Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Winner revealed!

Hi everyone,

Just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who has emailed, tweeted and Facebook messaged me about the death of my kitty Fezzik. I disabled comments from my last post as the kind things people had said on my private Facebook and elsewhere were so touching, they just made me cry even more, so it was only in an effort to pull myself together! But thank you everyone who either sent me nice thoughts through the aether or nice messages through the interweb... you are all so lovely.

I buried the Fez yesterday, in a lovely shady spot just by my parents' pond. The perfect resting place for him! My remaining baby Inigo is being very sweet and affectionate - I am worried about how things will go as he realises Fezzik isn't around... I hope he will be OK, if not, I may have to get him a new friend. No new kitty could ever replace my Fez though. RIP little fur-man!

ANYWAY! Here are the results you've all been waiting for! Not as many entries as last time, despite greater follower numbers. But thanks to my 'clever' comment system, doing the draw has been much easier, not to mention quicker. Sadly, it's less visually exciting, but hey ho. Are you ready? Dun...dun...duuuuuuuuuuuh!

The winner is the poster of comment number 96, which by my calculations is none other than ...

Deborah of Fondant Kiss! Her blog and Etsy shop are lovely - I'm so glad you won so I discovered them and can direct people to discover them too! Go and have a look ladies!

Deborah, do email me on the address on the left of my blog, and I'll put you in touch with Playful Promises to sort out the sending of your lingerie. Sorry to all the other entrants... thank you for entering and stay tuned as I'll be hosting many more such giveaways in the future.

Don't forget that if there's anything you fancy at or at their East London Boutique at 136 Bethnal Green Road, you can get 20% off for another week, using the code 'vintagegirl'. Happy knicker buying!

Lots of love to you all,

Fleur xx

Thursday, 22 April 2010

A Springtime Tart

As you all know, once a month, I co-host Tart at 40 Winks. It's a perfectly indulgent afternoon filled with delicious pampering, vintage styling, finger sandwiches, cupcakes and copious amounts of Gin. Which I cannot imbibe, as I always have to drive. This does mean that I have a steady camera hand! So, without further waffle, here's a selection of photos from last Saturday.

Our amazing sponsors and partners (clockwise in order of appearance) - Lipstick & Curls, Benefit Cosmetics and What Katie Did. We also had a fabulous lady doing semi-permanent eyelash extensions. Oh, how I wish I could have had some!

We had some gorgeous wares on display. My favourite things were the beautiful, sparkly, reworked vintage creations from Magpie Vintage (top two images). I also had to show off how splendid the weather was - we set up the garden for the first time, complete with bunting!

Our guests this month had to be the most stylish so far! All the ladies looked stunning and were the picture of vintage glamour! Mr Carter kept his audience rapt, as always. And of course, the most gorgeous gal of all, Naomi Vintage Secret was on hand to style and advise, looking a picture in a little 60s summer dress.

But what did I wear? I know you're all dying to see... ;)

I wore a lovely 50s summer dress, which was a fairly recent eBay bargain of $29. It's covered in flowers and, best of all, little hats, all pastel blue, pink, yellow and green! It's in such fabulous condition with the cotton crisp and the black deep and unfaded... plus it fits me brilliantly! Any suggestion on a better belt? This one came from a modern repro and it works OK, but I think it can be vastly impoved upon! No photos from the knee down as all visitors to 40 Winks have to wear slippers, and mine totally didn't match my frock!

So that was Tart in pictures! If anyone is interested and would like some more information, please don't hesitate to get in touch. I'm off to Sussex for the weekend, to help my beloved Mum run a conference. Have a super weekend everyone!

Fleur xx

Monday, 19 April 2010

Another exciting giveaway!

***** Competition now closed - draw coming soon! *****

So, last week I was contacted by the lovely Laura, who works for Playful Promises, a lingerie brand based here in good old Blighty. She asked if I would like to come to their recently opened boutique, to have a nose about, do a review... and choose a lingerie set to give away to my wonderful readers! Since the last giveaway for Kiss Me Deadly was an unmitigated success with almost 500 entries, I of course jumped at the chance to offer you lot another set of frilly smalls! (In case you're wondering, they also bribed me with a set for myself... not that I needed any bribing!)

So, last Thursday, I dutifully toddled off to the East End boutique at the top of Brick Lane (which was considerate enough to have opened around 500 yards from the chap's residence), camera in hand. And here's what I found!

