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Thursday, 22 January 2015

FOUND - Selfie And The City

I find hand-held technology remarkable. That said, I don't have a smart phone or a tablet, and my MP3 player is gathering dust in my desk drawer. The sights and sounds of the city so heavily inspire what I wear and write that I can't afford to block them out with 'personal' music or lower my eyes in favour of a blinking screen. I have however lately snapped a handful of selfies, with a camera (not a phone). This pop culture portrait phenomenon and its limited perspective quickly left me spiritless. But as soon as I turned the lens outward, something far more interesting developed. 

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

TRY THIS - Teachings of Untouched Toys

At 50-years-old, I find I'm still attracted to dolls. I couldn't resist this wee Japanese cutie, spotted at the Octavia charity shop in Ealing last week for £1.50. The white porcelain lady was a gift from a friend, the tiny pink mistress - a brooch - was found on Ebay CLICK HERE and the brush babe an 'as-is' bargain buy CLICK HERE. When I was a girl, I loved my dolls with abandon, resulting in Barbies with mismatched shoes and a Raggedy Ann that was far more raggedy than Ann. 

I wonder if my grown-up fascination is misguided atonement for the childish, even reckless attention I lavished on dollies long gone? Sadly these modern-day dears pictured, collected and cared for, enjoy no fun and games. These are fashion curios rather than play things. These do not star in immature but imaginative dramas, they do not converse with green plastic Army men or ride about on the shoulders of hand-knit teddy bears. A lesson for this living doll? Indeed. At 50, at any age maybe, let me be a moppet with mismatched shoes rather than an impeccable figurine, cherished but untouched. 

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

TRY THIS - Stylish Finds Down on the Farm

At the weekend I found this gorgeous hand-made bag at Duck Pond Market in Ruislip, North West London CLICK HERE. What a find, both the purse and the place! This leather accessory is the work of Amma Gyan, a skilled designer whose jewellery has featured on the shelves of high-street retailer Jigsaw. A Londoner born in Ghana, Amma's designs (see more below) combine leather and metals in a manner that is warm and inviting. Teamed with vintage, these well-made accessories keep your 2nd-hand style looking fresh and modern. To see Amma's complete line CLICK HERE.

Duck Pond Market is located in a lovely barn on the grounds of Manor Farm in the borough of Hillingdon CLICK HERE. The site - the remains of a pre-Norman Motte and Baily fort - boasts an extensive series of barns and outbuildings that house artisan workshops, an impressive library, a 350-seat theatre and more. It's a lovely natural setting not far from the high street. 

The afternoon was topped off with a tipple in The Duck House, a friendly pub in the shadow of Manor Farm CLICK HERE. The next Duck Pond Market is scheduled for Sunday 15 February. See you there.

Monday, 19 January 2015

FOUND - It's My Cuppa' Silk Skirt, OK?

I found this Orla Kiely lined, silk skirt at The Cat Charity shop on Pitshanger Lane in Ealing. Kiely is an Irish print designer who experienced success after Harrods bought her degree show. She'd been designing for Esprit but with encouragement from her husband established her own label in 1997. Today her simple but evocative repeating patterns can be found on everything from backpacks to bed sheets, and on anyone from The Duchess of Cambridge to Huntress London. This skirt's colour combinations grabbed me from the get-go and once I realized it was OK (Orla Kiely), I snapped it up feeling both smug and lucky. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that it wasn't until I pinned it to the fence to click this picture that I properly saw the coffee pot pattern. For me, this skirt was a series of interesting circles and spaces, conceptual rather than actual. I pride myself on my eye for detail but the strong imagery initially eluded me. All's well, as I am the consummate coffee drinker - me and joe are the best of friends. If you're looking for a relaxing spot to sit and enjoy a mug of java in Ealing, my patch, might I suggest The Electric CLICK HERE. In addition to quality coffee, the staff are friendly and the view over Haven Green, well, green. My 2nd-hand find was £14.99. I've plenty left in my pocket for a black Americano and maybe a slice of banana cake.
For more Orla Kiely CLICK HERE  

