Archive for September, 2010

If you haven’t already picked up on it, I am here to tell you that vintage frocks pretty well top the list of my favourite things. (Well, M and the Team and the Men come first, of course!)

Today, after an epic journey on foot through the Heath

and then back down through Highgate Village to Kentish Town, I headed for a secret sale of the yummy items from Juno Says Hello.  Now, folks, I approached this with the attitude that I would get to fondle some vintage goodies and then make my way back Dalston-ward.

There was, of course, the promise of wine and cakes

Teeny, tiny CAKE! With apricot jam.

(have I mentioned how much I love England?) and the slim chance I might get to visit the pretty frock for which I had fallen on the website, but it was all about the RESEARCH, people. After all, I have a blog to maintain, and checking out the international frockery is all in a day’s work, right?

I was soooo tired and footsore and wouldn’t have said no to the chance to pee and the place was not overly conveniently-located. I nearly gave up and went home, but, like the trooper I am, I persevered. I finally found the locale, tucked away in a somewhat dodgy alley (here, dodgy alleys are particularly dodgy, as they are crooked as dogs’ hind legs…). I was ushered in by the lovely owner, Rebecca Rose, with her deliciously posh Oxbridge accent and her perfect make-up and hair (did I mention I’d been trudging through the Heath all day?).  I was shown the ropes: frocks over here on four tantalizing racks, wine and cakes over here (also rather tantalizing), change-room in the back. As if I’d be needing that– little did the lovely owner know, I was just there to manhandle the goodies!

I was methodical. I started on the all-black rack. Where I found several likely candidates, including two that might actually fit. “What the hell?” I thought– I’ve got nowhere to be, why not try them on? And so, I made my leisurely way through the racks of truly beautiful, well-curated, excellently restored and preserved gorgeousness. I took half a dozen frocks into the change room/broom closet with me. Including the object of my desire, spotted online last night! Sure, it was outrageously expensive, so were they all– the point was not to BUY anything, after all. The point was to try on some pretty things and imagine the life in which I’d need them.

The usual Goldilocks procedure ensued, the same one that is involved in all vintage shopping: this one’s too big, this one’s too small, this one’s too big here (bust) and too small there (waist)….

There was only one dress left, Gentle Reader.
I knew it wouldn’t fit.
And the zipper was VERY sticky. So sticky, in fact, that I very nearly didn’t even put it on, as forcing elderly zippers in silk dresses is always a dangerous game.

Have I mentioned that I am a trooper?
And that the dress was divine?
I persevered and got that sticky zipper undone.
And got myself into the dress.
And had the sweet young thing working at the sale help me zip it up, knowing it would a) stick, b) never close, anyway.

And it zipped like a dream.

And there I stood, in that Holy Grail of vintage shopping: the dress that fit like it was made for me and me alone.
Like Roger Freres from Paris, in 1964 or so, had my very frame in mind when he/they made it.

“Shit,” I said, with my usual eloquence.

Because, Gentle Reader, you know what it means when a piece of vintage clothing fits as though it were made for you.
It is a sign from god, yea verily. It matters not the price tag– this item is YOURS.

And you must buy it.

Which (after some quick work with the calculator and an inner dialogue about being on sabbatical, having it forever, it being an investment, a treat, a souvenir of this incredible year, etc, etc.) I did.

And you know what? I have only had about 90 seconds of buyer’s remorse.
I love this frock.
And make no mistake– it is not a dress. It is a frock.

(I have no shoes to wear with it, and it seems from these photos, taken by a slightly tipsy LHR, that it is not very photogenic, but I love it just the same!)

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YYZ: I Love The Night Life

So, my outfits have not been too inspired lately– so much so, in fact, that yesterday I was driven into H&M to buy more colourful tights because I suddenly could not face ONE MORE DAY of wearing nothing but BLACK. I never thought I’d say that!

I borrowed LHR’s bright blue tights yesterday, but don’t have a great photo to show you.
(Plus, the outfit was more than a little bleh.)  There was a pretty good outfit last night, when we went to see this amazing, hilarious show, based on one of my favourite movies,

and another not-bad one today but I have no photos of either.

Last night, I was late and rushing out the door; today I was cold and wet and just changed into my sweats as soon as I got in from my day.

BUT, I did see some pretty outrageous clothes yesterday.
Sadly, there are no decent shots of the incredible costumes from the musical– trust me, these ones do not begin to do the costumes justice.

The early part of my day also had a costume-design focus.
I started out at the London Horse Hospital, which is now a gallery in Bloomsbury.  Seriously– a hospital for horses. Which you can see being quite an urban necessity in Victorian London– sort of like an auto mechanic would be in an urban centre today.  I found it in a back alley and was buzzed in by a disembodied voice that sent me to the basement. Down the cobbled horse-ramp I went, into the dark, murky, dank and stony depths of this Victorian building.
(I can’t see the environment being exactly calming to already-distressed horses, frankly. It was all quite sinister.)

