Beyond the Pale


Anya Hindmarch: 18th Century Portraits & Georgian Cariactures

Anya Hindmarch‘s bags have long been lusted after by the fash pack and celebrities alike, but I have only admired them from afar, with the eye of someone who appreciates they are beautifully designed yet remains drool free.

They have always – perhaps unfairly – struck me as bags carried by dainty, neat ladies who always polish their shoes, and therefore obviously not for the likes of me.

Until I espied a rather fabulous tote and the saliva glands began working overtime. A brand new range inspired by beautiful 18th Century oil portraits and cheeky Georgian caricatures? Oh my, get me a hankie. The drooling begins here…

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COURTNEY VALENTINE CLUTCH: £395.00

“A new style for this season, the Courtney Valentine clutch captures the naughtiness of the Georgian era by featuring the cheeky images of 18th Century illustrator James Gillray. The zip top fastening is completed with a supremely soft leather tassel, which take eight hours to craft by hand and features contrasting coloured threads. With an internal compartment for all of your essentials, this clutch bag makes an eye-catching style statement.”

I adore the detail they chose to showcase on this Courtney Valentine clutch, it suggests naughtiness just out of sight, and it’s definitely cheeky. I

have a great fondness for accessories that don’t take themselves too seriously while retaining a certain elegance and whimsicality. The tassel really ups the glam factor, too. Tassels are set to be everywhere this Spring/Summer, apparently. I bet Dita’s thrilled.

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GRACIE LADY: £795.00

“Inspired by 18th Century oil portraits, the iconic Gracie has been used as a canvas to depict the Duchess of Beaufort; ‘The Lady’. Reworked in printed canvas, this Anya Hindmarch favourite has a jewellery like chain shoulder strap and labelled compartments inside for all your bits and bobs. It is beautifully finished with our signature enamel twist lock.”

This Gracie Lady is so cute, and I’d use it slung nonchalantly over a t-shirt worn with floppy a-line short skirt and (for now) opaque tights and biker boots. Dressing down classics is the way forward for me this season.

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EARL BOTTOM PINCH TOTE: £250.00

“A cheeky addition to our Spring Summer collection, the Earl tote captures the naughtiness of the Georgian era through the illustrations of 18th Century caricaturist James Gillray.”

This Earl Bottom Pinch is the one that originally set me drooling, though to be honest, I’d buy it unseen for the name alone. Being extremely keen on Georgian caricatures anyway, this was always going to especially appeal to me, but I just love everything about it. Imagine how bright every day would be if you flounced out the door with this over your arm!

Of course the sad truth is that I shall still have to admire these bags from afar, as they are way out of my (non-existent) budget right now, but instead of cooly appreciating the design, this time Anya Hindmarch’s collection truly has me lusting with the crowd of die-hard fans. More like this, please!



Love Is Boutique: Bloggers & Press Day

A veritable Tardis of designer goodies, Love Is Boutique has always been a must-visit destination for the bargain-hunting fashionista, but there have been subtle changes afoot since I last visited and now I had heard it’s EVEN BETTER. Along with a few other invited bloggers and press peeps, I sashayed along to see just how this could be so.
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If you are on heart medication of any kind, you may want to dose yourself up before walking through the doors of Love Is Boutique, as every rail, each shelf and cabinet the eye rests on is bulging with temptation in the form of DESIGNER BARGAINS.

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Be still my rapidly beating heart. Hopefully not literally.

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“Umm… Is that a Phillip Lim evening dress sparkling on the wall? Can that be a Chloe Paddington bag hanging up there?” your brain asks your eyes. “Just next to the several immaculate Louis Vuitton bags and adjacent to the cabinet of handmade couture Manolo Blahnik shoes…” your eyes nonchalantly reply.

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At this point, your palpitations are going to kick in, so it’s really handy if you have remembered that medication or have your inhaler to hand. Or a hip flask of gin, whatever gets you through. Yup, it’s all true, this place is piled up with the kind of high-end designer merchandise normally only sighed over in the glossy pages of Vogue, Harpers and their ilk. Only at VASTLY reduced prices.

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Paula Fry, the owner of this treasure trove, invited me, along with several other bloggers and members of the press, to come and see the changes Love Is has undergone. It’s always been good – the kind of Best Kept Secret you only tell your best girlfriend. And maybe not even then – so how could things get even better?

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“We’ve got a lot more picky about what we accept to sell for customers, now.” Paula explained. Love Is works as a dress agency, with clients gaining a percentage of whatever the boutique sells the items for. “We can afford to be really choosy because our reputation has spread, and the stuff people bring in for us to look at is unbelievable! One lady came in with her collection of Louis Vuitton bags. ELEVEN of them, all real!”

