Simply Elegant | Meet Cashmere Lover Catherine Robinson

Catherine Robinson |  Founder & Designer of Catherine Robinson Cashmere  |  One of Catherine’s favourite photographs taken by her daughter Victoria on a wonderful ‘mother and daughter’ holiday in Croatia

Catherine Robinson |  Founder & Designer of Catherine Robinson Cashmere  |  One of Catherine’s favourite photographs taken by her daughter Victoria on a wonderful ‘mother and daughter’ holiday in Croatia

Catherine Robinson is the designer & founder of a line of beautifully made cashmere knitwear and accessories of the same name. I was so pleased to happen upon her shopping site last spring and ended up following her blog: Cashmere Lover . Not only does she have an eye for design, I love what she shares on her blog about style, meditation and yoga. I asked Catherine to share with us how she how she started her business and where she finds inspiration—our conversation naturally led to her other passions, meditation and yoga. I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did. 

Q: Catherine, It seems that we all cannot get enough cashmere these days! Can you tell us what led you to start your business?

A: On a London shopping trip in the Summer of 2010 I purchased two lovely linen ponchos they were my favourite pieces that Summer…which got me thinking how wonderful this design would be in cashmere, I couldn’t find any that I loved and I thought, okay, I’ll design them myself!

My daughter had left home, things were changing…I was approaching 50 and thought it was the perfect time to start something new. I’ve always been interested in fashion, I did a little modeling in my younger days before entering the fast and exciting world of public relations but ‘style’ and the 'art of dressing well’ has always been something I’ve enjoyed…I devour magazines, exhibitions, photography anything related to the art of style!  

My next step was to find a manufacturer; a company I could work closely with.  Mongolia was my first choice as in my opinion it is simply the best cashmere. It was important that they were able to work with my ideas and designs and I’m happy to say I have a wonderful relationship with them and I’m thrilled with their attention to detail and the beautiful pieces they make for me.

I feel, I’m exactly where I should be and it’s such a privilege to be involved in the ‘world of cashmere’.  I’m enjoying creating a brand and extending my product lines. I like to listen to my customers and what they would like…this year it was…”please, please design a cashmere robe” and it’s just arrived and it’s simply gorgeous…the perfect luxurious, loungewear!

I think some of us feel we’re restricted by boundaries—many of them of our own making…I feel if you have an idea, a passion, explore it and see where it takes you. I have learnt so much since I began, the ups and downs of a small, growing business, the highs and lows and the constant energy and creativity needed and I can honestly say, I’ve loved every minute of it…

'if you are thinking about starting something new but are not sure whether to
‘bite the bullet’ I would encourage you to do just that, don’t be afraid
just listen to your voice and slowly begin.'

Q: I love what you write about simplicity and elegance. Can you tell us how you view style vs. fashion?

A:  I think there is a huge difference between fashion and style…everybody can follow a fashion but style is very individual…it’s all about ‘you’ it’s creating your own style, what works for you, what compliments your character, your personality, how you live your life…being identified by a signature piece, a scent they all contribute to your sense of style; for me, it’s definitely wraps and scarves, I can’t leave home without them! Friends can’t quite believe what I can do with a scarf!

I don’t think my style has changed that much over the years…I still adore my wide pants and v neck sweaters (cashmere, of course!) jeans and jackets, knitted dresses and boots and elegantly long dresses.  I’m definitely an Autumn/Winter person…
I like to wrap myself in cashmere, a cashmere wrap and ponchos are my favourites…
a tailored coat and trouser suit too.

Personal style is something that grows with you through the years, for me, I do believe ‘less is more’, a simple elegance…when you see an elegant lady she is timeless; that is why Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly are still very much revered today…one of my favourite quotes from Audrey Hepburn is ‘elegance is the only beauty that never fades.

Q: While you and I were writing emails back and forth our conversation moved almost seamlessly from cashmere to style to yoga. What can you tell us about your experience with yoga? 

