear.

Gifting Guide – Finding the Perfect Pyjamas for Your Loved Ones

Pyjamas are like the comfort food of sleep attire. From models sashing down the runway in the cutest sets in 2018 to the garment even being popularized on Instagram, sleepwear is fast becoming increasingly popular every year because it essentially equates to warmth, snugness, and relaxation.

From luxurious silk set for your better half to a snazzy get-well gift for a best friend, you just can’t go wrong with well-designed pyjamas. So here is a guideline on how you can choose that quintessential perfect pair for your loved one and make their cosy downtime just that much more special.

Fabric, Fabric, Fabric

Before you even consider the design and what looks good, think fabric. Which pyjamas fabrics are the best? Selecting sleep attire that feels good is the first step in making your gift unforgettable. Regardless of who you’re gifting it to, you want it to be their go-to choice when it comes to sleepwear. And if they feel good in it, then that’s step one accomplished.

Did you know that the material of sleep attire helps in controlling body temperature at night, and as a result induces better sleep? Here are a few more interesting facts that will help your decision process.

  • Cotton pyjamas – In addition to cotton being soft, easy on the skin and lightweight; it also is one of the most breathable fabrics, so it promotes better air circulation as well. But, cotton pyjamas aren’t the most ideal sleepwear when it comes to insulation and is better suited to warmer weather. However, being a natural fabric, cotton is good at absorbing sweat, so if the person you’re looking to gift the pyjamas for has overactive sweat glands, then you’re on the right path.
  • Silk pyjamas – Great for all types of weather, silk sleepwear is light wear, natural fabric that keeps you warm when you feel cold and vice versa. Having said that, real silk is expensive and if you want to retain the integrity of the fabric, then dry cleaning is the way to go. Plus, silk pyjamas are slippery and shift around during sleep.
  • Flannel pyjamas – When it comes to colder months, this soft sleep attire is ideal. Besides being comfortable and breathable, it will make your loved one feel perfectly warm and snug without making them feel overheated.
  • Linen pyjamas – Unbelievable light, linen is a long-lasting fabric that is manufactured with flax fibers so this sleepwear is very soft and cozy at the same time. However, typically priced on the high side, linen pyjamas are also a bit difficult to source if your loved one requires a plus size.
  • Moisture-wicking pyjamas – Now if one tends to feel warm during slumber or if they tend to sweat, then moisture-wicking sleepwear is the perfect solution. Designed to transfer moisture away from the skin, this sleep attire helps to regulate body temperature.
  • Bamboo pyjamas – Being a natural fabric, bamboo sleepwear feels silky and soft to touch and helps to regulate body temperature because it efficiently absorbs sweat as well. In addition, bamboo fabric is hypoallergenic, which means it has anti-bacterial properties so will be the ideal choice if your loved one suffers from any allergies. And since it is 100% biodegradable as well, bamboo pyjamas are the quintessential gift for eco-conscious consumers.
  • Wool and fleece pyjamas – While both these fabrics are perfectly suited to cold climates, wool pyjamas also cause overheating. Plus, since it is not the most skin friendly fabric, this sleep attire might make the skin feel itchy or cause other irritation. Fleece pyjamas, on the other hand, do not promote air circulation so they can feel a tad stuffy and may cause the wearer to sweat.

The Devil’s in the Details

Now that you’ve already probably decided on the perfect fabric of choice for your gift, let us consider the finer details.

  • Fit – Although this might be obvious, it’s worth mentioning because the looser the fit, the more comfortable the pyjamas. Thanks to the excess material, airy sleepwear glides that much more easily around the body during sleep, so is unquestionably the preferred choice as opposed to figure-hugging or tighter fitting pyjamas.
  • Elastic – Before you hit the stores, it is advisable you get your loved one’s measurements beforehand because you also want them to enjoy a comfortable fit around the waist. Waistbands that are tight or even snug will detract from the quality of sleep, and waistbands that are too loose just won’t cut the mustard either.
  • Features – While certain sleep attire might seem a tempting buy because of cute looking buttons, tags or snaps, they don’t make for the best sleep attire because these extra fittings might just irritate the skin or cause itchiness during sleep.

Don’t Forget the Feet!

For a well thought out and fun gift, you might want to consider adding on a pair of socks as well. Since cold feet can lead to fitfulness, a pair of lightweight socks to keep the feet warm will be the perfect compliment to your thoughtfully selected pyjamas, on those cold, wintery nights.

