Filed under: Accessories, Bags, Bargains, Boots, Brooches, Couture, Fashion, Jewellery, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Shoes, Vintage | Tags: Alexander Mcqueen, Bag, Bally, bargain, Bayswater, designer, Kent, Louis Vuitton, Love Is Boutique, Manolo Blahnik, Mulberry, Phillip Lim, tunbridge wells, UK, Vintage
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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?
“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.”
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…”
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!
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.
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.
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*
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!
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?
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…
UPDATE: I have now been back and purchased the Bally boots. Quite by accident.
Filed under: Pantiles, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Shopping, Vintage | Tags: bijou bakery, cupcakes, dressing up, Fashion, fizz, Gently Worn Vintage, gloves, hats, Kent, nibbles, Stuff & Good Sense, UK, Vintage, vintage rose cupcakes, 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,
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.
Filed under: Fashion | Tags: 2011, autumn, Bolongaro Trevor, designer, Fashion, London, UK
Yesterday I warbled on at some length about a new favourite design label, Bolongaro Trevor, and promised I would show you the plum picks of their brand new Autumn collection and tell you more about the designers behind the label. I also left you with a bit of teaser, asking if you recognised the style of the clothes, the bizarrely beautiful prints, the overall vibe of the label…
It makes sense as soon as you know, for the designers behind Bolongaro Trevor – Kait Bolongaro and Stuart Trevor – are the husband and wife team who founded and previously designed for the phenomenally successful All Saints brand. Aha! Yes, the lightbulb clicked on for me, too.
This jacket is just beyond gorgeous, and I think really adaptable. You could just as easily wear this with jeans and a little white vest top as a sharp pencil skirt & silk blouse for work.
You probably all know how much I love modern takes on Victoriana, and this showcases exactly the look I love.
I’ve long been a fan of the All Saints clothes and accessories, though many of them I’ve admired from afar as some of their styles truthfully belong on a far younger (or braver) person than me!
I was very interested to read an interview with Stuart Trevor in which he described the main differences between the two labels, and he described the Bolongaro Trevor customer as a bit older, more sophisticated and wanting a practicality from her wardrobe that younger gals just couldn’t give two hoots about.
I think that’s a fair description and certainly I can relate to the ‘older’ bit, with pretensions toward the ‘more sophisticated’ bit!
This dress in the new collection shows that duality of cheekiness and wearability very well, I think. It could really be worn by women of many ages and for lots of occasions, something that I don’t think you could truthfully say about the All Saints range. That’s not to say All Saints is entirely about Bright Young Things, but I do believe the emphasis of their more recent collections has been on casual wear for the younger crowd.
Bolongaro Trevor fulfill the need for quirky, individual looking clothes for the ladies who’d feel ridiculous in torn denim hotpants and don’t desperately try to kid themselves that they’re ‘just like Kate Mosse’. The tailoring may have the sophisticated edge, but the little details and surreal prints in which they delight, really set this label apart from the drab mainstream.
The menswear, too, has so many interestingly elements, they play heavily on military influenced looks and that swoonsome “Oh, Mr Darcy!” appeal.
I am fully aware that many British men shy away from anything too ‘different’, but I know many gals who love that rakish look and we can only hope that it becomes widely popular, even among the less brave! And yes, some of the pieces are expensive, but they tend to be the more classic items in the finest fabrics that should, with care, last a lifetime. And they have amazing sales. 😉
This is just the first hit of the new collection, with much more to come. I can’t wait to see it all!
Filed under: Antique, Bargains, Cupcakes, Fashion, Pantiles, Vintage | Tags: fair, Fashion, Gently Worn Vintage, Kent, Lady Butterworth's, Love Is Boutique, Mrs Anke, Original Annie, Pantiles Vintage Fair & Flea Market, Stuff & Good Sense, tunbridge wells, UK, Vintage, Vintage Child
Boxes of treasure twinkling in the sunshine, the rustle of vintage fabrics in the afternoon breeze, stallholders carefully setting out their wares on velvet cushions…and my beady little eyes roving over everything, wondering if I could fit it all into my flat.
Yes, dears, it must be admitted: I am a magpie.
There were likeminded magpies galore at the first day of the inaugural Pantiles Vintage Fair and Flea Market – with something for everyone lined up throughout both days.
Programme of Events:
- 11.30 – 12.30: The Swinging Little Big Band (Sat)
- 11.30 – 12.30: Downtown Meltdown DJs ‘Sunday Morning Fry Up’ (Sun)
- 1pm: Vintage Fashion Show – organised by Gently Worn Vintage (Sat and Sun)
- 1.30pm: Gypsy John’s Cinque Ports Lindy Hoppers (Sat and Sun)
- 2pm: Vintage Fashion Show – organised by Gently Worn Vintage (Sat and Sun)
- 2.30pm: Gypsy John’s Cinque Ports Lindy Hoppers (Sat and Sun)
- 3pm: Vintage Fashion Show – organised by Gently Worn Vintage (Sat and Sun)
- 3.30pm: Gypsy John’s Cinque Ports Lindy Hoppers (Sat and Sun)
Forgive my dreadful pictures – these were all taken on the hop on my mobile phone, in bright sunshine most of the time, so that I couldn’t even see what I was looking at! Hopefully they will give you some idea of the atmosphere, though. 🙂
The Swinging Little Big Band were really, really good. Sorry if you missed them. This is the sort of band I’d like playing at my wedding – they were fantastic at doing covers of the old classics, like Mack The Knife, but equally brilliant at rendering Pulp’s Common People or Radiohead’s Creep in a retro swing way, with a great deal of swagger and charm. They really got the crowd moving, with people spontaneously dancing and the rest all clapping along.
The Lindy Hoppers were excellent, too, and dealt very well with a music system that unfortunately kept failing them.
You had to love the fashion shows, organised by Gently Worn Vintage and with some truly gorgeous pieces being show. It was heart-warming to see such a mix of ages in the crowds watching them – I wondered if many of the older ladies and gentlemen were remembering parties they went to in similar outfits. They certainly all seemed to be lapping it up.
The model, above, is wearing my favourite piece of the show – a stunning 1950’s Belville Sassoon Couture silk dress, available from Gently Worn Vintage’s collection.
It appears on their website, but is even more stunning in real life – the colour and condition is amazing.
There was a competition for the best-dressed people wearing vintage outfits at the fair, and my favourites were the couple (were they an actual couple or had they just been dancing together all afternoon?) immaculately dressed in 40’s fashions. Just darling.
My esteemed colleague, and good friend, Sallie and I met for a girlie day of browsing, lunch and general gossiping – something we almost never get to do, as we’re usually working on the same day (or Sallie’s covering my day off). Here she is, attempting to look serious whilst stroking an old coat.
And again, foraging for bargains among the crowds…
I loved this book of photographs – I used to collect vintage photos and spend hours wondering who they were, what their lives were like, if they were in love when that picture was taken or wishing they could be with someone else. Ha, ever the whimsy-filled romantic old fool! 🙂
I think part of the joy of vintage is holding onto a tangible piece of history, it sort of anchors you in the world, don’t you think? It’s all to do with that reaching back through the years and shaking hands with someone you never met, finding out that, actually, we’re not so different. I also love the idea of rescuing things and having them feel loved & wanted again. Told you I was a soppy fool!
Yes, yes, don’t worry – I’ll stop whittering on for a bit and get on with describing things again. For a bit.
I was particularly taken with Lady Butterworth’s stall of pretty vintage crockery and shoe lasts. I have always wanted a shoe last – they are such pleasing, tactile objects – and saw theirs used as bookends. Immediately taken with the idea, I purchased one, and am utterly thrilled with it. I love the story behind them, too…
“You are now the owner of a unique piece of Northamptonshire history. These lasts were made by craftsmen as the first step in the manufacture of boots and shoes in a shoe factory in Northamptonshire. Only right-handed patterns were made, from which as many pairs as required would be turned into a copy lathe. These lasts were rescued when the shoe factory closed, just two hours before the building was to be demolished.”
The two lovely ladies running the stall gave Sallie & I FREE CUPCAKES, which we stuffed ourselves with in a most unladylike fashion, after eating our lunch. Complete piggy-wigs that we are. Lady Butterworth’s had some truly gorgeous vintage plates and the sweetest little cups, I could quite happily have taken the whole stall home with me.
Luckily, they are specialists in hiring out crockery and assorted vintage props & oddities, for weddings, tea parties and the like. Definitely worth remembering! Just have a look in their gorgeous Crockery Cupboard.
As with the Food Festival I wrote about it May, it was great to see the Pantiles buzzing with crowds enjoying the sunshine, supporting local businesses and perhaps buying something that isn’t mass-made or readily available anymore.
Newly opened vintage fashion sellers Vintage Child had a lovely stall, full of bright colours and very wearable styles from various eras (they have only just launched, and I don’t believe their website it up yet, but I’ll link to it when it’s live).
Fabulous local style gurus Love Is Boutique were proudly displaying their wares to all and sundry again, along with many stallholders new to me, who I’ll definitely go and seek out again. Long live originality, viva independent style I say!
Wandering down the historic little shopping area I so love, on the way to work the other day, I squealed slightly as my eye came to rest on on a colourful, retro-style waxed cotton dress in the window of a previously sadly empty shop space. “That looks suspiciously like an Original Annie dress” I thought to myself, and lo and behold, so it was. I wrote about their shop opening in Camden Road a little while ago, and now they have moved to the Pantiles where, I am sure, this great fashion label will go from strength to strength. Walking past their stylish boutique today it was absolutely heaving with people inside, which makes me very glad indeed.
Next, we ambled into the equally stylish new Stuff & Good Sense – recently opened concept shop that’s full to brimming with lust-worthy vintage furniture, crockery and homewares.
Their stall in the flea market was just as well set out as their shop – I like they way they use their space, it manages to be both warm and welcoming but without looking too cluttered.
Stuff and Good Sense (just behind the Tourist Information Centre) is a fantastic place to indulge in nostalgia – the shop is full of people sighing wistfully “Oh! Granny had that tea service!” or “My mum had that vase!” – find the finishing touch to a room or buy a perfect and unusual gift.
You absolutely must read about Mrs Anke’s trip around the new Pantiles boutiques for an overview of what you can find, but I highly recommend you come down here yourself for a good browse – the Pantiles is really coming into its own, now, and is something to be truly proud of.
Many towns have touristy bits that are twee and with nothing to offer anyone under 70, but the Pantiles seems to have really balanced the comfortingly antique with the excitingly new, now – it’s almost like a having a mini Covent Garden on our doorstep, and it’s wonderful to see.
There is a forthcoming Pantiles Fashion Market to look forward to, organised by local blogger and fashionista at large, Lady M Presents (August 13th & 14th) in which local independent designers and boutiques are gathering together to celebrate their diversity. Along with the Electric Lantern Festival (September 3rd -11th) celebrating film, photography, art, sculpture, comedy performances, dance, theatre and much more – and with the regular Thursday night Jazz and live bands, these festivals are drawing increasing numbers of people down to this (far more salubrious, dahlings) end of town.
Read more abut forthcoming Pantiles events on the Tunbridge Wells People website.
In a time of economic uncertainty and with only major chains and sprawling, faceless malls seemingly taking over many areas today, it’s more vital than ever to support local and independent businesses who are brave enough to stick their necks above the parapet. Jolly good show all round!
Filed under: Embroidery, Etsy, Jewellery | Tags: embroidery, Etsy, flowers, handmade, Jewellery, London, Modern, necklace, UK, Wild Embroidery
In a lazy Sunday morning browse, I came across a recently opened shop called Wild Embroidery, based in London and run by a very talented lady called Lu, who embroiders beautiful designs onto pendants, making them wearable little pieces of art.
There is something very pleasing about their simplicity, and also for the fact you are wearing a little picture that someone has hand stitched, I think.
Pretty but not at all twee, the embroidered pieces are made to order and presented in chunky vintage-toned bronze frames and fob-like chains.
I must admit to hankering after the daisy…I love daisies – and they happen to relate strongly to one of my favourite books ever: The Hounds of the Morrigan by Pat O’Shea. Oh! And the dandelion one, too. Daisies and dandelions represent two of the characters, and it calms me to see them. You can only really understand this if you have read the book. Sorry. 😉
Of course I also have a special liking for the Nightingale necklace, too (for obvious reasons). 🙂
“the nightingale is in love with the plum blossoms
she sings for them every night.
she can only peck once in a while, but never touch…
such is her punishment.”
Until next time, my lovelies,
Filed under: Fashion | Tags: Camden Road, designer, Fashion, Kent, label, new, Original Annie, tunbridge wells, UK
I thought it was about time I celebrated some true home-grown talent, and with that in mind I was overjoyed to hear that a brand new fashion label called Original Annie was opening in my hometown of Tunbridge Wells. Intrigued, I hot-footed it to their showroom to view select pieces of their collection and discover Original Annie’s Raison d’Être.
Approaching their intimate showroom in the now thriving, artsy area of Camden Road (number 121, for those of you itching to see it), there was a throng of people already inside, excitedly chattering about the clothes and the prospect of a new designer in town, and that genuine buzz of eager anticipation among the crowd. I took along fellow fashionista and gal-about-town (who also happens to be a colleague of mine in my fashion day-job), Sallie Gibson, and together we took the plunge into the crowds of people admiring the clothes from this brand new fashion label.
