Monday, 28 February 2011

The Vintage Cycling Bug

Happy Monday to one and all! Did you have good weekends?

I didn't get up to a huge amount myself - mostly due to a Friday night out with gorgeous ladies that began with drinking wine at the Royal Academy and culminated in an impromptu East-End pop party (during which we danced wildly to Beyonce, Gaga, Jessie J et al) and a very, very late night. The following day, we headed to the Tara Starlet sample sale (so to the reader who asked - yes you did see me there!), hoping to get our mitts on some of the lovely frocks this splendidly ethical English reproduction brand produces. Sadly, there was nothing to my taste on offer, or rather, we had probably missed it! Because we got there late due to the one and only thing I did actually achieve this weekend, which was to secure my space on the amazing Tweed Run! Gushing about my love of cycling will now commence...

This smashing day out was one of the highlights of last year for me. I am so, so glad I registered with utmost haste, the second it opened; because all 450 spots on this year's Run went in four minutes. FOUR minutes! Unbelievable. Of all the Vintage Mafia girls, only Jeni Yesterday and I got a spot! I absolutely can't wait, after the fun of 2010's Run. I even bought myself a bicycle especially, and it turned out to be one of my best vintage purchases ever!

While the Tweed Run was its maiden voyage, I rode this All-Steel steed throughout the summer and autumn, getting fit, breathing fresh air and generally lifting my mood with every turn of the pedal. I absolutely fell in love with cycling and my lovely bike got lots of use. She even starred in the first ever Fleur dress photoshoot, and is going to take pride of place in an installation at the forthcoming Ideal Home Show... watch this space for more information on that!

I did wimp out of cycling when it was really cold, and only brushed her off a few weeks ago for the first cycle of 2011. As you all know, I'm not a practical sort, and own no waterproof clothing, or even sensible shoes, so all-weather cycling is not for me. In fact, I went out on a damp day out last week and got absolutely covered in mud from head to toe! It was quite fun, actually, but I ruined my canvas trainers... 'twas worth it though. And it's invaluable to get lots of cycling in before April 9th... I might have survived the Tweed Run last year (12 miles after having not cycled in a decade); but my posterior took several days to recover, I can tell you!

If only I had a bit more disposable income, I would seriously consider purchasing a new steed in time for the Run. While it's super to have a genuine vintage velocipede, it rattles, the chain and mudgards are loose, its rod brakes really are quite useless (form over function for sure); and the frame is a smidgeon too small for me, meaning instead of sitting bolt-upright, I am slightly bent over. Oh, I would love to get a new one, and have spent hours looking at pictures online. If money was no object, I would get myself a Pashley Britannia.

The Britannia has all the best features of the classic Princess Sovereign - dynamo lights and five gears - without being cluttered by the rear skirt guard or rack. I have never found my skirt needed to be guarded against! And with a choice of red, white or blue, I'd be absolutely torn... if only I could afford its £625 price tag! A friend of mine is selling her barely-ridden, year-old basic Pashley Princess, but since I already have one black, ultra-heavy, three geared, lightless beast, there seems little point in buying another, even for the quite reasonable price she was asking. Sadly.

Pashley are sponsoring the 'Best Vintage Bicycle' category in the Tweed Run... presumably this means the person with the best vintage bicycle also wins a brand new one! I am petitioning (not really) for them to change it to 'Worst Vintage Wreck'. I'd be a clear winner since parts of my bike seem to be held together with little more than Blitz Spirit (so I didn't even enter the category by the way)! I have, however, entered the 'Most Dashing Dame' one, and am busy planning my outfit... it won't actually feature any tweed, but it will be heavy on vintage glamour!

Slightly more affordable options for new steeds come from Bobbin Bicycles, a gorgeous shop located in Angel. I've been meaning to have a shufti there for ages, though I know I'd be tempted into buying lots of lovely accessories! Their Glorie Fairground is a slightly more affordable £425 (!) and has a very similar look. It's a classic Dutch bike, made in Holland.

And last but not least, I might consider purchasing a Dutchie ladies' bicycle. At £319 it's half the price of the Pashley, lighter and has many of the same bells and whistles; but without the lovely leather saddle. And it only comes in black. But it's still absolutely lovely!

In short, I highly recommend cycling as a hobby and method of exercise to all the vintage ladies out there. It's so much fun, keeps you slim and you look damn cool (if a little clichéd... let's be honest) when dressed in a gorgeous frock, riding an old-fashioned (or genuinely old), wicker-basketted bicycle around town. Just make sure if you go for 'fitness' rides rather than gentle pootles, that you wear something loose and washable. Sorry if that is too much info gals... but energetic cycling does make one rather hot!