A: I have been practicing yoga for over 13 years now and it is an absolute joy and passion of mine it has simply changed my attitude to life, this hasn’t happened overnight it has been a process, a journey.  

In recent months my meditation practice has become simply, a way of life, I began to believe I really could make a difference in my life if I meditated daily, learning mindfulness and simplicity. I am constantly learning and will continue to be a ‘lifelong learner’ both yoga and meditation focus your mind, they quiet the inner noise and you begin to live mindfully and to simply ‘be’ and from this you begin to live a much happier life, a life of simplicity.  Yoga, for me, has always been a spiritual discipline, a life practice.

Q: Your blog Cashmere Lover features some of the most beautiful and iconic women in the world. Who do you find the most inspiring?

A: Victoria Beckham inspires me, she has her critics, unfairly, I think…she works unbelievably hard, she has created a phenomenal brand, her designs are elegant and new…she always looks beautifully groomed and stylish and is a wonderful Mother too. I admire her because she re-created herself and endured and continues to endure all the criticism and personal attacks with such grace.

Photo provided by Catherine Robinson

Photo provided by Catherine Robinson

Audrey Hepburn inspires me greatly…her beauty, her grace, her humility…the list goes on and on…her way of being and kindness inspires me to be the best person I can be. Her life was far too short but still today so many people think ‘what would Audrey do?’ She is incomparable.   

My husband inspires me, he has taught me so much over the years, he has always been so encouraging and has taught me to believe in myself, he has such an enthusiasm for life, which I admire greatly...we’ve been together forever and in all that foreverness, I’m sure that’s not a word, he’s always made me laugh, we laugh more now than ever and that is a wonderful gift to have…he is my soul mate. And my daughter,Victoria is an inspiration to me, she makes me want to be a better person…she is the joy of my life.

Q: What is the single most powerful lesson you have learned along the way? 

A: ... to have faith and be honest with myself, not to be afraid to ask for help, it’s taken a long while to recognize and believe that ‘I can do it’ ...it may take awhile, there maybe setbacks but with faith and a belief in yourself you can see that it will all be okay…I take this into my daily life not only in business…and to be kinder to myself, I use to be very good at ‘beating myself up’ I’ve erased the negatives!

My Life Philosophy…Be in love with your life every minute of it…
live simply with grace and humility, be gentle and kind and always mindful to others
Catherine Robinson in her office in the UK

Catherine Robinson in her office in the UK

To read more about Catherine, please click on the links below: Cashmere Lover  |  Catherine Robinson Cashmere Site  |  Facebook  

Catherine, Thank you for sharing your insights and story with us! 

Color Trend for Fall: Dramatic Reds

Cultivating Personal Style
Like many of my friends I enjoy flipping through fashion magazines and wandering through beautiful boutiques and high end retailers to see what is new. It is exciting to see what designers are coming up with and add a few pieces each season. Before shopping for anything new it is a good idea to know what you have in your closet that can work as a staple as you add in new pieces to build upon what you already have. Style unlike fashion, is an extension of who we are and once we have a sense of our own style it becomes easier to cultivate our look.

Fashion can be bought. Style one must possess
~ Edna Woolman Chase

Style starts by embracing all the funny, funky, unique parts of ourselves instead of seeing clothing and accessories as a means to an end or a way to cover up an unaccepted part of our bodies that might reveal some "imperfection".  For me style is not serious at all, it is a form of self expression and helps me create order in the chaos of style options that surround us at retail.

In the vast ocean of brands, styles, fabrics, price points and virtually endless options how does one create their own personal style? I recently had a great conversation with Growing Bolder Radio where we began a discussion of how to go about this. I love the idea that we all can cultivate our own style by embracing what is unique and beautiful within ourselves. The first step is to recognize ( and then clear out) the old mental clutter of negative self-talk, that for many of us is decades old. Then we can get on with the the adventure of uncovering what our personal style is all about. When asked about style, one of my favorite contemporary designers, Rachel Zoe stated that: "Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak." Brilliant!

