Some people don’t like the work of Wes Anderson, they find it contrived and maybe a touch pretentious. Well I believe that everyone is entitled to their opinion. But that also includes me. So to those aforementioned people I would have to quote The Dude and say, ‘you’re not wrong, you’re just an asshole’. Yep, I’m afraid if you don’t like Futura font and a rotating cast of about five key players in every film you have come to the wrong neighbourhood my friend.
The last post was full of words and so I thought I would fill this one with images. I could wax lyrical about all of these films for a good thesis-sized piece - the deadpan one-liners, the music, Anjelica Huston, but I think I’ll let the visuals do the talking this time. So in descending age order we have… (by the way I’m not including Bottle Rocket because, well, it’s never really felt like a proper Anderson film to me even though it was the origin of the ‘three-profile-stare-into-the-distance motif’. Maybe I need to watch it a few more times but stylistically I like to think life begins with Rushmore).
The Royal Tennenbaums, 2001 (and my favourite film of all time).
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, 2004 (I’m not sure anyone on Earth has ever been more majestic than Anjelica Huston in this film, she’s a force of nature).
Hotel Chevalier, 2007 (little story – not long after I saw this short I had cause to rendezvous with T in a hotel in Marrakech. Before I stopped, actually more like one day forgot to smoke and never really remembered to again, I had a tradition whenever I arrived at a new hotel; before I unpacked or did anything at all I would take a cold glass bottle of Coca-Cola from the mini bar and drink it whilst smoking a cigarette on the balcony and breathe in my new city. I arrived at the hotel before T and started to prepare my usual ritual. However I then spied a huge, bright yellow dressing gown hanging in the bathroom, identical to the one from Hotel Chevalier. I promptly put it on, drank my coke, smoked my cigarette and breathed in Marrakech. It was one of the most blissful moments of my life. I still love Marrakech dearly. I also still have the dressing gown *blush*).
The Darjeeling Limited, 2007
Fantastic Mr Fox, 2009
Moonrise Kingdom, 2012
Castello Cavalcanti, 2013
The Grand Budapest Hotel, 2014 (Gahhhh! Can’t wait to see this)
And if you haven’t seen any of those, do!
Occasionally in life you have to do things. Sometimes those things are amazing. So was the case when I was given tickets for the Drowned Man by my sister. I had the tickets and so I had to go. Of course I had also wanted to go ever since she had described it to me, and so it worked out rather well.
I will warn you now, if you have any intention of going to see this show (which I heartily recommend you do) don’t read anymore because it will totally ruin it for you.
The Drowned Man is the latest production from the fabulous Punch Drunk theatre company who in their own words ‘pioneered a game changing form of theatre in which roaming audiences experience epic storytelling inside sensory theatrical worlds’. Their latest venture is no departure from this format and allows a six hundred strong audience to wander through the three storey Temple Studios. The huge red brick building sits directly beside Paddington Station and is so large it is inevitably completely overlooked by most commuters, myself included. Audiences enter through a loading bay shutter and are then submitted to various coat checks, ticket collections and bag drops via a maze of temporary crowd railings which makes it feel not unlike you are gaining access to a military facility.
I’ll switch up the narrative for the rest of this post. The Drowned Man is an immersive interactive experience and audience members are encouraged to follow their own paths meaning that everyone’s experience of the action will be different. I can’t tell you what happened in the show because I don’t know. I can only tell you what I saw.
I walk beside my lovely Nell, arms linked through blacked out corridors. Shuffling and muttering with gaggles of people in front and behind me. We enter a black room and the door closes. We are all given white masks to put on, plain and vacant, somewhere between eyes wide shut and SAW. Suddenly with a clatter the back wall of the room is thrown open to reveal a heavy goods lift bedecked with actors portraits. A purring, ominous man in dinner dress invites us inside and acts as conductor and tour guide. He gives us some handy character insights and invites us to leave our friends and ‘go it alone’. Nell and I squeeze each other’s arms silently, meaning ‘not on your f-ing life’. Oh and one more thing – no talking.
