Monday, 20 October 2014

Subculture Clash

Clash... get it? ;)

I hardly ever model any more, through choice rather than because I never get asked. Sometimes I feel a little long in the tooth, which I know is rubbish, but also because I quite often get weirdly self-conscious if anyone sees me posing in public. That said, it is fun, on occasion, to stand in the middle of a busy street and annoy everyone who has to walk around you/your photographer. This is an example of that.

From Instagram

I took some pretty traditional photos for Heyday for the release of the 'Lilac Heaven' Fleur dress a couple of months ago, but I also took some much less usual ones, just for fun. My boyfriend works in Kensington and suggested we take some shots in front of the Joe Strummer mural that's just off Portobello Road and actually, I really liked them. The only problem is my slightly boring hand-on-hip poses, so sorry about those... but it's quite hard to shake off 'vintage mode' completely when it's been your main MO for the best part of a decade.

As soon as we stopped snapping, a tourist starting doing the same - I'm pretty sure that happens every minute of the day. While I'm not actually a huge fan of punk music, it is part of my history growing up with friends so heavily into punk and mtal and I do end up at a lot of punk gigs with my boyfriend these days... so I didn't feel like a total phoney posing in front of it. It's fun to mix your favourite subcultures!

Fleur xx

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Bonus Boomstick Outfit Post!

Good afternoon.

As is so often the way when I do photos for big articles like my last King's Ginger one, I take a few extra photos for a super lazy outfit post. Because I *still* haven't processed my holiday snaps, here is something of a holding post, featuring the outfit I wore to Purdey for the aforementioned article!

I think this was the last warm day in London, the rain lashing my window as I type would seem to indicate that cotton dresses are a thing of the past now. This super-cute vintage Swirl dress is probably the tiniest bit small for me, but has cute folkloric people and things on it, so how could I not?

The best purchases are ones you make with friends, who give you great deals on things they want to see loved. These Miss L Fire shoes (from a few seasons back) come under that category - they were bought from my lovely pal Hayley and are pretty special.

That's basically it, sorry for the quick and dirty post! A few people asked about my hair in the last post - Hot Sticks, always the Hot Sticks! I haven't changed the way I do my hair since I made this video OVER FIVE YEARS AGO?! Blimey, time flies. Except in this post, I have obviously done a middle parting rather than a side one... method is exactly the same, though!

Fleur xx

Sunday, 5 October 2014

The King's Boomstick

(That is boomstick, and not broomstick, though we are getting towards Halloween! Evil Dead fans will know...)

Greetings from an autumnal London! For my latest King's Ginger investigation, I am going to write about a slightly controversial subject - shooting. Or, more specifically, guns. Disclaimer: I've done clay pigeon shooting before, but I could never shoot something alive. But I really enjoyed writing this piece, because the guns I got to look at during my visit to Purdey in Mayfair are true works of art, and the history of is long and interesting (and of course, intermingled with lots of King Edward VII), so I hope you find it all as fascinating as I did!

It's currently Game Season for almost every type of game in the United Kingdom, from pheasants to grouse to ducks and male deer, so it's a good time as any to be writing on this subject. King Edward VII was a great hunter, as were most members of the gentry at the time - it was a noble pastime in an era when animal rights were less important (although I have written about the King's help in the formation of the RSPB, a slight double-standard there). This is the story about his gunmaker, to whom he awarded the Royal Warrant.

James Purdey the First was London-born of Scottish heritage, and he worked as a blacksmith in the Minories - London's gun-making quarter. When his son, James Purdey the Second, was of age (age being 14), he was apprenticed to a gunmaker and upon finishing, he secured himself a position as a stocker (the person working on the stock, or wooden bit, to use the technical term) at England’s greatest gunmaker at the time, Joseph Manton. He was incredibly well-regarded: it was said that guns stocked by James Purdey always fitted the best. Then, in 1814 after a few years at another highly prestigious gunmaker, Forsyth's, the ambitious and talented Purdey decided to go it alone. He opened his own shop at 4 Princes Street, near Leicester Square, building single and double flintlock guns, duelling pistols and rifles. To cut a long story undeservedly short, after taking over his previous employer, Manton's on Oxford Street, Purdey's combination of impeccable craftsmanship and the long-standing fame of the shop meant that it was only a matter of time before royalty caught wind of his wares.

