Thursday, 21 July 2011

Blue Steel!

It's been a wee while since I could do a post like this! A couple of weeks ago, I travelled down to the Sussex coast to do a shoot with my friend, photographer Tobias Key. It was for absolutely no reason at all - just for fun and to get some new pictures for our portfolios, but also to get back in, as cooler people than me might say, the Game.

It was surprisingly difficult! While I can most definitely still pull a pose out of the bag in candid photos, I was somewhat lacking in confidence when it was just me, Toby and the camera. I think this is something that will return, the more photos I do. I intend to do more modelling on a fairly regular basis, and if you're a photographer and would like to work with me, please do get in touch!

Anyway, here they are. Let me know what you think!

These were the first photos taken... around 4 hour after we tried to start. Torrential rain followed by a flat car battery completely scuppered our first location and somewhat put the dampeners on my hair (pun intended). I'm in my trusty Matalan playsuit which looks perfectly pinup. High street fashion win!

Frida Kahlo meets West Wittering's glamorous beach huts! This vintage gypsy look is one of my favourite at the moment, and this outfit is getting a lot of wear. I got it absolutely ages ago, from the fabulous Pinup Parade (who are one of my sponsors, I should add), but, what's even better, is that it's actually in the sale! Go grab one before they go forever girls! I've teamed this ensemble with a big hair flower, a variety of bangles and my Lucky Lou souvenir slides.

Hope you like the photos - I am rather pleased!

Fleur xx

PS. Speaking of Frida and of West Wittering, what I didn't realise when I did these pictures was that a new exhibition of her work, along with that of Diego Rivera, has newly opened in a gallery just a stone's throw away! As a huge fan, I'll be coming back to visit the Pallant House Gallery very soon, that's for sure.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Damp Tweed & Firm Resolve

Oh the wonderful, wet Chap Olympiad.

If you're not in the UK and a believer in stereotypes, then you'll probably be completely unsurprised to hear that the weather this summer has been inclement. But it really has been exceptionally so this year - worse than any in recent memory. We knew the forecast for last weekend's Chap Olympiad was pretty dire, but having assessed the last three years, I held out a hope that the predicted heavy rain would be a few showers that would quickly pass, as they have every year previously.

But sadly, when I stepped out of the London Underground at 11am on Saturday, a biblical deluge greeted me. I had come prepared, in overalls and sensible shoes, because I was to help Chap Head Girl Bethan set up, with the aim of changing into our Olympiad outfits later. But it really was truly miserable for that first hour.

The opening ceremony was a sea of umbrellas, as the undaunted attendees crowded together to stay dry. The heavy rain had one advantage - it dissuaded any fair weather chaps from coming, or at least from arriving early and signing up to compete! Because, eventually, it did slacken off to a drizzle, which then dried up entirely for a good while. Further showers pelted us intermittently, but on the whole, the good old British spirit and a healthy array of stiff upper lips ensured that this was possibly the best Olympiad ever.

In true English spirit, I've now waffled on about the weather for three entire paragraphs. I don't have a huge amount to write since I actually decided to make a video blog of my day! And it all started off so well, with me filming relevant bits to show you - the opening ceremony and Not Playing Tennis games for one. But my camera skills, angles and use of iMovie needs a lot more work, and I'm terribly sorry to say that I abandoned my project in favour of the pursuit of gin and Pimm's, forgetting entirely to film a sign off later in the day. Nonetheless, let me present an account of The Vintage Mafia's trip to the Chap Olympiad, and our eventual success in the field of non-sporting achievement.

Our monogrammed Vintage Mafia 'team uniforms' went down a storm, though we can't wait until we can attend an event with the full Maf - Gemma's dress just didn't look quite as smashing on Mr Wax, though he did his best. The person we have to thank the most heartily and sincerely, though is Shona from Heyday. She organised our custom Fleur dresses in a very short space of time, and I rushed them to a local embroidery place, who did an amazing job. Thank you so, so much Shona! You'll see a sneak preview of one of the forthcoming new fabrics when Shona gets on stage! Maybe there will be plain colours in the Fleur's future too... watch this space!

The new games were popular and perfectly orchestrated by Bethan, Earl Kirby and their team of stewards. Compere Tristan Langlois was steadfast and extremely funny. The Butler Mr Bell provided some extra entertainment above his usual duties, confiscating a bottle of mineral water and a couscous salad during the 'drugs test' skit. And I danced and laughed and had a wonderful time, even though the terrible weather made it difficult to mingle. I said brief hellos to many of my vintage blogging friends, and to anyone I missed, I apologise!

Here are a few more photos of the day. Suffice to say I can't wait until next year!