We are, we are told, within the bowls of Temple Studios, famous Hollywood institution full of fading stars and broken dreams. Outside the gates lie the desolate scrublands where those who never made it eke out an existence in run down caravans and tatty dresses. Filming has finished on a major production and a wrap party is taking place that night. He’ll see us there. Bub- eye…
The lift doors open and, as in a dream, I can’t remember where I started. I remember I was soon in an Americana shop, selling leather goods with a wooden counter and till. Suddenly the score which is being piped in from all angles ups its intensity and the masked crowd begins to cluster outside the shop, so I follow. A dime store cowboy appears from nowhere, plaid shirt, black jeans, and soon engages in a seduction dance with two girls wearing bobby-socks. They make their match and leave. I realise I’m on a street from the 1950s, any street in any small town in America. There’s a diner with a barber inside, a cinema, the leather goods shop I had emerged from and a large fountain with several benches. I go into the diner, it smells like sugar and additives. There are a line of phone booths at one end so I go inside one and look at the business cards and posters for casting calls pinned inside. I consider briefly ordering a milkshake but then a man enters and locks eyes with the lolling waitress behind the counter. They twirl and swirl and skip around each other, ending up in one of the phone booths. She crawls over him, he lifts just with the strength of his back and the confines of the booth and they melt and fall over one another. Finally she relents and they kiss.
Then they rush from the diner and the crowd follows them. They crash through a door which reads ‘no admittance, studio staff only’. I follow the flow of the crowd as we chase down the action, the kissing couple are pressed up against a corridor wall, I walk past them because it seems rude to stay and watch. I’m now on a studio set for what looks like a low budget fifties teen flick. A girl’s bedroom has been set up complete with magazines, pink bedspread and hairspray. Beside this is a perfect mid-century kitchen, lemon yellow and plastic. Beside this, a high school locker room resplendent with school colours and white socks.
Lots of people are in my way and I can see very little, but then a directors voice bellows from the heavens, conjuring a sinister reference to the ‘sparkle in your eyes’ as one female actor seems to quickly take something to pep her up. The stereotypical high school dolls kick out a jazzy number with synchronised hand claps and beaming smiles. The voice yells cut and everyone deflates back in to human forms. The action moves to the locker room as one male jock brushes off the advances of a young actress, she is distraught and yells at him. He is alone. In slinks a woman, older, bolder than the girls and dressed in a cocktail dress, beside her a suited man with a wondrous moustache. They proceed to groom the young actor for stardom, he dances to their tune and accepts all advances.
They leave and we are alone on the set. I decide to go in to the corridor and see what I can find. I spy a room labelled ‘costume’ and of course take a look. Everything is dark and shadowy with very little light. There are rails of clothes at the far end of the room, hats hanging everywhere, glass cabinets containing gloves, handbags, compacts and shoes. It’s like the most wonderful vintage shop I’ve ever seen, and it’s all just sitting there, free for me to play with. I open some drawers and find yet more treasures. I run my hands over the fabrics and beads and glass. I wander through the racks of clothes but they have been laid out in a winding seemingly never-ending ‘S’ shape which gets darker the further in to the clothes forest I go, I hear voices inside the rails and get scared and back out. Maybe there’s another world at the end like Narnia, I think, but still don’t venture in again. I leave the room from a different door and am in a large muted green space that smells like antiseptic. Clip boards are pinned to every inch of wall space from floor to ceiling. Furled brown medical report are affixed to each one. I take some time to read the notes; Patient – Nancy Morgan. Occupation – Stand in. Condition – Anxiety. They went on in this vein, list upon list of ill or troubled staff members being prescribed cocktails of pills, I presumed to keep the smiles on their faces. Also in the room is a small stage and large projection monitor showing a loop of the running horse. I examine a sliver medical trolley equipped with syringes, kidney dish and various pristine steel implements. I pick up a pair of forceps and clang them together, then shudder and put them down very quickly.
I feel safe in my mask, anonymous and unaccountable. There are always people around me, milling in a similar isolated way, but really I am alone, wandering my own journey, seeing my own horrors. I go to leave the medical centre but as I enter the corridor a man in a white coat carrying a cane comes marching down from the opposite direction, followed by a band of masked observers. We nearly collide, he stops and looks at me hard, he takes his cane and slips it under my arm lifting my hand from my pocket and making me hold it out sideways. He eyes my outstretched arm as if taking measurements, his cane is under my hand and he gently flexes it so I wave my fingers slowly as he stares hard at them. I feel like John Merrick. He abruptly turns on his heel and walks in to his office. I along with many others follow him. He sits at his gloomy desk and begins to make Rorschach tests from a small tinkling bottle of black ink and heavy thick paper.