The Playful Promises boutique is small but perfectly formed, with lingerie lining the walls and strewn elegantly across a big table in the middle. It's sumptuously decorated in deep reds and pinks, with decadent black chandeliers and furniture, plus a vintage display cabinet for the till. The changing area was hidden by a lovely old screen. The window display was rather bare, but Laura told me it had featured a statue of the Virgin Mary underneath a neon sign that read, 'Treat me gently, I'm a virgin'. They'd been obliged to remove her following several complaints from a local Catholic man who'd failed to see the humour! Poor old Mary.

The offerings at Playful Promises are more 'Pin-up' lingerie than strictly vintage. The bras are push-up and balconette rather than bullet, and the foundations are more for show than for actual cinching (though I did spot some What Katie Did Maitresse bras and stockings). That said, I was delighted to notice that the suspender belts all feature proper metal clips - essential to avoid stocking mishaps, as any vintage girl will know! So it's not what I would describe as 'boudoir lingerie', designed to be seen on the body for minutes, and on the floor for hours....

Everything they produce is beautifully designed in gorgeous satin and lace, trimmed with frills and ribbons galore. It's all just really pretty, from the designs, right down to the packaging. They have a line of 'Candy Pants' in old fashioned sweet shop 'flavours' like Liquorice and Rhubarb & Custard. There are the Love Thyself knickers, with motivational slogans emblazoned across the bottom, and the Pin-up Girl Panties, which come in individual tins, decorated with classic pin-up girls wearing the very knickers inside. There are frilly pants, rockabilly girl pants, zodiac pants and weekend-packs of pants, all in vibrant colours and featuring cute embroidery.

They don't just sell lingerie, either. Around the shop, you'll find hand-picked jewellery, swimwear and little extras like eyemasks. All the little tins and tubes make lovely keepsakes, don't you think?

But what about the part you're all most interested in... the giveaway!

I'm delighted to say that I have an entire set of Ava lingerie up for grabs! Not just one or two pieces from it, the whole set!

Ava is Playful Promises' classic Hollywood inspired set, in vivid red satin with white detail and stitching. It has a sort of Art Deco flavour, I felt, and I thought you'd all like it! The set comprises a padded push-up bra, a non-padded long-line bra, a waist cincher, a g-string and a pair of fuller briefs. The lucky lady (or chap) will receive one of everything to mix and match to your heart's desire! That's the exciting bit! Now for the boring bit...

The Rules!

To enter, leave me a comment below.

For another entry, you can retweet my giveaway.

For a third entry, post about the giveaway on your own blog! I want as many people to find out about both the prize and Playful Promises!

However, due to the popularity of my last giveaway and the fact I anticipate even more entries this time, I will be doing an automatic number generator to do the draw itself. No more faffing about with names on bits of paper! This means that each time you enter you must leave a separate comment. Don't leave me one comment saying you've done all three things, as it will only be counted once! If you're commenting saying you've retweeted or blogged, please post the link so I can check!

The bras come in sizes 32A to 36DD, and the cincher and knickers in XS (UK8) to XL (UK16). The latter do run ever-so-slightly small - I measured a large in the knickers. If you're entering on behalf of a lady-friend, do make sure you know her size. And ladies too, no wishful thinking - I can't promise that you'll be able to exchange if you've ordered the wrong size.

This competition will run for one week, from midnight (BST) on 19th April (or should that be the 20th?) until midnight on Monday 26th. I will announce the winner on Tuesday 27th. It's open to everyone, all round the world.

OK, I think that's everything. Without further ado, I declare this giveaway officially launched. Good luck girls!

Fleur xx

PS. If you can't wait until next Tuesday, or there's anything else you fancy, the fabulous PP ladies have given me a special discount code, that's good for 20% off, both online and in the store. It will only be live as of tomorrow (20th), so you'll have to wait until at least then!

The code is 'vintagegirl'. So do get shopping (tomorrow)! The boutique can be found at 136 Bethnal Green Road, London, E2 6DG.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

The ladies take over...

Afternoon all,

Just thought I should let you know that I can be found masquerading as the new editor of The Chap, which is now incorporating The Chapette, on the cover of the latest issue! The new ladies' interest section is found inside, rather than separate from, the main magazine, and seems to feature interviews, articles and reviews of tea-shops and such-like. Having not actually edited anything, nor received my own copy yet, I can't comment on the editorial offerings therein, although I have heard they tend more towards the genteel than the gin-soaked. I have to say, I tend more towards the latter, albeit in a genteel and ladylike way, of course... ;)

In case you were wondering, my 40s-style blouse is from Heyday!

