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Thursday, 23 October 2014

FOUND - Paper Roses Bloom in W7


I found this hand-painted box at the Craft Barn in the forecourt of The Fox Pub in Hanwell, CLICK HERE. A little shed in the shadow of a lovely pub, the space is filled with a selection unique items created by area craftspeople. If you're like me, you save tissue paper and boxes re-using it to wrap gifts and such. The creator of this work of art also keeps boxes, but she makes the ordinary quite extraordinary - every surface of the box, inside and out is beautifully embellished by her hand. The Fox Pub is located on the Grand Union Canal, so it's not surprising that roses on the box resemble those that adorn longboats found along the banks of the canal.     
     

While the Craft Barn is open weekends with a selection of items, on the last Saturday of the month all the crafters pitch up with a wider variety of their wares. I'm told the artist who created this box is a talented woman of 70; I'm anxious to meet her on Saturday to express my appreciation for her work. Nothing but the best will be stored inside it; the box is the new home for my most delicate of lingerie. At just £6, everything's coming up paper roses.
       

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

TRY THIS - Purchase Plaid Pre-Owned


I found this scarf over the weekend at a Vintage Fair hosted by The Fox in Hanwell - a small but perfectly formed sale in the courtyard outside the pub. And it seems I've landed on the 'latest' trend, in West London of all places. The AW14 season sees tartan offered up as if the blueprint for its creation was only yesterday ripped from a drawing board for immediate debut on runways worldwide. The FFI's* claim to the woolen fabric seems so brazen you wouldn't be blamed for wondering aloud, "um, do they think they invented this stuff? Last night?" While mindlessly celebrating the return of John Galliano and conjuring patronizing trends like normcore, how do you find the time FFI*? (Huntress on normcore CLICK HERE). I love tartan, full stop, but the way in which Capital 'F' Fashion jumps in front of a traditional and long-standing style parade makes me see red (and green, with a little white). Who doesn't own a bit of tartan? Okay, maybe you're too young to have loved the Bay City Rollers, and fair enough. However, if you do lack the organized, overlapping woven wonder that is tartan, for goodness sake, buy it second-hand. Vintage fairs and charity shops are stocked full clothing made from this durable and forever-fashionable fabric. The scarf was £6.   

* Flippin' Fashion Industry 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

TRY THIS - She's Still Keeping Me Warm


This is Vivian, my Grandmother. She passed away in her 90s last year. Some years before she died she gave the fur she's wearing to my sister who re-purposed the dated, ageing coat. A lovely satin lined neck warmer is what remains of it for me. I realize fur is controversial, but to my mind binning something that belonged to this beloved lady is far more controversial. I can 'hear her' wearing this fur, along with a pencil skirt and nylons which 'woosh wooshed' when she walked. She introduced me to the delights of high-end handbags, Gucci in particular. When all her children had grown-up and finally moved out, she took a job at Higbees, a fancy department store in Massillon Ohio, where she stood regally behind the gleaming glass handbag counter. On very cold days I wrap this little bit of fur round my neck, pull my vintage Gucci pocketbook close and feel confident neither the elements nor the fashion police can get at me. I am protected by Vivian; my style saint, my memories, my grandma.  

REMINDER: This Saturday is the monthly West Ealing
Antiques Market - CLICK HERE for more information 

Monday, 20 October 2014

FOUND - Making A Case That's On Point


I found this homemade eyeglass case at Oxfam in Ealing. I love needlepoint. An easy-peasy project resulting in a highly effective graphic design, a point not lost on the fashion industry. In 2012 everyone from Dolce & Gabbana to Tory Burch showed needlepoint looks. Ornate dresses and handbags featured the time-honored stitchery. Me, I like the 80s preppy needlepoint belts that tended to feature seaside themes - whales, sailboats, buoys and anchors. I'm also head-over-heels for needlepoint flats from Stubbs & Wootten, CLICK HERE to view their rather charming website. These beauties don't come cheap. I managed to find a less-than-perfect pair on Ebay some years ago for £80. They're a personal favourite, as I oddly prize high-end that's a little down at heel. To see Huntress Post "Damaged Goodness" CLICK HERE. The eyeglass case holds extra appeal, along with my specs because someone sat on their sofa and made it. Like me, they longed to create, to invent, to be useful with their hands. And maybe like me, their skill level is wanting. All the same they stitched up a perfect, useful, lovely, handmade object. A lot of work (and heart I suspect) that cost just 49p.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

FOUND - Ab West Finds Huntress


Huntress London is proud to be featured in the November issue of Absolutely West. Not just a "vintage junkie," I'm a 2nd-hand style seeker. If I've said it once, I've said it 100 times, Never Buy New. To see the page on Pinterest, CLICK HERE. Sure, this is horn blowing, but who doesn't love a bit of brass? 

Friday, 17 October 2014

TRY THIS - Costume Flights of Fancy


My friend Monica gave me this little bird. I admired it in a 2nd-hand shop in NYC and while my head was turned, probably looking at bangles, she quietly bought him. He's costume jewelry by Monet - making him a sought after species. Costume once thought of as junk jewelry or fake, is often made with the same craftsmanship and technique as fine jewelry. Monet was launched by 2 brothers in 1937. Their early collections were influenced by both Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli, famed designers who both expected to be copied. By the 80s Monet was manufacturing for Yves Saint Laurent, probably the only jewelry maker able to meet the high-end designer's strict requirements. In 1995, Monet began manufacturing costume baubles for Christian Lacroix. This wee bird is not especially old, yet, but he is marked 'Monet' on the back and came to me under lovely circumstances. I'll wear him on a capped-sleeve black cashmere jumper (Oxfam) paired with a sheer black accordion pleat LK Bennett skirt (Fara) and COS black heels (RSPCA, yesterday's post) - with NAVY tights. I'm loving Navy + Black styling and this little birdie will get the look off the ground for me. 

Thursday, 16 October 2014

FOUND - Stone Cold Black Gold


I found these black COS heels at the RSPCA charity shop in Ealing. How often do I hear doubtful hunters remark "yeah but you can't find current fashions in charity shops" or "you never find the stuff you really need." Don't these covet-able courts crush those old chestnuts? COS, Collection of Style, is a Swedish brand founded in 2007. Simple, striking, superior design is what it brings to the British High Street. Who doesn't need black heels? And these were hardly worn. 

Even though you're wearin' them citified heels, I can tell by your giant steps, 
you been walkin' through the cotton fields - 
                                        The Rolling Stones

A quickie inventory of my wardrobe reveals Reiss, Cacharel, Jigsaw, Boden, LK Bennett, Hobbs, not to mention Mulberry, Churches and Bally. All FOUND lightly used in charity shops. The trick is looking often, which needn't take ages. Lunch hour, Saturday morning, day off, while on holiday. The more you do it, the quicker you'll get at it. You might even consider volunteering at a local charity shop. And make sure you buy it when you find it. Don't hesitate if the item (and the price) is right. These trendy high street heels were only £8.