Friday, 28 May 2010

Bits and bobs

Gosh, time flies doesn't it!

I'm just popping in for a catchup, and a quick post about something I am up to this weekend.

I get the odd request for appearances at events, but this is one that is quite close to my heart (or at least close to home!). I grew up in Haslemere, Surrey, and this sleepy little Home Counties town now has its very own Classic Car Show! This year is only the second year they're doing it, but it looks set to be a fun day. It starts at 10am with a tour of the local area (in classic cars of course), beginning and ending at Lion Green. I will be there from 1pm until 4pm and am looking forward to modelling, meeting people and browsing the stalls. If any readers are local, perhaps see you there!

I also haven't yet posted my photos from the last Tart. It was the usual glamorous affair, with lashings of vintage style. As always, delicious food and refreshing cocktails were served by Angel of Vintage Patisserie, we had a cocktail class from Emerald Fontaine, and a rather splendid talk on Etiquette from the smashing Liz Brewer from Ladette to Lady. We had some really fantastic vendors this time around, too, with Fifi Wilson's dresses and accessories going down a storm. The Benefit and Lipstick and Curls ladies worked their magic on a host of gorgeous ladies...

But this time, the transformation led one lucky girl to be crowned 'Queen of Tarts' and win an amazing powder-blue scooter, worth £650! Our gorgeous winner, Claire, was beaming from ear to ear. Doesn't she look lovely in one of my dresses (which is for sale if anyone's interested ;)...)?

That last shot is of her with 40 Winks' Severina and Mark from Direct Bikes, who generously donated the prize. I couldn't resist posing myself, of course... I think it went very well with my bow-print Swirl!

I leave you now with a mysterious teaser picture from a shoot for an incredibly exciting new project, which will be unveiled very soon...

Guesses below if you have any...

Enjoy your bank holiday if you have one, and your weekend if you don't!

Fleur xx

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Oh, Calendar

I've just heard the most marvellous news - the calendar I did especially for the Watercress Line steam railway, has just gone to print! How exciting!

It's going to be on sale at the Watercress Line's summer War on the Line event, which is taking place on the 5th and 6th June, and also commemorates the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. I'll be there on the Saturday, signing calendars and posing for photos. They're only printing 500, so perhaps they'll become a collectors' item in years to come.... ;) But seriously, all proceeds are going to be split between the Railway and Help for Heroes, so every penny of the £10 cost is going to a very good cause.

The best part is, I can now reveal some of the shots which didn't make it into the final calendar, but which bear some showing off, and will hopefully tempt some of you into buying a calendar to see the rest! The photographers for both days were my good friend and highly talented snapper Sean Kelly, aka O'Malley and the lovely Agness Lugowska. Thank you, both, and thanks to Tim Beere of the Watercress Line for having us!

We did the first shoot in chilly February, and the second in unfortunately almost-as-chilly early May, and though both days were extremely long and required at least 6 outfit changes per day, I think the final shots were worth every second of shivering! There were a few main themes. The first was to portray the less glamorous side of life on the railway during WWII - the working woman. Obviously, some artistic license was taken... I don't think red overalls would have been much in evidence! Never mind, eh?

We had authentic steam, authentic coal, and I was covered in authentic smuts and grime afterwards! Clockwise from top right, my outfits are: overalls from Vivien of Holloway and shirt from Heyday, 40s style fairisle jumper from Rocket Originals and trousers from Heyday, same outfit as before, and trousers from Heyday, short sleeve green jumper is from Dressing4Impressing and the cardi is from Dixabilly.

The next thing to depict was the other kind of working woman - safely clean and indoors in her workday frock, but no less demanding a job!

Secretarial duties, cleaning and serving at the canteen, carrying a fire bucket (OK, this definitely isn't standard uniform!). Everything is vintage, except for the Able Grable Hedy and the snood, but I can't remember where I got it! Red FF seams are from What Katie Did's old stock. Shoes are Remix!

And last but certainly not least, we did some more gratuitously glamorous and cheeky pin-up shots for good measure!

The gown in the top left is from Able Grable, the rest are all vintage, including a white feedsack frock from Q's Daydream Vintage and the black velvet jacket is part of a stunning suit from VioletVille Vintage!

Hope you like the photos. The calendars will be first available at War on the Line and then they will be for sale from the Watercress Line. When I have details I will of course pass them on. Plus, I do have some more informative posts coming soon, so stay tuned!

Pip pip!

Fleur xx

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

But what are the 39 Steps...?