Sharp-eyed readers will spot that my secretary is none other than Mr Neil Ridley, who can be seen riding his miniature Penny Farthing in my previous entry. He's sporting a rather lovely, hand-knitted Fairisle in this shot!

According the The Editor, Gustav Temple, The Chapette won't be found in every issue of The Chap, although it will make regular appearances. Anyway, do hurry to your nearest branch of Waterstones & Co. or larger emporia of Messrs. W. & H. Smith to grab your copy. Former Colonials had better send off for one immediately - you don't want to miss out! ;)

Fleur xx

PS. The Chapette does have its own Facebook group, so do join and have your say.

Monday, 12 April 2010

The need for Tweed

As mentioned in my last post, Saturday was a rather exciting day for me, because it meant packing myself and my brand-new old bicycle up to London to take part in the second annual Tweed Run. As I also said earlier, I was going along as The Chap's Vintage Socialite, to participate, review and enjoy the ride and its sartorial offerings! I only managed to get a spot on the Run, because The Chap Magazine is one of the sponsors for the Tweed Run, alongside other such prestigious names as Huntsman, Pashley Bicycles (oh for one of the limited edition red Pashley Britannia to match my ruby lips...sigh!) and my favourite Hendrick's gin, who brought their Cucumber-Mobile along to serve us all H&Ts. With sponsors of that calibre, it couldn't really fail to be an absolutely splendid occasion. And it didn't disappoint.

Not possessing any tweed-based items of clothing, and it being a beautifully warm and sunny day anyway, I decided to pick one of my floral cotton summer frocks to wear. After some deliberation, I ruled out all dresses of the wrap variety, including Swirls, in an effort to avoid any unsightly flashing. I also added some (faux) spring blossoms to my bicycle (who needs a name suitable for a grand dame, by the way... suggestions in the comments please!)

Isn't she pretty? By the way, after a bit more research, I have discovered she actually dates from 1949-50,
which is still fine by me!

I arrived at the starting point relatively unscathed. I hadn't accounted for the sheer weight of my 'All-Steel' bicycle, and despite the generous help of a passer-by, lifting it up a flight of stairs to the station platform earned me some large splodges of grease on my skirt. Luckily these have 90% come out and the 10% that's left blends in with the pattern! This was followed by my first ever mile(ish)-long ride on London streets to the Tate Britain...I must confess I was so scared I mainly rode illegally on the pavements.

My friends and acquaintances before we set off! Clockwise from top: fellow Chap writer Neil Ridley and his single-speed mini Penny Farthing, plus chap whose name is Ian; Mr Jon Fowler and his 1970s Pashley; me with Ruth and Stacey from Timothy Everest, which is where my chap works.

I didn't know very many of the participants, and, because the ride was organised by the London Fixed-Gear and Single Speed cycling forums, a lot of the entrants were actual 'proper' cyclists, who have well-maintained equipment and are actually fit. But they don't wear tweed or vintage on a daily basis! So they had one advantage over us, and we had one over them! I think we set ourselves apart by starting with gin, stopping for gin and drinking gin most of the way across London!

There was, however a lovely mix of people, and of bicycles. They ranged from 'proper' modern bikes, to old boneshakers, penny farthings, tandems, 50s style low-riders and beach cruisers, and gorgeous Pashleys, Bobbins and new-old-fashioned ones.

The ride itself was absolutely lovely. It was twelve miles in total, taking in all the big London sights, like Trafalgar Square, Savile Row and Jermyn Street, Pall Mall, Piccadilly Circus, the Strand and the City. I needn't have worried about my stamina as it was also rather leisurely, and the marshals did an absolutely sterling job of keeping all 400 people together, and more to the point, stopping the traffic for long enough to get us all through big junctions (which was the only time we needed to put any welly into it!). The reaction from the crowds was 99% fantastic, with people cheering us on as we rang our bells, taking photos and waving. A large group of Jewish people shouted 'Mazel Tov' to us at one point. But a few taxi drivers were extremely bad-tempered, rude and abusive, unspeakably angry at having to wait approximately 2 1/2 minutes longer than usual at a junction. Someone apparently shouted, 'Oh look, it's the Tory Party' as we went down Savile Row!

A few 'action' shots! From the top: The back of the Chap writers! Neil is on his Penny Farthing, and I think he deserves the most praise for how hard he had to pedal the entire way! Then myself and my chap, the Whistling Tailor; finally me and my Hendricks at the very start. The last photo was taken by my chum Jon Fowler, and the top two were stolen, with permission, from the nice chap at I Bike London. Do pop to his blog for more photos!