In 1838, Queen Victoria ordered a pair of double-barrelled pistols from Purdey's, as a present for the Imam of Muscat. From that date onwards, the Royal Family became regular patrons. But now we move into the most pertinent (Purdeynent? ...sorry) era of the firm's history - that of James Purdey the Younger, son of the aforementioned James (who was the second James as mentioned above... do keep up), who took over the firm in 1858.

It wasn't until 1868 that our hero enters the picture. On the 12th February at the age of 26, Bertie awarded Purdey's his Royal Warrant of Appointment, while he was still the Prince of Wales. Here's a portrait of his Highness and the actual Warrant (click to see it bigger), hanging proudly in the front shop!

A decade later, on 28 March 1878, Queen Victoria also assigned a Royal Warrant to Purdey, as has every British monarch since (They currently have Warrants from HM the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales). But this brings us to the 'modern' history of Purdey, and a super interesting time of innovation in gunmaking, including an invention that completely revolutionised gun construction, to the point where nothing much has changed as it can't be improved upon, even 134 years later.

Frederick Beesley, was a Purdey stocker (the same position occupied by the first Purdey), invented the system that opens the shotgun and ejects the spent cartridges in one fell movement. You know, how in the movies (for those of us who have no other means to watch shooting) when a shotgun is cocked open and the shells ping out at the same time? That. The year was 1879, and he patented it the following year, wasting absolutely no time in selling the idea to James Purdey. Their website reveals that the Beesley self-opening system 'has sustained the company ever since. Such was its success, that by the late nineteenth century every crowned head of Europe had become a customer of James Purdey & Sons.'

Such prestigious customers secured Purdey's success and in 1883, Audley House in Mayfair was built. It was, just like the guns, entirely bespoke, and came to be known as a 'Palace amongst Gun Manufactories’. It's been there ever since (although guns are no longer made underneath it) and on the day I visited, I got to have a good old rummage around. There's much in the way of original features around the premises and a lot of Edward memorabilia dotted about the place, especially in the Long Room.

There are also lots of pictures, many of them downstairs, of the King (or Prince, depending on the year), shooting or doing thing associated with shooting!

The King with his dog Caesar, in the Long Room

The King shooting in the early 1900s, two in a series! 

The King weighing down a stoic-looking horse, I assume the same day!

Shooting parties at Gunton, late 1890s

He also used to regularly pop in when he was in the area, something that I could never imagine the Queen or Prince Charles doing (or being able to do, more to the point).

The hands of the very lovely and knowledgeable Purdey archivist Pippa.

And he gave gifts to his gunmakers. One which took pride of place in the shop for many decades was a stuffed albino peacock, sadly no one knows exactly where it went but Pippa found a picture in a history book! 

But what about the actual products? After all, they haven't changed much at all since the above photos were taken. I got to look at those, too. I was shown a couple of guns close-up by the knowledgeable David, who's worked in Purdey for a very long time.

Perfectly balanced!

Demonstrating. It's very, very heavy.

Customers can either buy an off-the-peg gun, which can then be adapted to fit their measurements, or they can buy something bespoke, a process which takes a full two years to complete. The stocks are made from Circassian walnut, and people can choose theirs depending on the grain and colour. There are different types of action, and the actioner will spend 100 hours getting it perfect. The barrels are machined to within a remarkable four-thousandth of an inch. The engraving (as seen above), 'help[s] turn the shotgun from a cold metal object into a thing of beauty; it [also] traditionally served a practical purpose, with discreet engraving softening the face of the metal, lessening reflection which might otherwise turn game.' You can have the traditional 'Rose and Scroll', a game scene, or something else that might take your fancy (within reason).  The finishing alone of each gun takes over 75 hours and the processes are spread over three months. For all these reasons and more, the gun I'm holding costs nearly £100,000. But it's truly meant to last a lifetime and more - the wood of a brand new piece deliberately juts out over the inset metal bits, so that after years and decades of use, wear and reconditioning, it will look even better. 

Because of the long history of the company, and, of course, the meticulous record-keeping, I got to see one of his Highness's actual orders. Among other specifications, he ordered it hammerless, so no flintlock hammers, and with a pistol hand (the extra bit that if you covered the end of the stock, it would look like a pistol) - exactly like the gun pictured at the end of the cabinet above.

Amazing. After all that investigative journalism, what else was there to do but toast the King under the watchful eye of James Purdey the Younger!

I had a few too many sips before we took the photo... it is in the glass, I promise! ;)
I should have lugged a full-size bottle, really.