Undoubtedly, pyjamas are an excellent sleepwear solution because they are so very versatile. From the design to the fabric, there is a myriad of choices to select from and if you know exactly the print that your loved one will adore and the type of material that will suit him or her, then you’ve just made your job of choosing the quintessential pair that much easier.

Meet Frances Gabinsky- The print designer for the exotic palm print pyjamas.

Frances shows her talent through the breadth of her stunning prints. Having travelled far and wide she has the ability to draw on rich and varied cultures to create fresh yet sophisticated unique designs for collections all over the world. Growing up in Scotland Frances studied at Central Saint Martins in London where she started her career hand-drawing for Alexander McQueen. After a stint in New York where she developed embroideries and artwork for Diane Von Furstenberg she moved to Russia designing a collection for Moscow Fashion Week. She now lives in London with her baby and husband where we had the pleasure to meet her.

Before putting your paintbrush to paper where do you draw inspiration? 

My inspiration comes from nature and everything around me, especially when I am travelling. I like to take photographs, do quick sketches, paint and record colour combinations.

What is the hardest part of designing a collection?

The hardest part for me is narrowing all my ideas down to one theme.

What was your proudest moment? 

Living and working in Russia was challenging but I had the opportunity to design an entire print collection for Moscow Fashion Week from the initial concept to final production. Seeing all my prints on the catwalk was very exciting.

Favourite fashion designer?

This is hard, I love so many! I think at the moment it has to be Gucci because of their whimsical prints and electric colour palette.

Most inspiring country you have visited?

Visiting my sister in India in 2015 was truly inspiring. Being with the nomadic tribes in the Himalayas, marvelling at the hours that they spend tending to their pashmina goats. It reminded me of the tradition, commitment and effort that go into producing textiles.

What can you not travel without?

A camera of some sort, I love capturing everything.

When you have time to yourself, what do you most enjoy doing?

I have a nine month baby so sleeping and dreaming is high on the list, but I enjoy anything in the outdoors from walking to windsurfing

 If you could go back in time which decade would you pick? 

The revolutionary time of the 60’s and 70’s

Where do feel most at home?

In Scotland, you can’t beat a cold swim in the sea to rejuvenate your senses.

Favourite breakfast rendez-vous? 

In Moscow I loved going to Dr Zhivago, it was open 24hours so it didn’t matter how early you wanted your breakfast and you could watch the sun rising over the Kremlin.

After a busy day, what do you do to unwind?

Having a big delicious dinner with friends.

 

Interview with bestselling nutritional therapist Amelia Freer

Not only is Amelia Freer a leading nutritional therapist in the U.K, author of 3 best selling books; ‘Nourish & Glow: The 10 Day Plan’, ‘Cook. Nourish. Glow’ and ‘Eat. Nourish. Glow.’ but A- list clients include Victoria Beckham, Sam Smith and Boy George. Amelia has been praised for her motivational skills in encouraging healthy food to become an enjoyable part of everyday life, as well as leaving those energized inside and out.
Ladies in Pink – Amelia Freer wears the pink Gainsbourg shirt with daughter Willow.

What is your definition of a good diet?

The definition of a ‘good’ diet will vary widely from person to person, but for me, it simply means tasty, seasonal dishes, mainly cooked from scratch, including lots of fruit, vegetables, fish, legumes, nuts & seeds and other healthy fats like olive oil.

Do you agree with “you are what you eat”?

Absolutely. I think the language that we use, particularly around food being simply a ‘fuel’ that is ‘burned up’ misses the point that our food also goes on to provide all the essential building blocks for our cells and metabolic processes. So whilst ‘you are what you eat’ might sound a somewhat trite phrase, it is also fundamentally true.

“Try to make lifestyle changes from a place of positivity – because you want to fully nourish and be kind to yourself, rather than as a way out of self-loathing or low self-esteem.”

What is the first question you ask your clients looking to lose weight by improving their diet?

In all honesty, there are a hundred and one questions I ask to anyone looking to lose weight. They vary from ‘how well do you sleep?’ to ‘tell me about your snacking habits’. That’s because there are so many different reasons for someone to gain weight in the first place (which stretch far beyond food choices). It is my role to help each client isolate those potential contributing factors and then gradually reduce or remove them. The initial questions and answers are therefore a vitally important part of the puzzle.