We had a much-needed rest and refreshment stop in Kensington Gardens, where we were treated to complimentary cucumber sandwiches and special Tweed Run tea. We chose to wash our sarnies down with gin rather than tea, though, so I can't comment on the brew itself! Jon, the Whistling Tailor and I were photographed for the cover of London Cyclist, so I shall be keen to see if we do make it!

The Tweed Run ended in Bishopsgate, at the Bathhouse - a lovely old venue that used to be exactly what the name suggests. We were spoiled by seemingly unlimited Hendrick's and Tonics and the musical stylings of Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer and Top Shelf Jazz. The Whistling Tailor and I were rather shattered by this point, and we pootled off home after a while to relax and massage our aching parts! ;) As I walked away through Bishopsgate, a gust of wind lifted my skirt above my head, so after having successfully avoided it all day, I then treated all and sundry to a view of my knickers, suspenders and FF seamed stockings. Oh well - at least it all matched!

I leave you with a final montage... with a shot of me at the beginning, middle and at the very end. As you can see, even after a 12 mile cycle through a breezy London, the perm ensured that my Hot Stick set hairdo (done before I left that morning) stayed almost exactly the same! Money unbelieveably well-spent, I feel.

From the top: 12pm and 0 miles cycled, with Neil, the Whistling Tailor and a glass of gin; 1.30pm and 6 miles cycled with the WT and a teacup of gin; 5pm and 12 miles completed, with gin just out of shot. ;)

A thousand thank yous to the wonderful organisers of the Tweed Run. Thank you for having me along and I can't wait until next year. Special thanks also go to Gustav at the Chap and Therese from the Run for sorting out my Press Pass, without which I'd have been unable to attend. And an extra thank you to Dead Men's Spex for being such a fabulous vintage glasses emporium, from which I bought my lovely prescription sunglasses, and without which I would not have been able to see as I rode!

Hope all my readers had lovely weekends... don't forget to help me name my lovely bicycle - suggestions in the comments, if you'd be so kind!

Pip pip!

Fleur xx

PS. Almost forgot - here's a great (and short) video of the day. Thank you to Swamibu for Tweeting it to me.

Friday, 9 April 2010

New girls and old dames

Hello blog-land!

Well it's been an absolutely delightful couple of days in Blighty, weather-wise. Spring is really here, and in fact, it's been warmer than some of the summers of recent memory! Today has been the first Swirl day of the season, and I've worn not one, but two of my Swirls! No pictures of the dresses, I'm afraid (one is old and one is new and never-before-and-still-not-pictured), but I do have a latest purchase to show off.

Tomorrow I am participating in the Tweed Run, which is a leisurely 12-mile jaunt through London's sights, with all participants setting off from Central and stopping for Tea in Kensington Gardens, before carrying on to the finish in the East End.

I am being sent to cover it for my column in The Chap, though I haven't owned a bike since my beloved BMX was nicked from my student house in my second year of university. I thought that they were simply issuing me with a press pass to be allowed into the various parties along the way. But, as it turned out this morning, I am allowed to actually ride in the Run, so there was nothing left to do but go and find a nice old-lady bicycle.

I set off this morning for Burt's Cycles, a lovely independent and long-established shop in a nearby town. I was informed by a friend that they would have something cheap and cheerful, and she was right; although as soon as the nice chap in the shop showed me the 1930s ladies Raleigh he had, nothing else would do. It wasn't exactly cheap-as-chips, but at under £100 for something so well-built and of the 'right' era, I couldn't say no. One wicker basket and chain-guard later, the old dame was all mine!

Please excuse the phone camera photos! I got her home and took her off for a spin to the next town to visit my best friend at work. Four miles each way, and I can definitely feel I've done some exercise! I am a bit worried I'll ache tomorrow now, so keep everything crossed...

I stopped off for a 99 by the river on my way home... now that's the way to spend an afternoon!

I'll be reporting back on the Tweed Run itself of course... I won't be wearing tweed, though I will be in my summery, vintage best!

Now for the first part of the title. The fabulous Naomi of Vintage Secret has written a blog, which really struck a chord. It's about a movement she is calling the 'New Girls' Club', and is about the fellow small-business-women she is proud to call friends and associates. Well I am even more proud that she counted me among them! She says,
I belong to a coterie of women movers and shakers of which I am quietly but I think justifiably proud. Who are these dynamic women though? Well, dear readers, let me bestow on them the title of (thunderous drum roll please) The New Girls’ Club’ or NGC.

