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…



“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.


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.



“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!


Bolongaro Trevor – Clasically Surreal: My pick of the SS11 SALE
September 13, 2011, 6:55 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

Every so often you stumble across a designer label that makes your heart go pitter-pat and has you mentally totting up the black-market value of your vital organs so that you might afford one of everything they have made. For my esteemed colleague Sallie and I, our find of the year thus far has to be British design duo Bolongaro Trevor.

During a mad day of dashing about and sale bargains we homed in on a large rail of beautifully draped, quirkily printed pieces that made us quite giddy. I grabbed a full-length wool cardigan coat (of which there seems to exist no pictures on this Earth, but it is fabulous and I can’t wait to be cold enough to wear it), and this fabulous Pirrot Draped Top.

Pirrot Drape Top by Bolongaro Trevor - Was: £150 NOW: £60

You can’t really see the exquisite detail, here, but the is made from incredibly floaty 100% Silk Haboutai and printed all over with antique botanical and medical prints of peonies, roses, teeth and syringes.

Pirrot Drape Top - back detail

Not exactly your run-of-the-mill combination of illustrations to use on a garment, to be sure, but Bolongaro Trevor delight in these cheeky, darkly beautiful juxtapositions of classical elements married to the surreal bohemian.

Mikail Polka Dots Top by Bolongaro Trevor - Was: £140, Now: £100

Sallie jumped at the chance to own the Mikail Polka Dots silk printed top – this time, the print being various hand-coloured insects and zoo animals. It was especially pleasing, as Sallie had seen a lady wearing the Mikail Polka Dots Dress at a recent wedding, and had forever after wondered who the designer was and where she could get her hands on their goods. So to speak.

Delia Drape Dress by Bolongaro Trevor - Was: £160, Now: £40!

This Delia Drape Dress is gorgeous, and a stonking BARGAIN, now, at just forty quid. Even at their full retail prices, I think the Bolongaro Trevor designs are very good value considering they look (and feel) far more expensive than they actually are.

Laced Jungle Clutch Bag by Bolongaro Trevor - Was: £165, Now: £49.50

I am in love with this bag – yes, Bolongaro Trevor excel at accessories, too it seems – it looks elegant and practical, but retains that element of fun in the gorgeous jungle and lace print. Not enough designers put giraffes on their evening bags, do they?

Laced Jungle Clutch Bag - Close-up detail

By the way, if Santa [or my fiance] is reading this, what a simply marvelous Christmas present idea this would be. Hey, I never said I was subtle.

Keya Dress by Bolongaro Trevor - Was £260, Now: £100

This Keya Dress is made from cotton and line and would be great worn to the office or a smart work environment, but would equally be happy perched on a bar stool sipping mojitos. Well, I know I would.

Grace Long Tee by Bolongaro Trevor - Was: £65, Now: £15!

A great entry level bargain to the world of Bolongaro Trevor is this long, draped t-shirt, which is now only £15! You can let the sleeves down by undoing the button tabs on the shoulders, if you prefer not to show your arms.

Well, there are oodles more bargains and plum picks I could wibble on about, darlings, but I have dinner to cook and must begin gazing in winder at the NEW COLLECTION of Bolongaro Trevor which is just hitting the stores. I’ll be showing you my picks of the Autumn range and telling you a bit more about this design duo tomorrow. Until then, I’ll leave you with a little teaser…

Do the designs and prints strike a bell? They should do. This design team were the originators of a very famous brand and struck out on their own for pastures new. Find out more tomorrow!

Afternoon Tea For Two in London – Huzzah!

Hang out the bunting, dearies, it’s not often I get to say this, but “I’m a winner!”

Thanks to the generosity of Wish, who donated the magnificent prize for a competition on one of my favourite blogs – Madame Guillotine – myself and my fiance are looking forward to afternoon Tea for Two at the Radisson Edwardian Vanderbilt Hotel in South Kensington.

Afternoon tea in a refined setting is one of my favourite ways to indulge, I like to let my mind wander (a very easy accomplishment, believe me) and pretend I’m in an episode of Downton Abbey or a Georgette Heyer novel, though without any scary aunts (thank goodness) or recently wounded dueling rake (more’s the pity) to contend with.

I absolutely cannot WAIT to go and have been ogling at pictures of the hotel and the various treats they have on offer at teatime. One image keeps cropping up in the their literature – a little pastry swan, and each time I see it, I cannot help but think of Bettina (aka Mrs Anke) and the blog post about her epic attempt to re-create Christophe Novelli’s swan meringue…

That post and the resulting photos make me roar with laughter every single time, and I recommend you bookmark it to view if you ever need a mood-boost. In fact, you should just bookmark both Madame Guillotine and Ladybits blogs as they are always worth reading and never fail to lift me from the glums.

Of course I shall be blogging about our afternoon tea when we take it, so look out for pastry swans and pinky-finger lifting whilst tea-swilling.

