Hello my darlings!
I hope this latest post finds everyone well on this lovely Friday afternoon. Today on the blog I'd like to share my recent experience at the 2015 COSLA awards. For anyone who does not know, The COSLA awards represent the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and are held annually to celebrate good practice across a wide range of services within Scotland's 32 councils.
For this post we're going to need a little context: During my day to day life I work two jobs; one is for a local authority and one for a charitable organization both doing youth work with elements of community education and resource organization involved. One of the areas of youth work that I am most passionate about is LGBT (lesbian gay bisexual and transgender) work within schools and communities, fighting proactively to tackle homophobia and hate crimes and to give young LGBT people a safe space to feel comfortable, accepted and free to be their authentic selves. I've been working locally with two wonderful LGBT projects -the West Lothian LGBT Youth Forum and the Glitter Cannons project- for just over a year now and it is these projects that were recently nominated for a COSLA excellence award.
In order to gain a bit of insight into the nature of the work that both of these projects do, please take a wee look at this video, highlighting the strengths and achievements of the LGBT youth work that happens locally. Look out for me and my freshly dyed orange hair!
Hopefully you'll agree with me that the work that these projects do is incredibly important and gain an understanding of just how valuable this type of youth work is. Supporting people who identify as LGBT (and otherwise) is such an enriching part of my personal and professional working life and truthfully is one of my favourite aspects of my day job - I absolutely love it! Needless to say I was absolutely elated when I heard that our projects were shortlisted as finalists for the COSLA awards- not for the actual awards themselves, but for the opportunity for our work to be shown on a National platform and to prompt a recognizable discussion regarding the importance of LGBT youth work across Scotland as a whole; humbling stuff really!
After submitting an application and presenting our projects to an illustrious panel of judges in Edinburgh, we were finally gearing up for the actual awards themselves.
Taking place at the suitably swanky Creiff Hydro Hotel in Perthshire, the awards were a black tie formal affair which set my little fashionista heart racing. Formal wear has always been something that has eluded me; aside from my high school prom back in 2009 I have never attended an event that required a "formal" dress code. My concerns were primarily centered around the fact that my usual everyday attire in itself is relatively formal, swing dresses, petticoats and vibrant colours are my wardrobe staples, so what traction was there to vamp up this style into something more "black-tie"?
After many hours spent traipsing online, panic- purchasing and subsequently returning an ill-fitting discount dress and a few tears of frustration I finally found it- the formal wear dress of my dreams. This dress is none other than the phenomenal Lesley Ann Dress from my old favourites, yep you guessed- pinupgirlclothing.com!
I have discussed this dress briefly before in my post about the Miss Scottish Pinup Pageant (which you can read by following this link) however I really feel as though this dress requires further discussion -it's really just that good!
Information about this dress from the pinupgirlclothing website reads as follows:
"Inspired by the timeless poise and striking beauty of actress Lesley-Ann Brandt, the Lesley-Ann Dress from Laura Byrnes California is the embodiment of grace and classic elegance. Suggestive of the exquisitely-made and highly treasured party dresses of the 1950s but with clean modern lines and refined detailing for today's woman, this dress is a marvel of construction.
The full charmeuse-lined skirt offers a stretch Meredith satin base in a delicate mauve purple with layer upon layer of pale blue tulle overlaid on top with a satin waistband to accentuate its 50s-inspired silhouette. The top, to put it mildly, is breathtaking. Meticulously cut, pleated, and sewn into a herringbone-shaped design, the tulle overlay across the lined satin bust transitions into a straight-pleated back enhanced by a satin border on the top following the lines of the tulle. Sitting slightly off-shoulder and extending to the back zip to create a drop v-back, the tulle and satin cap sleeves complete this dream of a dress. Thanks to its careful construction and enduring design, this dress will last a lifetime and beyond if cared for properly!"
Needless to say, this dress is truly exquisite. It may come with a hefty pricetag but I can assure that it is more than worth the investment as it will quite easily become a timeless wardrobe classic for all formal, black tie and let's be totally honest here- party opportunities for years to come! I thought that this dress was absolutely perfect for the COSLA awards- the structure, fabric and design tick all the boxes of my ideal formal gown, but the colours and tulle skirt add a necessary element of whimsy to proceedings and keep it very true to my personal style as a whole.
Just look at that tulle
The construction of this dress is second to none- you can really see where every penny of that $260 pricetag has gone into getting the fit, structure and fabric of this dress just right to encompass designer Laura Byrnes' vision of the perfect modern representation of this delightful 1950's party dress.