Paula has become something if an expert at sniffing out fakes “Most of them you can spot a mile off, because the shape or size is wrong, the stitching isn’t right. Some are a bit more difficult, but there are experts you can refer to, and the big brands are all very happy to verify their own merchandise if you’re really not sure.”

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Having built up their name, hosted hugely successful events and fashion shows, and been featured in Vogue magazine as a “must visit” destination, Love Is now boasts a celebrity clientele – “Top Secret, I absolutely cannot name names!” – who buy and sell their designer swag here. “Often the chauffeur comes and drops stuff off,” Paula whispers, “and oh my GOD it’s such amazing stuff…”

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Perhaps the most noticeable change is the fact there’s far less vintage stock in the boutique these days. It’s getting harder and harder to get top quality vintage to sell, and people put a ‘vintage’ tag on any old thing and expect it to be desirable, so I think this is a clever move on their part. Plus, in a wealthy area and with celebrities emptying their wardrobes, you may as well focus on the goodies surrounding you!

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The vintage pieces are still to be found: really cute little fifties fur collars, dinky enamelled bug brooches and incredible unique handbags from all eras, along with select clothes, but here the designer investment pieces now jostle with the very best high-end High-street items, so there really is something for every budget.

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It’s really interesting to note that real classics like the Mulberry Bayswater bags are flying out the door – “We just can’t get enough of them, as soon as we have them through the door, they leave again on someone else’s arm!” Iconic designer pieces such as Alexander McQueen scarves and tailcoats are also in high demand, as customers invest in designer stand-out pieces which won’t date, mixing these with far cheaper high street trend items.

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On this visit, I was quite selfless and restrained, buying an unusual necklace for a friend’s Christmas present, though I took rather a shine to the Bally, sheepskin lined ankle boots on the back shelf here, and may have to pop back in to, um, visit them. Yes. That’s it. *cough*

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I also have a massive regret that I didn’t get the beautiful enamelled ladybird brooch purchased by fellow bargain-snaffler, Bettina, AKA Mrs Anke (of Ladybits blog fame: she has a gin cocktail named after her, and that’s a REAL measure of fame, my friends). Que Sera, as Doris Day was wont to warble!

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Adored this darling little bobble-trimmed dress, too. Oh, and the cosy hooded cloak and the bauble charm bracelet and about five coats upstairs and… Uh, no, I mean it’s all awful and you wouldn’t like it at all so don’t go before I’ve got my mitts on all the goodies I saw, there’s nothing there. Yup. Convincing, eh?

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As the Champagne was quaffed and more people arrived to gawp and gossip (three of my favourite things to do, right there: quaffing, gawping & gossiping) I had to grab my purchase and get a wriggle on, sadly. Having ogled their latest wares, I shall be back again very soon. They have all manner of gorgeousness arriving every single day, so there’s always a good reason to pop in again.

Just to look. Obviously…

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UPDATE: I have now been back and purchased the Bally boots. Quite by accident.



Where Liberty [print] is, there is my country…

“Where Liberty [print] is, there is my country.” – Slightly adapted from a quote by Benjamin Franklin.

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One is supposed to harbour a seething hatred of the monstrosities one is forcibly dressed in as a child, though it’s easier to live with when your mother was a fashion buyer, I suppose, and therefore seemed to escape the deepest realms of hideousness that several of my contemporaries endured while growing up in the 1970’s.

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– Page from the Liberty Book of Home Sewing.

One of my favourite items of clothing as a child was a Liberty Print pinafore dress, which had puffed ‘leg o’mutton’ Victorian style sleeves. As I rather fancied myself a Victorian Urchin at the time (one of my favourite games, being already obsessed with the era, though perhaps for authenticity’s sake, urchins of any era tend not to have access to legally obtained items from Liberties of London); it quickly became my most beloved dress. I still have a hankering for most things Liberty Print, and I especially like the way many contemporary designers and clothing brands have incorporated the prints into their ranges.

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I just adore everything about this satchel by Dr. Martens, featuring the iconic Strawberry Thief print. It’s a design classic and VERY much on my Want List.

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Again by Dr. Martens, these floral Liberty Print boots take me right back to my days as an English student, swishing about the bluebell woods in long skirts, flower pattern DM’s, white shirts, pinstripe waistcoats and a huge silver fob watch I worse on a long silver chain around my neck. I was obviously a neo-Steampunk. ;P

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I’m not generally a fan of trainers, but would definitely wear these beautiful Nike ones, exclusive to Liberties. They manage to be pretty without being twee or reminiscent of the kind of trainers that sports brands bring out imagining all women want to look like Barbie while playing sport/working out. Or at any other time. I don’t require everything to be pink just because I’m female, thank you, because I’m no longer 4 years old – and I didn’t much like it then, either. I can feel my Disposable Razors Aimed At Women rant coming on, so shall gloss over the topic and move swiftly on.