RIP my green Rocket Originals Shoes :( Walking and dancing on the completely sodden stage caused the soles to come off and the heel to separate! This is in no way anything to do with the construction of the shoes, by the way - nothing could withstand that water. More fool me for wearing them :(

Not Playing Tennis. Child labour is acceptable.

Chaps in training!

Our victory in Ironing Board Surfing!

Jeni holds fast as the Secretary in Briefcase Phalanx, were the goal is to break through the phalanx and dictate a message to her.

Minna of Red Legs in Soho in the damp Shouting at Foreigners, where the aim is to best a curmudgeonly shopkeeper. The actual goal is to portray the shouter as a buffoon, not the other way round!

We pose with Tigz Rice and ReeRee Rockette!

Nomi won Silver in the Chap Olympiad, thanks to her efforts in both the surfing and the Umbrella Jousting! Her lacy parasol did not survive. We accompanied her on stage to collect her medal. For, in the words of compere Mr Langlois, 'We are Legion'.

Thank you Shona, for making our amazing frocks. Do note the rather smashing new navy 'Garden Circles' fabric, which will be launched very soon, and please visit Heyday Online for a shufti at your earliest convenience!

Hope you enjoy my little video. And have a happy Tuesday!

Fleur xx

Important PostScript!

I feel it's vital for me to point out at this point, that 'The Vintage Mafia' is not, and never has been meant to be a cliquey, exclusive thing. The six of us dreamt up the name after one fateful night out (detailed on our Facebook page). It started off as a bit of fun, but it is now simply a name for our business collective. A business collective that will be organising lots more events and fun stuff in the future. It's not that we want to exclude any of our friends and associates, but trying to organise business stuff with six girls is hard enough as it is without more getting involved! And doing things like the above is nothing more than a fun publicity stunt to promote said business. It's clearly working, because we've made it into the international press - everything from Australian morning papers to the Taipei Times! Though I think most people do realise this, just in case you all think us horrible bitches for larking about in matching frocks, it is worth saying explicitly. :)

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Perm praises

I am singing them!

I had my hair permed in March last year. So it's well and truly grown out from the top, but the ends remain resolutely wavy. And, while it's made my tresses almost criminally dry, that's paradoxically turned out to be a good thing, because I now go for marginally more regular hair cuts, to trim off the split ends. I say marginally, I think I've had two in the last year. But I am going for one in a couple of weeks as well, honest!

Anyway, I decided to go on a 16 mile bike ride round trip last Saturday, and I only had time to set my hair in hotsticks for about twenty minutes beforehand. It was a little bit damp, a little bit windy and not entirely warm. But I braved the elements to go and support my dance school Jive Connection as they did a demonstration in nearby Kingston. And I have to say, my hair held up pretty well...ish!

No brushing, 8 miles of cycling in damp air! Not bad! Ladies, I wholeheartedly recommend perms for long-lasting vintage sets. Just ensure you go to a salon frequented by grannies, because they are the ones who know their stuff. Worth every penny!

What about the rest of my outfit? Well...

Sorry for the scowl! I love my one-of-a-kind Heyday Fleur dress, made by Shona as a sample in some quilting cotton. Bangles abound, as usual!

Just look at these smashing folks, dancing despite the downpour...

This little number is one of Heyday's forthcoming designs... perfect for autumn. 

Health and safety is paramount here at Diary of a Vintage Girl, so it would be remiss of me not to caution you to dress appropriately for this Saturday's Chap Olympiad! You'll need a cardi and a brolly, if the weather forecast is to be believed. Boo! But a stiff upper lip and large amounts of gin are all we really need... Who else is going? I can't wait to unveil my outfit. See you there!

Fleur xx

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

I've got the Runs...

Tee hee hee...oh, toilet humour. I don't think I'll ever grow out of it. Puns, too - I love a good pun. But this blog post does contain a very (semi) serious theme. It's going to be all about my growing addiction to running.

I only took this new athletic hobby up in March. Running is something I didn't especially enjoy at school, but that was mainly to do with the fact that it consisted of torturous cross-country in heavy tracksuits, or dull track work. I was quite good at it, though - one year they unexpectedly put me in the 200m sprint and I came a surprising third! This was with very little practice. But it didn't kick off any particular interest in the sport, not until on one fateful day, 15 years later, I was challenged to do a half-marathon.*

So I took up training. I bought some cheap semi-retro, semi-sporty clothes, acquired some trainers, dug out my sports bra and made my resolutions. I didn't want to compromise my vintage sensibilities, nor did I want to fork out too much of my meagre disposable income until I knew I was going to keep it up. So, I clad myself in all the above, and set off on my first run. The aim was to do two miles on the dot... I made it just over one mile before I had to stop and walk. I then made it all the way back in one go. Felt like my lungs were going to cough themselves up, but I was very pleased. The next time, I made it round in one go! It then dawned on me that I must have some kind of natural running ability. But there was a problem - my hips and knees didn't like it at all.