Recently, I have been having fun putting together several trend boards for Fall 2015. This first one, above, Dramatic Red is a collection of gorgeous looks with classic lines. Although they are on-trend for this coming season they are also timeless looks. You can click on the image block above and it will take you to a shopping site to see those specific pieces or you can just look for similar items and colors when you are out shopping. 

Dramatic Reds 
Last January Pantone© announced that Marsala was their pick for the color of the year. It seems it is also the color this fall season with a variety of reds to choose from. Click here to see the Patina & Hue article about Marsala from last January. I have long adored red for its fun, upbeat vibe but deeper shades within the red family (burgandy, wine, marsala) are timeless and elegant. Some of these darker reds veer toward  purple so you will want to make sure to try on a few hues to see how they look against your skin color. These dramatic reds would look amazing paired with camel, tobacco, navy, denim, gray, warm whites and black. Have fun looking for a dramatic red piece to add to your wardrobe and tell us in the comments section below if you find something amazing!

Happy Fall and thanks for reading.

Pamela

P & H Pick | Introducing Jewelry Designer Melissa Skarsten

At Patina & Hue we love to have conversations with amazing women who have great style and inspire us all. For this reason I am excited to feature our latest artist–designer— Melissa Skarsten—a longtime friend and talented jewelry designer who mixes metals and infuses expressions of natural elements into her work. A couple of months ago I stopped by Melissa's studio to see her latest jewelry and discovered she was making 100 new one-of-a-kind pieces for the upcoming Park City Arts Festival. Melissa is both prolific in her work and dedicated to uninterrupted time in her studio so I was delighted to see what she was planning for the arts festival to share with all of you. Scroll down to see some of her fabulous pieces and to read more:

Tree of Life Series  |  Tree & Tahitian Pearl  |   Sterling silver with 18K gold leaves and a black Tahitian pearl drop.

Tree of Life Series  |  Tree & Tahitian Pearl  |  Sterling silver with 18K gold leaves and a black Tahitian pearl drop.

Images above clockwise from top right: His-Hers River Rings (River Series) Sterling silver, Her ring is set with a yellow Citrine gemstone  | Fall Acorn Earrings & Leaves (Acorn series) Earrings are torched enameled copper with green jasper bead. Leaf Pendant is torched enameled copper on a oxidized sterling silver chain.  |  Ring Box (Twig series) Hand turned wooden box with a sterling silver twig pull.  |  Twigs Rooted Necklace (Tree of life series) Sterling silver with a Chrysoprase gemstone.

Twig Hair Comb  (Twig series) Sterling silver

Twig Hair Comb (Twig series) Sterling silver

Top left: River Cuff links & Box(River series) Oxidized sterling silver with 14K gold cufflinks in a wooden box with a sterling silver twig pull.
Top right: River Bracelet (River series) Oxidized sterling silver with 14K gold bracelet slide on leather.

Melissa's Signature Style  |   Golden Citrine Flower |  Black and Gold series | Oxidized sterling silver and 14K gold pendant set with a yellow Citrine gemstone

Melissa's Signature Style  |  Golden Citrine Flower | Black and Gold series | Oxidized sterling silver and 14K gold pendant set with a yellow Citrine gemstone

Peruvian Opal Ring  (Twig series) Sterling silver with a Peruvian opal set in 22K Gold.

Peruvian Opal Ring (Twig series) Sterling silver with a Peruvian opal set in 22K Gold.

Men's River cufflinks in a handmade wooden box with silver twig  |  Available at the Gala Auction Event Thursday, July 30th.  Click here  to learn more about the Opening night gala Fundraiser / Fashion Show at the Montage, Deer Valley.  

Men's River cufflinks in a handmade wooden box with silver twig  |  Available at the Gala Auction Event Thursday, July 30th. Click here to learn more about the Opening night gala Fundraiser / Fashion Show at the Montage, Deer Valley.  