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Talking of trainers, Nike have designed a pair of their Zoom Victory Elite trainers exclusively for Team GB Olympic hopeful, Perri Shakes-Drayton, who’ll be proudly wearing them for her 400m hurdle event on Sunday. Combining ultra-modern design with a striking heritage ‘Mirabelle’ print first introduced in the 1960’s by Liberty, they form part of an ongoing collaboration between the companies that goes from strength to strength. I’m always drawn to the designs that happily mix the the old with the new, and the work Nike and Dr. Martens are doing with Liberty is an outstanding example of how it should be done. Bravo!

“Life without Liberty [print] is like a body without spirit.” – Slightly adapted from a quote by Khalil Gibran.



Love Is Boutique

Love Is Boutique is four storey town house in Tunbridge Wells, filled to bursting with designer labels at affordable prices that nestle alongside individually sourced vintage pieces to die for.

Add fairy lights, champagne, a makeup artists giving lessons in the velvet-curtained fitting rooms and a bevy of bloggers chatting none to the dozen, and you have pretty much my perfect evening out! Stepping inside, I was in for a real treat…

Love is Boutique kindly invited me along to see some of their latest arrivals and to spend time browsing their beautiful shop – it really is a fantastic find. I’m still buzzing with the excitement of it all!

Oodles of fabulous pieces and a fun, no-pressure atmosphere to try them in – what’s not to like?

All the ladies present (local bloggers and media people) seemed excited, too. There was quite a bit of squealing and snaffling-up of bargains along with the bowls of olives and cashews. 🙂

If you’re not lucky enough to get to the Love Is Boutique itself, you can also shop online for some select pieces of their stock.

I would say this is the perfect place to come with your best girlfriend to spend a couple of hours having a trying on session, cooing at the vintage jewellery and vying for the designer bags you’d have no chance of affording brand new, then go to lunch and preen over your purchases.

It’s kind of like your very own episode of Sex and the City, but without the ghastly characters. (Sorry, not a fan, really, as you may have guessed. ;p)

It’s also like having access to Vogue’s fashion wardrobes (or what I imagine it must be like, since they haven’t seen fit to trust me with the key, the utter rotters).

The shelves are just dripping with lust-worthy bags, there’s shoe porn as far as the eye can see and glittery trinkets beckoning-forth magpies from every corner.

The pieces are all carefully selected – many items are turned down due to not being high enough quality or not being in good enough condition – and it’s not all vintage or past seasons, either. Because Tunbridge Wells houses a number of wealthy Ladies Who Lunch; some pieces in the boutique are current season designer, and many still with their original price-tags still attached!

It was truly heartening to meet so many passionate local bloggers and business people, and a really enjoyable evening which I hope to repeat very soon. Thanks for a great time, gals!

If you’re at all able to visit, do pop along and discover your own lavish treats at bargain prices – it’s worth making a girlie day of it and stopping for a cake break now and then. 😉

Love Is Boutique is located at 26 Church Road in Tunbridge Wells (the same road as Trinity Arts Theatre, if you know the area), or just follow the directions on the Love Is Boutique website.

I can’t wait to go back!



Seal of Approval […sorry]

Dreadful pun, I know darlings, but I was going to go with Waxing Lyrical as a title, so think yourselves lucky.

I have always hankered after wax seals and things adorned with wax seals. Must be the hopeless romantic in me, I suppose. They speak of ancient secrets and love letters and all manner of interesting things yet to be discovered…

Ritzy Misfit (red letter of your choice) pendant: $30

Therefore, with such passions in mind, it was with delight that I discovered Ritzy Misfit.  She started making beautiful vintage wax seal-effect pendants as a hobby, and now has a thriving business on Etsy. I have lusted after them for some time and, finally, snaffled one of my very own.

My Ritzy Misfit pendant

I love it!

Now planning which other colours I should consider… 🙂

Ritzy Misfit (green letter of your choice) pendant: $30

Ritzy Misfit Bold & Beautiful Pendant: $30

Inspired by this happy purchase, I just had to put together a selection of similarly themed goodies which I also hanker after. Behold…

Seal of Approval

Seal of Approval by Beyond the Pale featuring Vivienne Westwood shoes

ink print asymetric dress
55 GBP – warehouse.co.uk
More dresses »

Williamsburg Market Pewter Inkwell
$89 – williamsburgmarketplace.com


old love letter
palmettopathos.com


Just HOW cute are those shoes? I love the heeled versions, too, but me + heels = A&E.