I bit the bullet and went to a proper, reputable running shop - Run and Become in Victoria. They watched me run and 'prescribed' me a pair of stability shoes to correct my hip movement. The difference on my next run was amazing. I did my first 5k soon after... it was hard work and challenging (even painful), but the euphoria at the end was amazing, and I was super pleased with my time of 30:35. I kept setting off, gradually increasing my distances to three, four and five miles. The feeling of absolute freedom, with the wind and the scenery rushing by, my legs powering me through the miles... it's an unbeatable feeling!  I joined my local running club, the Elmbridge Road Runners. I then started to do the local parkrun, knocking my 5k time down to 25:35. But I had to admit defeat in one area. The combination of high exertion and cotton jersey was not doing it for me. Damp, and therefore heavy clothing is not enjoyable to wear. And so, dear readers, I have given in. I wear LYCRA.

Here I am in my favourite running outfit. Again, I am currently really not very well-off, but I forked out for some essentials, because I really could not go on as I was.. The Nike capris in their fabulous 'dri-fit' material hold me in, feel cool and also dry very quickly in the rain (, the sweat). The little top came from a site I found though Google called No Balls. A silly name, but the clothes seem fab - a bit more stylish, but still made from performance fabrics and, importantly, they have a sale on! They even do slightly higher waisted bottoms, and they told me over email they plan to do more... I will be keeping an eye on them in case my plan to design my own half-marathon outfit doesn't come to fruition...

I like to pull a silly pose, as you all know by now! But to get serious for a moment, in the few weeks since buying lycra, I have trimmed my 5k PB to 24:01. I feel light and free as I run, so it is partly psychological, I'm sure. But it's done the trick! The only thing I really need now is a better sports bra as mine aren't as firm as I'd like (the bras, not the norks)! Shock Absorber do the best ones, ladies, but they aren't cheap! Oh, and some anti-blister socks for long runs. But I'm pretty pleased with the whole set up at the moment, and my story shows, I hope, that you don't need to invest in all this fancy pants sport-wicking-dri-lycra-fit nonsense until you've given it a go and found out if you love it. But you absolutely must not do it without a proper bra and some proper shoes! No one likes saggy boobs or sports injuries... mark my words! My super stylish shoes are made by Brooks, and have served me well. These pictures document the last time they looked clean, because moments after they were taken, I embarked on a 4 mile, cross-country slog through the South Downs. Would you like to see how I looked afterwards? Of course you would! ;)

Knackered, sweat-patched, pink-faced and mud-splattered, but victorious!

See, it is possible to look reasonably nice during and after a run. My super trendy topknot has survived (slicked down with hairspray and finished off with virtuous sweat!), my eyebrows haven't budged and I held off on the eyeliner, so that hasn't smudged either. I'd like to claim that mud is good for the skin, but in this case it's mixed with horse poo. So I washed that off with lightning speed! But the glow you get from a good run in the fresh air (or cardio work in the gym) is the best beauty treatment, really.

So that is my ode to the joys of running for this month. I am truly loving it, and learning to love my body from doing it. My thighs have slimmed, everything is firming up (though I still have a way to go), my appetite is increasing, but it doesn't matter so much what I eat as I know I will run it off! My scales display a quite worryingly high amount, but my tape measure shows my statistics are close to their lowest. This just goes to show that the old adage about muscle weighing more than fat is true, at least in my case. My figure has always been 'athletic' rather than sylph-like, and now I know why! I was born to run!

Any other retro runners out there??

Fleur xx

* My original goal was to run a half-marathon, but the goal event itself has changed. I am now delighted to say I am doing the Run To The Beat half-marathon for my chosen charity on September 25th.

13.1 MILES








...Amazing! I'm running with my brother Guy, who's been doing it for over 10 years and is significantly better and faster than me. He's kindly agreed to pace me as I try to run 13 miles in 2 hours! I'll be posting more about this in the run up, as I am loathe to be annoying. But have a wee look at our JustGiving page, if you have a moment to see why we've chosen to run for Beating Bowel Cancer.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

In which I Act.

As I mentioned in my last blog post (which I am delighted to see so many of you found useful or inspirational!), I was recently invited to appear in a short film. This came about because I met director and cinematographer Rodney Williams at a gig - and after expressing an interest in my general look, we got chatting and he told me he thought I'd be perfect for a role in a surreal short film he was making for the Virgin Media Shorts competition. I explained to him I'd never acted before (beyond school plays, anyway), but he wanted to give me a chance despite this. And so, I did it! Nothing ventured and all that!