Thank you so much, Wish and Madame Guillotine! *SQUEAL*

Love Is Boutique: Vogue Fashion’s Night Out

You certainly didn’t have to be shaking your tail [or wing] feathers in that there London last night for Vogue Fashion’s Night Out, ho no!  

Love Is Boutique threw open their doors and welcomed local bloggers, along with actual members of the public, with the promise of free-flowing bubbly and that golden glow that only designer and vintage BARGAINS can bring.

Featured recently in Vogue magazine [oooh, get them!] who described them as “…a treasure trove” and in The Guardian [show offs!] time spent browsing the rails here was recommended as “a perfectly indulgent day out”, so even without the lure of discounts and alcohol, the temptations to nestle at the bosom of Love is Boutique are manifold.

After what I can only describe as a somewhat testing week (involving falling over, nearly dislocating my elbow on a kitchen cupboard, everyone – including myself – in utterly foul moods, discovering a leak in the bathroom & pouring boiling soup over myself) an indulgent evening out was exactly what the fashion doctor ordered.

Housed in a beautifully restored building that dates from 1862 and used to be the Old Romary Biscuit Factory; Love Is Boutique draws visitors on heritage trails as well as the fashionista bargain-hungry crowds. Last night the two worlds collided as a large crowd of enthralled tourists & history-loving locals were entertained outside the building, as we guzzled delicious treats and glasses of bubbly inside.

I can’t go much longer without mentioning the cake truffles by Little Treats Bakery, actually. Stacked on vintage cake tiers, my colleague & dear friend, Sallie, were only more than happy to sample them, um, a few times. Just to make sure, you know. We are very professional about such things. I know you’re proud.

Cake Truffle (and photo) by Little Treats Bakery

Anyway, the cake truffles are ruddy lovely and you should all go and treat yourselves to some, they make such a nice change from run-of-the-mill chocolates. What a perfect idea for table favours at a wedding or at a vintage tea party. Also, because they just melt in the mouth and are so light, you feel a bit virtuous for not having a whole slice of cake. Practically diet food!  

If you have never been to Love Is, I shall attempt to describe it for you – a pretty little building with a bay window and a huge wreath on the door, once you enter you realise what a tardis of fashion it is – every time you think you’ve seen it all, another area opens up begging to be explored, each nook and cranny sheltering a wealth of designer names and vintage goodies.

There really is something for everyone, with a large range of sizes, styles and prices. Pieces range from just a few pounds to several hundred for the Big Name Whoppers as I rather unglamorously call them – the big fish that you have to be quick to snag before some other complete cow reels in her line and claims it as hers before you do!

A really good tip for beating those utter cows (I mean this in a flattering way, obviously) to the prize pieces is to add Love Is Boutique on Facebook and/or Twitter, as the gorgeous Paula and Lynne often give their followers a head-start by announcing the plum picks they are adding to the shop or their ASOS online boutique selection. That way you are more likely to be holding your Manolos high or swinging your Chanel bag and shouting “In your face, biatch!” than crying over your laptop’s keyboard and very possibly causing an electrical problem. The choice is yours, dearie.

Sallie was looking for a drop-dead cocktail dress for her husband’s incredibly swanky work do. Not that she exactly needed a new dress, but she’d had a bit of a poo week, too, and how dull life would be if we only purchased what we needed!

Firstly, Sallie was rather taken by a quirky little vintage bag with chunks of semi-precious gems set into the front, which you can see her modelling rather wonderfully, below.. However, once she had stroked the silk of the lace-hemmed (and brand new) Laundry dress she’s spied for £BARAGIN pricetag, she completely lost her heart and the dress won the day.

Of course I completely failed to get a picture of it as I’m rubbish, but take my word for it – it was amazing. We also managed to hunt out a vintage Venetian glass flapper necklace, and lo, the classy cocktail outfit was complete.

This is a similar necklace on top of a jaw-droppingly gorgeous dress and sweetest little velvet jacket we also loved. The colours really doesn’t come out well on my phone’s photos, but it was soft, luxurious and wonderful. You really are spoilt for choice when searching for a special occasion dress, here.

Photo of my top taken in semi-gloom of night on a phone, as I'm brilliant at this.

I found a darling little heather silk top by Belgravia-based designer Sybil Stanislaus with jet beading embellishment on one side of the hem, dangling jauntily over one hip and also quite reminiscent of a flapper-style outfit.

Closer look at jet beading (also taken in semi-gloom on a phone).

Perfect for dressing up a boring old skirt for a night out, or wearing with jeans and a leather jacket to spice it up a bit.

After making sure we had seen and touched every item in the shop at least twice, we joined the queue to pay for our treasures, all the while guzzling those cake truffles and gossiping with the lovely Love Is gals. We decided it should be against the law to own Chanel bags (or anything lovely) and not use them regularly. AGAINST THE LAW! We’re tough but fair.

As we left, clutching our purchases, we had goody bags forced upon us, if you can imagine such cruelty. Inside, we were treated to the most fabulous smelling array of Nature’s Finest Cosmetics.