We often have good intentions but at times struggle to stay motivated. What advice would you give us to exercise our will power and stay on track?

Try to make lifestyle changes from a place of positivity – because you want to fully nourish and be kind to yourself, rather than as a way out of self-loathing or low self-esteem. Finding the pleasure or joy in habit changes makes them far easier to stick to in the long term.

How did you first discover your passion for food?

I think I’ve always enjoyed food, and I love to cook. But I found my passion for healthy eating, and then nutritional therapy, following a personal health transformation achieved through dietary changes. I realised that food can be a very powerful tool for wellbeing.

You speak about focusing on a healthy gut- How might a healthy gut affect weight and energy levels?

I see gut health as the key to overall health, and therefore also to optimal weight and energy levels. It is fundamentally important that we are able to digest, absorb and assimilate the essential nutrients we consume through our food, yet so many of my clients have poor gut function.

“I realised that food can be a very powerful tool for wellbeing.”

Are there any foods you would avoid or recommend for a good night sleep?

For any client who is struggling with sleep, the first place we turn is caffeine consumption – even if it is mainly drunk in the morning and early afternoon. I often find that by gradually cutting this down, or even cutting caffeine out completely, sleep improves.

What are good mood foods?

Lots of colourful fresh fruits and vegetables, regular oily fish, water, healthy fats (like nuts and seeds, olive oil, avocado) and minimal highly refined or processed foods or sugar. Plus, not forgetting plenty of sunshine (for that all-important vitamin D).

As a mother, have you had to adapt your recipes and change the way you cook?

The main change is that I have stopped adding salt. On the whole Willow is now eating what we eat – I don’t want to make separate “baby” food for her. Above all, I am aiming to give her lots of variety – she loves curry and courgette the most as the moment.

Where do you get your recipe inspirations?

My vegetable garden, travel, restaurants, friends, old cookery books, Pinterest – all over the place really.

What is your favourite breakfast recipe?

Currently, anything quick, filling and easy.  Toast (gluten-free for me) with nut butter and squashed blueberries or a couple of boiled eggs with rocket and avocado are current favourites.

The best part of what you do?

Seeing my clients achieve their goals. It is endlessly energising and deeply satisfying.

Quick fire questions:

Starter or desert?

Starter

Night out in heels or cosy evening in pyjamas?

Cosy evening in PJ’s

Sunset or sunrise?

Sunrise

English countryside or California beach?

English countryside

What can you not travel without?

My headphones

Big suitcase or nifty overnight bag?

Nifty overnight bag

Interview with Iraina Mancini DJ, Model, Singer & Songwriter

Photographs and film by Georgie Weedon

Multi- talented British singer, songwriter, model, DJ and radio host… Iraina Mancini grew up in a musical family where her father, Warren Peace, famously performed and wrote with David Bowie. Influenced by 1960s French cinema and Serge Gainsbourg, Iraina is recording her first solo E.P, Shotgun. Not only does she sing and host her own show on Soho Radio, but she is part of the dreamy lady-duo, The Smoking Guns, playing all over the world from music festivals to fashion and film events. 

 

Iraina wearing Red shell pyjamas 

How did you come into doing what you are doing?

I have always had a passion for music, I grew up in a very musical family so it was a part of my daily life listening to old records and going along to the studio with my dad. I naturally started writing my own songs and learnt to play the piano. I also used to record songs from the radio onto tapes and record over the speaking parts with my own chat..Early training for my adult life!

Can you describe a beautiful moment that has happened to you?

My dad sung backing vocals and wrote with David Bowie from Aladdin Sane through to Station to Station. Last year he and I were asked to sing guest vocals on Golden Years the record he was originally on with Earl Slick at the Islington Academy ..That was a bit of a moment for me.

 Iraina wearing the Coral Kimono

How have you seen the music industry evolve since you started out, and where do you see it going?

The music industry has changed so much, I can barely keep up! Its amazing how easily you can push your art out into the world with Spotify, Youtube and all the social media platforms available anyone in the world can listen to your music .. Gone is the time of ‘waiting’ for a record deal, you can have complete control of what you put out. You can make music videos on iPhones, film live sets and stream online and interact instantly with your fans. Its a lot more work but ultimately more satisfying and authentic.

Which three records are you unable to live without?

That is such a difficult question! But if I had to pick 3 records that I never get bored of they would be.