A fortnight ago, I had the honour of attending a very special performance of a rather marvellous play. And, I'm delighted to say that by all accounts the first ever 39 Steps Vintage Gala night was a roaring success!

There was a fantastic turnout of impeccably dressed vintage folks, most of whom I knew, so the afterparty was something akin to a private party held in a beautiful old theatre, and preceded by a wonderfully entertaining play! The whole thing was masterminded by a sterling cove called Will Sudlow (the one who contacted me in the first place about his idea) and my gorgeous friend Naomi of Vintage Secret (whom I put in touch with Will and whose organisational skills put me to absolute shame). I arrived early to help Naomi with her hair, before rushing off to scoff a Bodeans and returned to find the bar area set out with vintage cake stands, hats on antique shop fittings, and a vintage 'Accessories Bar', beautifully styled by Naomi and her sister.

The cakes were supplied by the incredible Angel Adoree of Vintage Patisserie, famous across the UK for her personalised cupcakes. For this occasion she pulled out all the stops, so we had moustaches, logos, Harris Tweed, pipes, police badges and film noir style lamp posts; all of which were designed by Mr Sudlow and put onto cakes through Angel's patented magical processes! Mr Sudlow also rustled up a recipe for some incredibly strong G&Tea drinks, namely Gin and iced tea, which were gamely mixed by the Criterion's bar staff, and proved a hit with the guests. There were costumes displayed around the bar, so everyone could get a closer look at Annabella Schmidt's lovely black coat and skirt; and because it all took place the night before the General Election, the place was bedecked by Angel's custom bunting, in election colours. Splendid.

The play had had a change of cast since my last (and only) viewing, but the new actors did a magnificent job. I was pleased to see the costume department had taken my one and only criticism on board - Hannay now has his bottom waistcoat button undone, which he didn't before. I am nothing if not a stickler for sartorial traditions! As before, it was thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish! I don't think such a witty and well-directed play could ever get dull! But what about the outfits of the attendees? Well, a special mention must be given to Naomi, who wore two amazing dresses - a 1930s watered silk evening gown, and a peach 1920s silk gown, which still has its original shop tag. Will was replendent in white tie...

And, of course, you can always rely on London's vintage crowd to look superb, and this occasion was no exception! I wore my Able Grable Countess again, which is both practical for running about in, and suitably glamorous, I hope!

The infamous Johnny Vercoutre of Time for Tea tried on one of Naomi's menswear items - a dressing gown with matching cravat! Also in evidence above are Various Chaps, including Torquil Arbuthnot in blue waistcoat (with whom I am sharing a birthday party next month), Christopher Ihan Choy, former Hannay actor Callum Coates, and my unbelievably gorgeous boyfriend the Whistling Tailor in his finest Tweed. Keeping the ladies' sartorial standards as high as ever are my stunning friends Hannah Asprey, who designs Era Magazine, Miss Mink the Pinup Poet, the impeccably turbanned Emma and my kiwi pal, designer and newly fellow blogger (go read if you're interested in vintage and sewing!) Shona with her husband Twan.

So that was that! All-in-all an amazing evening. I can't wait for the next one, and I hope any vintage Londoners who missed out this time will come along to a future event. I promise it will be just as splendid.

And as to the title of this blog, well, if you want the answer to that question, you'll have to go and see it yourself! This production is being staged in dozens of countries all round the world, so you have no excuse at all! ;)

Let me know when you've found out!

Fleur xx

Friday, 14 May 2010

Kiss Me Katie

It's been hard to escape the incessant doom and gloom of recession and the turmoil that's blighted this country in the past few months: economically, politically and environmentally! Especially when it's plastered all over the newspapers and beaming out from every television set. The good news is that there are a few products which can truly be deemed 'recession proof', and one that is a legendary morale booster... lipstick! The idea of using makeup to 'put on a brave face' has seen us through two World Wars and several recessions. And the 'Lipstick Effect' is clearly in force today, where, despite many luxury brands suffering, makeup sales are still going strong.

Once, as well as cheering us up, lipsticks and compacts themselves were true art forms. But over the years, the stylish designs of yesteryear have given way to dull, mass-produced plastic, although the formula and staying power of cosmetics have of course vastly improved. However, there is one modern makeup company trying to revive the art of beautiful vintage packaging: America's Besame Cosmetics. How very apt, then, that What Katie Did are now stocking the full range of Besame, their cosmetic counterparts, on their website (in the Wardrobe section) and in their Portobello Road Boutique! And guess who was asked to do a shoot for them this week?

