Tuesday, August 31, 2010

An English Country Village

Back in May, when we passed through the tiny village of Bramber on our ten mile training walk, I rather fell in love with the place and told Matin we had to come back for a visit sometime. So yesterday we did. It's an utterly charming and fantastically picturesque village with a ruined Norman castle, intact Norman church and medieval houses.

There's one particularly amazing 15th century timber-framed house, St. Mary's, which is open to the public, but we missed going inside (makes a good excuse for another visit!). However, their neighbour was passing by as I posed by the garden gate, and invited us into his garden to take some pictures. It was everything you could hope for from an English country garden - tiny, in keeping with the miniature scale of Bramber, and like something out of a fairytale, with arches dripping with foliage, climbing roses, romantic hanging lanterns, a tinkling fountain and stone statuary.

He also told us to come back at Christmas time, as the village is all illuminated. I can imagine it being quite magical. Isn't Sussex great?

King Charles II is claimed to have stayed at Bramber during his escape to France after defeat at the Battle of Worcester. The Monarch's Way long-distance footpath, following Charles's supposed route to Shoreham-by-Sea, crosses the River Adur at Bramber.

And on to the outfit... I bought the hat at Vintage at Goodwood the other week - I got a bit carried away at the Tasty Vintage stall. Because I paid slightly more than I usually would for a hat I'm making myself wear it, so I constructed a 1930s-influenced outfit around it, raiding my own stock room for the polka dot pussy-bow blouse (which I've now removed from sale, so you've missed out!).

♥ 1930s hat, Tasty Vintage
♥ 1970s blouse, charity shop
♥ Skirt, Marks & Spencer
♥ Clip-on earrings, car boot sale
♥ 1930s grosgrain handbag, charity shop
♥ Belt, Topshop via ebay
♥ Photos by Mr. Matin

Monday, August 30, 2010

Chanteuses Françaises: France Gall

France Gall was born in 1947 to a musical family - her mother was a singer and her father wrote songs for Edith Piaf, among others. She learned to play the piano and the guitar as a child. She released her first record "Ne sois pas si bête" ("Don't Be So Stupid") at 15. For her second single she teamed up with songwriter Serge Gainsbourg (who seems to be responsible for pretty much most French pop from the late 50s to the 80s - he's like the French Simon Cowell). "N'écoute pas les idoles" ("Don't listen to the idols") reached the top of the French charts in March 1964 and stayed there for three weeks.

Also in 1964 France released "Laisse Tomber Les Filles" ("Stop Messing The Girls Around"), another Gainsbourg composition. The song addresses a ladykiller, and is basically saying "what goes around comes around", telling the boy in question to stop breaking girls' hearts, because he'll be the one alone in the end, "leave the girls alone; one day it's you who'll be crying". It's a surprisingly dark song from an era of upbeat teenage pop, but its empowering message has ensured its enduring popularity. April March's English language version was used on the credits for Tarantino's Deathproof.

In 1965, Gall was selected to represent neighbouring Luxembourg at the Eurovision song contest in Naples, Italy. (She took a lot of flak for it from the French media, who accused her of deserting her homeland.) Of the ten song proposals, she chose the Gainsbourg composition "Poupée de Cire, Poupée de Son" ("Wax Doll, Singing Doll"). It was the first song to win Eurovision that was not a ballad. Serge Gainsbourg described the wordplaying lyrics as being about the fact that "The songs young people turn to for help in their first attempts at discovering what life and love are about, are sung by people too young and inexperienced to be of much help and condemned by their celebrity to find out."

She won the contest convincingly (beating Britain’s Kathy Kirby into second place) and enjoyed a major international success, recording versions in German, Italian and Japanese. The song spawned a host of covers throughout Europe, including one by Twinkle in the UK, Karina in Spain and Portugal, Ritva Palukka in Finland and Denmark’s Gitte in Sweden.

She followed up with further Gainsbourg compositions, and "Attends ou va-t’en", "Nous ne sommes pas des anges" and "L’Amérique" were all hits.

1966 began well for Gall, as she scored another success with Gainsbourg’s "Baby pop" (which also became the title track of her fourth album), but the next single caused a huge scandal. Gainsbourg was well known for the erotic subtexts of his songs, and his composition "Les Sucettes", ostensibly a song about a girl who liked lollipops, was full of double entendre and innuendo that was clear to everyone – except the naïve, 18-year-old Gall. She was mortified when she realised the true meaning of the lyrics, feeling used by Gainsbourg, and went into hiding for weeks. Her career suffered a decline as a result of the scandal.

