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!

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Hey Foxy Lady
November 5, 2012, 11:20 pm
Filed under: Fashion | Tags: , , , , , , ,

I am absolutely loving the foxy-themed fashion prints currently gracing designer boutiques and high streets alike. There’s something ephemeral and mischievous about the image of a fox, a knowing sauciness I find terribly appealing.

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This cheeky little number is from the TU range of clothing at Sainsbury’s – yes, you read that correctly! – and is perfect for wearing under a tweedy jacket for a nod to the Country Gentry look that’s everywhere right now. Here’s a close-up of the little blighter…

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The colour isn’t quite floating my boat, and Peter Pan collars do little for us booby gals, but my heart is quite taken with the print!

Sainsbury’s have come on leaps and bounds this season, fashion-wise. Look at this darling little jacket that hit the shops a couple of weeks ago (congrats if you can find one – I knew I should have grabbed it when I saw it!)

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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.



Bargain du Jour: Bolongaro Trevor Lomasi Shift Dress 68% Off!

I am a huge fan of Bolongaro Trevor, no surprise, really, as they’re the designers who founded another of my favourite clothing brands – All Saints. As such, I am always keeping a watchful eye on their website, waiting to see the latest looks and – with squealing excitement – the last-minute bargains to be had in their amazing sales!

Bolongaro Trevor is created by British Designers Kait Bolongaro and Stuart Trevor – original founders and former designers behind the cult the retail store group All Saints. Original, unique and commercial, the new collection is comprised of contemporary handmade pieces inspired by vintage finds amassed over the past 20 years. The collections have a moody darkness reminiscent of Victorian London, making the brand a hit with the edgy East End crowd, British bands and models – Kate Moss, Agnes Deyene, Daisy Lowe, Pixie Geldof and Emma Watson. Collaborations include The Libertines – Carl Barat & Pete Doherty for their legendary comeback gigs in Reading and Leeds, The Who for their Feb 2010 Superbowl gig USA and uber-cool bands Kasabian and The Kings of Leon for the front cover of music bible NME. Recent collaborations have included Will.i.am and Danny O’Donoghue on BBC’s The Voice, The band behind Rebecca Ferguson and Pendulum.

I am thrilled with my latest purchase, so thought I’d share it with you: the Lomasi Shift Dress in deepest midnight blue cotton lace. I got it for £30 instead of £95, which is the sort of saving I like. 🙂

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I shall be wearing this with a little silk slip underneath and with leggings (as my legs are pale as bottles of milk and I don’t think the world is ready for them). In the colder weather I shall layer this over jeans, wear with thick tights and knee boots, or with warmer tops underneath.

There are still a few wonderful bargains left on the Bolongaro Trevor website, but my Top Tip of the day is to steer you toward their eBay outlet shop, where they sell the very last pieces of their biggest bargains! For example, there are now no Lomasi Shift Dresses on the website, but in their eBay shop you can still grab one – if you’re quick!



[NOT a Wedding Dress] Wedding Dress Ideas #2: Floaty silk chiffon maxi dress by Idea 2 Lifestyle

If wafting around in a floaty silk maxi dress, clutching your pearls and pretending you’re in some undiscovered Jane Austen novel or an overblown Gothic melodrama are your sort of thing – and frankly, if they’re not, you’re reading the wrong blog, sweet cheeks – I definitely think this next dress will appeal to you.

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Designed and made by Idea 2 Lifestyle, I wanted to show it as part of my [NOT a Wedding Dress] Wedding Dress Ideas series, as it perfectly encapsulates the sort of thing I’m looking for: something that could be easily worn again, has the possibility of being styled in various ways and isn’t too $pendy, for the Bride on a Budget.

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The dress is £64.10 in GBP, which I think is an absolute bargain, considering what some people pay for a dress that has that magical money-quadrupling word of “Wedding” attached to it! Idea 2 Lifestyle will also work with you to change the look of the dress slightly (making it longer, shorter, and to your size), which may incur a further cost, but that cost is $10 or so depending on what you want changed, so hardly anything to quibble over.

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I love the silver-grey version as an alternative Bridesmaid dress, or even black worn with bright pashminas and flowers woven through their hair – so pretty! I like the loose, unstructured body of the dress, too. I think it would lend itself well to being worn with a really pretty under bust corset over the top of it for that Wench look, or perhaps a simple thin belt worn high on the waist, for more of an Empire line, all the better to woo your Regency gent.