Some movement outside, a knock at the door and he leaves.
I go through another door into an almost entirely black room. A huge pile of scripts lie in a pyramid on the floor. I pick one up and take it to the desk at the end of the room to try and see better. I can just make out the title page which reads ‘The Drowned Man’.
I leave again and head back in the direction I had come from. I spy a room labelled ‘Wig Room’ and go inside. Dark, small and silent, filled with rack upon rack of decapitated Styrofoam skulls in gaudy curled and coloured creations. Paper eyes are pinned to them, cut from magazines always too large or small giving grotesque life to the staring faces. I peer around, touch the hair and leave.
To the next door along the corridor which opened into a dressing room. The cloying, sickly smell of old flowers fills the air, and I look up to see hundreds of dried bouquets hanging from the ceiling, remnants of faded adoration. I sit at one of the mirrors and read a letter which has been left open, it’s a love letter but I can’t remember the details. I open drawers and find lipsticks and powders, all old and used and full of memories. I read a few more letters but the names and places don’t make sense to me. I smell the air again and leave.
I head back through the boardroom and enter yet more black space, now becoming wholly familiar and not as unnerving as it used to be.There is a stage in the middle of the room with a black and white checkerboard floor. Small steps lead up and I can see something in shadow on the for towards the back of the stage and so I climb them. My boots rattle the hollow steps and I’m unsure if I should be doing this. I peer towards the shape on the floor in the gloom and can see a small basket, inside curled, as if asleep is a black dog, dead and strewn with flowers. I descend from the stage and move towards an assortment of backlit glass cases full of memorabilia like I used to see at the Hard Rock Café when I was little.
In another corner is a large glass window through which I can see in to a small house with a messy unmade bed, oodles of books and papers and a saggy sofa. A masked observer stands on the other side playing with a rotary dial telephone, listening, turning and listening again. I notice in the shadows on my side of the glass a similar phone on a tall stand. I pick it up and listen to cackles and tones, clicks and hisses. I put the phone back down and feel a bit sad that we never made our connection. I leave this space and head through a door. Yet more empty blackness.
I round a corner and am in a motel courtyard. Wooden veranda doorways run in a line with small prettily curtained windows interspersed. Facing this, to form a dusty mid-west street, is a large house, with a deck and a swing seat. I enter the door of this house and am in the messy bedded room I had seen through the glass a few moments before. My telephone friend has gone though and I make my way to where he had being standing. Where did he go? Is he still in this room? Which one of these masked shadow people is he? I pick up his phone and look up to see that the glass on this side is blacked out. One way glass. He never knew I was there. Suddenly I hear a tap. Someone on the other side is trying to reach me, I try to make the phone work but get the same buzzes and hisses, and they tap again. I tap back, slowly and gently, I try to convey that there is no point, I can’t see them and we’ll never reach each other. I turn away and wander through the room looking in handbags and on desks. Suddenly a foray outside breaks out. A man rushes into the dusty street, upset and frenzied. The bobby-socked woman from earlier emerges at the top of the street, they fight and cry and he drags her into one of the motel rooms. I don’t follow but head away and am back in the town square with the fountain and leather goods store.
I can’t remember what happens now but there is commotion as lives appear to be coming apart and lovers hurt each other. Here I loose Nell and end up alone in the crowd. I go back in to the dinner and sit down, my back has started to hurt. My timeline gets confused and dreamlike here but I remember a man coming in and crashing into a postcard stand and then storming out, he grabs a rope and runs into a small shack nearby. Too many people crowd in and so I can’t see but I hear animal like roars from inside.
Now I’m in a caravan park, wood chippings underfoot and large real trees creating eerie shadows in the lights. I go in to a caravan and read some fan letters addressed to ‘Dwayne’ that have been left lying around. A woman appears dressed in a tatty purple dress, clutching her belongings and looking scared. I remember suddenly that I had seen her earlier in the commotion at the fountain, she dropped to her knees and wrote in a notebook I peered over her and read ‘secretary’.