The turning point came when, in 1973, she met Michael Berger and decided she wanted to work with him. They collaborated in 1974 on "La Déclaration d'amour", which was to be the first in a long line of hits. The pair ended up marrying in June 1976, and continued to work together until Berger's sudden death of a heart attack in 1992. Although she was deeply affected by her husband's death, Gall was determined to perform the concerts they had planned together to promote their joint album, "Double Jeu".

Gall now lives privately in LA, making only rare public appearances. She is a patron for French charity Coeurs de Femmes, a group helping homeless women.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Winchester is less than an hour away from us but this is the first time I've been. Winchester has been around as a town since Roman times. It was capital of King Alfred the Great's Kingdom of Wessex, and later of England. William the Conqueror's Domesday Book was compiled in the city. The ancient Pilgrims' Way travelling to Canterbury also begins at Winchester.

Also, do you like my new dress? Matin bought it for me at Vintage at Goodwood from local-to-me vintage store Dead Man's Glory. I love the print (it's going on my to-repro list!), but I found it a slightly awkward colour combination to accessorise (I need a pair of brown shoes, clearly).

Anyway, I received several compliments on my outfit, which is always lovely.

After checking out the charity shops (which brought one small triumph in the shape of an 80s-does-50s multicolour gingham full swing skirt) we embarked on a walking tour around the heart of the ancient capital. Above are King Alfred's statue and the City Bridge, built in 1813. Below is the Cheyney Court, where bishops met to hear legal cases.

Winchester Cathedral, on which construction began in 1079, is the largest Gothic cathedral in the country. In its grounds are buried various historical figures including Bishops of Winchester, Anglo-Saxon and later monarchs such as King Canute and William Rufus (whose memorial stone we visited when we went camping to the New Forest - I've just realised there are a whole lot of pictures from our trip which I never posted!) and author Jane Austen.

Winchester's so nice - we were only there for an afternoon, and I can't wait for a chance to go back and visit more historic landmarks, including a look inside the cathedral (our parking ticket was running out so we had to get back to the car).

Medieval graphics from fromoldbook.org

Friday, August 27, 2010

À La Française

Going with the old tried and true red, white and blue theme for today.

I rediscovered this polka dot mac in my stock room - I bought it last winter because I liked it, then decided it didn't suit me, but I pulled it out again today to give it another go. The main problem with it was that the waistline didn't sit right - because my breasts add so much to the front lines of any garment, waistlines often end up a good inch above my actual waist. So I ditched the original matching belt and replaced it with a red one, ignoring the belt loops.

Beret, Accessorize; Coat, New Look; Belt, charity shop; Handbag, ebay; Skirt, made to measure in Thailand; Shoes, Yoma.

Photography by Matin.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

1943 in Shoes

Gosh has it really been five days since my last post? Bad blogger! I was working (obsessively, some might say) on my latest fabric repro (I went with the dancing ladies in the end. It was rather more complicated than I had anticipated, what with all the interlocking elements - but I love how it came out).

Anyway, on with the shoes! Well into the war, 1943 seems to have been the year of the Sensible Shoe! Of course these ads are all taken from my Everywoman magazines, and not Vogue or other high fashion editorials. I love how Joyce seem to try and persuade you that it's practically a patriotic duty to buy their shoes. And how the Liberty ad is the only shoe ad not to show any actual shoes!

And this from the Board of Trade on getting the best wear out of your shoes:

Friday, August 20, 2010

Which to repro next?

I've finally completed work on my repro of the Deco Fans feedsack I posted about ages ago, so I'm ready for my next repro project. But I've collected so many novelty fabrics as inspiration I just can't pick which one to do next!

The sewing and ironing ones are obviously part of a series with the laundry day feedsack I already repro'd. Casey posted the sailor one recently (check her post to see the full advert, with the fabric made up into an outfit). The zoo one is utterly irresistable - it's from a 1950s circle skirt posted on Debutante Clothing last year. The dancing ladies print is one I came across at the weekend and looked beautiful made up into a tea dress (unfortunately it didn't fit me. And was £100). And aren't the cowboys cute?

Help me out here!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Chanteuses Francaises: Brigitte Bardot

The Stella Artois advert just gave me the idea to do a mini series focusing on icons of French popular music. For part one I present the fabulous Brigitte Bardot. Vive la retro French pop!

With her smoky come-to-bed eyes, sultry pout and luxuriant blonde locks - not to mention the astonishing hourglass figure - Brigitte Bardot epitomises the spirit of the Bombshell. Born in Paris on September 28, 1934, she was the daughter of a wealthy industrialist. While studying ballet she was approached with the offer to begin modelling; by 1950 she had already graced the cover of Elle magazine. She was spotted by movie director Roger Vadim (whom she later married). Acting roles followed; she developed a sex kitten image with racy parts in French films. No doubt these along with her exotic appeal contributed to her overseas popularity - she was one of the first foreign language stars ever to achieve international success comparable to the big name American movie stars of the day.