Meee! :)

Just like What Katie Did, Besame produces products with a real old Hollywood flair. The beautifully crafted metal containers, etched with art deco flourishes contain period perfect lipstick shades like Carmine and Noir Red and blusher that would produce cheeks as peachy as Rita Hayworth's. The chic little Classic Enchanting Lipsticks come in a 1940s style bullet-shaped tube (perfect for a small evening bag), and are specially shaped to help you create a film star pout. The newly introduced Voluptuous Lip Colour sets contain a full-sized, black enamel-clad lipstick, along with a matching lip pencil and ergonomically designed brush... the ultimate gift for a glamorous girlfriend! The rest of the line features equally stunning products with evocative names: Enriching Lip Glaze, Vintage Boudoir Rouge, Vintage Alluring Eye Shadows, Classic Masterliner Pencil and the Signature Compact with Cashmere Pressed Powder – which looks equally at home on a dressing table or being pulled out of your vintage handbag! If that wasn't enough to tempt you, Besame pride themselves on only using the purest, natural ingredients, and never test on animals meaning their products are as ethical as they are elegant. I managed to model SIXTEEN different shades of lipstick, gloss and balm, so as you might imagine, my lips were feeling a bit worse for wear by the end! But they're such moisturising lipsticks that it wasn't too bad. All the products are wonderful to use... it was all I could do not to buy everything on the spot. I already own one Besame Classic lipstick in a lighter pink, that I tend to blend; loose powder and a lovely pink blusher, but now I am definitely going to invest in a set of Rapture Rose - Katie and I both fell in love with it as a perfectly vintage alternative to red!

Some more piccies:

All photos by the super talented Tony Nylons. Find him at Peek Magazine (his new venture)!

The site and shop will have everything in stock, saving you both shipping and customs fees (and in fact I don't think Brits will be able to shop from the US site at all now...). But it's worth visiting the shop if you can, to see and touch these gorgeous products in real life. If you fancy a pillar-box red pout, but don't know where to start, you'll be delighted to hear that almost every staff member at the boutique is a trained makeup artist! I guarantee you won't find any better vintage makeup advice anywhere else!

Do hop over and have a look. I just need to decide what to buy first...

Have great weekends everyone!

Fleur xx

Thursday, 13 May 2010

As scooters can be...

Regular readers of my blog will know all about Tart, the event I co-host with Mr David Carter and Miss Naomi Thompson, but our next instalment this coming Saturday is a little bit special. Not only do our gorgeous ladies get to eat delicious Vintage Patisserie cakes, try on What Katie Did corsets and sample divine cocktails made by burlesque star and bartender extraordinaire Emerald Fontaine (in addition to all the pampering and shopping), but we have an incredible new sponsor for our 'Queen of Tarts' prize.

This prestigious title is awarded at the close of the day, to the girl who has undergone the biggest transformation since her arrival, from modern to vintage fabulous. The prize this month is being provided by Direct Bikes, the UK’s no 1 scooter brand, who have generously donated one of their stunning 50cc Retro Scooters in a very pretty baby blue finish, worth an astonishing £649!

I now want one, of course, and am wracking my brain for disguise ideas... ;)

What you may not realise is that every guest takes home an amazing goody bag, stuffed to bursting with treats like Benefit makeup, vintage knick-knacks, What Katie Did stockings, retro accessories, magazines, discount flyers and more. This month and onwards, guests will also be delighted to find a bag of old fashioned sweet shop goodies from the rather fabulous Suck and Chew, a lovely shop located on the famous Columbia Road in London's East End. Rhubarb and Custard anyone?

We'll also have some amazing custom-made Tart jewellery to pop in the goodie bags, hand-crafted by Kali Anderson of Lush & Lovely. Kali came along to Tart a few months ago as a guest, and loved it so much that she's come on board as a sponsor, so thank you Kali for being such a doll.

If anyone out there is a purveyor of vintage style goodies and would like to come on board as a sponsor of Tart, then we would be absolutely delighted to hear from you. We have 30 immaculately attired ladies attending every month, up to five press guests (always from national newspapers, magazines or huge blogging sites) and a combined mailing list of over 20,000 on which to promote you. We'll also have our very own website soon!

And to the rest of you, I hope we'll be seeing you at a Tart in the near future!

Fleur xx

Thursday, 6 May 2010

How do I love thee, House Dress

Since I have nothing constructive to say today (I have done some things, but the photographic evidence is still forthcoming), I thought it was time for a plain and simple outfit post.