I wander across the wooden chippings on the floor to a small church made of corrugated metal, the entrance is a simple black hole. I move inside and see a small shrine with chicken feet, rosary beads and candle wax. I hear a noise in an adjacent compartment and peer around a door way. A man is stepping out of an old bath tub in the middle of the room, he’s naked and drying himself with a grotty looking towel. I think he might be the cowboy from earlier but can’t be sure. He gets dressed and leaves. The other audience members follow him. I’ve realised that as an audience we fall into two types; there are those who will stick with one character’s action faithfully, they well go where they go and chase after them at a run if they dash off to a new realm. Then there are the wanderers who drop in and out of certain scenes catching snippets of action. I’m certainly of the latter variety and I wonder for a second if this makes me a good or bad person? Am I fickle and easily bored? Probably. I’m alone in the metal church come shack and take some time to look around in the silence, I move into small triangular compartment where beads and voodo seem to litter everything. I feel someone watching me and leave.
I’m back at the caravan site. The women in the purple dress is still upset. A violently angry man in leather trousers bursts from one of the caravans and screams at her for owing him rent. ‘Do you know me?!’ she cries and I guess she has amnesia, and make a mental note – ‘possibly from the medical center?’ They cry and shout some more. I sit on a chair in the trees next to an old discussed dolls pram and watch the action. She’s writing again but the crowds scrabble around her and I don’t try to see. I’m feeling very tired.
The violent man grabs an audience member by the arm and drags her inside a caravan slamming the door shut. People wait and shuffle around as we hear him shouting inside. Just then another character runs past with their snake of audience, going at a real lick and sweeping up most of the caravan crowd too as they rush to witness a new scene. I stay outside the caravan as does the girl’s friend who is waiting anxiously for her. Everyone has left now and forgotten the girl getting shouted at in the caravan, attention diverted to a new venture. I look at the friend, she looks at me, two blank white masks staring at each other. I walk away.
I walk through the trees and find a door. Going through it I realise I’m in one of the motel rooms. I peer through the curtained windows and see the house with the messy bed and the telephone across the street. It’s a small room with two single beds. I root through the bedside cabinets finding flyers and letters. I feel like Agent Cooper.
Another scene, the bobby-socked woman from earlier sits on the swing chair on the porch, she waits for someone but he doesn’t come.
Later, or maybe earlier, I’m at the house with the messy bed and the swing chair again and the bobby-socked woman is leaving for the evening with a fair haired man who I take to be her husband. They head on and I follow. They go to a bar where a drag singer is performing ‘I Can Never Go Home Anymore’ beautifully. The singer begins to vamp for the husband. He’s uncomfortable but can’t leave. The singer towers over him, pushes him and eventually ends up siting on him as the blonde man lies face down on the bar. The wife looks on, just then the dime store cowboy from the earlier seduction dance appears and removes the singer, freeing the husband. Emasculated and ashamed he grabs his wife and leaves.
I decide to go to the cinema. I head to the town square and enter. The glowing sign tells me that ‘Eyes Without A Face’ is playing. Boxes of popcorn stand neatly on the kiosk. I head through the red walled corridors and enter a small cinema screening room with plush seats and thick red curtains. On the screen is the same running horse film from the medical centre. I leave again through a side door.
I’m in a large office. A desk stands at one end. Each end of the desk is an exact replica of the other complete with parallel clocks on the wall. However on one side the clock is going backwards. The studio duo who had schooled the boy in the locker room are tearing through headshots, throwing people away literary like trash, laughing mocking as their faces fall to the floor. The room is so full I decide to sit in a vacant office chair in a corner. My back aches. The woman says something about getting her secretary to clean up the mess, she writes a note.
I remember reading that this performance was spread over three floors and I knew that I had only been on one level thus far. I decide to find some stairs. I manage to locate stairway easily and the brightness of the white walls jars after so long in darkness. Blood smears trail up and down the walls. I head downstairs and come to a large open space with more wooden chippings underfoot. It seems to be a large outdoor space with the sort of wooden veranda bar I’ve seen in films depicting the southern United States. It looks as if a party had happened but I had missed it. Coloured lights are strung about and a sign reading ‘Happy Birthday Dolores!’ hangs limply. A sparkly garment worthy of Jessica Rabbit lies strewn over a chair. It feels like the Mariachi band had just left. I was sorry to have missed it.
