Made in Great Britain
“The beauty of fragrance is that it speaks to your heart and hopefully someone else’s.”
- Elizabeth Taylor
We’re excited to introduce a new fragrance for our well-being collection this season! You can now treat yourself or a loved one to our beautiful range of Lavender and Geranium products including body lotion, room spray, hand cream, soap and body wash.
Our Knitwear and Accessories Buyer Michelle said “I wanted to introduce a new fragrance to work alongside our Wildflower eau de toilette. Lavender fields mixed with heady Geranium is a wonderful combination of scents, and smells can evoke lovely memories while stimulating the senses. The fragrance also promotes relaxation and harmony which is something we should all have more of in our lives”.
These products have been created in partnership with Beefayre, an English run family business passionate about bee conservation. These luxurious and pampering products have been sustainably sourced in the UK using premium quality essential oils.
We spoke with the founder of Beefayre, Sharon, to understand more about her wonderful company, their delightful products and history:
Sharon has always had a passion for British wildlife and conservation, having been an illustrator of wildlife for many years. The idea for Beefayre came to her, not in the UK, but while she was travelling to the foothills of Transylvania in Romania, in 2010. Sharon was there researching an MA in contemporary fine art and on meeting beekeepers and studying their ancient tradition of beekeeping, she discovered a wonderful, pristine environment, free from pesticides and intensive farming practices. She said it was like travelling back in time.
The valleys and mountainsides were clothed in wildflowers supporting thriving colonies of healthy honeybees who were producing the purest honey, pollen and propolis. Upon returning to England, Sharon began reading about the plight of our honeybees as they’re suffering from pesticide poisoning and the disappearance of wildflowers from the countryside. This inspired Sharon to create Beefayre, a company inspired by nature and set-up to highlight the modern struggle of the honeybee and help save them! Having had many years’ experience in the gift trade, it was a natural way to marry Sharon’s passion for bees and her commercial expertise.
Our packaging, which has been created in partnership with Beefayre, while being beautiful, aims to educate people with the ethos behind the brand including their donations of 3% of the profits going to Bee conservation. While the glass bottles are made from recycled glass and can be recycled again once you’ve enjoyed the product!
All of the products are made in the UK using natural, sustainably sourced ingredients, while also being vegan (no animal fats used) and do not contain petroleum ingredients, parabens or sulphates, artificial colouring or foaming agents.
We’re starting to hear and learn more about the trouble our wildlife is facing due to human impact. Here at Cotswold Collections we’ve been taking steps to reduce our environmental effect, read more here >>
Beefayre mirror our ethically sourced premium quality values and they create products that are low impact on our environment while also educating people about the steps they can take to support biodiversity.
Have you tried our new Lavender and Geranium products? Let us know your thoughts in the comments...
Have you ever wondered how your clothes are made and where? Take a look at how our garments are made, from initial conception through to the finished product.
All of our products are designed by us in the Cotswolds. Our buyers are also designers, who work closely with clothing manufacturers and mills to ensure that the high-quality piece they envisioned turns into the final product you receive at home.
More than half of our collections are made in the UK, with cloth often sourced from heritage mills around Britain. Today we're focussing on one of our largest suppliers, who make all their products in London.
From the initial sketch created by our buyers, our garment technologist then works closely with the buyer to ensure the size measurements and technical specifications are perfect before the final design is passed onto our supplier, who makes the garment to the spec using the gorgeous fabric that has been chosen for the piece.
In this case, it's a lovely russet-coloured cord fabric that makes these beautiful trousers.
Our supplier makes a sample garment according to the specifications using the fabric and sends this to our buyers who try it on an in-house fit model to see whether it needs slight adjustments to shaping or styling.
Once approved, a pattern is created and the manufacturer starts to cut the fabric to shape.
The cut fabric is then placed into bundles of matching pieces, for example, all trouser leg components.
It is then sewn together to create the finished product, which is inspected closely for any faults.
The finished products are then steamed or ironed, packed and dispatched to our warehouse.
As the garments are being created by our London supplier, our art director sketches up the garment with accessories and other pieces to create a brief for the photo shoot team.
The garment (pictured is the chic unlined jacket) is then photographed, worn by one of our stunning models and printed in the catalogue or placed on our website, ready for you to order and wear.
