Friday, 26 April 2013

Spring outfits and vintage sales!

Wahey - it's Friday!

This means it's been nearly a week since I went to Bath for Bath in Fashion's vintage weekend and more specifically, to give a talk at the Secret Tea Party last Sunday.

In Bath! By a cool house/office! 

I have a big post to come with loads of pictures of the day but in the meantime, I have a post I promised. Tomorrow there's a vintage kilo sale happening in Bethnal Green, called Seek and Revive.

Now I find these things totally hit and miss - there's rarely anything earlier than 70s in there but I am currently going through a phase of saying 'Sod it - why not!' and popping along in the hopes of having an Antiques Roadshow moment and finding something amazing. I said I would give it a plug so here it is - if you fancy a rummage then come along tomorrow and I'll be there doing just that. Here's the Seek and Revive Facebook.

Stand by for a big post about Bath, but Bethan and I snapped our Saturday outfits so have those instead until the real post drops!

Vintage skirt, Swedish Hasbeens Debutantes, repro cardigan

First day of no stockings! Wahey x 2!

Have a great weekend people.

Fleur xx

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

We (Tweed) Run the world

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while will know that the Tweed Run is one of the highlights of my year. I have only missed one since I first started going (back in April 2010) and that was last year's, due to me running a half marathon the same day - I went afterwards anyway. In between then there was the Tweed Run of spring 2011, and the Ralph Lauren Rugby special Tweed Run in November 2011 (some of the photos on those posts are broken, which is annoying).

A mere week and a bit ago, it was time to dust off the tweed (or I would if I owned any) and take to the roads on my trusty steel steed once more. It was the Tweed Run's 5th birthday and it was marvellous.

Firstly, here's what I wore! These pictures come courtesy of photographer Roxy Erickson, whose Flickr set is stunning and captured the whole day far better than I could!

With my fabulous Pashley Britannia! 

As you can see, I went for a red, white and blue theme, with my American Apparel trousers, red 1940s jacket and a practically vintage H&M blouse. Blue floral pumps for semi-practicality and my trusty Liberty Barbour jacket packed in the basket to shield me from the elements. Rain was forecasted and oh, it came.

Here are some shots of my day, as captured - badly at times - by me.

Zack (in red) and Pandora with some friends


Jacqui Tweed, the woman who started it all

Suzy and Frida with Katy Carr

Guy Hills from Dashing Tweeds with a ukelele and a tandem bike which he rode on his own 


My Vintage Mafia girls! 

We got absolutely soaked in the last half hour and, upon entering the pub at the end, was overcome by a tweed miasma... I've had a horrible cough since. I think it's TB. Tweed Bacteria.

Have you managed to hop along to a tweed ride in your hometown? And if there isn't one, well... start one yourself! It really is the best way to spend an afternoon (as long as it's not raining).

Fleur xx

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Vintage London - Guided Walks with Russell Nash

A couple of weeks ago, I went on a walking tour given by a friend of mine, Russell Nash (or Guide Russell as he is known professionally). It was fab. I realise I might be slightly biased but really and truly, it was fascinating and I want to recommend it to everyone, tourist and resident, as a brilliant way to learn a little bit about London's past. This one was called The Men Who Made Menswear and it took us around the streets of Mayfair, up St James's and through Savile Row and Jermyn Street, learning all about the chaps who blazed trails through the fashion history of the capital. My old pal Edward VII, his later namesake Edward VIII, Beau Brummell and Henry Poole were all mentioned, as well as more modern names like Tommy Nutter. The walk ended in Covent Garden and did leave me wanting to learn even more!

Here are some pictures.

Russell himself!

Russell knows his stuff and has a real way with words - full of energy and passion for the history. He is  genuinely brilliant. I always get people emailing me to ask about non-obvious things to do in London and if you want an alternative to the usual Ripper walks (admittedly I do really want to do one) or tourist tours, then this is a great choice.

The Men Who Made Menswear tour is happening again on June 9th (my birthday!), and this weekend Russell is doing one this very Saturday 27th April called Icons of St James's. They're very reasonably priced for the couple of hours of fascination you get for the money. Have a look on Facebook or Guide Russell to find out more and let me know if you go along!

Fleur xx

Friday, 19 April 2013

Would go, Hasbeens

Just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who left me a comment on my recent post. It's just hiding at the moment but it'll be back. In the meantime, how about some fluff? Shoe-based fluff is just what today calls for.

Last week, the Vintage Mafia got invited to the second coming of our favourite ever pop up shop... the Swedish Hasbeens pop up clog shop! Jeni and I went along last time and had a lovely time, this new shop is even better - more spacious and with even more eye candy.

We were there for a press breakfast and launch of the SS '13 range of summer clogs. It's named 'Call of the Wild' and is inspired by the 1930s and safari fashion! While the original clog designs come from the 1970s, we were delighted to see the designer Emy has drawn her inspiration from the 30s this season. We were hard pressed to find a design we *didn't* like.