I carry on through more doors and find myself beside a bank of dressing tables resplendent with glowing light bulbs, powder puffs and acres of glitzy showgirl costumes.
‘Excuse me’. I realise I’m in the way as two young women flit past me, and begin to make up and change. One is sad, the other confident and lovely with red hair and a cute fringe. The red haired girl hangs a small key around the neck of the sad blonde girl. I suddenly remember that earlier in the diner I had seen a Russell Brand look-a-like also wearing a key. I sense this is symbolic of drug use. Keep smiling, the show must go on.
I climb the staircase again and head to the top floor. Suddenly my feet hit an unfamiliar surface. Gritty and soft. I’m walking on thick sand. It’s black as always and I recall being on the beach at night sometime years ago. It feels vampiric and macabre, but maybe, I think, I have watched The Lost Boys too often. I’m in a huge room, in the centre sit row upon row of black clothed figures. It’s a funeral. Mourners silently waiting for something. Me? I seem to be alone and walk past the figures, realising that they are stuffed like scarecrows. Bright spot lights guide my way like stepping stones through the sandy gloom. I head further and further into blackness and can see nothing. I hear someone coming towards me and feel the throttle of fear briefly. The person walks past me, another white mask. I realise I’ve come to another staircase and so turn back and head across the sand again, as I pass the coffin I see photographs of the bobby socked wife from downstairs scattered all over it. In the corner of the space I spy more action. Suitcases, a lover’s triangle, shouting, laughing, tumbling. They run away. I head back downstairs.
I end up in a saloon bar. There are wooden tables and chairs around and a large raised platform to stand on. An antler chandelier hangs from the ceiling and not for the first or last time that night am I reminded of Twin Peaks. A hoe-down is in full swing. Yelps and claps from the group of men and women, eyes flashes, jealousies are evident. The music speeds up, the swings and whoops heighten in ferocity, it’s a messy crazy, thumbing blur of bodies and life. Suddenly the climax, the music peaks and then falls silent as the dancers collapse to the floor. Though a window across the bar I can see two people shagging, the woman pressed to the glass and her lover’s tousled head at her shoulder. I’m not the only one to have seen as a violent storm erupts within the dancers, clearly someone is being cheated on and it appears to be the guy throwing punches. The melee breaks off and people scatter.
The woman in the purple dress is back, but she looks different, smarter, hair brushed and make up un-smeared. She walks through the studio gates, she is starting work today. She heads into the big office with the long desk and clocks. She reads a note and begins to tidy up.
I find myself back in the square and the man with the rope is trying to hang himself again. I know where he is heading this because history is repeating. I nip into the shack quickly and watch as his suicide is interrupted by a man who comes crashing in to stop him, they scuffle, someone grabs a knife, it ends up in the stomach of the lifesaver, and he buckles to the ground. The suicidal man lurches from the shack, eyes the crowd fiercely and grabs the hand of a girl in the audience. He drags her running through doors, we follow, we are a crowd, flowing and flittering and I realise other audience snakes, loyal to their man and converging with us to form a tide of white masks. We pour downstairs into the big open wood-chipped Mariachi party space which I now realise is a hollow in a wood, slightly dipped and rolling with trees and leaves and a large knoll at one end. Audience snakes flow in from all directions via hidden entrances filling the hollow like a river basin when a damn bursts, suddenly we are all here. All six-hundred of us masked voyeurs have been brought to this point, funnelled and swept into a space at exactly the same perfectly timed moment, without us even knowing, thinking all along that we wanted to do it, that it was our choice to tread that path. How very, very clever. Nell! I suddenly think. I lost her hours ago, she must be in here somewhere, where’s my Nell?
Just then though a light shines on the leaf strewn mound, at least ten feet high. At the top are a couple, a man and a woman. She in a pretty dress, he shirtless. They are moving, pulling and fighting, hugging and parting. I see the knife behind her back. She pauses, thinks and then with a back step thrusts it into his stomach, and again and again. He falls, she holds him in her arm and cries.