  1. Barrett Strong – Money (thats what I want)
  2. Space Oddity – David Bowie
  3. Bonnie and Clyde – Serge Gainsboug

What do you consider to be music’s golden age? 

Im totally stuck in the past. For me the golden age was late sixties early seventies.

Who are your biggest artistic influences?

At the moment i am really influenced by 60s/70s Cinema, French Yeye Girls and Psychedelia. Like most musicians i’m obsessed with Serge Gainsbourg’s Melody Nelson. The music I DJ influences me massively 60s Rhythm and Blues and Northern Soul, I wanted to write music I could incorporate into my DJ sets.

And your greatest style icons?

Bridgette Bardot , Jane Birkin and Anita Pallenberg have always been favourites of mine. I love the sex kitten look..Big hair and big lashes. I go through different phases with fashion, at the moment I’m wearing a lot of 70s stuff, tailored flares, loose shirts, vintage suits and platforms.

Iraina wearing Deneuve Shirt

Favourite place you have DJ’d at?

I love DJing music festivals the energy is so unique, everyone is there with exactly the same mission.. to have as much fun as possible and escape their daily lives. Also, visually festivals always look like a fantasy world, especially Glastonbury.. when its not raining! My favourite place to DJ is actually a really small festival called Red Rooster, its in the most beautiful setting and has the best music. Im djing there this summer, Im really looking forward to it.

With such a busy lifestyle what would you consider your best sleep tip? 

As I tend to have a lot of late nights because of my job so I need to make sure I get a full 7/8 hours otherwise by about 9pm I’m knackered. If I’m travelling I like to go an extra day before work so I can sleep some of the jet lag off before the gig. 

What was the first thing you did when you woke up as a child on a Sunday?

As a child I was always dancing or singing around the house, putting on shows for my mum and dad. My mum always says I was quite the show off..I guess not much has changed! 

Shop Iraina’s Red Shell pyjamasCoral Kimono and Deneuve shirt from our Spring Collection here and follow Iraina on Instagram @irainamancini!

Recapturing the Magic of Bedtime

We go to bed every night. It’s the ultimate routine – whether you take five minutes at the basin to prepare, or favour an elaborate bathing ceremony. Acts we perform repeatedly often lose their appeal, but the reverse is also true; repetition can transform seemingly mundane actions into important rituals. I’ve been reflecting on childhood bedtimes, and how magical they were. The question is: can we recreate that sense of enchantment as tired, overworked adults?

As a child, I remember being bundled into the car, swaddled in pyjamas, and drifting off to a beloved story tape (Just William and Five Children and It were favourites) as the glowing cat’s eyes of the M4 flashed by. The darker and wetter the night, the cosier I felt. (Not a thought for my unfortunate parent behind the wheel, of course.) On arrival at our destination, I would be carried to bed in a warm, sleepy haze – and awake in a different bed the next morning. It was a bit like travelling by magic carpet, but less windy; the usual tedium of long car journeys was eliminated when sleep cast its spell.

On holiday, bedtimes held another kind of magic. Unconstrained by school, they were later and more haphazard. Bedrooms were gloriously unfamiliar, with their high ceilings, tiled floors and balconies overlooking winding streets, where mopeds revved and Italian voices were raised in Limoncello-infused laughter. Bathrooms contained unfathomable objects called bidets and, every so often, unwelcome visitors with far more legs than their humble English cousins. Before bed, there would invariably have been a gelato and a stroll along the seafront, where I would have been magnetically drawn to the bunches of balloons, multicoloured marshmallows and flashing, screeching toys on sale.

And what about bedtime as a social occasion: surely nothing could equal the special thrill of a sleepover? At these, the point was not really to sleep, but to lie in rows of sleeping bags and consume a ‘midnight feast’ of Pringles and strawberry laces at 9pm. After intense, sugar-fuelled conversation and Friday night TV, the party would eventually pass out at the illicit hour of 11:30pm – before waking for another sugar hit in chocolate croissant form the following morning. This is what happened in the nineties, anyway.

As for babysitters: sometimes suspicious, sometimes exciting, they gave bedtimes an exotic spin. No rules, just someone desperate for peace and quiet (as I realised years later when I began looking after children myself). To me, a bookish child, babysitters represented a golden opportunity for torchlit binge-reading –  for in my mind bed will always be linked with books: a chance to escape our daily reality for other worlds, before entering that further, more mysterious world of sleep.

