Friday, 29 July 2016

Orange or rosé wine?

There is nothing quite like enjoying a glass of chilled rosé on a summer night. Here are a couple that have won me over.

As orange wine (made with white grapes left in contact with their skins during the fermentation process that gives the wine an orange tinge) is the cool tipple of the moment, I have also included an excellent number from Marks & Spencer.

Stapleton & Springer ORANGE Pinot Noir, 2014, Czech Republic, £13.75, Lea & Sandeman (
Named after its colour, this gorgeous orange wine soaked in cherry and strawberry flavours is essentially a rosé. It hails from an organically-cultivated vineyard in the Czech Republic. It is silky smooth on the palate. Absolutely delicious.

Le Bijou de Sophie Valrose Rosé Cabrières, Languedoc, France £8.49, Waitrose
Refreshing and fruity with a crunch of acidity, this light aromatic wine captures the essence of summer.  It goes down a treat and is also kind on the wallet.

Tblvino Qvevris, 2014, Kakheti, Georgia, £9.50, Marks & Spencer
A rather interesting number from Georgia, the country which claims to have the world’s longest wine-making history. 

Made from rkatsiteli grapes, the juice and skins are fermented in large clay amphora jars known as Qvevri. The result of this Georgian winemaking tradition – which is believed to date back thousands of years – is a dry, intense wine with spicy tangs and hints of fruit. A superb example of “orange” wines.  Works well with seafood.

By Daralyn Danns

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Elizabeth ll, her reign in style

The Queen maybe 90, but she is still deemed to be one of the most stylish women on the planet.

A new exhibition, Fashioning a Reign: 90 years of Style from The Queen’s Wardrobe, which is now on at Buckingham Palace, reveals the secrets of how she always manages to look so elegant and the care and attention that goes into making her clothes. Each outfit tells its own story.

It is interesting to see how Her Majesty has incorporated the trends of the moment into her own style and how that too has evolved over the years. 

Unlike the Queen we do not have to take into consideration the colours and embroideries of our host's nation when we choose what clothes to wear but we can still pick up a trick or two from the monarch. 

Princess Elizabeth's wedding dress, 1947, designed by Norman Hartnell
Royal Collection Trust / (C) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016

If you are travelling to other countries think about the fabrics that you buy. Are your clothes going to work with the country’s culture? If you are going to the more relaxed Muslim countries it is a sign of respect for women to keep knees and shoulders covered. 

Block-coloured jewel outfits with a matching hat are favoured by the Queen as they make her stand out and ensure that she is seen by everybody. We do not often see her wearing prints. Having a signature style makes you memorable.

What also makes this exhibition fascinating is something we all know: classic outfits will always stand the test of time. Those with real style do not let fashion dictate.

A display of dresses from Fashioning a Reign: 90 years of style from The Queen's Wardrobe, Buckingham Palace
Royal Collection Trust / (C) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016

Her Majesty has always supported British couturiers including Sir Norman Hartnell, Hardy Armies and Ian Thomas, which is reflected in this exhibition. The Queen, who works with the leading British designers of the day, is involved in the decision making and will reject designs if she does not like them. Looking at the clothes you will also note that fastenings are concealed so that the outfit looks as good from the back as it does from the front.

Nipped in waists of the 1940s, beautiful feminine lines from the 1950s, even a glimpse of Jackie O’s influence, there are plenty of numbers on show that you would want to wear now. On the other side of her life are the outfits she wore for her military duties and as head of the armed forces. 

There are several highlights of the clothes and accessories exhibited which were worn by the Queen from childhood up to the present day.

Crystal and lace peach beaded cocktail dress designed by Angela Kelly. The dress and headpiece were worn by The Queen when she appeared in the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics with James Bond (Daniel Craig)
Royal Collection Trust / (C) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016

Her Majesty’s wedding dress worn in 1947 made from ivory silk decorated with crystals and 10,000 seed pearls designed by Sir Norman Hartnell is absolutely stunning and is one of the stars of the show. The train seems to go on forever. 

The Duchesse satin Coronation gown with a scheme of national and Commonwealth floral emblems in gold, silver and pastel-silk colours is encrusted with pearls, crystals and sequins. It is an exquisite creation by Hartnell, who, unbeknown to her Majesty, added for good luck on the left side a four-leave shamrock. 

There is also the peachy pink lace dress designed by Angela Kelly worn by the Queen at the London Olympic Games ceremony with Daniel Craig in 2012. The colour was chosen because it was not associated with any of the participating countries.

Another outfit on display for the first time is the primrose wool crepe coat and dress that Her Majesty wore for the wedding of Catherine Middleton to Prince William in 2011.

Designed by Sir Norman Hartnell

My personal favourite was a black and velvet silk gown worn by the Queen in 1948. Designed by Hartnell, this stunning creation paid homage to Christian Dior’s New Look which embraced femininity. Skirts were longer, the waist more fitted and shoulders rounded.

This is a fascinating exhibition and is well worth seeing.

By Daralyn Danns

Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from The Queen's Wardrobe (until 2 October 2016) at Buckingham Palace. For more information and tickets visit