A voice yells ‘Cut! That’s a wrap!’
We are all hustled from our places into the leafy basin and turn to face a raised veranda. Actors pour on to it from all directions, loads of them, far more than I ever saw perform. What where their stories? I wonder. We are asked to sit or kneel, I feel like I’m at Glastonbury. A dance ensues, stomping and frenzied like the hoe-down earlier. I see a woman in a red sparkly dress – Dolores! It’s your birthday! The music peaks, the stomping stops.
Rain falls at either end of the veranda in an isolated patch on two figures, a man and a woman, both holding, something, knives? Bodies? I can’t recall. Weeping, destroyed. I’m reminded of the desk in the boardroom, parallel clocks, one moving backwards, the same world with different lives, or the same life in different worlds?
The rain stops. We all cheer still crouched on the floor. I begin to look around for Nell, left and right. I look ahead and see familiar red hair. Sitting directly in front of me, in a crowd of six hundred people, four inches from my nose is Nell.
As an archaeologist in training I spend a great deal of time using archives of one form or another such as journal repositories or actual ‘pick ‘em up and given ‘em a feel’ object collections from museums.
Whilst the areas I research day to day are probably considered too vintage even for the most die-hard of retrophiles (I’m currently working on projects spanning 3500 BC to about 300 AD so a touch beyond even Victoriana fans) I thought it would be nice to put up a few online archives and resources for vintage enthusiasts which may or may not have been considered previously. With such amazing visual and documentary information available through blogs, Pinterest, tumblr, Instagram and all the other wonderful social networking platforms I think it’s sometimes easy to forget that there are huge swathes of material available about the things we love in places that are slightly off the beaten track…
I think some people may not be aware that most large museums, particularly in the UK and USA put their collections online for public access. These usually have a far greater number of objects to view than could ever possibly be displayed in the museums themselves. As such they are great resources for snuffling out hidden vintage truffles. A few of my favourites include;
The Imperial War Museum’s online catalogue (here), that has a wealth of material from photographs to uniforms. I’ve used it often to look up details of WAF uniforms etc. and it is probably a good tool if you are purchasing military pieces online and want to find out a bit more info. You can type in keywords such as ‘Blitz’ or ‘WVS’ and bring up lots of great stuff like these breeches!
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (here), is fabulous for looking up historical costumes such as this great Schiaparelli trouser suit…
V & A (here),much like the Met previously this is a beautiful collection of historical costumes from around the world.
Wishbook (here) is a site that frankly looks awful, is hard to navigate, and doesn’t appear to have been updated in about five years, however it does have an assortment of full page and colour Sears Christmas catalogues ranging from the 1930s to 1980s. What a nice way to spend an afternoon. I know from reading about it on Johanna Ost’s blog that you can also view Sears catalogues on Ancestry.com but you have to register for week long free trail and I haven’t got round to that yet.
Archive.org is a huge repository for all manner of text based resources. I find it can be pretty hit and miss to browse but if you know what you are looking for it’s worth a go.
Most magazines will have some form of established archive somewhere. Getting access to it though is another matter. Vogue (here) have, according to the blurb, 400,000 images online available to browse. However it does require a subscription fee and I suppose is really aimed at industry insiders rather than casual observers.
The British Newspaper Archive (here) is brilliant as it lets you search for all sorts within regional as well as national publications.
The National Archives (here) hold documents relating to anything concerning the administration of the UK Government so there are military records, documents on crime and British politics in the 20th century. They have a handy tagging system too which makes searching easier.
Speaking of crime The Old Bailey Online (here) is frankly one of the most joyous things to happen in the lives of post-medieval historians since Victoria’s coronation. The Old Bailey has digitised all of its court proceedings since I believe 1674. During the last year I have been doing various bits and pieces of research in to aspects of Victorian British life (in fact more accurately, Victorian British death) and this site has been a fascinating and life saving find. It really is a pleasurable way to spend a Sunday afternoon; armed only with a coffee and a curious mind, delving into criminal grubbings of the Victorian streets from your sofa. Just a note on searching, the search function looks for words in the body of the text so think like an eighteenth century lady or gentleman when picking your vocabulary. Also if you are interested in aspects of homosexuality and the law at this time you will be very hard pressed indeed to find any references to. The legal system didn’t recognise homosexuality as a specified term in its own right because they thought that if it was defined it would, you know, exist, so other very vague and entirely irrelevant terms are used instead which make it impossible to pick out people charged with homosexual ‘crimes’ and those accused of disorderly conduct.