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Take a journey with us to the past! We are taking a rather self-indulgent look over the last quarter of a century in business.
For the very loyal amongst you, you may remember Cotswold Woollens, before we re-branded to Cotswold Collections.
Photo shoots were frequently located in the Cotswolds. Our marketing manager recalls an amusing conversation with her husband:
"We did a Christmas shoot in a lovely house in Burford, Cotswolds one year. This was at the height of summer when my husband worked in Oxfordshire. He came home one day saying he couldn’t understand why there was a Christmas tree and decorations being put up in this house he drove past on the way to work… I was able to put him right!"
Our models have a much harder job today as our winter and Christmas shoots are located in Europe and further afield with temperatures reaching upwards of 35C!
The buyers have seen so much change over the past few decades which has also enabled them to perfect the fit of the garments with improvements in garment technology and machinery and as is the nature of fashion, it is cyclical and they have seen "trends come and go and come back again."
However, as the saying goes 'What goes up, must come down' and tragedy struck in 2007 bringing Cotswold Collections to the edge. Massive floods affected vast areas of Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds. Tewkesbury was described as an 'isle' as it was effectively surrounded by flood water (the abbey can be seen in the background above). Unfortunately, our warehouse at the time was located in the picturesque village of Winchcombe, which was flooded so badly that both floors of stock were damaged. Thankfully, our dedicated staff made a heroic effort to rescue as much as they could so that customers could still receive their orders but several candles from our well-being range still managed to make their escape and floated down the Isbourne river!
Nonetheless, out of this tragedy came new beginnings - we moved the location of our warehouse to Cheltenham and based all of our operations in one building. The benefits of "all departments of the company operating under the same roof made for great efficiencies and improved communication and our working environment" and so from this disaster emerged a better and brighter future for us.
Our Managing Director's personal highlight has been:
"Building the heritage side of the business, forming great relationships with British woollen mills and the remains of the British garment manufacturing industry, which keeps our quality high and the product exclusive."
Of course, none of this would have been possible without you, our loyal customers! You've seen us through the past quarter of a century and we hope to be with you for some time to come. We absolutely love hearing from you, whether that's your fantastic reviews on Trustpilot, your stunning photos or on the phone to our customer service team. Your opinions help shape our future collections and we can't wait to hear more from you!
You may have noticed that the vintage covers all have one thing in common. They look similar to the classics you know and love today. We haven't drifted from our mission of creating unique classic clothing that stands the test of time. So here's to another 25 years of Cotswold Collections!
Do you have a treasured garment from Cotswold Collections? Do you remember the very first catalogue you received from us? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
For more interesting updates and special offers, sign up for our email newsletters here >
We are proud to work with three heritage Scottish mills and manufacturers, who are renowned for their exceptional craftsmanship and expertise in cloth manufacture.
The first mill is Lochcarron of Scotland, which was founded in 1947 in the village of Lochcarron in the Scottish Highlands. They started with just 15 employees, using hand looms and traditional weaving methods, mainly making school scarves and accessories for the tourist market. After weaving their first tartan in 1949, they rapidly grew, so that eventually in the 1960s they moved from Lochcarron to a larger premises in Selkirk, where their mill and factory are. Today they produce over 700 tartans and they dye, prepare the cloth and weave it on their premises. They have hundreds of visitors a year, including royalty! You can even visit the Lochcarron Weavers Shop where the original site was located 70 years ago.
Our second mill is based in the Scottish Borders, founded over four decades ago where they started making fabric for men's ties. This family-run mill weaves a large proportion of our Scottish cloth, which includes the beautiful check fabric for our double-breasted jacket, featured later. It was woven on one of their looms, pictured in the right-hand side image. See a loom in action in the video below. What's more, all of our pleated skirts have only a short distance to travel from the mill to a local factory where they are made, making them true heritage Scottish pieces.
We also work with a family-run Scottish knitwear producer, who use locally-spun yarn. Based on the beautiful north coast of Scotland, three generations have been running the company since the 1920s, taking inspiration from the traditional knitwear designs of the Fair Isle fisherman. They source local spinners and clean the wool through the fresh cool water to remove any natural oils from the fibres. They pair modern technology with traditional methods for exceptional results.