Back on the subject of tweed, I am jumping up and down with excitement, for I am off to Scotland for two days tomorrow. I am doing a tour of The Glenrothes whisky distillery, after which I shall be taken on such manly outdoor pursuits as clay pigeon shooting and off-road Land Rover driving. There will also be fine food... and lots of whisky, amazingly enough! I can't wait to tell you all about it. I am concerned about the temperature in chilly Scotland, and am packing my beautifully thick Heyday tweed trousers, and will take my Puttin' On The Ritz Spying For The Allies wool suit as well, for the evening meal. Which reminds me, I have some more modelling photos to post from the shoot I did for my aforementioned smashing sponsor, which include some snaps of the previously unseen Miss Atkins Blouse. I'll leave you with these - some inspiration for the ladies lucky enough to get a spot on the Tweed Run!

All taken by the talented Mark Bonito.

See you soon!

Fleur xx

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Victory Rolls in a jiffy!

Wotcher gang!

May I present to you my very latest noctovisual exploit? This time, it's my very, very long-awaited guide to Victory Rolls!

This quintessential 1940s hairstyle was (apparently) named after the manoeuvres performed by victorious planes at the end of World War II, as they celebrated beating those dashed jerries! You could see rolls on everyone from film starlets like Bettie Grable, performers and everyday girls on the street. Once you've mastered rolls, you can use them in all sorts of hairdos, and, as promised, as soon as I finished this, I whipped it up into an updo, the video for which I'll edit and post next week.

But enough waffling... here's the video. The resulting pair of rolls are not the best I have ever done - it's a bit 'pointy' at the top... but the technique is the same as I've used for more successful outcomes!

Don't forget to let me know what you think, especially if you find it useful. Any questions I receive in the comments will be answered in this post, which I will edit and update periodically.

I hope you enjoy. :)

What a terrible screengrab... off to see what other delights OneTube can offer me.

Toodle pip for now!

Fleur xx

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Several thousand words...

Hi all!

Rushing in and out with not a lot of time for writing, so I'm going to cheat and bung up some pictures of the things that made up my world last weekend, for an almost purely visual treat. Warning... there are a lot! Hope you enjoy :)


The Hendrick's Courtship Clinic, which popped up for Valentine's weekend in Covent Garden.


 The most epic wedding in the history of fabulous weddings! Groom as a matador, bride as a 30s starlet, vintage bus trips, Ghostbusters matinee in an Art Deco cinema, police booking the bus driver for using his mobile phone, cakes, turkish food and dancing in a working mens club!

Some photos of me and my wedding attire courtesy of delightful lady Hannah Asprey... this 40s dress is my new pride and joy! Puff sleeves, stripes, ruffles, bows... worn with bakelite bangles, BFR red wedges and a cluster of red roses.

Then later...

The VM gang then met up with Bethan in smashing floral jumpsuit for a night of Feeling Gloomy! We weren't gloomy, it was brilliant.

The morning after...

Bethan took Jeni Yesterday and I to meet Winnie, the Jack-A-Poo puppy !

That's almost the end, but not quite! Sunday night...

That night, I took my Fleur dress and the lovely Stephanie Wolff on a visit to Battersea Power Station for the Secret Garden Party Lost Lover's Ball. You'll have to read the next issue of The Chap Magazine to find out what I thought of it, but I think I look quite fetching in a hard hat and high-vis jacket, no?

See you anon...

Fleur xx

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Quelques Fleurs

Ooooooooooooooh I'm excited to show you these! As I mentioned yesterday, Shona and I are proud to announce that the Heyday Fleur wrap dress, named after and designed for yours truly, has just been released in two new colours. And so, I am going to post some pictures! Yes it's very self-promotional, but you'll have to forgive me my gleeful plug of the following frocks, because they truly make me very happy, and that is something I have to grab when I can, these days!

Firstly, we listened to those ladies out there who expressed a desire for a darker floral print, and have released a special, limited edition English Rose on Black Fleur! I've seen this dress on gals of all ages and ranging in sizes from 8 to 18, and it suits everyone, so don't any of you ladies be under the impression that florals can only be worn by the thin or young! I adore the clusters of pale pink and cerise roses on high-quality cotton - so practical while it's not that warm outside, but still definitely wearable in the summer. It has the same, custom rose button to fasten, and of course, the gathered, rounded pockets and long, self-tie belt. Pair with green or pink accessories!

The second new Fleur is one that we feel will prove most popular with everyone, from the more rockabilly/retro among you, to the die-hard vintage gals. You just can't get plain black original frocks really - whether they just weren't in demand, or whether they were all just worn out, who knows. The late 40s cotton dress I have, that features a plain black cotton bodice to a black and white patterned skirt; is very faded from age and repeated washings. And most frocks of the 30s-50s seem to be in lighter colours, pastels, florals or even jewel tones, but rarely in dark, plain colours. And since so many girls come to vintage through being Goths or rockabillies, there is often a soft spot lingering for black clothes that can be dressed up with brighter contrasts. Or not. So... ta-daaa!