For a longer, season-appropriate King's Ginger cocktail, give this one a try if you have any on hand... and if you don't, then you should definitely track some down! Tis most definitely the right time of year.

Thank you to the kind staff of Purdey for entertaining and educating me for hours, hope you've enjoyed reading even if you, like me, could never go hunting!

Fleur xx

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Vintage beauty with Vaseline


Today I am talking vintage beauty. There are few beauty products out there that can claim to be as truly vintage as Vaseline. Except maybe lead and belladonna, and thankfully, we stopped using those on our skin a long time ago. I've been a genuine, lifelong user of the wonder-grease, from my very earliest days as a tiny child, when my mum would help me put a little slick on my chapped lips or dry cuticles. I'd have a pot by my bed even back then, and a pot has never left my side (or bag) since. For better or worse as I literally can't go without it (unless wearing lipstick) - my lips demand it. But I don't mind, it's a little ritual that I would never want to be without.

It's hard to do a heart when you have very long fingernails!

Vaseline's been around since 1872, since a young chemist called Robert Chesebrough discovered that oil rig workers were using a jelly substance, a seemingly useless by-product of drilling, to heal their cuts and burns. He saw dollar signs, soon perfected a process for making it, and patented it (though it didn't reach England until 1877). An inexpensive product, it was hugely successful and soon, every household in America had a jar of it, apparently. Used on babies' bums, chapped skin and lips, mild burns and more, it even went to the North Pole in 1909 - the only medicinal product of its kind that wouldn't freeze. Through the First World War and through to the present day, Vaseline has proper vintage credentials and it is a truly indispensable product for me.

The Cocoa Butter one goes so well with my beloved tan satchel!

I must have at least six pots of Vaseline Lip Therapy on the go at any one time, but when they offered to send me the newest, rebranded little tins, I couldn't really refuse. They've gone temporarily vintage, you see - a special, limited edition vintage rebrand - though I personally feel they should look like this all the time. Why not?

When I edited these photos and saw how dry my fingers were, I immediately put some Vaseline on them! Seriously.

As I keep saying, I can't do without Vaseline. I don't wear lipstick every day, and when I don't (probably 30-40% of the time, to be imprecise), I wear Vaseline. Sometimes, when I am feeling jazzy, I mix in a hint of colour to the Rosy Lip one, which has an almost imperceptible hint of pink to it. Cream blush is the perfect product to mix with it, to add a few extra shades of pink, and doesn't ever seem to spread on me. I actually use my Besame cream blush more often in this way than on my actual cheeks!

I was privileged enough to get my lashes done recently, and not because of my blog! I'm writing an article for The Review - these are '3D Russian Lashes' - I am not wearing a single scrap of eyemakeup! But anyway, look at my lips! It's Lip Therapy Rosy Lips with a tiny touch of cream blush mixed in at the Cupid's Bow and middle of my bottom lip.

The vintage-style packs are now in all good shops like Boots, Superdrug and so forth, at the princely sum of £2-ish each, if I hadn't been kindly gifted them, I would have bought them all, because I am a hopeless collector. Thank you guys!

I Heart Vaseline!

Fleur xx

Friday, 5 September 2014

I ♥ Miss Bamboo

I'd just like to take a moment to show some love to my lovely sponsor Miss Bamboo. She carries some of the best repro brands around, and her own line of dresses is just wonderful. You may remember the La Bonita dress from Chap Olympiads gone by... Already a bargain when we bought ours, I see she has it down to £41.99 - total steal!

There also the China Doll dress, which I have and adore - grey and red is so chic!

Anyway, I just want to do a little spotlight post on Miss Bamboo and do a little pick of the best things she has (in my humble opinion!)... Firstly, the signature Bamboo Barrel Bag, which she reproduced from one of her own collection - perfect Tiki style!

Against my wishes my own mind is starting to turn to autumn and this navy dress is perfect.

As I have the China Doll, it's ok to covet the Tea Dress in the same print, right?

Nothing but love for Trashy Diva - the 40s dress is a winner. I used to own one in red - it's super flattering, mine was just too small for me.

And again... this Sarong version of the Red Waterlilies playsuit I own is so flattering!

And finally, how can I possibly not draw your attention to the newest Miss L Fire booties! This style is called Alpine and Miss B is doing them for cheaper than RRP. I'm SO tempted - Christmas on your feet!

Please give Miss Bamboo a visit, she is a doll as well as having impeccable taste! :)

Fleur xx

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