Made from pure wool, the striking check fabric has been woven in the Scottish Borders to create this beautiful double-breasted jacket, which features a rever collar, pockets and expert tailoring for a flattering silhouette.
Knitted on the north coast of Scotland, using a traditional technique that reduces wool waste, this classic piece is based on original Fair Isle patterns for a modern heritage piece.
Made using pure wool fabric woven in the Scottish Borders, this wonderful skirt features all-round knife pleats, side back waistband elastication for optimum comfort and a full lining.
Featuring a luxurious blend of wool and mohair for supreme warmth, this limited edition bouclé coat is made from check fabric woven by the world's leading supplier of tartan, Lochcarron of Scotland. What's more, the oversized checks are very on-trend, combining classic tailoring with contemporary designs.
This classic all-round knife pleat skirt is made from pure wool, which is dyed a beautiful shade of amethyst, reminiscent of heather-strewn hillsides, and woven in the Scottish Borders. With side back waistband elastication and a full lining, this is an easy-to-wear and stylish option for the coming seasons.
Take a look at how our skirts are made here >
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This week the RHS Chelsea Flower Show takes place, as well as an exclusive exhibition featuring Pat Albeck's work. Read on to find why we are embracing all things floral.
The Chelsea Flower Show attracts over 157,000 visitors every year, inspiring people with dramatic and beautiful flower and garden displays. It was originally named the Royal Horticultural Society Great Spring Show and was first held in 1862. It moved location to the Chelsea Hospital, where it has been since 1912, renamed to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
The stunning displays of flora challenge our conceptions of nature and garden design and influence future trends. This celebration of spring, new life and the beauty of nature is enjoyed by millions, whether by those fortunate enough to attend or, like most of us, from the comfort of our homes on television.
Embracing all things floral, we are re-introducing this beautiful floral print, exclusively designed by renowned artist, Pat Albeck.
Back by popular demand, this cheerful blouse embodies summer and is a celebration of the Cotswold countryside. Made in collaboration with a family-run mill in Cheshire, the design was printed onto swathes of pure cotton and then cut and sewn into the beautiful pieces shown above, according to our in-house design specifications. Whether styled casually with jeans as an over-shirt or tucked into a chic skirt for a more refined look, this statement blouse is sure to turn heads this summer.
Pat Albeck started out in her career designing for Horrockses in the 1950s, going onto to design for John Lewis (the 'Daisy Chain' print is one of her most famous), the National Trust and many other famous brands. With over six decades of design experience we were thrilled when she agreed to design a print for us.
Pat designed this exclusive print for us in her picturesque Cotswold cottage, where her studio is overflowing with fabulous prints that she is working on and overlooks her garden. She feels she is experiencing her own renaissance as vintage prints rise in popularity.
Her Cotswold cottage and garden provide her with plenty of inspiration for new prints. She is devoted to her passion: going out everyday to pick a flower and draw it. When asked which was her favourite flower, she said that she likes "each flower as it comes", especially zinnias, sweet peas, lupins and waterlilies but her favourite flower is the rose, so we were not surprised that the print she designed for us featured an abundance of gorgeous roses.
Pat Albeck's latest work will be on display at Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler's latest exhibition, 'A CUT ABOVE', featuring 20 of her pieces.
Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler was founded in the 1930s and is the longest established interior decorating firm in Great Britain, as well as one of the most respected. Founded in 1938 by Lady Colefax, a glamorous socialite and interior decorator, who drew upon her childhood in India and European travels for inspiration when decorating.
Their impressive showrooms on Pimlico Road host Pat's intricately crafted paper flower collages from Monday, 22nd May to Saturday, 27th May 2017, during the Chelsea Flower Show.
Pat's latest work is a result of experimenting with a number of different techniques and by doing so she has "discovered that cut paper is my very favourite technique.”
Whether you are in Chelsea this week for the Flower Show or not, be sure to visit Pat Albeck's latest exhibition. For more details, click here >
To celebrate National Mills Weekend on the 13th and 14th May, we went behind-the-scenes at our local silk mill, Beckford Silk.
The journey to Beckford is filled with picturesque Cotswold cottages and stunning scenery and as we pull up into the drive we are presented with the beautiful red brick building, surrounded by lush green fields, that is Beckford Silk.