Now, as many of you know, I do love a house dress. Swirls are my favourite, yes, but there's plenty of room in my heart for frocks that wrap around the front instead of the back. Essentially, I just love a wrap - they're easy to wear, flattering and you just can't really go far wrong buying them online. Even if the seller has got the measurements out by several inches, there's always leeway. I could live in wrap dresses. If it didn't mean catching hypothermia from September to April, of course.

But a wee while ago, Miss Matilda of Able Grable fame got in touch to tell me about her new wrap house dress design. Would I like her to send me one, she asked. Err... let me think, I replied. Do bears relieve themselves in tree-rich environments? Unfortunately, though I have worn it approximately eleventy thousand times since then, this is the first time I've had it captured on camera. Because that weekend was the first time it was warm enough to actually wear it out of the house! Et voila!

So here it is, the Ready Hedy floral house dress! It's made from an authentic-feeling rayon, with a very 40s-looking rose print. It wraps with an internal tie and closes with a hook-and-eye, the belt is separate so you can tie it wherever you like. It even has a cute patch pocket over the right hip. So all in all, pretty much my perfect dress!

Something I learned while having these photos taken is this: It's hard to get a flattering angle for your legs when in flat shoes. I hardly ever wear flats, because I'm quite paranoid about my wide calves, which at least look slimmer in wedges and heels. I can just about cope with them in real life, but on camera they looked worse. If a lens adds 10lbs, I'm sure it's all on my lower legs!

I wore the Ready Hedy with my peach Dixabilly bolero, and aforementioned flat sandals, which I do actually love, and come from Schuh. They can't really be described as repro, but they have a vintage-esque quality. As the Vintage Baroness established, flat gladiator sandals were popular in the 30s, and the woven front and straps definitely remind me of other 40s sandals, even if they might have had a heel or wedge.

I finished the outfit with my Dead Men's Spex sunnies (wrong era...don't care!) and some peach rose vintage earrings. Oh, and a Hedy type hairdo in tribute, not as well brushed as it might have been... oh well!

Hope you have all had lovely weeks, and, if you're in the UK, that you went out and voted today.

Toodle pip!

Fleur xx

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Sponsor Spotlight - Pinup Parade

After rather a delay brought on by a dreadful spring cold I caught from the Whistling Tailor (and can't seem to shake and am snuffling for England at the mo), I'm delighted to finally be able to introduce the next of my lovely sponsors, a super site which is run by a long-time online friend of mine, Helen. Please give a big hand to the rather fabulous Pinup Parade!

Fed up of paying customs fees when ordering clothes from America, and also finding the world of pinup on the whole rather US-centric, Helen decided that there was a gap in the market for a European pinup website and clothing shop. As a plus-sized pinup herself, Helen also wanted to provide a place where the curvy girls could feel at home, as well as shop to their hearts' content. And so, in 2007, was launched.

It's now a glorious one stop-shop for all things cheesecake. The galleries showcase pinups from the length and breadth of Europe. Including, you will notice, my own very earliest pin-up photos! Helen also publishes regular features, including interviews with inspirational types like Katie Halford of What Katie Did, and helpful articles, such as her guide on getting into pinup.

And the shop is a dream for devotees of vintage style.

Helen's fabulous Spring/Summer '10 dress range contains some truly gorgeous frocks, including the Bettie Page Afternoon Tea dress and Nicole Katherine's Tiki Babe sarong, complete with flattering waterfall skirt and supportive, crossover bust.

She has a wide range of office-friendly clobber, including the Mad Men-esque Charm dress and the 40s style Kookie. And the separates section contains tons of Mode Merr favourites as well as more from Bettie Page.

The sale page has some rather good bargains. I already own one of the Tarantula dresses, but I have to say, I'm sorely tempted by the green blouse myself!

One of the very best things about buying from Pinup Parade, is that Helen doesn't just rely on the standard sizing chart provided by manufacturers... she actually measures each size of each dress style she receives to ensure that you aren't caught out. What a blooming marvellous idea. Helen, I salute your dedication!

I need to return to my sick bed now, so I leave you with my personal favourite picks from her forthcoming frocks: Nicole Katherine's Maureen and the Sierra, from Bettie Page...

And the one purchase no vintage lover, aspiring pinup or glamour queen should be without...

Vintage Hairstyling by Lauren Rennells! I don't even know where else you can buy this in the UK... but even if I did, I'd tell you to give Helen your custom! ;)

Happy browsing ladies (and gents with elegant ladies) (and gents who like to dress like elegant ladies)!

Fleur xx

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