Brigitte recorded three music albums during the 1960s, living up to her risqué reputation with somewhat suggestive lyrics. I've included a couple here (which coincidentally have both recently been used as soundtracks for TV adverts), but it's worth looking her up on youtube or itunes because her music is very enjoyable.

In 1973, just before her fortieth birthday, Bardot announced her retirement from show business. She became very active in animal rights campaigning, and established the Brigitte Bardot Foundation for the Welfare and Protection of Animals in 1986. In recent years she's got herself into controversy for being kind of a racist.

Vintage at Goodwood: Critical Review

Having read others' reviews (both positive and negative) of the Vintage weekender, I feel compelled to add my tuppence ha'penn'orth to the mix.

But for the weather, which was typically British and not ideal, overall I really did have a smashing weekend. There was vintage atmosphere, there was cake, there was shopping and there was music. I loved the whole "fashion & music by decade" concept. Because of this, and my relentless positivity about all things vintage - I've avoided saying anything negative about the weekend. This was of course the very first Vintage festival, and I truly hope that, as planned, it becomes an annual event. And of course being the first festival of its kind, there were bound to be teething problems, to be learned from. So in the interests of objectivity - and hopefully to help the event run even better next year - I do have one or two points worth bringing up.

My main concern is that for me it was hard to get my money's worth for a £135 weekend ticket. This is not because there wasn't enough stuff going on, but because:

1) The much-vaunted workshops - which I was very much looking forward to - were tiny and hard to find (okay they were on the high street, but there wasn't enough information on the website about where they would be), and I never did find out how to sign up for them. There were also no prices given on the website, which is important information, so it was really annoying that it wasn't provided. In fact the website really ought to have made clear exactly what was included free with the entry ticket and the prices of what wasn't.

2) There were massive queues for anything indoors, including the cinema and the fashion shows, which were held in a ridiculously small venue considering the weekend's attendance. I didn't get to any.

3) It was not made clear that queues for the Torch Club - which were insane - were only actually for a table, and that you could freely walk in to watch the shows. This led to a number of people being disappointed - I only figured it out on the last day, having been put off by the constant queues.

4) Many of the attractions incurred an extra fee. The roller disco was £2.50 an hour (which isn't dear, but we had already paid a hefty entrance ticket). The fairground rides were £2 a pop. Could we not at least have had tokens for one or two free rides included in our £135 ticket?

It was an amazing weekend. For me it was a wonderful opportunity to be able to live vintage in a total immersion way that I don't get the chance to normally (though as I've mentioned, that is to change), and it provided the most fabulous people-watching fun. But I did end up slightly disappointed that I wasn't able to experience some of the amazing things the website and publicity had promised. It's not all the fault of the organisers, I do have to take some responsibility, but it could have been made easier for me - and for others - to get the most out of the weekend.


Carys of La Ville Inconnue was sweet enough to pass not one but two awards onto me and I've been so busy preparing for Vintage at Goodwood that I only now get around to my "acceptance speech".

The rules of the second award say I must answer the question "What do you like best about your blog?".

Running this blog has been one of the best things that has happened to me over the last year (that and my Mr Matin, of course). Through this blog I have developed my personal vintage style and gained confidence. Most of all though, it has put me amongst a wider online community of vintage bloggers and readers. I'm able to share the things that excite me with people who get excited too. Even though it's virtual, I get to hang out with more people who share my interests than ever before in my life.

I'll pass on the award(s) to these great bloggers:
Golden Girl of the West
Bombshell Bettie's Vintage
Dizzy Dame
Gatsby and Me
Tea with the Vintage Baroness
Wearing History
Retro Chick

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fabulous Novelty Print

Some of my favourites from the novelty prints I've collated to repro, including some I found at The Pocket Library (thepocketlibrary@rocketmail.com) - a lady who has a collection of some of the most amazing novelty prints I've ever seen!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sunday Times Style Parade

My friend Laura was kind enough to send over these photos of me in the Sunday Times Style "Best in Show" fashion parade. The girl next to me in the super hat (which coincidentally I almost bought the day before!) was also called Charlotte - the hat was from her mum's vintage store (I didn't get a card, but hopefully Charlotte will stop by the blog and can provide a link!).

Free Postcards Giveaway!

I got a bunch of promotional postcards printed from Vistaprint, to hand out over the weekend. I made three different designs - two Everywoman magazine covers (one wartime, one early 50s) and one from my "Marilyn" pin-up beach photo shoot. Anyway, to celebrate Vintage this weekend I'm offering these up as a giveaway for all followers!

Any follower is entitled to one, and if you post a link back to this giveaway on your blog or twitter, and/or Like my new facebook page you can have more! Just email me your postal address and I'll pop one (or more) in the mail for you.