Working with Beckford Silk for over two decades, our accessories buyer Michelle produces beautiful designs for our collections that you will treasure for years to come.
Beckford Silk is a family-run company with nearly half a century of silk printing expertise behind them. Founded in 1975 by James and Marthe Gardner, who wanted to make things by hand in the Cotswold countryside, much the same as the Arts and Crafts Movement, from which we draw our heritage. Their first order was from the National Trust in 1978, which propelled them into the silk printing industry. They have been working with their silk supplier for over a decade, ensuring close ties and a great working relationship.
Marthe and James are still the figureheads of the business but have passed most of their knowledge onto their children Anne and Robbie. Marthe is pictured here with her daughter Anne, who now oversees the design and sales side of the business. It was a pleasure to meet this charming mother & daughter team and to hear how the company has progressed over the years. Surrounded by ledgers filled with accounts, Marthe relaid tales in her delightful French accent of her childhood and her current struggle with all things computer-based (something many of us can relate to), preferring instead to manage the accounts with pencil and paper, whilst liaising with her son. This meeting of the old and the new is a reflection of the business as a whole: Beckford Silk use both screen and digital methods to print, with old methods used side by side with new, as well as the knowledge being passed down the generations. It is this fusion of both that drives the business and leads it forward.
Their in-house designer Victoria works with each client to produce the designs which are then printed. She is currently working with the V&A on over a dozen designs this year and also works with many other institutions, such as the National Trust, Highgrove, Westminster Abbey, the Tate and the Royal Academy, to create high-quality products that reflect the unique heritage of each client.
Their building is filled with the trappings of a working mill, as well as historical artefacts, such as these intricately carved antique silk print blocks.
We are shown into the hub of production, where their exclusive dyes are formulated and recorded in recipe books that have taken years to refine. It is an on-going scientific process, involving a lot of time and experimentation. This room is crammed with intriguing pots that are filled with eye-catching colours, vaguely reminiscent of chemistry lessons. It is a visual feast that belies the hard work behind these amazingly colourful dye recipes.
Here reams of cloth are spinning on machines that use steam to open up the silk fibres, which aids absorption of the dye molecules. They are used to dye their rolls of silk which they sell to designers and the general public.
We are then shown upstairs to the screen printing room. This light and airy room houses the traditional printing process. Giant screens are used to impart the dye onto the silk. One screen is used for each colour. The silk is taped down onto the canvas-covered table and then the screen is placed on top and the dye pushed through. The screen is moved down the table as the fabric is printed. This is also the method used to produce devoré fabric. Once printed the length of silk is pegged up to dry above the table. It is a time-consuming but rewarding process that is keeping this traditional craft alive.
One of the final stages of this complex process is steaming the silk, which ensures that the dye is fixed and any coating is removed. They use a Clip Stenter Finishing Machine, which feeds the fabric through an infra-red oven, drawing out the moisture leaving the fabric dry and crease-free. The silk is then cut into individual scarves, which are hand-rolled by a team of local women, who range from young mothers to experienced seamstresses, including one who has worked for them for over a decade.
The finished items are then boxed and shipped to their clients or displayed in their well laid-out shop.
Anne's knowledge and passion for her family's mill, combined with her easy manner and genuine interest in answering our many questions on the tour, makes it easy to see why Beckford Silk are so successful, adapting readily to the changing world of printing.
We hope you have enjoyed discovering the complex processes involved in producing our scarves and the family behind the brand, as we did.
Shop our classic spot Silk Neckerchief from Beckford Silk and look out for more of their stunning scarves in our upcoming collections.
Visit a mill near you! Take a look at the National Mills Weekend website to find one near you >
Do you own one of our Beckford Silk scarves? Let us know by leaving a comment using the box below.
Discover the heritage behind our brand, from its very beginnings to how it influences our collections and our collaborations with heritage mills and factories today.
Our story begins with sheep. In particular the Cotswold Lion Sheep, which is thought to have been introduced by the Romans. Prized for its long fleece with a high growth rate, this breed of sheep shaped the Cotswolds as we know it today.
The name Cotswold literally means "sheep enclosure in rolling hillsides". Its lush, verdant landscape that the sheep fed upon fuelled the textile industry, turning grass into gold.
