Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Roll up to the Ric Rac Club!

A couple of weeks ago, the other two Vintage Mafia girls and I put on another Ric Rac Club. This time, not to be outdone by our previous efforts, it had a circus theme! We left our costumes to the very last possible minute as we were all too busy organising to think about them... but we managed to pull something out of the bag at the last minute.

It was brilliant, if I do say so myself.

Let me show you some pictorial evidence of the awesomeness of the evening. It took place, as usual, in the best pub in London - the Blacksmith and the Toffeemaker.

My outfit:
Playsuit - Big Beautiful Barbara Brown, a very long time ago
Flower headpiece - GG's Pinup Couture 
Swedish Hasbeens - available from Spartoo Shoes

Our outfits for the evening were a gypsy fortune teller, a showgirl and a ring-mistress. Jeni's costume came almost entirely from Dalston market that morning, and Bethan's was lent by a friend. Mine was cobbled together from my wardrobe! Any excuse to wear a giant flower headpiece and my high-heeled clogs.

We are friendly door bitches.

We placed bags of popcorn and other treats around the place, as well as pictures to set the scene!

Fairground-themed goodies!

Our entertainment for the evening was Miss Stefanie Valentine, a contortionist and model who is as beautiful as she is bendy. 

She was fabulous. Book her!

Bethan's boyfriend Laurence, aka the Potato Merchant (you must go), was a very creepy clown. 

Gorgeous Brightonians Hayley from the Cotton Tail Club and Sadie from Vintage News

And just for gratuitous vanity, one more of us gals.

Ignore the strange art installation behind us! 

Our usual photographer for the evening, the one and only Hanson Leatherby came right at the very end as he had a job, but still had time to snap a few mementos.

Sad Katie Clown

The Ric Rac Raffle! 

Crisp time!

Ella and Oliver from the London Vintage Kitchen, as seen in my last blog! 

More guests!

Last but not least, a better view of my strange eye-makeup! 

Go and visit Hanson on Facebook to see the full set!

As always, I'm immensely grateful to all who graced the Ric Rac with their glamorous, costumed presence. Stay tuned for details of the next one! It'll be big (but not a big top).

Fleur xx

Monday, 20 May 2013

Vintage London: Shopping and eating!

Morning! Well, afternoon, I started writing this in the morning.

I hope you are all well? I am not. I managed to shake off a chest infection I had for about a month, a week or two back, and today I woke up with a horrible cold. I think my body is trying to kill me.

Anyway, I bring you news of three things happening in London that I think are of interest. I'm only directly involved in one but they are all notable dates for your diaries.

First up, that bastion of 1940s and 1950s vintage repro Vivien of Holloway are having a mega sale in their London boutique over the bank holiday weekend. I am currently completely in love with their gypsy tops, as seen in white here on a foggy day in Brighton...

The used to be cut really small (mine's XL) but they've had them recut and they fit true to size. I just bought myself two more in Medium, in red and black - they are perfect and you can expect to see them worn a lot over here! I will also be snapping up a couple of these stunning new cropped gypsy tops. Just look how cute they are! You know I'm a sucker for Ric Rac...

Anyway, the sale is in-store only  (do note they won't be taking online or phone orders) so you'll have to head into town but it's worth it because there's a whopping 25% off for cash purchases for all own-label clothing, plus 'priced to sell' seconds, returns, end of line, remnants, one-offs and the last chance to snap up some of their limited edition fabrics. Time to stock up on their party dresses, summer holiday garb or those practical 40s dresses they do that are great for work! I currently live in their 1950s jeans. Hop over to the Vivien of Holloway blog for the full details and I may well see you there, but get in early as apparently the queues can be understandably immense.

Sale details!

The VoH London Boutique: 294 Holloway Road, London N7 6NJ 
Fri 24th & Sat 25th May -10am - 6pm
Sun 26th & Mon 27th May -11am - 5pm


Also over the bank holiday weekend is the Festin De La Fée Verte, which is a fabulous French supperclub run by the London Vintage Kitchen. Taking place on Saturday 25th May, it's a four-course dinner, with canapés and cocktails included in the price (£37) and the most amazing Edwardian rag-time courtesy of Patricia Hammond (who we booked at previous Ric Rac Clubs). Here's what they say:
An evening of Continental opulence, art, and intrigue. London Vintage Kitchen is back, and more glamorous than ever before. Working in collaboration with Pernod Absinthe, this time you’ll be whisked away by the Green Fairy to Paris one hundred years ago, to a time where the Belle-Epoque and the Avant Garde flirted with a passion, and where struggling artistés and well-heeled socialites dined, drank and danced together without a care in the world. 
For one night only, free your inner Bohemian or unleash your inner aristocrat, and lose yourself in the dizzying and daring world of Paris in 1913, without even leaving London. In a beautiful secret location, only a stones throw away from the British Museum, you’ll dine in the twinkling light of a hundred candles on an array of delicious period dishes, and be waited on hand and foot by our band of dashing butlers. Sup on delectable cocktails, inspired by the favourite drink of the bohemians’, Pernod Absinthe, dress the part and catch the eye of our wandering photographer, and dance your stockings off to that latest of music crazes from across the pond, rag-time jazz.
Sounds pretty marvellous. Here's the menu!