Here is the finished film, Zippo. It's a sort of dark, modern fairytale, and is only two minutes long.

What do you think?

Lots of people have been very nice and said they loved it. A few have said they didn't get it. The message is simply: 'Be careful what you wish for'.

The biggest hurdle I had to overcome was feeling slightly self-conscious as I acted, but even over the course of the two-day shoot, I improved on that front. Training obviously brings confidence as well as perfecting any natural abilities one may or may not have. I think doing something like this later in life has one advantage - I've genuinely felt all the emotions I was trying to portray. However, I found the whole experience very exciting, new and rewarding. So much so, that I've signed up for an acting course! I'm very much looking forward to doing it in a few weeks, and to hopefully undertaking more of this sort of thing in the future.

A million thank yous to the team for having me on board - Rodney Williams, Simon J. Riley, Aby Hamouda et al, plus my (actual professional) co-stars Luke Brandon Field (who is really going places) and Vivien Bridson.

Fleur xx

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Maximum Glamour

If I had a mere English pound for every remark I'd heard about not having the time to be glamorous, I could retire and simply just be glamorous without having to work. But the truth is, that as an inherently quite lazy person, my secret is to look like I'm high-maintenance, without actually putting in vast quantities of time or effort. I use all sorts of cheat methods - instead of pincurling or sleeping in rollers, I had a light perm (to change the structure of my hair), and use hot sticks. You know this, if you're a regular reader.

I don't claim to be an advocate of 24/7 glamour. There are times when I have my hair scraped back in a bun and fairly rubbishy clothes on. But my 'knocking-about' clothes tend to be things like old, threadbare housedresses, old Heyday trousers that I've ripped the turnup and just safety-pinned (see above about being lazy - the motto about 'a stitch in time' doesn't figure strongly in my life!), retro-esque tshirts and so on. If I open the door to a canvasser or the postie, they probably think I'm terribly eccentric, but I at least look decently put-together in my mind. And this is hugely important to me. Glamour has been my lifeline over the last year.

Well, that's a bit dramatic. But I've had a tough year for one reason and another (still ongoing, sorry to say), and I've been, to put an amusing name to it, a bit down in the dumps! Sometimes, all I have wanted to do is stay in bed and never get dressed. But I have made an effort not to let my standards slip. I know I've talked about this on here before...several times in fact. So humour me as I bring this up again, for no reason other than justifying it to myself!

My red lipstick, vintage hairdos and extensive retro wardrobe are like my armour against the negativity. They make my life better. Because of how I look, and my obvious passion and dedication, opportunities have come my way. Which isn't to say that I don't work hard to make a living: I do. But sometimes strange and random things crop up. I believe in fate and embrace the funny things it throws at me. My look and the fact that I show it off has gained me invites to events. It's got me a part in a short film. It's got me freebies. It makes strangers talk to me. It gets me paid work. It does tend to put off men, it's true. Obviously the wrong men! But it makes me who I am. If I feel like crap, putting in my usual effort helps to offset that crapness. I am not diminished WITHOUT my vintage warpaint... but WITH it, I am unstoppable! Or so I like to think. I couldn't get this daily boost if it wasn't easy to do. If you want to lead a more glamorous life, keep it simple. Start small - you can always build up! These are the things I always try to do when I am in my most subdued mood. They work for me!
  • Wear lipstick! If you've never gone red, then embrace the pillarbox! If not, then a rose pink is suitably vintage, without being too scary. Try MAC Russian Red for the former, Boots No. 7 Classic Rose for the latter.
  • Paint your nails! Mine are in a dreadful state, but polish transforms them. OPI's Start to Finish makes my manicure last a week. Expensive but worth it.
  • Put on a nice frock, just to go shopping. I'm not talking about a ballgown or a cocktail dress, but something bright and summery. Don't save your vintage for best! And don't wear dark, drab clothes if you're feeling dark and drab. Wear colour and walk tall in it - you look smashing!
  • Drink your tea from a vintage teacup. I definitely don't do this very often as a teacup just doesn't hold enough to satisfy my addiction, but it doesn't half make you feel special when you're sipping from an art deco delight!
  • Put a flower in your hair! Even if you haven't styled it in a vintage way, give yourself a side parting and pop a bloom on the parting side. Instant pin-up!
  • Wear an armful of bright, musical bangles. Bakelite, bamboo, wood and modern plastic - they all make a wonderful noise and look splendid.
  • Go out and do some exercise. Whether it's a run, cycle, swim, or just a walk around the block. It'll raise your endorphins and the fresh air will put colour in your cheeks. Nothing is more glamorous than a glowing complexion! Finding stylish workout wear is of course a separate problem I've complained about recently... but when you've finished, you can get the aforementioned vintage frock on!
I hope this advice doesn't sound too patronising, obvious or trite. There are many people in the world who have worse problems than me, problems that can't be eased with red lipstick and hair flowers. But I have genuinely found some solace in these little things over the last year, which has honestly been pretty relentlessly downbeat in some areas.