Many of my NGC heroes overlap with Naomi's, but I have my own to add. These are all ladies who have helped me, involved me and inspired me, and I hope I have helped back in return. I'm sure I will forget someone too, so bear with me if this gets updated!

Shona van Beers of Heyday Vintage
Katie Halford of What Katie Did
Hannah Asprey, designer of Era Magazine
Fiona Culshaw of Notorious Kitsch
Kaye Grant of Rocket Originals
Miss Matilda of Able Grable
Nina of Nina's Hair Parlour

But the biggest hero of all...

Naomi Thompson
of Vintage Secret! I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for Naomi. Big kiss to you, you gorgeous lady!

Have a read of Naomi's blog about it and if you feel you belong in the NGC, then why not do a post of your own!

Have a great weekend!

Fleur xx

PS. I just noticed that I have hit 1,000 followers! 1,001 to be precise, at the time of writing. I never thought that my little blog would take off in such a way, so I am rather humbled to find I've now passed four figures! I think it calls for a celebration of some sort... I will get my thinking (and networking) cap on for a giveaway!

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Catch-up time again!

This week has passed me by, rather! I'm not sure why, because I haven't been all that busy, except for my day in London to see The 39 Steps, as mentioned in my last post. I have to say that it was utterly fabulous! I haven't seen the Hitchcock film, and my chap was rather dubious, to say the least, about it being turned into a comedy. But it really is very funny, and not in a disrespectful-to-the-original-way. It's slightly slapstick, but not overtly. All I can really say is that you absolutely MUST see it - if not here in London, then at one of the many productions around the world!

Anyway, last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending White Mischief at the Scala. It was a veritable steampunk extravaganza, with acts and attendees alike all conforming in various degrees to the rather fabulous neo-Victorian theme. Some photographs of the night...

We saw the fabulous Voltini turning himself into a human Van Der Graff machine with a probe up his bottom...

...Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer doing his thing...

...and some well-dressed, steam-punked acquaintances.

Sadly the same couldn't be said for me! I did, of course, endeavour to dress my best, but nothing I own could conceivably be described as steampunk! I had neither the time, nor the imagination to customise anything. So here I am in my Able Grable Wicked Lady, with peach hand-knit bolero, gin & tonic, and a poster of the Scala's Special Easter Ball featuring DJ EZ!! OMG! ;)

I meant to post some of these photos on Tuesday, but with one thing and another, I just didn't have time! I also didn't get any photos of the fabulous outfits on display. Do have a look here if you'd like to see more (and better ones). You will be able to read my full review in the next Chap.

It's been an exciting week for my hair as well, because I am now the proud owner of my first ever perm! Prepare to be underwhelmed at the sight of it unstyled......

It was done using the largest rollers, giving it a barely discernable wave. What it has done, though, is give me a good starting wave (especially at the top), body at the roots and more fullness throughout. That in itself is worth it. But, let me tell you, it's actually the best thing I've ever done for my hair! And here's the proof! I set it in my usual way using Hot Sticks (if you watch the first few seconds of the video, you can see how my hair looks unstyled AND unpermed), to go to London on Tuesday morning. They were in about 30 minutes or so, and while in town, I got drizzled on and windblown - the kiss of death for heat-styled hair, usually. Even my cold-set hair wouldn't stand up to it very well! However... as of this afternoon (Thursday), and another long walk in damp air, my hair is still looking pretty blooming good (considering). Again, you may be underwhelmed, but bear with me...

It may have lost its fullness at the ends, but they are STILL curled under! The left side has a really nice shape, and the right side wave at my face (which you can't see very well) is also still good. This, good readers, is unheard of, for my hair, three days afer a quick hot roller set, with no restyling apart from brushing.

...and then the wind really did give a big gust and ruin it! ;)

Happy Easter readers!
Fleur xx

PS. I should have put this in the post - after two people asked separately... I had it done at an old lady salon in a small village near where my parents live. I really think these are the places to go as they do them day in and day out, and they are cheap too (£15 for a cut, £50 for the perm!). I really think there's nothing to be afraid of, with the large rollers, you're never going to get a poodle perm or Keegan-eque 'beans on toast' do. My hair has always been slightly frizzy from all the dying and styling over the years, but the perm's not made any noticeable difference to the texture (of the individual strands) or dryness. If anyone's in any doubt, don't be - go for it! :)

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