Go to the London Vintage Kitchen to book. I wish I could go... see you at the next one!


Last but not least is something I am working on myself. The Vauxhall Vintage Bazaar  is taking place on Thursday 6th June at the Tea House Theatre in Vauxhall (duh). I am going to be selling a selection of vintage and high quality repro, as will a few other ladies. There will be complimentary bubbly and canapés, proper changing areas, a bar and cakes/food available all night, the Vintage Mafia (aka Bethan, Jeni and I) will be DJing. Here's the blurb:
The Bazaar is a vintage sale unlike any other: a unique opportunity to browse and try on a fantastic selection of vintage and repro in an intimate, elegant setting, without the disheartening chore of digging through endless rails of moth eaten 80s mohair and taffetta. 
A Ticket to the Vauxhall Vintage Bazaar not only gives you access to a private sale of stunning clothes and accessories from 1920s-50s, but also includes a free champagne reception, gourmet canapés, swinging tunes from our adorable Vintage DJ duo and a bar serving classic cocktails and delicious home made cakes. Our mavens will be on hand offering styling, hair and makeup advice as well as an on-the-spot alterations service for that perfect dress which doesn’t quite fit and quick repairs.
Tea House Theatre is a beautifully restored Victorian pub set in parkland, five minutes walk from Vauxhall Tube, bus and mainline rail stations and provides a wonderfully discreet location for this glamorous shopping experience. The vendors at The Bazaar include notable pinup models, bloggers and dressmakers from the London Vintage scene, selling items from their personal collections, with prices to suit all budgets.
It's going to be super fun, my clothing will all be priced extremely sensibly as I need it all to go! Come and grab a bargain! There are a couple of stalls still available, priced at £20 each, so if you have some quality stuff to sell (the guys at THT would like at least 20 lovely items per stall - you could always pair up with a friend!), then email info@teahousetheatre.co.uk. 

Tickets for the evening are £8 from Eventbrite and include a drink and canapés, as well as all the entertainment - think of it as a night out with the bonus of some shopping! They are selling fast, too. Come!

That's it for now. More pictures of vintage frocks soon! Have a lovely Monday.

Fleur xx

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Skirting the issue

...that was terrible. Sorry.

A quick and dirty outfit post today. This is what I wore in my last King's Ginger post, but I took some photos separately of my (new favourite) outfit for showing off purposes. So here it is!

This superlative super high-waisted skirt is from Nicole Katherine's Etsy shop. 

I love the pockets! And the fabric!

Swedish Hasbeens from Office as before (scuse the stockings, it was COLD)...

All the red accessories! 

I think I like the waistband slightly folded down vs the top pic... what do you think, readerinos? 

Aaaand... that's it!

Have a good Thursday everyone.

Fleur xx

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

The Duke of Ginger

Greetings on this Monday of delight. I can't believe it's been a month since the last one but it has... it's therefore time for another instalment of my King's Ginger adventures. This time I took a little trip to the provinces, funnily enough to the very place I was born - the military town of Aldershot. Come with me and find out about King Edward's military connections on my latest ginger-themed aventure!

Aldershot was a very small and unassuming town in the mid-1800s. Despite a population of under 1,000 people, it did have its fair share of excitement, thanks to some vague association with highwayman Dick Turpin (who had a base nearby) and alleged sightings of Spring-heeled Jack, a supernatural entity (or just a man who was very good at jumping about). But in 1854, as the Crimean War was being waged over in what is now the Ukraine, the British Army decided to establish a base near the town. The population leapt from 875 in 1851 to over 16,000 military men, their families and others in 1861.

As Prince of Wales, Bertie was, of course, very much involved with the army. He trained with them in County Kildare in Ireland in June 1861 at the age of 19. Given his status he was, unsurprisingly, fast-tracked to command... he was promoted to the next rank approximately once every fortnight so that by the time his parents arrived in August, they could watch him command a whole battalion. The Prince was slightly more interested in hanging out with ladies (most notoriously one lady of the night called Nellie Cliften whose liaisons with the Prince drove his father Prince Albert to an early grave in his mother's eyes) than working, with his effort described as 'lacking in energy' by the Duke of Cambridge.  But that's a story for another day.

Both the Queen and the Prince were heavily involved with the army and undertook regular military inspections. One such took place in Aldershot in 1856 after the Crimean War which kickstarted the town.