The Daisy Chain on Black Fleur is in a crisp, black cotton; and the gathered neck and pockets are adorned by a row of genuine vintage appliques. They're more like stylised daisies, I think, but that just makes them more practical! They can even be removed with a few snips, if you'd prefer something completely plain. We've put a daisy button on this one, to continue the theme!

The wrap style is so versatile and can fit a range of sizes (though if you underestimate, you might want to go for a slip underneath to avoid potential flashing... you need a good amount of wrapover to protect your modesty without! Or exchange, of course!). I always tie the belt at the back, but it looks super cute at the front, too. Make it your own! And, having tested it myself last weekend, I can confirm that with stockings, a slip and cardigan as well as a coat, you can start wearing your cotton frocks right away... until the temperature plummets of course. I'm not that crazy. But I almost am.
Thanks a million to lovely Shona for letting me model (though how could she not!), and to my Dad for snapping me. All the shoes in this post are by Rocket Originals, from my own purchases. Don't forget, we still have a few Fleurs left in the original, white English Rose fabric, so make sure you snap one up if you were planning to... once they're gone, they're gone!

Here endeth this plug. :)

Lots of love,

Fleur xx

Monday, 7 February 2011

A-rounding up I shall go

Good evening everyone!

I hope you all had splendid weeks and weekends? Last week was jam-packed for me, with my first-ever tap dancing class, the monthly New Sheridan Club meeting, two shifts as a glamorous vintage tea party waitress, and last but not least, two splendid nights out at the weekend.

Tap dancing is something I have always wanted to learn. As a huge fan of Ginger Rogers and Eleanor Powell films, I had visions of being like this after only a few lessons (though the outfit alone would actually do me nicely)...

Sadly, it will take rather more lessons to be at this standard, but it was all jolly good fun and I shall go again, this time taking some pictures to show you all. I actually love my tap shoes, and might take to wearing them out and about! We also popped to an amazing, if expensive, Shoreditch cafe called the Bridge, which had the most amazingly kitschy, vintagey interior.

Wednesday saw the second New Sheridan Club meeting of the year, which this time featured a talk on the women behind two famous men - explorer Richard Burton and C.S. Lewis. If you're interested in vintage dressing and learning something new (while indulging in copious alcohol) once a month, then do come along next time. We had possibly the busiest ever meeting on this occasion!

Photo from NSC Flickr - you can see me peeking out at the back!

Now, onto my moonlighting as a vintage waitress for the rather wonderful Angel Adoree. Yes, I often spend days looking like this...

... holding gorgeous vintage plates of neatly cut sandwiches, and styling ladies' hair during Vintage Patisserie tea parties. Angel is probably the busiest, most overworked lady I know, she is doing an incredible job running this wonderful business; which was already doing well before she appeared on Dragon's Den back in May last year. And the UK will certainly be seeing a lot more of her this year - I can't think of a more deserving person!

This leads me onto my two lovely nights out. The first was at a relatively new bar, and one I've wanted to visit since it opened. The Experimental Cocktail Club in London's Chinatown is a super little place, packed to heaving point with eager punters who are busy sampling the top-notch cocktails on offer. Since I visited on Chinese New Year's day, and given the location, there was a special menu. I tried one of their standard cocktails - the Renaissance - which was sublime; and a couple of the Chinese themed ones. The Peking Duck was my absolute favourite, and my companion had what was described as the best Whiskey Sour of all time, even down to the perfect ice cubes. I wholeheartedly recommend visiting if you're in the West End, we managed to secure a table thanks to the kindness and generosity of the wonderful people who run the ECC, and they looked after us so well. But ensure you book as for a place that's been open only two months, and is already packed every night, it's only going to get harder to get in!

Last but definitely not least... I spent Saturday night, after another long shift for Vintage Patisserie, at the new Lucky 7 Club in Angel for my beautiful friend Hannah's birthday. This newly relaunched night is by the smashing folks at Lady Luck Club and features 45s being spun all night by Nino and a guest DJ or two - all fabulous R & B, soul, and roots. Hannah took some lovely photos, all of which you can see on her Flickr here, but let me show you the two of me, which includes the first look at the brand new colourway for the Heyday Fleur dress! Exciting or what? ;)

I'm sandwiched by stunning ladies! Hannah on the left and Claire on the right, and I'm in the 'Daisy Chain' on black Fleur dress! Isn't it super? And so practical for early spring... you just can't find the genuine article in plain blacks as they always favour pastels and light florals, and if you did, they'd likely be faded from washing; so this is absolutely the best of both worlds. If you hop over to the Heyday site, you'll find one more Fleur surprise in store... I'll be posting up some photos from the shoot here this week to tempt you! Just the ticket for Valentine's day, ladies!

One more... not the best one of me, but a good one of my jaw-droppingly gorgeous friend Fay and her fiancé Matt... who are getting married this very Saturday and it's going to be THE most awesome, stylish, vintage, crazy wedding ever. I also have the best dress ever, so stay tuned for photos of that next week...

Sayonara for ce soir...

Fleur xx

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