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Monday, 18 May 2015

FOUND - His Obscenely Stylish Neck

I find I envy my husband his 2nd hand neckties. His colossal collection, gathered over time and travel, is a fantastical print riot. Although I often style neckties as belts, I remain wildly jealous of the daily opportunity this accessory offers him; a simple but effective way of adding a pop of pattern to his well-considered sartorial vibe. He sports magnificent motifs and outrageous colour combos discretely corralled in the defined confines of a strip of silk. I hear you shout, "Man up Huntress! Wind your neck in and just wear one!" I can and I do but day-in-and-day out it's not a look I can make my own. Alternatively I collect bangles the way Him Outdoors collects ties.  

A unique man-ccessory, the necktie is centuries old. Chinese terracotta soldiers uncovered in 1974 but created in 210BC are wearing a neck cloth that seems a precursor to the modern tie. But it wasn't until the 1920s that New Yorker Jesse Langdorf cut fabric on a 45 degree angle using 3 piece construction. This bit of haberdashing genius allowed the slash of fabric to lay flat after it was tied, no twisting and turning. And with that, the suit's contemporary companion was born. 

From quality vintage the likes of Lanvin to thin, unlined demob versions, my husband's collection is highly democratic. While my step-mom consistently finds skinnies that fit the bill, I don't posses the knack for spotting examples that he deems keepers. Rightly his penchant is evolved, specific and idiosyncratic. Indeed Supreme Court Justice Potter's constitutional definition of pornography, "I know it when I see it," aptly applies to my husband's very personal taste in ties.   

To See His Tie Clip Collection (naturally) CLICK HERE

Friday, 15 May 2015

TRY THIS - Liberate the Humble Hanky

I found these Liberty handkerchiefs at Mary's Living & Giving shop in Ealing. Their folded fabulousness quite nearly sings, "everything old is new again." For decades, squares of fancy fabric like this have served as sneeze guards, sun protectors, nose wipers and more. Hankies have been flirty props for pulling and when soaked in perfume, acted to mask the odors emanating from poor public sanitation. Shakespeare's Iago hatched a hankie-based scheme to dupe ole Othello into offing himself and his sinless Desdemona. WWII pilots carried hankies printed with maps to help them escape danger if shot down behind enemy lines. Hankie history is rich (cotton) indeed. But in 1924 when Kimberly-Clark introduced the Kleenex as an aid to removing cold cream, hankies everywhere must have quivered. Within a few years the company was inundated with letters from customers reporting that they were happily using Kleenex as disposable hankies. And with that, the fabric accessory began its journey toward obsolete oblivion. Pop to the present, and today the sustainability movement ensures that the forgotten handkerchief is environmentally correct. My husband wasn't a believer when I pushed a hankie into his perspiring palm one hot day, but he's changed his tune. In the heat of summer on a muggy train, hankies are delightful pocket luxuries. Dab your brow and take pleasure in the fact that sweat can be stylish. I'm keeping the hankie with the white trim, but the rest belong to the husband. The lot cost £9. 

To read Liberty's lovely, informative blog CLICK HERE  

Thursday, 14 May 2015

TRY THIS - Something for the Weekend

I find the trend for vintage sales in pubs a marriage made in heaven. Beer and bargains, something for everyone really. And while East London hosts a plethora of fab 2nd-hand sales in its ultra cool watering holes, in my well-read book West is Best. To that end, this Saturday, 16 May, from 1pm to 5pm The Fox CLICK HERE, a bright, canal-side boozer opens its grounds to The Fox Vintage Fair and Tea. Hanwell's premier pub serves as a lovely backdrop to what is sure to be a parade of pre-owned pleasures. 

Housewares, fabrics, accessories and jewellery await the discerning shopper. Browse, chit chat, buy. And there's more. This month's Fox fun features retro makeovers by hair and makeup expert Emma Freely from just £6. Fancy a Victory roll or a red lippy lesson? Ms Freely will be there to beautify your barnet and properly powder your nose. In addition, Clarence & Alabama will be selling vintage-inspired frocks - owner Amy is a delight and has a keen eye for retro re-makes CLICK HERE. An undoubtedly gorgeous afternoon tea will be served under the marquee in the garden for only £7, pre-booking required, ring 020 8567 4021. The Fox Pub is located at the end of Green Lane, W7 2PJ. The weather forecast for Saturday is sunny, so be clever like a fox and amble on over to Hanwell for delightful pub fair. 