So how can we recreate this magic in adulthood, at the end of a stressful day? Well, once childhood has passed, neither bedtime nor Christmas will ever be the same again. However, there are things we can adjust to restore the pleasure in nightly rituals:

  1. Love your linen. I sleep better in crisp, freshly washed white sheets.
  2. Wear high-quality cotton nightwear to maintain a comfortable body temperature.
  3. Use your favourite products before bed – a luxurious night-cream, a decadent moisturiser.
  4. Read a book you enjoy, not one you feel you should. You will only reach for your phone if you are bored.

Madeleine Feeny

Bedtime Reads to Match the Finest Nightwear

You’ve got the pure cotton pyjamas and the crisp white sheets – but what about your bedside table? Is there a teetering pile of unread tomes dating from last Christmas? Or nothing at all, bar an iPhone? If either sounds like you, it could be time to update your bookshelf.

Many of us would like to read more, but struggle to find the time. And when we do, we don’t know where to start. There are so many books out there, and it’s easy to choose the wrong one and waste hours slogging dutifully through something we don’t enjoy.

At Iona Debarge, we firmly believe that books for bedtime should be pleasurable. Try reading one you like for half an hour every night before sleeping. It will help your brain switch off from the day, and give it a rest from that sleep-inhibiting electronic blue glare.

Here are our recommendations of books to enlighten, enrich and entertain:

Immerse yourself in an acclaimed series like Elena Ferrante’s bestselling four-part Neapolitan Novels, which follow the lives of two best friends from their 1950s childhood growing up on the outskirts of Naples through to adulthood. Or savour Edward St Aubyn’s piercingly acute satire of the English upper classes in his five Patrick Melrose Novels.

Witness an agile mind at work in Geoff Dyer’s most recent essay collection White Sands. Blending travelogue, art criticism and memoir, the essays move from Los Angeles to New Mexico, Gauguin’s Polynesia to Norway’s Arctic fringe – often profound, sometimes hilarious, and always unexpected. Or read Rebecca Solnit’s timely new collection of ‘further feminisms’, The Mother of All Questions, in which she calls for an end to silencing, a peculiarly female phenomenon that has shrouded sexual violence for years – until #metoo.

Be beguiled by an offbeat novel such as Elif Batuman’s The Idiot, in which Selin, a Harvard freshman with a fertile imagination, begins a relationship via email – in 1995, still a novelty – with Ivan, a student from her Russian class. Or try The Adulterants, the latest from Submarine author Joe Dunthorne, a London-set tale of a thirty-something man struggling to rise to the challenges of adulthood.

Discover the remarkable possibilities of short stories by reading the master of the form, Booker Prize-winning author George Saunders. His most recent collection, Tenth of December, paints a startlingly original, singularly empathetic portrait of humanity. Or devour hot debut Sour Heart; Jenny Zhang’s frank, funny and subversive stories are vividly voiced by the daughters of Chinese immigrant families in nineties New York.

Fall in love with the classics all over again – now sporting stylish new jackets, such as these beautiful editions of Virginia Woolf’s masterworks. Or explore the equally well-dressed novels of her erstwhile lover Vita Sackville-West. What could look prettier on a bedside table?

Counting Sheep in a Digital Age: Ten Tips for Restorative Sleep

Counting Sheep in a Digital Age: Ten Tips for Restorative Sleep by Madeleine Feeny

Good nightwear is all about good sleep, right? But unfortunately – rather like finding true love – the more you fixate on getting those vital eight hours, the more elusive they can be. So what steps can we take to avoid the wide-eyed waiting game; the 4am Instagram scroll; the long, lonely hours before dawn?
Counting sheep may have worked in the 19th century, but these days picturing a succession of woolly behinds bobbing over a fence doesn’t quite cut it. It takes much more to switch our digitally charged brains, overstimulated by late-night emails and a blood-soaked episode of Narcos, into sleep mode. Here we share our top tips for detaching from the day and surrendering to slumber.