A relatively new find (for me) has been the range of bags and accessories by Disaster Designs. Basically, to cut a long story short, I want one of everything they do. 🙂

Disaster Designs Paper Plane Overnight Bag: £40.99

I tried to find this wallet everywhere & they had all sold out…now (having purchased a completely different wallet from another range) I see this one is still available from this website, and at a reduced price. Such is life…

Disaster Designs Paper Plane Wallet: £17.95

Disaster Designs Paper Plane Makeup Bag: £16.66

Disaster Designs Paper Plane Wash Bag: £22.55

In fact, ‘Temptations Gifts’ have a number of the designs at reduced prices. Tempting indeed…

Disaster Designs Dandy Overnight Bag: £49.45

Disater Designs Dandy Make Up Bag: £13.50

Until next time, dearlings

Miss Nightingale

x



Thinking of Hester: Peacocks, Paris & Cupcakes

It is often around this time of year that we hear the phrase “It’s the thought that counts” bandied about. It usually takes the form of a cringing hand-over of shoddy gifts with seemingly no thought behind them whatsoever.

Here, then, I hope to include some gift ideas (last-minute, I grant you!) into which I have put a lot of thought… but as my revoltingly swingeing pay check currently restricts gift buying to immediate family this year; they must, alas, remain a lasting thought.

I have been inspired by particular people for this series of gift guides, and they are particularly inspiring!

The first in the series is for my dear friend Hester – a lady blessed with immaculate taste, a bawdy sense of humour, and the ability to make people swoon with her notoriously wicked chocolate cupcakes (AKA: “dirty, dirty porn cakes” *cough* – because of the sounds people make when eating them!)

Direct links to items shown, left to right:

1st Row: 1) Tilly Bloom, 2) Jade Rose Designs, 3) Dog Bone Art

2nd Row: 1) Revival House, 2) BeadzNBling, 3) Clutch That

3rd Row: 1) Teacup Design, 2) Mes Peintures, 3) Oak Hollow Primatives

4th Row: 1) Chris Smith 22, 2) Little Voices, 3) Jenny’s Bake Shop

Hope you enjoy. 🙂

Until later, cupcakes,

Miss Nightingale

x



Anthropologie Opening in London! (Anthropological Autumn Style)
September 16, 2009, 8:15 pm
Filed under: Anthropologie, Autumn, Bags, Decadence, Etsy, Fashion, Fripperies, Shoes, Shopping, Trinkets

Well, I have been reading the re-released Misty comic [see previous post in which I go on and on about this] and eating chocolate. COULD the day get any better? I asked myself. YES it could: I have just been reading on their website that Anthroplogie are soon opening their first ever European shop – and in London. 45 minutes on the train. I squealed again.

Blazing Tweed Pumps by Anthropologie

Blazing Tweed Pumps by Anthropologie

[Warning For Accidental Readers: If you have landed on this blog randomly and think I’m incredibly sad for squealing at horror comics from my childhood and pretty shops selling trinkets & fripperies, I suggest you leave immediately. We wont get along at all, darling!]

Since the1992 opening of their first store in the interestingly named Wayne, Pennsylvania; Anthropologie have grown a hundredfold.

They are renowned for offering quirky, vintage-inspired styles in fashion, accessories and home furnishings. Homespun charm mixes with more unusual but still very wearable pieces,

He-Said-She-Said Skirt by Anthropologie

and thrive in bringing up-and-coming designers to a wider audience.

I have coveted their items from afar (always being a little worried about ordering mail-order from abroad in case I get smacked with outrageous Customs charges – a very long & involved rant for another time, I think!) so am thrilled to be able to finally go and finger their goods first hand. So to speak.

Anyway. So yes, I am very excited in case you hadn’t noticed. Feast your eyes on the following…

Untraditional Tradition by Anthropologie

Untraditional Tradition by Anthropologie

Modern Mannor by Antropologie

Modern Mannor by Anthropologie

Herringbone Wrap Coat by Anthropologie

Herringbone Wrap Coat by Anthropologie

Narration Booties by Anthropologie

Narration Booties by Anthropologie

Rosella Satchel by Anthropologie

Rosella Satchel by Anthropologie

Until the new store opens I shall be slavering over my latest finds in (where else) Etsy – I truly believe you can find something to suit every style there, but particularly items similar to the artsy-craftsy vintage appeal of the Anthropologie style… and of a quality to rival the very best designers or shops you can name.

Anthropolgical Autumn Style 1

Direct links to items shown:

Yarn Over Movement

Katherine Cooper

Vanessa Sewing

Reluctant Damsel

Ellita

Spelfenmeisje

Anthropological Autumn Style 2

Further links:

Winsome Hollow

Layla

Manda Holden

Splitfire Pottery

Keep and Share

Attila Design

How cosy does this selection of items make you feel, by the way? My heart sings at the thought of kicking through leaves, giggling like a small child (or an insane adult), making soup and wearing sweaters. Whilst others are bemoaning the last days of summer, as though being forced to watch a favourite toy being put on the bonfire; I am stocking the cupboards with comforting food and stroking my cashmere hungrily. Soon, my pretties, soooooooon…