And so this blog isn't completely image-free, let me talk about one lovely invite I got recently. Initially it was meant to be just me, but over the course of the evening, four of the Mafia ended up at this soiree thrown by St-Germain, a, elderflower liqueur. Talking of fate, the chap who created St-G was an American who had never tasted elderflower before a fateful trip to France, but who then spent his life savings trying to create an alcoholic version of the ambrosia he tasted! If we weren't all such glamourpusses I'm sure we wouldn't have been welcomed so warmly... since the other girls all came straight from the office! ;)

Here I am demonstrating use of lipstick, nailvarnish, hair flowers and bangles! ;) Running and teacups are not pictured. Thanks must go to the lovely Tina, pictured in the middle!

This was also the night that we found the venue for our big sale, since after stumbling into a local diner we'd never previously entered, we got talking to the owner (who was fascinated with our looks) and sweet talked him into letting us hold our event there. See... being glamorous makes stuff happen, ladies.

I'll fill you in on the sale soon... till then, I hope you are all feeling happy and healthy my dear readers!

Fleur xx

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Going Au Naturel...ish

Yesterday, despite it being a Saturday, I got up early. I then put on something I would never have been seen dead in, only a few short months ago... sportswear. I then headed off to do a 5km time trial around London's Bushy Park. You see, running has taken over my life! I've now done three Saturday morning parkruns, and I've knocked time off with each one. I can now run 5km in 24 minutes and one second, which I don't think is too bad for someone who only took up the sport in late March! But on my journey, I have discovered that sportswear is pretty essential. Wearing cotton jersey doesn't restrict your movement, but it does make you feel heavier as well as feeling clammy and horrid when you sweat into it. Which, when you're running full tilt for more than about a minute, you're going to do. It's still pretty awful, as far as style goes, though. I'm harbouring a not-very-secret desire to design some kit of my own.

I don't know if my original half-marathon in Scotland is going to happen now. What I would really love to do, though, is the Run To The Beat half-mara in September. But, readers, since the open places have sold out, I have to ask you something: if I signed up to run for a charity (yet to be decided), would you consider sponsoring me? If everyone gave me 10p, I could do it! T'would benefit a great cause, allow me to run a challenging, amazing race and possibly even give me the incentive to design a prototype vintagey, lycra-y outfit. Please let me know if you would consider it.

Anyway, back to the subject in hand. After my race, I felt like giving myself a bit of a break from my usual levels of artifice. I washed my hair and let it dry. I left my nails bare, because I had to remove my usual varnish for a filming job on Friday, and realised what a dreadful state they are in. Peeling a-plenty, no doubt from all the chemicals. I might let them breathe for a wee while. Also, though I did use my usual mineral foundation and eyebrow pencil, I decided to hold fire on the liquid eyeliner that's been my staple for nearly half my life. It's funny, but I don't feel that I look very good without it. Perhaps spending so long with not a scrap of eyemakeup on the film I've been extra-ing in lately has helped me get over this mental hurdle... Either way, I left it off yesterday.

As it was a nice day, I got my running-toned pins out in a little retro but modern playsuit that was another Matalan special. Here I am looking amusingly like a slightly grumpy fashion blogger in a test pic (we rejected this location)...

And here I am in a more familiar pose...

Phew, that's better! ;) I love this little horse-print playsuit, even though it probably won't last that long. I added my usual stack of bangles, this time in a matching black and white (a mixture of vintage and modern) and my trusty Lucky Lou slides. My skin is weird. In real life, I have a definite tinge of tan, but in these photos, I am as translucent as I have ever been! So what about this 'au natural' face, then?

The party hair is already no more, as you can see. I had this day of filming, and also I have a potential audition next week for which I needed natural hair... please cross every appendage for me on this front!

Anyway, so that is me, with minimal styling... do you think I have pulled it off? I better sign off as I am heading up to London to sell off some of my bits and pieces to the people of Shoreditch. If you're a Londoner, reading this over breakfast and wondering what to do later, then come along!

See you there...?

Lots of Sunday lovings,

Fleur xx

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