 

  1. Stop using electronic devices an hour before bed and leave your phone in another room overnight. Screens emit blue light that inhibits the production of melatonin, the hormone that makes us feel sleepy.
  2. Reduce your caffeine intake. So if you currently drink coffee at breakfast and after lunch, only have it in the morning.
  3. Wear 100% cotton nightwear. A heat conductor, cotton helps our bodies to maintain a comfortable temperature – minimising the chances of waking up freezing, or bathed in sweat.
  4. Read a book. Books give the brain something to focus on other than our own problems – which often race round our minds at night, causing insomnia.
  5. Exercise during the day. Whether it’s running, yoga, swimming or rock-climbing, do whatever you enjoy to burn energy and achieve that post-workout endorphin high.
  6. Get some fresh air. Even if it’s just a thirty-minute walk, afterwards you will think more clearly, work more effectively and sleep more soundly.
  7. Try not to have a heavy meal or drink a lot of alcohol just before bed. Your body will digest more effectively if you eat earlier and more lightly.
  8. Snack on nuts. Walnuts contain tryptophan, a sleep-enhancing amino acid that produces serotonin and melatonin; while almonds are a source of magnesium, which relaxes muscles and decreases anxiety.
  9. Make sure your room is completely dark. If light penetrates your curtains, invest in a lavender sleep mask. If you are often woken by noise, buy some earplugs.
  10. If you are feeling overwhelmed, write a list to offload your worries. Then tackle them in the morning when you’re fresh.
And – hardest of all – try not to stress about it. Treat sleep like the boy you had a crush on at school: pretend not to care, and it’ll come to you. Sleep well!

Interview with Lisa Davies

Lisa Davies is a multi-award winning therapist, businesswomen and a soul purpose coach. She is chief inspiration officer of Get the Edge a pioneering training, coaching and staff development specialist and is author of ‘Get a Life’ the guide book to help you realize a truly balanced and fulfilled life.

How did you create these varied roles for yourself and what led you to become a therapist and soul purpose coach?

Yes, I guess I, like many people, kind of fell into a career. I’ve had a very long career in my ‘earlier life,’ it feels like a previous life now, in blue chip companies – so everything from retail to high street banking, to Boots to opticians…
I found myself in roles of developing people. But I wasn’t just interested in developing their skills, I was interested in developing them as human beings, who they were on the inside so they reached their full potential.

I then found that I was becoming more and more ‘ill at ease’ with the corporate world and, although I was doing a job that I loved at the time, I had complete burn-out and after the birth of my daughter, I did have severe post-natal depression.  So I was quite poorly after I had her, but returned to work quite quickly, doing a job that I loved. But I caught a bug that was going round the office, just like everybody else, you know everybody else had a cold or a ‘flu-y’ bug, but I didn’t recover fully and after a short period of time the doctor said you’ve got post-viral syndrome and then a few months later it was diagnosed as chronic fatigue, or ME. For that I sought complementary health approaches. I had a great GP but there was nothing that they could really do that was helping me recover, even though I did maintain working almost all of the time. That’s where I discovered complementary therapies and at that point I decided that I would train as a therapist.

That’s some years ago now, so I have been trained as a therapist since about 2000. And really, the soul purpose coaching came as almost like an amalgamation of my previous life in developing people and also my training as becoming a therapist, so I suppose it was just a natural progression from where I was, because I have a love of people and understanding how they ‘tick’ and who they really are at heart, who they are on the inside and also a therapeutic approach as the soul purpose coaching kind of came to the fore.

I’ve always had an interest in the more esoteric side of life, the meaning of life, if you like, so that’s kind of what led me to really want to understand what people are here for and to help them to understand ‘what are you here for?’

How do you help people to create a vision and to lead a more fulfilled life? If you had a client, what would be the first question that you would ask them?

I ask them what did they love to do when they were a small child, probably under the age of 7, how did they pass the time, what made them joyful? Did they like playing with dolls, did they like playing outside, climbing trees, playing with others or quite solitary? Board games? Whatever they did as their pastimes as small children really gives you a great clue as to some of your true call and your true purpose in older life…

So by examining what people really liked to do as small children gives you great clues as to some of those real basic needs in their soul, of what they really desire from their life and their being here.

And the next thing that I would do is what I call a ‘value solicitation,’ so looking at what their core values are….It’s the filter through which we live our life, so once I can help somebody to uncover that for themselves things start to fall into place and they start to become much more clear about where they are headed and why they are here.

“Every day is full of miracles, it’s just spotting them.”

And once you are living out your true purpose, how would you inspire others, what is it to be a good leader?