French Twist soap by Nature's Finest Cosmetics

Mine included an amazing French Twist soap with soothing oils of lavender and invigorating coriander, and bath bombs that looked good enough to guzzle.

Bath Melt by Nature's Finest Cosmetics

I am not always the biggest fan of bath bombs, as some lesser companies seemingly make them of chalk scented grit, but these Bath Melts feel soft and waxy to the touch and are packed with moisturising shea and cocoa butters and natural oils. Simply divine, and the best way to end a stressful week I can think of. Bliss!

Thank you so much to everyone involved for all your hard work – it was much appreciated by everyone who attended.

Congratulations, Holli! Winner of Le Muse Competition
July 4, 2011, 9:02 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , ,

I used to generate a random number, and it picked Holli as the winner of a handmade Le Muse top! Congratulations! I have passed on your details to Le Muse and they shall be expecting an email from you, concerning which colour/size of top you’d like.

Many, many thanks to all who entered and especially to the fantastic team at Le Muse (I shall certainly be ordering from them again very soon – The Forest Muse shall be mine, I tell you!)

Jack & Gin: Victorian Style

I have no shame in admitting that I’m already planning my outfit (and accessories, of course) for a party that’s not due to take place until February next year!

This poster is very apt for the occasion and, quite apart from loving letterpress type (being a bit of an old font/type nerd), I heartily condone the sentiment. Also loving the name of their shop!

Letterpress Gin Poster by A Two Pipe Problem: $16

The party in question is not your run-of-the-mill kind, but the third incarnation of Gin & Whores: a semi-regular affair held by Mme Guillotine for various reprobate friends who share her passion for Victorian Ladies of The Night, Gin and Jack the Ripper.

Spooky Shades have various items to tempt those seeking unusual lamp shades, but this is one of my favourite. I really like the overlaying of medical illustrations with one of the infamous letters purporting to be from Jack the Ripper.

Jack's Anatomy Lampshade by Spooky Shades: $59

The wonderful Hoolala has been featured a few times on my blog – they do a number of Jack the Ripper themed items, but the one I most covet also happens to be the most expensive. Typical. It’s this luxury pocket watch charm necklace, based on Alan Moore’s brilliant Jack the Ripper graphic novel, From Hell.

(Really interesting story of how Alan Moore actually met the lady behind Hoolala, by the way – clock on the picture below to be taken to that page & read more…)

Jack the Ripper From Hell Charm Necklace by Hoolala: $125

For now, I have just purchased this necklace (featuring a silver Gin bottle label. HOW could I resist?) in preparation, and now can’t wait for it to arrive. I get terribly excited about this sort of thing.

Gin Necklace by Kat Designs NYC

Obviously, this one isn’t available anymore (ha ha), but do have a look at the other pieces in the collection (click on the picture to be whisked to the shop) – there’s a very similar Brandy one.

You cannot beat a bit of fingerless mittens action for adding an element of Victorian sauciness to an outfit, and these, by Hypericumfragile are just the ticket.

Evening Secret Gloves by Hypericumfragile: $35

I had to add this saucy greeting card by Coquinette (all the cards are very amusing, using risqué contemporary images and distinctly modern text).

Naughty Victorian Greeting Card by Coquinette: $5

Gin & Whores basically involves getting togged-up in Victorian-esque outfits (some guests go for historical accuracy, whilst others opt for modern re-interpretations of Victorian outfits or accessories), drinking Gin and cackling with laughter in locations around London’s seedier locales.

This pretty lace-edged, raw silk bolero would be just the thing.

The Paris Romance Bolero by Mary and Angelika: $83

Usually we frequent pubs dating from the Victorian period are preferred, those public houses which (in our wildest imaginings) may have served a glass or two to some of Jack the Ripper’s victims, or even [shivers of macabre excitement] Jack himself.

Antique Leather Doctor's Bag at Nacho Kitty: $375

That antique Doctor’s bag is just the sort of thing one imagines Jack the Ripper would carry about the place, don’t you think?

It possibly sounds a bit odd or mawkish to the casual observer, but we all have enormous fun and it’s all very much tongue-in-cheek. Much like this amusingly saucy Victorian ladies’ fridge magnet, by Pink Burlesque (who are based in Bristol). Really like all their items, actually!

Vintage Picture Fridge Magnet by Pink Burlesque: $2.99

In honour of the occasion, and my outfit hunting, I put together this themed collection of various favourites as an Etsy Treasury, I do hope you have enjoyed this sneak peek!

Direct links to all the items shown are available by going to the treasury’s page, HERE. Enjoy browsing all the lovely shops, but don’t blame me if you want everything, too. 😉

Until next time, duckies,

Miss Nightingale


Find Me On Twitter!
September 19, 2010, 9:11 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags:

By the way, I don’t think I’ve mentioned for absolutely ages that I’m on Twitter, and I’d love you to join me!

If you’re on Twitter, do stop by and say hullo. 🙂