From these humble beginnings a textile empire was built. In Tudor times it was said that "half the wealth of England rides on the back of sheep." It is a sustainable resource that was was transported to London on the Thames and then on to France, where it was sold for high prices, due to lack of French farmland.
Churches and mills were built in abundance from the profits of the wool trade, shaping the region we see today. Wool churches were built by the merchants, who hoped to elevate their position in society by donating to the Church. Above is a magnificent example of a wool church in Northleach.
The final stage of the wool cloth production is fulling, where water is used to cleanse away impurities and results in a thicker cloth. Due to an abundance of water in the Cotswolds, water mills are used and dot the landscape, such as this picturesque water mill at Lower Slaughter.
The rich history of the Cotswolds inspired artists such as William Morris and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Morris, one of the founders of the Arts and Crafts movement, was so enchanted by the Cotswolds he made it his permanent home and drew inspiration from the surrounding countryside and architecture for his designs.
From this well of textile and artistic pedigree that the Cotswolds produced, we create designs and styles that reflect the surrounding area and its heritage. The yarns and colours used in our collections are directly inspired by and drawn from the pallette of the Cotswolds, from the honey-coloured stone to the vibrant greens of the flora.
We work with British fabrics, mills, factories and artists to produce exemplary products that showcase the best of our heritage. Designed exclusively in-house in the Cotswolds, we use the best fabrics and yarns, ensuring you have the best quality wardrobe for the season.
The Cotswolds is "the most English and the least spoiled
of all our countrysides." J.B. Priestley
Have you visited the Cotswolds? Do you have a favourite place? Let us know by leaving a comment by using the box below.
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We are delighted to be working in collaboration with Pat Albeck, the renowned fabric designer and local artist. She designed an exclusive print for us last year that is back by popular demand! Read on to find out more about Pat and her beautiful print.
Pat Albeck has led a very interesting life and with a career in the textile design industry spanning over six decades, she is something of a national institution. She started out in her career designing for Horrockses in the 1950s, including beautifully feminine dresses like the one pictured below (perhaps you may remember them?), she designed the 'Daisy Chain' print for John Lewis and she is famously entitled 'The Tea Towel Queen' having designed over 300 for the National Trust (check your drawer, you may own one!), amongst other famous brands.
It seems creativity runs in her family, her late husband was the famous stage designer Peter Rice, her son Matthew Rice is a designer & author and her daughter-in-law is the renowned ceramic designer Emma Bridgewater, whose pottery fills her home. She lives in a picturesque cottage in the Cotswolds (the extensions were designed by her son) where she does all her work.
Her studio is overflowing with fabulous prints that she is working on and overlooks her garden. She credits the longevity of her career to "never stopping" and maintains that “everybody should keep a creative space in their home.” When asked if she has ever designed something she did not approve of, she answers that she has not and sagely advises to “never do anything because you think it will sell. Do it because you like it and hope they’ll want to buy the things you do." She feels she is experiencing her own renaissance as vintage prints rise in popularity.
Her Cotswold cottage and garden provide her with plenty of inspiration for new prints. She is devoted to her passion: going out everyday to pick a flower and draw it, except at the age of 87, she "finds it harder to bend down and pick tiny flowers." She loves drawing vegetables, flowers and cats and says that "the more I learn about flowers, the better my drawings become.” When asked which was her favourite flower, she said that she likes "each flower as it comes", especially zinnias, sweet peas, lupins and waterlilies but her favourite flower is the rose, so we were not surprised that the print she designed for us featured an abundance of gorgeous roses.
In collaboration with a family-run mill in Cheshire, Pat's design was then printed onto swathes of pure cotton for the skirt and a silk & cotton blend for the scarf. The fabric was then cut and sewn into the beautiful pieces shown below, according to our in-house design specifications. So from the initial design right through to the final product, these pieces are true examples of British craftsmanship, supporting the British textile trade.
Add a touch of timeless charm to your outfit with this versatile accessory featuring Pat Albeck's exclusive print. Printed on to a square of delicate fabric, this superb silk-blend scarf features a floral garland border and is finished with the artist's signature.
Elevate your look with this feminine, figure-flattering cotton skirt. Showcasing Pat Albeck's gorgeous print to full effect, this striking print skirt features a full lining, pockets, side back waistband elastication and a mock-button-front.