I think it’s about really understanding the people around you, their values, what their own moral compass is, understanding their personality…because it might be different from your own, therefore the language that they understand internally may be different from the one that you are using, and we are not just talking French and German and English here, we are talking about their own internal dialogue. Is it very different from your own? So, the more you can understand somebody and really what makes them ‘tick,’ the filter through which they see their world, the perception that they have of the world, which might be
similar or completely different to your own, the more that you can get in tune with that, the better leader and the better relationships you can build.

And would you say being fulfilled is very different to succeeding?

It depends how you determine ‘success’, what your definition of ‘success’ is. For me, being successful is feeling fulfilled, and doing meaningful work, making a difference.

And, what would you consider your biggest achievement?

Well, there are so many. I think, raising a beautiful daughter, who incidentally nearly died when she was 18 so that’s very testing for any mother to have her child go through a serious illness but raising what was this small miracle of a small bundle of a baby into a kind, caring, loving adult…that’s got to be a great achievement. On a more tangible point of view, I think being awarded the National Therapist of the Year in 2014 was a huge accolade and that was voted for by the general public, by my clients, friends, family, people who know me. People have been my clients from all across the country and across the world, so I suppose if you were looking for something more tangible then that would be it. An amazing, amazing achievement.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Just be yourself, you can’t be anybody else because they are all taken.

GOOD ADVICE! RIGHT, FOR THE QUICK FIRE QUESTIONS…

You have incredible testimonials, which show a real sense of care and sensitivity to all your clients. Do you ever find it hard to switch off? And what do you do to unwind?

In order to unwind, I have therapeutic treatments myself. I have a huge love of books, so much so we built a library at home.

Is there a favourite book that you would recommend?

There are just too many to mention, there are so many. I loved all the  work of Dr Wayne Dyer who’s sadly no longer with us. Dan Millman – The Peaceful Warrior, Oriah Mountain Dreamer, The Invitation…oh, there’s just, I mean, I could reel so many books on and on and on.

Cotton or silk?

Oh wow! That’s a difficult one! Cotton, I would say. There’s just something, something so fresh about cotton.

 

And are you an early riser or are you late to bed?

It really depends. I’m much better in the morning. I kind of…my lights go out fairly easily in the evening so I would say I’m an early riser.

What can you not travel without?

My phone, because I just have a feeling…I always need to be connected to people.

And, just to finish off…what are your tips for a positive day?

Positive day…it’s making that choice in the morning when you get up. This is going to be a great day. Every day is full of miracles, it’s just spotting them.

 

Interview with Roxane Gergaud

Interview

Founder of Doris & Dicky, Roxane Gergaud has a taste for style, a spirit for adventure and an eye for detail. She uses her talents to handpick the very best boutique and affordable hotels so you can achieve those dream-like holidays.

We meet in Brighton at one of her favourites, The Artist Residence. Sitting back admiring the sea through the large, open windows, we quiz Roxane on travel, inspirations and more.

What inspired you to set up Doris & Dicky?

I’ve always loved to travel – making the most of my time off to get out there and explore. For me travel has always been about really getting under the skin of any given destination and a big part of that is where you stay. Boutique hotels often offer a more interesting and authentic experience but I was frustrated by how tricky it was to find small, charming and independent places that I could actually afford. When friends started coming to us for our hotel recommendations (knowing how seriously we took our holiday planning!) – we realised there was an opportunity here and work on the business began. We now list over 500 properties from across the world for around £100/night – all served up on an easy to use site with a lowest price guarantee and instant and secure booking functionality.

How did you come up with the name?

 My husband and business partner has always called me Doris and since he’s called Richard – ‘Doris & Dicky’ seemed like a fun and playful name for our venture together.

What’s the best travel advice you’ve been given?

Don’t rush – make sure you allow yourself time to get lost, stay a little longer if you like somewhere and just live it.

What do you look for in a good hotel?

Style, location and comfort are all important for a good hotel but it’s the service that can make a hotel great. Many of our properties are owner-run and the warmth and attentiveness along with great local recommendations that usually come with this are incredible.

Luxury sleepwear
At the Artist Residence Hotel wearing the Hardy white cotton luxury pyjamas.

Which hotel would you say has the best views?

It’s too tricky to pick! 25Hours Hotel Bikini in Berlin has fun rooms and a great rooftop bar with views out over Berlin zoo. Château les Oliviers de Salettes in the south of France offers views out over Provence and on to the Alps from the rather magical pool. Or, if it’s beach views you’re after – Mango Bay Resort  on a quiet stretch of sand on the west coast of Vietnam’s Phu Quoc is pretty special.