The twisty Cobra was a favourite for all of us - so stylish! 

The Debutantes are new lower styled sandals, good for every day summer wear! 

More Debutants.

Oh, Poison Ivy

Marocco... swoon.

Anyway, onto the breakfast (delicious), and the fashion show. The models' legs went on for days.

These pink ones are hearts. Hearts

We also got to meet and chat with the lovely Emy Blixt, designer and finder of the original 70s clogs in an old, abandoned shop. She told us how she remembered an amazing, cig-smoking housewife who was her neighbour as a child, wearing the original braided clogs and how glam she thought they were back then. It was obviously fated that she should find the deadstock clogs and bring them back to life. She obviously adores every second of her work and was so proud of her newest styles, particularly the beautiful Hearts ones...

We were chuffed to bits to get to take away a pair of Debutantes... you can be sure we'll all be wearing them a lot now the westher's finally improved. Doubly so in my case as a week before we got the invite, I bought this pair of red Savannah Hasbeens from Office! 20% off though, can't resist a bargain.

Here's to a cloggy summer. Thank you Swedish Hasbeens and Varg PR for having us along. The VM loves you ever so.

Fleur xx

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Blooming gingery, what?

I'm very excited about this month's King's Ginger post, because for the first time, I have actually managed to find a descendant of someone who knew his Majesty in person. I got to interview the grandson of one of the King's own warrant-holders! I also got to have a snoop about in one of London's oldest buildings, following in the footsteps of his Majesty and finding out some really interesting tidbits. So here we go, my latest adventure for our favourite ginger-infused tipple!

Still going after more than 125 years, Feltons Florists is a true dynasty. Run by the grandson of R. Forester Felton (1862-1947), they actually no longer have a physical shop, but instead provide flowers directly to many big state occasions and to some of the oldest and most prestigious buildings in London. I went to meet Richard Felton in St Bartholomew the Great church in Smithfield to hear some stories about his grandfather and his relationship to our favourite charismatic King; and have a peek into a rather brilliant heirloom - a book of press cuttings... and handwritten letters from the palaces.

Robert Forester Felton grew up in the Midlands and had his own business doing flowers for big houses. It was quite a new industry in the late Victorian era - only rich people could afford to have their houses decorated with blooms, or they would have them as decorations at big functions or banquets. Before, there were gardeners, of course, but florists were few and far between. In the late 1890s, Felton did a huge display at Packington Hall. It was such a success that he decided to up sticks and move to London to ply his trade there, and in 1897 he opened up what was one of the capital's very first flower shops.

If you can make it out from the cutting above, Felton's Flower Shop quickly attracted business from the very highest class patrons. Kings, queens, princes and princesses from across the world would call upon Felton to decorate their homes and functions. He was described by as 'an expert and enterprising floral designer and decorator' by Albert Rollitt, President of the National Crysanthemum (admittedly in the preface of his own book, British Floral Decoration, published in 1910), but there can be no doubt that he was a chap who knew what he was doing with blooms of all kinds.

Typical Edwardian rose display, by Feltons

His passion and attention to his craft brought him into the sphere of our hero Bertie many times, beginning with the Coronation.

R. F. Felton was passionate about the rose ('the national flower of England') and he was apparently outraged when word reached him that 'certain people' were trying to oust it from its place and replace it for Lily of The Valley at King Edward VII's coronation. It was alleged, he said, by those who led the anti-rose crusade, that Lily of the Valley was Queen Alexandra's favourite flower. Which, he claims in his book, is just not true.

He wrote a stern letter to the press in the run up to the Coronation, expressing his views.
I have seen in many papers, and among them some of the leading 'dailies' that a vigorous attempt is being made to establish the Lily of the Valley as the Coronation flower, and I cannot refrain from taking up my pen to defend the claims of the Queen of flowers, our grand National Rose. 
The bare idea of having to defend it seems to me so pre-posterous that I feel I ought to apologise to every good English subject for seriously listening to such an idea as the substitution of any flower for the Rose at the coronation of a King of England. Unfortunately, however, the Lily movement appears to be daily gaining ground, not so much, I believe, with the people as with the great producers, to whom I cannot help thinking the matter owes its origin. Passing over entirely the historical associations of the Rose with the English Crown, hallowed by centuries, and ignoring the fact that the Lily was once the royal flower of France, I will confine myself purely to common-sense reasons why the Lily should not be adopted.
First of all, it is by no means as English a flower, in its natural state, as the Rose. Secondly, more than nine- tenths of the Lilies of everyday commerce are primarily produced abroad, and are only finished, either by forcing or retarding, in England. Thirdly, the comparatively few naturally grown English Lilies of the Valley will be over by the end of June, unless the season should happen to be a backward one, and so we should have to fall back on the foreign growers for our supply, and in that case only those living in towns would be able to get them at all. 
On the other hand, Rose-growing being an immense industry in the United Kingdom, the supply in June will be almost inexhaustible ; therefore every man, woman, and child will be able to wear them, even though they have to go out and pluck wild ones from the hedgerow. 
Yours, &c., R, F. FELTON.
And he should know, because he did indeed do Coronation flowers for King Edward and held the Royal Warrant thereafter. They actually become friends. Richard recounted a story to me which had Felton Snr. making up a billiards team at Sandringham, playing against our hero! Let's hope he pretended to lose...