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I rather fancy myself in the white version, dancing about in a meadow eating homemade bread and cheese from a nearby farmhouse and proclaiming giddily over bunches of wildflowers while wearing my Marie Antoinette-ish huge straw ‘peasant’ hat… but we all know the reality would be me treading in a cow pat, being chased by by wasps, stung by nettles and noisily attempting to retrieve the blasted hat from the tree into which it’s been blown.

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Ah well, a gal can dream… 😉

Perhaps it’s better – after The Big Day – to save it for wafting about in town on hot, sticky days (like today!) or with a roughed-up denim jacket and studded gladiator sandals for that off-duty rockstar look. Just not worn with cowboy boots while canoodling with someone else’s husband, okay? Because friends don’t let friends get mistaken for Sienna Miller.



[NOT a Wedding Dress] Wedding Dress Ideas. #1: All Saints Heather Dress

I very rarely see traditional wedding dresses – even dresses that breezily claim they are ‘alternative’ wedding dresses – that I like. It often seems that designers cannot quite wrench themselves away from the poofy meringue or dull as dishwater ‘Virginal Simplicity’ yawn-fests that inhabit page after glossy, anodyne page in most mainstream Bridal magazines.

With this in mind, I set about seeking out gorgeous dresses that could easily be worn by a bride, but could also (hopefully) be worn again afterwards. Some are more traditional or vintage looking, others may be a little bit ‘out there’, but while they may not appeal to all, I have found something to love in every single one, which gives me hope if nothing else, while searching for my own wedding dress!

There’s something for every budget, from under £50 to several thousand bucks, which may only be dreams for most of us, but I hope may also serve as inspiration and give you other ideas about where to look for THE dress…

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This is the ‘Heather’ maxi dress, by All Saints. It’s £395, and while out of my budget for a normal everyday dress, I think is still an okay price for The Best Day Of Your Life in which you will be worshipped as a Princess et-cetera et-cetera.

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I really like the flattering cut and drape of this All Saints dress – very 1930’s starlet, or BCLWCCP (Before Courtney Love Went Completely Coco Pops). Bless her. Okay, maybe she’s been that way since immemorial, but you catch my drift.

You could wear the Heather dress again bedecked with costume jewellery (I’m thinking multiple layers of charm-loaded chains or perhaps one of the Butler & Wilson diamanté skull necklaces) and layered with a biker jacket for a funky evening look. It’s also available in black, if darker hues are your thing (and they are usually mine, though I’m trying to steer away from an all-black wedding dress).

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Regardless of how you style it – wafty Goddess or rock chick chic – this is a classy looking and actually quite classic dress that would see you through many years.



Stuff & Good Sense: Vintage Soiree

Stuff & Good Sense is a little treasure trove of a boutique, nestled away in that sacred heart of Tunbridge Wells: the picturesque Pantiles. This historic area of the town has always drawn tourists but previously became written-off as being perhaps a bit Cream Tea Twee (though I love a good ol’ cream tea, me).


In the last year it has definitely become apparent The Pantiles is quietly booming & actually quite a (whisper it) funky/alternative location for locals AND tourists to shop, eat, drink and generally parade themselves about.

A plethora of really interesting independent shops abound and I cannot overstate how refreshing it is to wander around an area free of big chains and the corporate big boys: a shopping experience that’s becomming distressingly rare these days, it seems.


I love supporting local, hand-made and independent shops, so when I received an invitation to attend a Vintage Soiree including PINK FIZZ, delicious food, retro furnishings, vintage designer gowns & all manner of fabulous nick-nackery… It would be rude not to go along and show one’s support, wouldn’t it? Quite.

Knowing full well that friend & colleague in crime, Sallie the Sausage Queen (see below), would be up for a bit of fizz sipping while shopping, we’d hot-footed it to the Soiree straight after work.


Stuff & Good Sense is tucked behind the inimitable Trevor Mottram’s – a veritable maze of a shop containing every cooking impliment known to man. And many unknown to man or, indeed, his dog. As we arrived the party was already in full swing, with the laughter and chatter bursting out of the open door to greet us.


Plunging forth, we made straight for the makeover area with the utterly charming makeup artist from Powder & Glow (I think it was Caroline herself, but do forgive me if I remember incorrectly!) giving good lip (I was complimented on my pillarbox red lipstick, which was pleasing) & Sallie’s pout was painted, too. Just before she applied herself to some refreshments.


The makeover area just happened to be right next to the table of alcohol and an extremely tasty selection of nibbles, kindly provided by The Bijou Bakery. Imagine: Sallie & I plonked next to a table of plonk. Oops, what a coincidence!

We were particularly fond of the Sticky Sausages (indeed, I imagine there are very few times either Sallie or I would willingly turn down a sticky sausage). We could quite easily have polished off the whole plate, and very nearly did.