What’s been the most inspiring place you’ve ever visited?

We had the most incredible trip to Dominica last year – a wild and rugged island in the Caribbean. With a different river or waterfall for every day of the year – this is a nature lover’s paradise. Sadly the island suffered terribly at the mercy of tropical storm Erika not long before our stay but the resilience and optimism of the people was unbelievable. It was a truly inspiring and unforgettable week.

QUICK FIRE QUESTIONS

Books or kindle?

Books

Free-standing bath or power shower?

Free-standing bath (with book)

Bikini or hiking boots?

Bikini

Big suitcase or nifty overnight bag?

Depends but probably big suitcase to make space for all the local trinkets I will invariably buy  

Luxury cotton nightshirt for ho
Relaxing on a balcony in the Blue Gainsbourg luxury cotton nightshirt at the Artist Residence Hotel.

 

To see more great boutique hotels for around £100/night go to dorisanddicky.com

Interview with Serena Foyle

It’s Friday morning in London and I am excited to interview Serena Foyle, a pyro musical producer, whose work has been called a ‘true masterpiece’.  As I am warmly invited into her home, I am struck by her Grace Kelly, softness. Her sitting room holds the same kind of romance and I feel as if I have stepped into a Rococo painting as I note the soft-hued silk fabrics, the piano next to sculptures resting on their plinths, as if listening to our conversation.  As Serena settles down in her soft cotton Loren Robe and Andress nightdress, I begin my first question.

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How would you describe what you do and what is a Pyro musical producer?

I design bespoke soundtracks for fireworks displays where I focus on creating an atmosphere through music that’s right for every event. I do this by taking inspiration from all types of music and selecting genres that are right for each client and location. Its important to me that the fireworks display is part of the whole event and that the music enhances the experience of the entire party.
I created the name ‘Pyro musical Producer’ to describe the role I had created for myself within the industry. I see Pyro musical displays very much as a production, where the shows are designed by two creative minds, one for the fireworks and one the music.

Initial Inspiration…

My inspiration came from film music and the power music has on our experience of watching a film. Different types of music, or sound or even silence can completely change our feeling during a film or scene. I knew the same could be done to create different atmospheres and emotions when watching fireworks.

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What’s the key to a successful event?

The people and the location – These are the key factors to a great event and will really make a party (Some really great cocktails are always essential I think too!). I would of course always advise that fireworks can completely transform any event – but then some might say that I’m biased!

Biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

Trying to work out how I was going to put my ideas into practise. I started by approaching fireworks companies to do their music for them but I was mainly rejected at first, on the grounds that they already did it themselves and had done for years. I then changed my course and had more luck with events companies, who understood how important music was to the atmosphere of a party and how the same skill needed to be applied to the soundtracks that go with their fireworks displays.

Your role model?

My father, Anthony Foyle – It seems cliché to be such a daddy’s girl but he’s offered me such wonderful business advise over the years and guided me where I needed it. I also hugely admire his honesty and work ethic too.

Favorite quote?

‘Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.’ Oscar Wilde

Always loved that!

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Moment of madness

The time my flat mate and I at university thought it would be a good idea to raid my parents garden for trees to create a Halloween themed party in our flat. We brought a team of friends to cut down small trees and large branches to take back to our flat and create what felt like a real live forest! Lining the whole flat in black bin liners, replacing the bulbs with red ones and attaching the branches to the ceiling and tops of doors, it created an incredible atmosphere as if you had stepped into another world – fun but it made a huge mess!

Favorite song to unwind?

There are so many songs and different types of music that make me completely relax but there’s nothing that makes me feel happier than Ravel’s ‘Daphnis and Chloe, Suite No.2’. It makes you feel like you are living in a dream for a moment, like some magical, otherworldly place where all your thoughts and worries just float away.

Late night or early riser?

I’m sure it won’t come as a huge surprise that im much more of a late night person! I’ve always loved the stillness of it – it’s the time I feel I can be alone in my thoughts and think clearly. Best time for parties too!

The best part of what you do?

The feeling it gives people. It doesn’t matter what age you are, if the music and the fireworks are choreographed perfectly together to create a real journey, it really excites people and makes them feel alive! Watching the expressions of the audience as they look up at the sky with childlike faces, gives me such huge pleasure and makes me confident that the experience has had the right effect

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