Friday, 16 January 2015

TRY THIS - Face It, She's Better With Age

I find 2nd-hand infinitely more interesting than brand new, hence Huntress London. It seems new fashions only become significant to me once they've been knocked around. I bought this Mulberry bag in 2003, a time in my life when while I had a bit of dosh, I was unsettled, in transition, searching. I'd taken time off from 'real' work to write. Write, I did not, instead I wandered (the streets of Central London) and wondered (lost in my own thoughts). One day while weaving my way around Oxford Street, down along St Christopher's Place, I spotted this decidedly un-Mulberry bag in a shop window. 

In a moment of madness I walked into the shop and said, "I'll take it." I've never regretted the pricey purchase, it's a striking, well-made bag from a classic British fashion house. All the same, she sat in my closet, nearly unused, for years. I could always find something more appealing to sling over my shoulder. Then one day I noticed the wine-coloured leather trim was coming away from the tapestry. I immediately had the bag repaired by a local, reliable shoe guy and voilĂ ! I fell head-over-heels in love with her. Over time she enjoyed more wear and tear, acquiring a patina that said she was full of experience and purpose. Not unlike me.  

Thursday, 15 January 2015

TRY THIS - Be Emboldened by Bloggers

I found this striking necklace - metal and stone - at the Mind charity shop across the road from Highgate tube station. Looking like a one-off unearthed on an exotic holiday, it's weighty and well-traveled. Once home though, the £4.99 find felt surprisingly pedestrian. I'd planned to use it as 'filler' in the neck of a crisp with shirt but somehow the effect was wanting. However the necklace won't be re-donated to my local charity shop, for mercifully styling rescue arrived this week in the form of a fellow fashion blogger. Alyson, freelance journalist, former fashion editor and creator of That's Not My Age CLICK HERE, re-introduced me to accessorizing aristocrat, Loulou de la Falaise. Alyson's recent blog post is a compelling case for a coffee table tome about the Yves Saint Laurent muse and accessory designer (published by Rizzoil). The stunning photos in the post (and book) gave my stale styling vibe fresh stimulation. Do CLICK HERE for a sneak peek at LouLou's jewellery genius. 

This is what my fellow blogger inspired. Three very different necklaces combining for a look that is greater than the sum of its parts. My charity shop find is topped with a string of heavy gold beads I picked up ages ago at the American discount retailer Target. It's actually a quality item, a staple that style shifts depending on what it accompanies. Nestled between the two is a pendant created by Pididdly Links bought in 1994 on an interminable car journey through upstate New York. In 1969 Pididdly Links began creating Victorian-inspired high-quality costume jewellery in Lake Katrine, NY. The company stopped production in 1995, but not before I got hold of my gold medal girl. I like to think this trio, now a singular sensation, would leave Loulou positively spellbound.  

Thanks That's Not My Age.  

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

TRY THIS - Be Inspired by the Flapper in You

I found this book at the Cancer Research charity shop in Putney. I'm not alone, I don't suspect, in my fascination with the 1920s, a "dangerous generation." The 6 women featured in Flappers include socialite Diana Cooper, activist Nancy Cunard, actress Tallulah Bankhead, dancer Josephine Baker, painter Tamara de Lempicka and 20s flag bearer Zelda Fitzgerald. 
"None of them got as far as they wanted, and they all had to settle for being artistic rather than artists."                     The Guardian 
I'm particularly drawn to Zelda - the wife of F Scott - for like me, she was an aspiring writer born in Alabama. My Southern roots aren't deep. I've no independent memory of the small military town, Ozark, where I was born. But it is in fact the sheer brevity of my early time in Dixie that makes the place and its people all the more compelling in my head. My mother tells a story of finding a snake in my baby shoe one morning and recalls the real poverty they faced trying to make ends meet on my father's Army salary. Accounts of Zelda's life and my own recreate the American South in my imagination, at once dark and garish. It's a mysterious never-never landscape that I cannot resist visiting.      

For the full review of Flappers in The Guardian CLICK HERE