Feltons window - April 1909
' This is an illustration of wealth of colour rather than artistic treatment.
The window was arranged in this way by desire of the photographers,
who were anxious to see the effect of the process through glass.'

Felton describes in his book how he once put together a table of sweet peas which was so successful that he was called back no less than three times to repeat it for the King's birthday dinner at St James's Palace. He says the display consisted of 'bowls of various heights, commencing in the middle of the table with "King Edward" and "Princess Alexandra"'. Very aptly named varieties of sweet pea... what else would do though? Do note, however, that salmon-pink sweet peas on the dinner table are, he says, to be avoided at all costs. 

Painting of the King and Queen at the Royal Box at Olympia International Horse Show in 1908

The Royal Pavilion at a Garden Party - Marlborough House - 1909 

Feltons also made plenty of bouquets and posies for the Queen, both during her reign and after, when she became the Queen Mother.

Court bouquet for Her Majesty Queen Alexandra

It wasn't just the big two who loved his work, though. The Prince of Wales did as well, even feeling moved to write (not using his own hands, come on) to tell him so.

As far as foreign dignitaries go, in 1909 he did the floral displays at Claridge's where the Ambassador of Japan welcomed His Imperial Highness Prince Nashimoto. There's no record of the Prince's reaction, but I'm sure it was favourable.

Claridge's with Felton decoration, circa 1909

And it wasn't all done at home, either. Felton's work for the King actually took him abroad several times (in a roundabout way). In an anecdote told to me by Richard, the Emperor of Germany was so taken by the beauty of the display created especially for his visit to London's Mansion House, that he not only mentioned them in his speech, he invited him to Berlin to 'strike an English note' in the decorations that greeted his Majesty on a reciprocal visit! Felton was less taken by the standard shown by his German counterparts though, describing their efforts in his book as 'funereal'.

Back to the present day and Richard Felton, his grandson, is carrying on the family name in splendid fashion. There may not be so many visiting foreign dignitaries, but he still provides beautiful displays for churches like St Barts, livery companies and for banquets. I accompanied him to Drapers Hall in the City, where he was taking five very traditional posies for an evening event.

He proudly told me that these are just as they would have been in his grandfather's heyday, with a mixture of roses and freesias. They looked wonderful, as I'm sure you'll agree. As we passed through the big hall, look who I found watching over us, casting an approving eye, no doubt, on Mr Felton's work, over 100 years later.

Here's one final shot, with me clutching a posy and the marvellously dapper Mr Felton himself. Even if it does look a little like we're walking down the aisle!

Repro knitted cardi
American Apparel trousers
Sweaty Betty ballet pumps (with ribbons!)
('Scuse my hair - it was damp!)

I can't thank Richard enough for showing me his precious cuttings and letters, and telling me his stories. It was fascinating and too much to even put in here! Please do check out Feltons Florists if you're in the market for flowers - he does some amazing floral arches for weddings and so forth. The passion for his work and the pride in his grandfather's legacy just shines through. He's kindly invited me to come and see some other, bigger displays going in and I hope to take him up on that offer soon as I love flowers nearly as much as his Majesty, King Edward (albeit I don't have quite the budget)!

As always, do check out the King's Ginger site as well... in fact, may I encourage you to visit the KGL Facebook page, which has lots going on it at the moment - fab period photos, events and tastings you can go along to and try its gingery goodness for yourself... and more importantly, some cocktail recipes!

I leave you with this poem, which R. Forester Felton modestly claims in his book is by an author unknown and 'from memory'... but which Richard told me he wrote himself.
A Rose in the garden slipped her bud
And smiled in the pride of her youthful blood
As she saw the gardener passing by--
"He's old, so old, he soon will die,"
                                Said the Rose.  
And when morning came with sunshine bright
She opened her warm red heart to the light,
And sighed as the gardener passed the bed--
"Why he's older still, he'll soon be dead."  
But evening closed with a cold night air
And the petals fell from that rose so fair,
And when morning dawned came the gardener old
And raked them softly under the mould.   
And I wove the thing to a random rhyme--
For the Rose is Beauty, the gardener Time.  
             From memory, Author unknown.
                                       R. F. FELTON 

Fleur xx 

Take a look!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin