Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Vintage Pampering

Ladies love to be pampered. It's a well known fact. Be it a day at the spa or an evening at home with friends and a beauty therapist. It's a treat that girls the world over look forward to once in a while. In London, Tart, a very special indulgence event regularly takes place at the beautiful and bijou hotel, 40 Winks. Inspired from a by-gone era of beauty and grooming, Tart is an afternoon of vintage make-overs, styling and an education in old-fashioned manners. Hosted by the very dapper David Carter, interior designer and owner of 40 Winks, the aim is to bring some alternative fun and frivolity to pamering parties. Guests are advised to take note of the event's very strict dress code. Drop Dead Gorgeous is the order of the day. Don't even consider a pair of old faithful denims even if it happens to be a typically cold and rainy day in London. Mr Carter suffers with a strange allergy to jeans. Tea dresses and silk stockings are more in keeping with the surroundings. During the afternoon a team of top make-up artists from beauty brand Benefit will transform the guests at this girls only event into gorgeous glamour kittens who, literally squeal with delight at the results. Experts from Lipstick and Curls, the retro beauty stylist specialists, tease hair into Victory Rolls for a foxy forties look. Part-time pin-up girl and retro enthusiast, Fleur de Guerre is also on hand to share the secrets of her style, showing guests the most authentic shades of lipstick and how to apply. Once the guests are groomed to perfection then it's time for the fashion and lingerie experts to pass on their knowledge and styling tips. A selection of fab frocks are available to browse and buy from Vogue's favourite retro clothing supplier, Vintage Secret and lessons are given on how to wear corsets and stocikings from faux vintage lingerie brand What Katie Did.
Tart is a decadent afternoon where naugtiness is positively encouraged. Guests are advised to leave their coats along with their cautious calorie counting in the cloakroom. Afternoon teas, chocolates, and alcohol are served throughout the day for guests to graze on. At 6pm the pampering ends and the party begins. After four hours of self-indulgent preening, the ladies are given generous goody bags to take away with them. The girls then head out to suitably glamourous East-End eateries, such as Loungelover for dinner and drinks or maybe even make an appearance at the Grand Vintage Attire Ball held in South London's Rivoli Ballroom. After a day of transformation at Tart, the vintage vixens then indulge in an evening of retro fantasies and alter egos.
Pictures: Top left- Specially commisioned chocolates.
Top right- Dressing table in the guest room at 40 Winks
Bottom: Pampering in progress.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

April Comment: Archive and Retrieve

London is witnessing some fine spring weather at the moment. It has warmed up so much that I have finally stopped wearing fur coats (for now anyway) and pulled out the spring jackets and macs from the wardrobe. Whilst getting in the spring cleaning mood I decided to have a sift through my 'Archive' bags (i.e. every item of clothing I have ever owned and loved since 1987) and I was lucky enough to find and still fit into some classic, key items out of the Ikea storage bags hidden under the bed and in the loft. Minimalism is the buzz word for this season and for the coming autumn/winter,with a particular reference to the key designers from the nineties. In my bags unfortunately, I can't boast vintage Helmut Lang (Yes, vintage, as the recent Selfridges exhibition declared 'The Nineties are Vintage') or timeless piece from Margiela, although I did find some on-trend gems in those storage bags. A pair of 1970s St Michael off-white high waisted flares to channel that spring 2010 YSL and Celine vibe. And a peachey/nude silver embroidered Tocca dress from 1996. The colour and the A-line shape of this dress make it perfectly in keeping with the mood of this spring/summer. And it feels so good to revive pieces from my own collection. It cost the earth precisely zero carbon miles for me to climb up a ladder to my loft and it cost my wallet precisely 0.00p also to get a couple of key items for my spring look. No new energy was used nor were any chemicals were pumped in the air today to produce the fabrics or the garments too. It is totally cool right now to retrieve your old clothes and recycle old ideas. If they were stylish and cool back in the day, then why shouldn't they be just as good now? In fact it is being encouraged by those in the fashion industry to delve into the recent past. Just look at next autumn/winter Prada collection. The prints have been sourced from it's 90s pattern archives. Its like saying if you have one in storage don't buy new, start wearing it again. And oddly even those whose livelihood relies on the sales of fashion are steering people away from buying so much. Julie Gilhart, the Fashion Director of Barney's New York said recently 'The rules of what you buy are now different. Buy quality, know what you are buying, buy things that are going to last a long time and that you're going to wear frequently. It's antiquated to say "I'm going to buy my spring wardrobe" now it's "I think I'm going to buy pieces that I can wear for as long as possible" and even our very own grand dame of fashion Vivienne Westwood advised people recently to stop buying more clothes . At last weeks EstEthica question and answer session on World Earth Day, a group of inspirational figures from the fashion industry discussed the need for change in our clothes shopping habits. Grazia's Melanie Rickey, Yasmin Sewell creative consultant/buyer and model Laura Bailey were amongst a select panel who are aiming to bring the awareness of ethics to the fashion industry. Their advice was to stop the fashion frenzy and reassess our value of good integral design.Having saved and looked after my old clothes over the years I am helping to be ethical today. And by only buying what is quality and absolutely necessary today I am helping future generations and others after me become ethical. As a self-confessed fashion obsessive I have been collecting and curating my collection wardrobe for over 20 years now. But its never too late to start collating a clothing collection.
Pictures: Top- My beloved Tocca dress
Middle- Discussing ethics at EstEthica with me just visible at the far right in a denim skirt I have owned since I was 15. It was vintage when I bought it too. How apt for the day!
Bottom- The EstEthica Panel from left to right- Laura Bailey, Yasmin Sewell, Orsola de Castro, Baroness Lola Young, Melanie Rickey, Charty Durrant. EstEthica photos by Alistair Guy

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The Race Is On... Beat You To The Best Vintage Sale in London.

Calling all lovers of everything vintage. This Sunday 25th of April, sprint down to Greenwich and bag yourself the best in vintage clothing, accessories and collectables. After cheering off the runners at the start line of The London Marathon, the girls from the oh-so superb My Vintage Affair are hosting a one day event at Olivier's Bar in the centre of Greenwich. Whether you are looking for that perfect prom dress or a top hat for your dapper chap, everyone's a winner at My Vintage Affair. Find fab frocks and globally sourced top notch items from the 1930s to the 1980s. Come and join us between 12pm to 5.30pm for cocktails, cupcakes and cool retro tunes.
Oliviers Bar, 9 Nevada Street, Greenwich, SE10 9JL
For more information on My Vintage Affair please call 020 8858 1964 or email

Autumn/Winter 2010 International Round-Ups Kilts

Last week's report focused on the tartan and plaid garments that are coming through in next season's collections. This week lets look at another Scottish staple, the kilt. Christopher Kane referenced his provincial Scottish Catholic upbringing in his autumn/winter 2010 collection ,by opening the show with a short sexy version of this tradtional skirt. Cut with a high waistband ,a flat front and swishy pleats fanning out at the back , this piece is a key silhouette for next winter. Danish designer, Peter Jensen was inspired by the story of Scottish schoolgirls in the 1930's for his last show. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie novel and movie of the same name was the starting point for his autumn/winter collection. Pairing a grey mini kilt with a striped top and matching blazer, accessorised with cute ankle socks and heeled brogues, was Jensen's vamped up version of the fashions from the film.
Left: Christopher Kane
Right: Peter Jensen

Saturday, 10 April 2010

International Round-Ups Tartan and Plaid

Got a thing for The Highland fling? Then next season is for you. Tartan and plaids were a popular feature on the Autumn/Winter international catwalks. Starting with traditional weaves and patterns, designers then pushed the idea forward creating their own modernist slant on the Scottish fabric. At Markus Lupfer, a fitted mini dress was partly embroidered leaving a black rash effect and a decidedly punk feel to the overall look. Proenza Shouler faded and blurred their checks which made for an new and fresh take on the style. And at Jil Sander the cloth was cut in a new way to create a tartan mistmatch on a classic shell top and skirt, giving a new twist to simple silhouetted garments. With tartan and plaid having a revival next season it is also a great homage to the recently and dearly departed fashion and cultural innovators Mr McQueen and Mr Maclaren who were both so fond of the Scottish cloths.
Top left: Proenza Shouler
Top right: Jil Sander
Bottom right: Markus Lupfer