The Queen was such a regular visitor to Aldershot that a Royal Pavilion was built there for her and her family to stay in. Unfortunately, it's now a business park that's simply called 'Royal Pavilion'.

There are two main stories to tell about The Prince of Wales and Aldershot. The first, which is actually the later of the two, was to do with Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, which began in June 1897. She came with the Prince in July 1897 to perform a Jubilee Review of the army at Aldershot, and a total of 60,000 troops lined up across the Long Valley, with 30,000 under arms, for her perusal.

Bertie presented his mother with a picture of himself and his brother Arthur, Duke of Connaught, who  had the command there since 1893, taken at Aldershot two years' previously. See the picture in full here.

So that's one story for you. The other big connection with Bertie is the one I travelled to Aldershot itself last week to explore, and it involves a rather large statue. Meet the Duke of Wellington and his horse, Copenhagen.

Wellington was a military hero from the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. So lauded for his exemplary battle record was he that the people of Britain wanted to reward him for his prowess with palaces and all sorts of honours. But the Duke was more modest and only accepted Stratfield Saye as a gift, which was a little less palatial (but still an enormous estate). Coincidentally, it was also where I did my first film extra work, when I did a few days as a peasant on War Horse. How apt! 

Wellington bought himself a home on Hyde Park Corner, as his London residence. So, the People decided to build him a statue in the same place.  A General Committee for the "Wellington Military Memorial" was formed in 1838, which raised an astonishing £14,000 statue fund in a year. The statue was to be placed on top of the Triumphal Arch on Hyde Park Corner, built ten years earlier by one Decimus Burton. The Queen and the Government were both happy with the idea of a Wellington memorial, wishing very much to honour the man of the moment. Not so Decimus Burton though - he was rather protective of his arch and thought a mounted Wellington on top would be way out of proportion.

He was basically right, because the statue is MASSIVE. Thirty foot tall and weighing over forty tonnes it's absolutely colossal. Making it was no mean feat, either.
It was executed entirely in [sculptor] Matthew Wyatt's workshops in the Harrow Road where he built two great furnaces one capable of melting 12 tons and the other 20 tons of metal, chiefly bronze from cannon captured by the British at the Battle of Waterloo. The plaster cast of the horse's body was moulded round a frame like the ribs of a ship and the whole statue was cast in eight pieces, being joined partly by screw bolts and partly by fusing. Thirty men were engaged in the work which took over three years.  

It's very lifelike though (size aside) and I was fascinated by the veins and details. But why is the statue now in Aldershot, you may ask? Well, it was originally put in place, as planned, on top of the Arch on Hyde Park Corner in September 1846. It took twenty horses, a military guard of over 500 and over six hours to hoist the thing onto the top. Hardly had the sweat dried on the men and horses when the controversy started up again. Poor old Copenhagen had long snuffed it by then, so a replacement steed called Rosemary was called in to model. Apparently, those veteran soldiers in the know said he didn't look enough like Copenhagen. Ears were all wrong. And then there were those who didn't like it because of its size (including the aforementioned Mr Burton). It was ridiculed several times in Punch. Queen Victoria protested that it spoiled her view from Buckingham Palace. But nothing could be done while that most honourable hero was still alive, and even after Wellington passed away in 1852, out of respect for him, the mocking subsided for a while and it was left alone. 

Thirty years later, the terrible traffic congestion around Hyde Park corner was calling for some serious road remodelling and the arch was to be demolished. It seems the whole shebang had grown on the public after so long though, and the people actually didn't want to see it all destroyed, even in the name of progress. Our hero, Bertie, Prince of Wales, was particularly outraged. In 1883, he wrote to Gladstone, suggesting it was moved.
"As regard the old colossal statue of the Duke", he wrote, "I would suggest that it should not be broken up but removed to Aldershot where it will be highly valued by the Army".
Two years later, he got his wish and the Duke made his final journey to Aldershot, taking four days to arrive at a little knoll called Round Hill, where it has been ever since. Bertie came down in August 1885 to attend the handing-over ceremony. The Hantsweb website describes the day thus:
The Prince of Wales took up his position in the centre of the square accompanied by his staff. In a short speech he handed over the monument to Lieutenant General Anderson, the General Officer Commanding, who ordered a Royal Salute of 21 guns followed by the National Anthem. He then thanked the Prince of Wales and led a march past of his staff and the whole military contingent.
Sadly, as these things so often are, it was rather neglected in the last half of last century and was restored not so long ago to its former glory, which is lovely to see. 

On a personal note, this was a really fun trip as my dad grew up in Aldershot and, as I said, I was born there, in a military hospital which doesn't actually exist any more. I went to the site of the now derelict hospital to have a look and found one more link to King Edward, this time from when he was actually monarch. 