The first thing that struck me was the delicious simplicity of the designs on show. I don’t mean that to sound derrogatory – far from it, for as anyone involved in fashion will tell you, the more simple the garment, the less it has to hide behind, so the more perfect it has to be. If that supposedly simple looking piece isn’t exquisitely finished from top to toe, it rapidly becomes apparent, and these pieces are just wonderful for a modern woman to slip into her wardrobe and accessorise however she wishes – to put YOUR very own stamp on an outfit, rather than a designer dictate every aspect of your outfit.
The second thing I noticed when viewing the SS11 collection was the highly original fabrics used. The majority of garments on show were made from a thick, waxed cotton in bold, block candy colours – very striking to look at, but utterly divine to the touch. I do so wish you could reach your hand through your computer monitor and stroke the pictures of these clothes, as I stroked them lovingly in person. It was quite amusing, actually, to glance around the boutique and see so many people doing exactly the same thing – reaching out and touching them as my colleague Sallie and I were! It’s impossible not to do, they are soft but with a definite structure. Quite addictive!
I fell madly in love with a modern take on the waxed jacket – the Bronx Hudson – streamlined and simple, again, with a touch of military styling about it. Completely fantastic and adaptable to so many looks and ages – as are most of the pieces I saw. Sallie fell for a sample of a stunning baby-soft wool shift dress in powder blue with a creamy micro polka-dot running through the fabric. Yes, there are very flirty short dresses, but one could easily wear them as tunic over leggings or thicker tights and boots on colder days, or with jeans and Converse pumps for a dress-down casual look. I could see a number of people I know in many of the designs, ranging from teenage gals about town through sophisticated fashionistas of my age (30’s. Beyond that, not saying ;p) and well beyond. It’s all about the styling, dahlings.
So, buoyed up with enthusiasm (and not just because of the retro Babyshams we were drinking!) and having seen the pieces up close and personal, we discovered a bit more about the team behind this new fashion label.
Oliver Lee-Haswell”]Oliver Lee-Haswell “]Colin Cleaver is the head of design and came up with the concept behind Original Annie. Although Colin’s roots were based in architecture – indeed, he originally trained as an architect at the Architects Association, London – it isn’t such an unusual start for a fashion designer as you may think. The streamlined designs, which are continually re-worked until he is 100% happy with every aspect, are very architectural themselves, in that nothing is there without a purpose.
De-nuded of the frills and furbelows some designers use to trick the eye, with an Original Annie garment what you see is what you get – no seam is extraneous, and this beautiful simplicity underpins their very ethos: Strength and Beauty.
The Orignial Annie team are fortunate to count among their number one of the very finest pattern-cutters in the business, Jefferey Witkin. On his rather prestigious CV, Jefferey can list Vivienne Westwood, Gucci and Valentino to name-dop a few of the houses he’s been involved with.
Multi-tasking superwoman, the incredibly glamorous Laura Duret, is one of those effortless-looking plate-spinning types who manages Original Annie’s PR whilst also running the boutique showroom and being in charge of styling. Oh, and she models some of the clothes, and runs about 100 other projects simultaneously! Laura also harks back to Colin’s design roots, explaining to a fellow blogger (the wonderful Lady M Presents, who showcases and models a number of the designs on her own blog piece about Original Annie, which you can read here), that the pieces Colin wanted to make are like “…architecture for the body, to make women look beautiful”.
From what will surely become their trademark shift dresses, through to tailored jackets and flowing fesitval capes, we found that Original Annie maintain their design standards throughout the range, whilst managing to encompass a huge number of potential ‘looks’ or the types of women who would wear them – something quite rare in these days when many design houses take that element of fun out of playing with clothes, accessorising and dressing up or down depending on what mood you’re in that day or how confident you feel.
Although very much a homegrown talent, with the flagship store and showroom based in the Royal spa town of Tunbridge Wells, Kent; Original Annie have their eyes on the horizon, too, with a hope to eventually become an internationally renowned label which one could purchase in fashion capitals around the world. Original Annie isn’t only available to the lucky few who may pop in locally, however, so don’t despair! They are already up and running on the ASOS Marketplace website, so everyone can own their little piece of design-history in the making.
All photos of the Original Annie shop & launch event © Oliver Lee-Haswell (who is also busy designing their official website page – another of those plate-spinner types with so many projects on the go). All other photos © Original Annie Ltd.
Original Annie Boutique: 121 Camden Road, Tunbridge Wells, England, TN1 2QY.