Q: Melissa, I know from our conversations that you derive a great deal of creative inspiration from being outdoors. How does that directly inform your work?
A; "The natural world is always pulling at me…. to slow down, to step outside and experience the “mystery within nature”—my work celebrates what I experience in those moments. To be more specific, old-growth forests fascinate me. As I was developing my distinct visual voice, memories from an extraordinary visit to a coastal redwood forest kept appearing, inspiring the textures and color palettes I began using. More important, it was the emotions I felt when standing in that primeval forest I started to capture in different pieces, and an organic elegance and sense of antiquity showed up in my work."


"...it was the emotions I felt when standing in that primeval forest I started to capture in different pieces, and an organic elegance and sense of antiquity showed up in my work."

Q: It must take a great deal of time to create one-of-a-kind pieces. What can you tell us about that process:
A: "Pieces can take days or even weeks. My work is done in a spontaneous manner, an idea may be scribbled out as a starting point, but materials and techniques guide the work into a finished piece. This evolutionary process keeps my creative thoughts flowing."

"To propagate this evolution of a design, I make one-of-kind pieces, each piece inspiring the next. Serial imagery or what I like to call the “kaleidoscope effect” is where I take a piece and redesign it…. and like the turn of the kaleidoscope, the variations are endless. By making one-of-a-kind pieces, I emulate nature and promote our individuality as humans, which I find a breath of fresh air in a world of mass produced, identical products."

"The ancient technique of granulation is perfect for creating organic texture.  For my river series, I use a torch to fuse tiny grains of gold and raised lines of silver onto the metal surface of the piece. I then expand the technique by flowing melted gold in and around the applied textures. To achieve the rich color palette, I oxidize the piece a deep black to illuminate the gold. For my botanical pieces, the gemstones and the metal finishes I choose, allow me to express the dance of movement that light, mist and breeze create in the forest."

Q: When did you start making jewelry?
A: "I was drawn to artistic mediums that were very hands-on and fell in love, almost immediately, with metal-smithing while in high school. I later went to on study at The Revere Academy in San Francisco where I became a traditionally trained goldsmith and for a brief time I worked as a bench jeweler. The lure of creating a life in which I was a working artist led me out of the commercial marketplace to open my own studio in 2007. The arts and crafts marketplace is a perfect fit for the type of creative work I do and fits with my lifestyle."

Q: I've noticed that some women feel if they are wearing one color of gold, or other metal such as silver that they are hesitant to mix it up with their jewelry or metallic accents on their shoes and handbags. Your work has a lovely intermingling of different types and colors of metals. What would you say to someone who might be concerned about wearing their rose gold along side of their silver or white gold? 
A: "Yes, I love combining different colors of metals into my work and I do know that years ago it was considered chic to keep your metals all the same color. But time has changed that concept—now women, and men alike can layer on different metals into one look and feel confident about doing so....I would say have fun with your jewelry, toss the old rules out as anything goes these days!"

 

Melissa was raised in Pasadena California, moved to Santa Barbara, then San Francisco, before landing in the mountain town of Park City, Utah with her husband and daughter. You can see more of her work on her website by clicking here or at the upcoming Park City Arts Festival, July 31-August 2, 2015. 

Thank you Melissa for taking the time to share your beautiful work with us. Click here to learn more about the Park City Arts Festival. email: mskarsten@comcast.net website: Jewelrybym.com



Scarf Obsession + Ideas to help you incorporate Scarves into your wardrobe

Calling all Accessories Addicts!
As trends come and go scarves remain a classic wardrobe staple that can be worn for years. We are both obsessed with scarves of all hues and sizes, vintage and new, low end and high end. It's not just the yummy, oversized cashmere or modal versions that keep our necks warm in the winter months that we love but also the smaller sizes that can be worn year round, are light weight and dress up an outfit as a sophisticated and playful accessory. 