At the bottom, eerily suspended from the ceiling, dimly lit, were a series of costumes designed by a woman called Kate Forbes.

Silent, suspended, dimly lit (I have lightened the photos to make the work visible).

It was totally, utterly surreal. There I was, all alone with these elaborate, gorgeous, weird, sometimes creepy costumes and their accompanying wigs. The latter were even harder to photograph than the costumes, as they were suspended weirdly high in the air, giving them an extremely creepy vibe.

Here are some muddy shots I took. Click on the designer’s name above for better photos.

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The old man was snoring because he was not having nightmares about his hair.
I, on the other hand, am having hair issues because I have hair that hates moisture.
All moisture. Even the slightest, least little bit of moisture.
Because I have frizzy hair, Gentle Reader. I always knew that England and my hair would not get along– I have been here before, after all. This stuff has been helping, but not even heavy-duty anti-humidity products of the over-the-counter variety are up to the job of keeping me from looking like a dandelion caught in a crimping iron…

And so, when Groupon had a deal on a Brazilian blow-dry for 65% less than the regular price, I snapped it up.
Today was the day I took the plunge and actually got the treatment.

Here are some “Before” shots. Not bad– no rain today, so hair not too frizzy or puffy. There is a good reason I have no shots of the rained-on disaster of last Thursday. Ouch.

Puffy on top, squiggly at the ends.

Left to its own devices, over the course of the day, my hair would just get bigger and puffier.

Looks fine now-- just waiting to turn into a puffball at the first sign of rain.

Here are some shots “After” Natalie had worked her magic:

“Stick-straight” is not an understatement. And now, NO WATER must touch my hair for four days. FOUR DAYS. Not a drop– not even the humidity from a shower, not a drop of water while washing my face (my hairdresser recommended that I not actually wash my face with water…..?!!?), nary a drop must touch my hair.

Did I mention that I am in ENGLAND??!!! Hello? The forecast is:

This should be fun.
I wish I knew where to find one of those old-ladyish plastic rain bonnets. Remember those? My grandmothers both used to use them. To protect their hair after they had had it set. Everything old is new again.

The idea is that this pin-straight look will relax a bit and then I will not have crazy, bendy, horrible, fuzzy, uncontrollable hair every time it rains or even thinks about raining.

If I can only keep my hair from getting wet between now and Saturday morning…

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YYZ: Sunny Days

Right, so my get-ups are pretty uninspired these days; it seems not having to get dressed for work makes Jane a dull girl– or some other such mangling of a cliché…  I did wear a pretty summery outfit on Wednesday, though–it was downright HOT out and I am pretty sure it was the last day of summer weather London will be seeing for a while; torrential rain yesterday, freezing cold and drizzly today. 😦

In the garden, chez LHR

Dress/Tunic (Drunic?): H&M
Earrings: Gift from LHR, several birthdays ago
Shoes: Payless
Sunnies: Um, Smart Set, maybe?
Bracelets: Gifts from Mum and my MIL

Messy chignon-- it's back! Now, if only those bottom bits would get a teeeeensy bit longer...

The most exciting bit about the outfit is that I am (finally!) able to (sort of…) put my hair up again. Not a moment too soon in this rainy weather– I don’t even know how to describe what happened to my poor old “bendy” hair yesterday in the downpour. Scary, scary stuff.

I have seen some much lovelier clothes than the ones I am wearing above; I visited an antiques market in Mayfair to see a somewhat-disappointing exhibit on The Role of Vintage in Contemporary Society. Meh.

Some cute stuff, though.

Sadly, not displayed over a crinoline. Blurry- low light.

Lovely detail-- taffeta insert and delicate lace at bust.

Better still were the Manolo Blahniks made in collaboration with Liberty of London.
Drool much?

I'll take these ones...

...AND these ones!

Need something dressier? Done!

I can’t afford the shoes, so I will be buying some of this, instead.

More photos over here, if you are interested.

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YYZ: A Day In The Life

Or, several days in the life.

On Monday, I returned to the V&A to check out the exhibit Grace Kelly: Style Icon. It did not disappoint.  The exhibit contained elements of Kelly’s wardrobe from the early 50s to the time of her death in 1982, including many designer gowns, her shoes, some jewellery, hats and, of course, the famous Kelly bag.  There were several old Pathé newsreels, showing her wearing the clothes, accompanied by breathless and adoring narration that gave a good sense of what Kelly meant to the American public– she was adored the way Princess Diana was when the latter first came on the scene.

Lots of the gowns from the 60s and 70s were not really my cup of tea, but the images of Kelly, with her hair in wildly elaborate styles by Alexandre, were so glamourous that the gowns looked much more appealing, as a result.  My favourites, of course, were the 50s dresses. Of those, the one I liked best was one she wore to meet  Prince Rainier for the first time– arriving at the hotel, all her clothes were somewhat creased and a power outage at the hotel prevented her from ironing anything. The only thing that was not too wrinkled was a lovely rose-print taffeta dress–THAT SHE HAD MADE HERSELF from a McCall’s “Easy-to-Sew” pattern!!!!! Imagine that– Grace Kelly made her own clothes! And met her handsome prince in a homemade dress– no wonder the Western world fell in love with her fairytale story.