The Aldershot Royal Army Medical Corps Boer War Memorial sits atop Gun Hill and was unveiled in on Empire Day, 24th May 1905 by his Majesty himself. A fitting tribute, I'm sure you'll agree.

And there we have it - some notable events in my birth town attended by our favourite Ginger-drinking monarch. I hope you have enjoyed my little sojourn to what is actually, a pretty horrible town these days, but a little nip of King's Ginger in the sunshine makes everything better! 

Read my next blog to find out where my outfit is from! 

Bottoms up!

Fleur xx

Friday, 10 May 2013

Sun suit (without the sun)

A while ago, while Britain was gripped in the depths of winter, my lovely friend and sponsor Kim at Jitterbuggin sent me her 1940s swimsuit. We talked about me shooting some pictures for her as soon as the weather warmed up. Well, it still hasn't.

I planned to do some pictures on Bethan's boat, but it rained. It was warm and sunny for two days this week, it's now back to stockings and warm coats. But I really didn't want to leave it any longer before snapping a couple of pictures in the beautiful two-piece. So today, I did.

Now I know Kim wanted (as did I) a lovely swimming pool in the background. I'm sorry Kim. When the sun comes out over a weekend, a trip to the Lido will be the first thing on my agenda. These were done with the front door of my mum and dad's house within dashing distance... it was majorly chilly. Still! I think it adds a certain charm to the pictures. A goosebumpy, wintry charm!

Presenting... (my pasty thighs which need more running and) the Manzanita Swimsuit from Jitterbuggin!

Clogs are Swedish Hasbeens Savannahs from Office 

If you can just imagine a scorching Mexican beach behind me, that'd be grand...

On a serious note, I adore it and I can't wait to wear it to lounge by a poolside in when the weather's gone above about 12 degrees again!

No go! Go and visit Jitterbuggin and look at her beautiful things. I thank you (from my warm living room with the heating on).

Fleur xx

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Bath time! Bath in Fashion & the Secret Tea Party

Two weekends ago, I had the distinct pleasure of going to the glorious city of Bath for the Bath in Fashion week. Or, more specifically, for the vintage day of Bath in Fashion week. I'd been invited to come and do a little talk about wearing vintage and also being a blogger at Mrs Stokes's Secret Tea Party. I took my lovely Bethan with me as my able assistant/travel buddy, and we had a simply smashing time. 

Arriving in the late afternoon, we checked into the Bath Spa Hotel, a rather magical place. Just look at our excited faces when we lay on our beds for the first time.

The night before, we had the most fantastic meal at a place called Bistro La Barrique. Not knowing where on earth to eat, we just wandered around past all the boring chain restaurants until we stumbled across it. The food was SO GOOD I didn't even take any pictures. So unlike me! 

We spent the morning wandering around Bath, goggling at the architecture and visiting the Roman Baths. It is such a beautiful place and bathed in warm sunlight, which it luckily was then, it was breathtaking. The Roman Baths were absolutely fascinating. We loved finding out about the Victorian excavations and hearing about Roman makeup from a lovely living history lady (who broke out of character to tell us she loved our outfits... turns out she does 40s as well!) - the pigments and powders used for eyeliner and lipstick, the hairstyling methods... everything. We soon had to leave to head to the tea party though, which was in the equally gorgeous Guildhall.

At the Secret Tea Party, guests get to have their hair and makeup done, while eating a very tasty homemade afternoon tea.

The carrot cake was to die for, but it was all delicious!

There was only one chap present, a very interesting man who runs Australia's biggest vintage fairs. I have lost his business card so if you read this sir, get in touch please! I loved his... brooch? You can't say a man is wearing a brooch... pin, perhaps? Either way, I loved it.

I was, as I always am, nervous about giving my talk. I always make notes then veer off all over the place! The people watching and listening seemed to find it interesting though, so hopefully they did all enjoy it! 

We upped the outfit ante for the occasion, of course. Here's Bethan in her late 30s green linen skirt suit. Isn't it (and she) a beaut?

I wore (what else?) a trusty and signature Swirl.

Dress: vintage

Summer means bangles make a comeback, so here's a close-up... ignore my cut hand, it was my punishment for eating burgers (long story) and my slightly oversized nail salon-done moonicure... I redid them myself when I got back! 

Bethan and I with the marvellous Mrs Stokes, aka Catherine.

I would like to sincerely thank Mrs Stokes and Bath in Fashion for having me, and the latter again for putting me and Bethan up in such a splendid hotel - the Macdonald Bath Spa Hotel. It was sheer luxury - we couldn't have imagined a more lovely place!

I wish we'd had a bit more time to look in the vintage shops and potter around generally. Bath, we will be back.

Fleur xx

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