How to implement scarves into your wardrobe: 
For a simple wrap on the crown of a hat: align the middle edge of the scarf with the crown in the front and lay the scarf over the hat, holding on to each end. Fold the edge under about an inch and wrap the crown, centering the scarf so that the fabric falls evenly on both sides of the hat. Next, pull the two ends toward the back base of the hat, overlap the extra material that is now covering the hat and tie the two ends at the base, allowing the ends to fall down your neck/back. 
Butterfly Wrap: Take a larger scarf and fold it in half lengthwise—then take the ends that are together and tie them in a small, simple knot. This can work with a 36" scarf or one that is much larger. You will have one knot on the left and one on the right. Then lift the scarf and place your arms through the two holes you just created with the knots....and you have a "butterfly" sleeve wrap
Loose Neck Wrap: Wrap a thin scarf around your neck and tie it so the ends drape down your back, ideally you have a little skin showing between the scarf and whatever you are wearing. 
Halter Top/ Blouse: Take a scarf that is roughly 36" square and tie it as a halter top. There are accessories you can purchase that make this easy or you can just tie two ends together at your neck and behind your back. This looks great with a blazer.
Purse Wrap: Wrap a purse handle for a punch of color. Fold your scarf so that it is about 1 1/2" to 2" wide and line it up with the edge of one side of the handle. Holding the end in place, overlap the scarf as you begin to wrap the handle. Make sure to run the wrap over the start of the scarf to hold it in place—leaving about an inch or two of the end sticking out. Keep wrapping toward the opposite end of the handle and leave room to tie it off and allow a bit of the scarf to stick out. Ideally the two ends match in length. This may take a couple of tries but looks great when you get it!
Scarf with Pearls: Grab a strand of pearls and a smaller scarf, intertwine the two and tie at the back of the neck. Twist the scarf tight enough so that the pearls are held in place by the scarf. A trick to making this work is to keep twisting the scarf around the pearls so the scarf "catches" and holds the end of the necklace within the twists. You can also use a long strand of pearls with a longer scarf and once they are intertwined you can wrap the scarf around your neck twice and tie in the back. 
• Camera Strap: Remove a beat up camera strap and replace with a scarf instead. In this case we used a vintage scarf to go along with an old camera. 
• Choker: Roll or fold a lightweight scarf to the desired width. This is simple, just tie to the back or side. What makes this a chic look is to dress up a sun dress or sleeveless blouse by leaving a little skin showing!

Keeping it all organized: If you have a collection of scarves that are folded on your shelves or placed in a drawer, it is easy to forget about them. We recommend hanging them along side your clothing so you can easily reach for one when needed. We found these great hanging systems (below) at Bed Bath and Beyond. 

What scarves can do for you:
If you haven't been one to accessorize with scarves this post is for you! This often overlooked accessory can add personality to your outfit, or dress up a your basics:

1. Scarves add a pop of color to your neutrals.
2. They can be worn as a necklace, a choker, a hair accessory, a belt, a blouse, a cape...and more.
3. The artwork on scarves can be unique and beautiful in addition to being seasonal and fun.
4. You can spend a little or a lot depending on your needs and tastes. But you do not have to break the bank to collect a few great pieces. 
5. You can find new or gently used, designer scarves on the REAL REAL, EBay, Tradsey and other like sites. If you want to add a vintage or retro designer scarf to your collection we recommend reading about how to spot an authentic Chanel, Hermes, or other designer scarf. There is a great article titled: A beginner's guide to collecting Hermes scarves that gives you a little history and information on this designer label so you can make the best decision when shopping on a consignment or resale site. Do your research to make sure you are not purchasing a knock-off. 
6. Add an updated design or color trend: Jump over to Growing Bolder to see our newest article on Spring Styles as we have a few vibrant choices that we love—all under $100. 

There are endless resources to learn new ways to wear scarves. If you have not collected them in the past or they have gone overlooked in your wardrobe, we want to apologize ahead of time for introducing you to this little addiction! 

Below are a several books we recommend that feature design as well as ways to tie scarves.  
Have fun and thanks for reading! 

P & M