Apparently, unlike most people in her position, Kelly wore her gowns over and over to different state occasions– that streak of Yankee practicality only served to endear her further to her public.

There are some photos– the ones I took before I was told that I was not allowed to take any (whoops!)– here.

What I wore to the exhibit is pretty much the same outfit I wore last week to the V&A,  so how about checking out this fellow visitor, spotted in the gift shop? (Yes, she is wearing Louboutins.)

Talk about "Personal Style"!

And here’s a look at what LHR wore on our excursion to the Columbia Road flower market on Sunday.

YVR and I are terribly envious of those gorgeous boots!

Or how about a look at the very cute, very cheap, somewhat-snug dress I didn’t buy at the UK version of Winners?

Ham AND cheese!

Ace fashion photog, LHR, captures the look!

Or what I wore for an emotional visit to Keats House yesterday? The tour was very fine– the guide was keen and interested and clearly passionate about her subject.  The beautiful Georgian house has been renovated, but the interiors are not so inspiring– rather, the artifacts are the impressive bit. Seeing Fanny Brawne‘s engagement ring was particularly moving.  She wore it all her life, even though she never told her husband or her children about Keats until she fell ill; she told her children shortly before her death, when she gave them all Keats’ letters to her, making them promise not to reveal her secret until after her husband’s death.

In honour of the pair, I wandered up to the Heath, where I spent a happy couple of hours in the sun, reading my book and thinking of what a perfect place the Heath must have been for Fanny to grieve Keats’ death.  I had a good cry for his sad life and their tragic love story.

What's with my facial expression?

Jeans: H&M
Shoes: Joe Fresh
Silk Top: Club Monaco
Cardi: Jacob
Tote: Banane

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Yes, it is true, it is London Fashion Week (naturally a prominent fashion blogger plans her arrival in London to coincide. Ahem.) and, while I have yet to bump into Alexa Chung, I have been the lucky beneficiary of LHR’s interweb social buying addiction: she won us tickets to a real fashion show!

Waiting in line and checking out the outfits and the fantastic shoes was almost as much fun as going to the show itself, but I was trying to act casual and didn’t want to whip out my camera and start snapping away. At least two of the PR girls were wearing this dress.  The shoes were particularly good, as one of the sponsors of the show was Upper Street, an online custom shoe design site.

Blurry, but thrilled to be at a REAL fashion show!

So, there we were, whisked past the general line-up because were “on the list” (!) and shown to our seats in the third row.  If I were up to speed on my “famous socialites,” I could have taken some shots of the heavily-surgeried blonde in the front row across from us who was, apparently, this person. Once the show started, all the hip, cool fashion-types whipped out their phones and cameras and the free-for-all of photo snapping began! Of course I joined in.  Here are the shots I managed to get of Jasper Garvida‘s SS 2011 collection.

Jasper was a Project Catwalk UK winner in 2008 and this, the “Belle” collection, is his latest of  several since that time.  His influence for it was Paris in the 1950s, apparently. The clothes ranged from ballerina-esque, tutu-inspired, candy-coloured confections to ethnic prints and knits.  I liked a long sequined coat and some of the chiffon dresses. The intricate loop-work on some of the looks was astonishing in its detail.

I am short, so get used to all the heads in the way of the photos. Sorry!

This one caused the whole crowd to gasp--clearly the hit of the collection!

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OK. So, it’s official:  we ARE fashion bloggers! What has earned us this official title, you ask? Well, we were with the fashion elite (or other people who won free tickets) this evening as we attended a catwalk show at London Fashion Week. Yes, you heard correctly: both YYZ and I attended a PROPER fashion show which was part of LFW (as the people in the know call it).

You see, it is quite obvious that our blog has had the same effect on fashion as Tavi‘s, so we were called in to witness Jasper Garvida‘s newest collection. Remember, sisters, we are influential fashion bloggers– just kidding.

I am kidding about the influential fashion bloggers, but I am NOT kidding about seeing the show. YYZ will be posting the evidence backing up that we were there AND will include our first review of a proper fashion show. I’m just sharing what we wore.

We both went for outfits that looked put together, hopefully somewhat stylish but not “trying too hard.”  Here we are – being hams.  And, by the way, we were given these cool tote bags because we are such influential fashion bloggers. Thanks to J, who was our photographer today.

We were being silly

Our new tote bags by Banane Taipai

Our Totes

What we wore:
Jacket, jeans and sleeveless top – H&M
Shoes – Dollhouse
Earrings – LHR’s
Clutch – DSW

Cardigan – London Designer Sale
Dress – Jigsaw (worn sooo many times before)
Brooch – Country Fete, Beaulieu
Aubergine Boots – bought in Regent’s Park Road
Grey tights – Uniqlo

Our bags are by Banane of Taipai.

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