Do you have a favourite Pat Albeck print? Let us know by leaving a comment using the box below.
For more interesting updates and special offers, sign up to our email newsletters here.
This week we celebrate Wool Week, supporting the Campaign for Wool.
What is the Campaign for Wool? "It is a global community of sheep farmers, retailers, designers, manufacturers and consumers united by their patron His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. It aims to educate as many people as possible about the incredible benefits and versatility of wool in fashion, furnishings and everyday life. This in turn, supports many small businesses and local farmers whose livelihoods depend on the wool industry."
When did it begin? "The Campaign officially began in October 2010 with a launch event that saw London’s historic tailoring street Savile Row transformed into a pasture upon which fifty sheep grazed. Over 100 companies participated in Wool Week and thousands of consumers took part in activities such as knitting and felting. Yellow sheep were even spotted queuing outside Selfridges department store on Oxford Street."
Why is wool important? "Wool is a natural fibre. It has evolved to produce a fabric that has become one of the most effective natural forms of all-weather protection known to man. Every year sheep produce a new fleece, making wool a renewable fibre source. Woolgrowers actively work to improve efficiency and care for natural resources, endeavouring to make the wool industry sustainable for future generations."
For more information on The Campaign for Wool please click here: www.campaignforwool.org
We work with many heritage wool mills to create our stunning pieces. There are two that we would like to highlight for Wool Week:
Help us celebrate Wool Week by supporting these heritage companies and keeping the wool trade alive.
Many of our garments are made using wool and so by shopping with us you are helping a wonderful tradition to keep going.
We take you on a brief tour of our production process, with exclusive insights into how our skirts are transformed from yarn to the gorgeous pieces you see in our catalogue.
After each skirt has been designed by our buyers, we then turn to the mill. Above are the 'recipes' for the dye. Each card contains the 'ingredients' for that particular colour. Once a colour is chosen, the yarn is then dyed in the large baths shown above.
After they have been dyed they are put onto cones which are then threaded up, ready to go onto the loom.
Using a pattern (the white card with holes in, shown), the fabric is then woven on the loom, producing rolls of beautiful fabric.
To see the loom in action, click here >
Once the fabric has been woven, it is cut to the correct length for each skirt. If it is to become a knife pleat skirt, it is placed in between two layers of cardboard (shown above) and baked in an oven to create the pleats. Once that is complete they are then sewn into the finished version.
Shop our beautiful range of skirts featured in this article:
Invert Pleat Skirt:
Made in Britian, this lovely design will fit well in your wardrobe (and out).
Checked Panel Skirt:
Another British made classic in a flattering length is vying for your attention.
The last British heritage piece in this article. In neutral tones and a dramatic cut, this skirt is the best of both worlds: understated and interesting.
Dogtooth Pleat Skirt:
The final piece of the puzzle. This lovely pleat skirt is great to wear now, with its shorter length.
I have picked out just a handful of our British made and designed pieces. From sketch, to cloth, right through to the manufacturing, these pieces have been completely produced in Great Britain.
Featuring a fantastic British woven check with subtle harmonious colours, in a fabric that was produced for us in the North of England. The jacket and skirt were cut and sewn in a London based factory. Both these pieces are dry clean and made with 100% pure wool.
Made with fabric woven in a heritage Scottish mill, our fully lined straight skirt features a vivid check in pure wool. The skirt was made with one of our manufactures in London. Dry clean and made with 100% pure wool.
Featuring a new softer wool cloth woven in a heritage mill in Scotland, this fully lined check jacket has gentle shaping in the body seams, pockets with flaps and a tonal button fastening. This jacket was made in a London factory. Dry clean only as it made from 100% pure wool.
A pretty silk square, printed by our local mill, with a basket weave design and a neat striped border. Beckford is an idyllic Cotswold village where Beckford Silk prints and produces these beautiful scarves for us.
Printed by our local Cotswold mill, Beckford Silk, with a basket weave texture design with a neat striped border.
See more of our British made pieces on our Pinterest page. We have dedicated a tile on our Pinterest page which allows you to see all of our heritage pieces.
Thanks for reading this week’s article. Check in next week to find out more about our Luxurious style pieces.