Since sharing this dress on social media, many people have asked me about the fit. As usual, I ordered this dress in my regular size of 2x in Pinupgirlclothing - according to their size chart I fit right in the middle of the 2x measurements with my 46" bust, 36" waist and generous hips, and i'd say that this dress really does fit true to size. Because this dress is so well constructed, i'd definitely say that if you are considering ordering, take a good look at the size chart before placing your order, but keep in mind that this dress is fairly big-boob accommodating, so don't let that dissuade you!
After deciding on my gown for the COSLA excellence awards, I needed to glamorize myself appropriately to match, so I opted for a big bouffant with a simple purple flower fascinator.
Props to my amazing hairdresser Nicky of Mark Brown Hairdressing, West Calder for always keeping my updo's on point!
To continue with the glamorous theme for the evening's proceedings, I opted for a lovely silver clutch which dates all the way back to my aforementioned high school prom and lots of cheap sparkly jewelry, including a beautiful sequince (a little Rupaul's Drag Race inspired joke there!) wrap that my mother kindly purchased for me on eBay and a co-ordinating purple and blue manicure to match the stunning Lesley Ann dress. Links to purchase all of the above will be feautired at the bottom of this post.
I kept my makeup for the event reasonably simple; a little touch of Urban Decay's Naked Palette on my eyes and a gorgeous purple lipstick (I love co-ordination, can you tell!?) on my lips. I also added a little silver heart necklace that belongs to my mother for some added sparkle.
Unfortunately I didn't manage to get a photo of my whole outfit including accessories, but this is almost as good, right?
Now, with my formal attire finally on point, it was on to the main event- the awards themselves!
We (the staff) arrived at the Creiff Hydro Hotel with a minibus full of young people who are members of both youth groups discussed earlier. Everyone was all kitted out in their finest ensembles and each and every person looked truly magnificent. We met with one of our colleagues from the wonderful voluntary organization LGBT Youth Scotland and proceeded inside, seizing the moment for a quick photo opportunity (naturally) and making the most of our beautiful surroundings.
As you can see from the above images, the awards themselves were quite the experience! The entire shindig was an incredibly glitzy and fancy affair, with all nominees being treated to an exquisite 3 course meal before the awards themselves began. Hosted by television personality Jackie Bird proceedings were soon underway, with our category being the 3rd announced.
Our projects were up for nomination alongside Midlothian and Edinburgh City Council under the category "Tackling Inequality and Improving Health" which is fitting given the nature of work that we do. Unfortunately we didn't win the gold in our designated category, this accolade instead going to Edinburgh City Council's awe inspiring "Willow" project which addresses the social, health and welfare needs of women in the criminal justice system and is an incredible piece of work- a truly deserving winner.
After this, we collectively presumed that our chances of winning at the 2015 COSLA excellence awards was over, however we were surprisingly mistaken. Right at the end of the evening it was announced that there would be three additional awards given to projects that had demonstrated excellence in their field - the Solace Awards for best team, the Scottish Government Award for Local Matters and lastly, the COSLA Chairperson's Award.
The Chairperson's Award was the last to be announced and to the absolute shock of everyone at our table- we won!!
The West Lothian LGBT Youth Forum and Glitter Cannons alongside the Chairperson of COSLA and television host Jackie Bird.
This wonderful accolade took us entirely by surprise- none of us were expecting to win in our category, let alone a surprise award we knew nothing about! The Chairperson of COSLA made an impassioned speech about the work that the West Lothian LGBT Youth Forum and Glitter Cannons project does and why it is so important not only to the LGBT youth community, but to everyone, because tackling inequality is something that we should all be striving to achieve. One of our young members then made a further (incredibly moving) speech that had me crying with pride, discussing how important LGBT youth work is and what impact it had made to her life. I guarantee that there wasn't a dry eye in the house!
Overall, the COSLA Excellence Awards were such a wonderful experience, and I'm so happy that I was able to be a part of it. This award has made our desire to achieve positive change for LGBT youths even stronger and has given us the drive and determination to ensure that the needs of this marginalized community are met in full. I absolutely love what I do and to for these projects to receive national recognition of this type on a public platform is awe-inspiring and truly speaks volumes.
Sequin stole: eBay
Hair Flower: eBay
I hope you've enjoyed reading this latest post.
Until next time my darlings- with lots of love,