This is so much fun - I'm already picking out more images to make into postcards in the future, so this probably won't be the last giveaway of this type.

Vintage at Goodwood Day 3

It was pointed out to me that I have as yet failed to update with more photos of my third day at Goodwood. I really want to make a huge shout-out to all the wonderful people I met over the weekend including Kitsch Kitten and many many more, who were sweet enough to compliment me on my outfit. There were so many fabulously dressed vintage aficcionados there, and it made me realise that although I'm very active in the online vintage world, I've never got involved in the real-life vintage sphere, a fact which I'm determined to change - there's a whole world out there I've barely discovered!

I enjoyed the third day probably the most. I ended up wearing one of the dresses I bought from Tasty Vintage on Saturday, in place of the Big Apple Dress, which I didn't finish (it didn't seem worthwhile, since the forecast was for bad weather, but it turned out sunny in the end). I actually got to spend some time hanging out in the 1940s Torch Club, where I decided to take up swing dance classes.

Our picture on the photo wall.

I also met with Tim Hellzapoppin outside the Torch Club.

In between networking and fairground rides, I also still managed to find time for a spot more shopping - dearest Matin bought me a fantasticly gorgeous 1940s tea dress at Dead Man's Glory, who still had some keenly-priced decent vintage (they're based not far from me and I shall most certainly be paying them a visit!).

Navy blue and red is probably my favourite colour combination - and of course it gave me the opportunity to wear one of my growing collection of cherry hats! Do click to enlarge the picture for a better view of the detailing on this incredible dress.

1940s dress, Tasty Vintage; Belt, charity shop; Gloves, can't remember; Hat, ebay; Shoes, Yoma.

We finished up the evening watching Gwendoline Lamour's burlesque show (loved the Jeeves and Wooster inspired golfer routine!) and the Beaux Belles at the Torch Club.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Vintage at Goodwood

I got so caught up in the whirl of Vintage at Goodwood yesterday that I didn't take a single photo! I tried to do better today. Vintage is awesome, by the way - I'm having the best weekend! Yesterday I spent most of the day shopping - trying to snap up the bargains before they all went. I bought two fantastic 1940s dresses from Tasty Vintage's stall. I also invested in one of What Katie Did's bullet bras, which is extremely comfortable - I'm planning a review of this and the corset I recently bought from them.

There are at least two beauty parlours on-site, which will do hair and make-up, but I couldn't make an appointment, so these frizzy little victory rolls were all mine :)

Shortly after arriving I met up with Retro Chick - looking "peachy" in a fabulous 50s dresss (from ebay US if I recall) - for some Pimm's, which was v jolly. I also caught up with another blogging idol, Fleur de Guerre, at The Chap Olympiad. Unfortunately I got a bit star struck and came over as a bit of a gibbering fool, but never mind (Hi Fleur, I'm really quite eloquent in real life, honest!).

Meanwhile, I was selected as one of the 'best dressed' by Sunday Times Style magazine and invited to participate in a little catwalk parade. I also got photographed by Grazia magazine, a researcher for Miss Selfridge and Spanish national newspaper El Pais.

I finished my day watching The Noisettes' set on the main stage.

Tomorrow I'm planning to spend more or less the whole day in the 1950s Let It Rock arena and the 1940s Torch Club, since I haven't managed to make it inside either yet!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Yardley "Put Your Best Face Forward" (1942-43)

"To work for victory is not to say goodbye to charm". Yardley ran this series of wartime adverts over 1942/3. Each shows a woman engaged in "war work" - driver (?), Wren, factory girl, nurse - and a patriotic message encouraging women to "keep within ourselves the spirit of lightheartedness" and "work hard and let no weariness appear". Do enlarge to read the text in full - it's really quite rousing stuff!

"Let us face the future with held-high heads. And let us always honour the subtle bond between good looks and morale."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Highcliffe Beach

In part two of my "strip-tease", the skirt comes off to reveal the polka dot playsuit! (okay I also changed my shoes).

I had a lot of fun doing this photo shoot! Check out my red, white and blue theme - tres patriotic, no?

There weren't many people on the beach (they were probably all on the softer, sandier beaches of Bournemouth, a few miles away), but we inevitably got a few curious looks. Also, what are your views on the playsuit? I generally avoid high necklines because of my boobs, so I originally planned to sell this on, but who can possibly resist a red and white polka dot playsuit? It's 1960s, I think. I could perhaps convert it to a lower scoop neckline. Thoughts?

Vintage playsuit, ebay; Headscarf, car boot sale; 1950s sunglasses, ebay; Nautical wedges, Marks & Spencer; Belt, Topshop via ebay.

All luggage label pics from flickr.


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