A few glasses of PINK FIZZ saw us glowing rosily (well, Sallie had just the one, as she was driving, so I drank her share. It seemed the right and proper thing to do).

No vintage event seems complete without a pretty stand of cupcakes, but the ones here were truly, gobsmackingly gorgeous.


Look at them. LOOK at them!

We looked at them for several minutes before deciding that no, they weren’t ‘too good to eat’ and cramming them into our mouths. They were meltingly light and the frosting wasn’t too sweet – the downfall of many a cupcake, in my opinion. Some look nice but you find you’re left with a mouthful of what is basically pure sugar, with your eyes spinning in their sockets and the onset of diabetes. These were simply cupcake perfection, and you, too, may experience their delights at Vintage Rose Cupcakes. HIGHLY recommended!

The Stuff & Good Sense soiree was such fun, a really friendly atmosphere of celebration and larking about. It was really quite uplifting to the spirits, seeing the lovely laydeeees of Tunbridge Wells all quaffing, laughing, scoffing and browsing.

Shop owner, Gaynor, has amassed a fantastic collection of desirable goods, from mid-century furniture to Liberty patterned dog collars – with pure, handmade soaps, & cosmetics, retro crockery, quirky jewellery, art and all manner of Perfect Gift type pieces in between.

I really liked a lot of the prints they had hanging in the shop – but am always drawn to things like this, being a bit of a font nerd of old.

Knowing a good thing thing when they see it, the fabulous frock purveyors Gently Worn Vintagewww.gentlywornvintage.co.uk now have a tempting closet of gorgeous vintage clothes & accessories within Stuff & Good Sense.

We all spent quite a long time cooing over various glamourous hats bedecked with pearls or overlaid with peacock feathers.

So glamourous! People should wear hats more often, I think.

Sallie tried virtually all of them on while I sipped another glass of pink fizz, so that she didn’t have to. I’m SO NICE like that. Here’s Sallie hiding in a corner while Cath (independent tour guide who runs Discover Southeast England & is a general font of local knowledge) looks slightly alarmed.

The conversation ranged from hidden wells (not a euphemism, get your mind out of the gutter, dear), and the history of various local buildings; to mad aunts, fur-lined gloves (also not a euphemism) and a Fashion Tour that Cath’s hoping to arrange in the near future. Also, lots of dressing up (them) and drinking fizz (mostly me). It was all rather marvellous.

My eye was taken with a stunning brocade evening coat, while Sallie fell head-over-heels for this perfect condition patent leather vanity case/handbag complete with original contents. Lined in watered pink silk and with dinky little bottles & pots for ones lotions & potions to be decanted into, it was pure Mad Men! Sallie put it by in order to purchase for her birthday. I think many of us are quite green with envy. 😉

For those of you who didn’t make this special event (or weren’t important enough to be invited. JOKE! ;p) you will be very glad to hear that future soirees are planned – in fact, one is happening this very week, on Wednesday 26th of October, 7-10pm.

Cocktails, decadent treats and music from a bygone era are promised along with the chance to learn the secrets of the art of couture. Which can’t be bad.

Against the fabulous retro backdrop of the shop, guests will be transformed with a personal makeup consultation and given a face chart to take home (estimated value of this service is £75, so worth the ticket price alone!) and a professional photographer will be present to capture the new look. In addition, guests will also be given an exciting goody bag, with a specially selected vintage gift in each one.

My goody bag from the soiree was full to brimming with exciting stuff, and I loved my vintage jade green silk scarf and twinkling hair clip – so cute!

Tickets for this event are £30: If the forthcoming soirée is even half as much fun as the one we attended, then it’s worth twice as much as that! Hopefully some are still available if you’re interested; contact Carole on 07827 960389 to reserve a place, or pop in to Stuff & Good Sense itself.

Stuff & Good Sense
29 The Pantiles,
Tunbridge Wells,
Kent
TN2 5TD

Thank you so much to the lovely Gaynor, all the hard work that everyone put into the event and to all the lovely ladies we met that night. It was a huge success and created a real buzz – and that wasn’t just the alcohol! I’m just sorry it took me so long to finally upload this post – a perfect storm of work pressures, illness and NO TIME AT ALL for ANYTHING (the usual) kept me from getting it up as soon as I’d have liked. Oooh, Matron.

I do hope you have enjoyed reading about our adventures at the vintage soiree. You must go and visit Stuff & Good Sense yourself, it’s a real gem and we’re lucky to have such quirkily interesting shops as this on our doorstep.