Follow Fox Vintage on Twitter @FoxVintageW7

Monday, 11 May 2015

FOUND - Red Shoes With Star Status

I found these amazing vintage shoes at the monthly car boot in South Ruislip at Queensmead School CLICK HERE. This was my first car boot but definitely not my last. The traders were friendly, the stock diverse and prices rock bottom. These gorgeous Italian-made courts were £2, that's right just two Great British Pounds. They were made by GATTO, a famed shoemaker located near the Via Veneto in Rome - since 1912 GATTO has made footwear for royalty and the kings of industry alike. These red shoes put me in mind of the driven-to-dance footwear in the 1948 film The Red Shoes, the ballet epic that made Moira Shearer a star CLICK HERE

An Original Painting by Ivor Beddoes Created for The Red Shoes

The ground-breaking film is part of my friend Selina's family history. Ivor Beddoes, her grandfather, worked closely with Hein Heckroth the film's set and costume designer to establish The Red Shoes' haunting look. Beddoes produced countless images associated with the film and while much of his work for The Red Shoes went uncredited, in 2009 the British Film Institute hosted an exhibition showcasing the storyboards he created for the big screen masterpiece CLICK HERE. Beddoes would go on to work as a sketch artist, art director and illustrator for numerous films including Casino Royale, The Dirty Dozen, Goodbye Mr Chips, Star Wars and Superman to name just a few. His filmography is extensive but his real legacy lives on in his granddaughter Selina. While she never met him, it seems to me she's inherited his creative touch.

Four works by Selina Scarvaci   

Thursday, 7 May 2015

TRY THIS - Art Is The New Black

I find you don't always get what you pay for. Often, as in the case of a free exhibition I dropped in on this week, you get much more. For Arts Sake, an Ealing print gallery and framer, is currently showcasing the work of linocut artist and craftsman Paul Catherall CLICK HERE

His work may look familiar - the likes of Transport for London, Penguin Books, Wallpaper Magazine and Mark & Spencer have commissioned Catherall to provide them with his distinctive urban images. 

Catherall's colour combinations are thrilling. It seems with ease and confidence he adds pigment to an urban landscape that I often consider colourless or at best, grey. A sky shot red, for example, by a brown Battersea Power Station seems as right as rain in this colour blocked world.     

If you live in the Ealing area, don't miss this bit-sized exhibition celebrating 15 years of linocuts by Coventry-native, and now Londoner Paul Catherall. But be careful, his work is tempting and For Arts Sake's monthly payment plan make owning an image budget friendly. I walked away with one - a limited-edition print that will inspire me for years to come.  

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

FOUND - Sincerest Form of Flattery?


I find ethnic-inspired fashion captivating. It engages my imagination and sets me off wondering, probing, researching. Whether a mock jade necklace or a tartan scarf, a java print blouse or Native American beaded bracelet, I'm drawn to styles that tell a story other than my own. I'm well aware that "the story" is highly managed and edited by the Fashion Industry. Very few of my ethnic fashions are authentic - made AND worn by the cultures they claim to represent. These 2nd-hand finds are a re-telling, a fashion adaptation. But is there anything entirely original? Influence can be subtle but it's unceasingly influential. In fact it seems to me the Fashion Industry would self destruct if it weren't able to call on the creative output of other cultures. That said, non-Western manufacturers, large and small, are producing ethnic fashions for a real and virtual tourist market CLICK HERE. They're adding their own twist - often an act of subtraction - to their own culture, Westernizing their fashion output to suit our perceived tastes. And what of designers like Yohji Yamamoto and Issy Miyake? Rather than capitalizing on the stereotypical exoticism of their culture, they travel a very personal creative road, in an effort to navigate their idiosyncratic vision rather than ethnicity's preordained path. My fake jade necklace - made of stone - was £4.99 at Oxfam in Ealing. A fiver for your thoughts on ethnic-inspired fashion?

Friday, 1 May 2015

TRY THIS - Be A Vintage Seller for a Day

I find the people who sell 2nd-hand stuff as compelling as the stuff they sell. Recently I had a chit chat with Victoria and Emma, the driving forces behind the superb bi-monthly Fox Vintage Market hosted in the courtyard of Hanwell's canal-side Fox Pub. Victoria spots and sells real vintage jewellery. Her day job involves researching and writing text for encyclopedia publishers. But lest you think she's just a brainy wordsmith, she also trained as a Flameno dancer. Some years ago she performed in Trafalgar Square alongside the Strictly Come Dancing professionals. You can't help but wonder how her dancing feet effect her vintage seeking eye? Sparkle anyone?

Emma, who will also be out in force at the Fox Vintage sale, like me loves a good Deal. More specifically the quaint town on the Kent coast is her favourite - the very seaside town that's my default destination whenever I've a free weekend CLICK HERE. Emma recently took the plunge and made 2nd-hand selling her full-time career. She sells her pre-loved housewares at various markets, as well as Wow Vintage and Crafts in Kingston's historic Market House CLICK HERE

Pitches are still available for the 16th. If you're local to the Hanwell/Ealing area and have quality, interesting vintage clothing, accessories or housewares to sell, contact the girls at