Never underestimate the resources of the good old local council or library website. Many local councils will have digitised collections from various sources but usually held in the local library which give fabulous insights into your area’s history. This project, Picture Sheffield (here) is pretty snazzy and easy to navigate.
Auntie calling! Yes it’s the good old Beeb. God I love the BBC. I honestly think that I’ve learnt more from the BBC in my lifetime than I did from the entirety of secondary school. Anyway, due to it’s whole publically funded obligations and all the BBC stick oodles of their older radio and TV productions online for any Tom Jack to peruse (here). Who doesn’t want to hear Clement Attlee’s Olympic welcoming speech or an interview with Agatha Christie? See it’s so vast I’m still only on the A’s at the moment.
Another BBC classic is of course Desert Island Discs (here) which has been running since 1942! Here you can listen to all of the old episodes featuring a truly staggering array of castaways. I listened to Dianna Mitford’s not long ago. I mean this sincerely and without malice even though I know it sounds cruel, but it was utterly fascinating to hear someone speak who was so truly in denial about the world.
The BFI archive (here) is also great and has a whole host of clips from long forgotten silver screen gems.
Lastly I think some tumblr streams can serve as archives, especially this one; Valentino Vamp (here), which is dedicated to pictures of Hollywood actors. The lovely person who runs it puts very handy and accurate tags on the bottom of each photo with which to filter the images. I’ve been following this one for years and always find some new beauty to swoon over.
I hope some of that may be of interest. Happy investigations!
Today is The Vintage Notebook’s 1st Birthday!
I’m so pleased to be able to say that. When I started this blog I really wasn’t sure what would come of it. I didn’t know if anyone would read it or if I would keep the momentum going. Well I’m pleased to say that I love blogging more than ever and I’m always excited to share some of the things that are sloshing around in my head. I’m also unbelievably grateful and pleased to report that some people seem to like what I write and have said some truly lovely things about this wee place, which means more than I can say.
The Vintage Notebook’s first year was I think pretty eventful. Lots of exhibition visits, including David Bowie and the Hollywood Costumes at the V and A. Some great theatre shows, gigs, films and TV. Two weddings, cake, dresses, audiobooks, arts, fashion, editorials and a fair amount of travel to Budapest and Vienna. Not too shabby.
I have an inkling in my waters however that this second year will be even better. I think most years are dominated by major themes in a country with high points, national holidays and events that everyone can look forward to (and sometimes get a day off of work for). In 2012 we had the Olympics and the Queen’s Jubilee which saw the entire country surfing on tides of bunting whilst trying to cram as many scones in our mouths as humanly possible. 2013 was admittedly always going to feel a bit flat after the highs of the previous summer but it was a lovely and hot, Andy Murray won Wimbledon and a tiny human in a crown was born which made people ecstatic and apoplectic to equally unfathomable degrees. What will 2014 bring? What will be the thing that we all crowd around the office conference room TV to watch and essentially give up work for much of the summer for? Well obviously it will be the World Cup this year and I can’t flippin’ wait to be honest with you. I love national hysteria in any form and I’ll pretty much watch paint dry if you stick some 5 live commentary over the top so as you can imagine World Cup year is quite exciting for me. I am also an actual bonefide football fan too in case anyone was thinking I’m entirely superficial. I’ve been attending games at my beloved West Brom for nearly 20 years. However incredibly there are other things occurring in 2014 and I’m excited about all of them. . As such I’ve compiled an events calendar of a few nice things to look forward to this year.
2014 is the centenary year of the Great War and as such there are tons of events taking place up and down the country. If you would like to look up events in your area and get involved with the commemorations you won’t do better than this site… Click!
13th February – Lee Miller in Fashion lecture at the Fashion and Textile Museum. Oh Lee Miller you beautiful creature. Those eyes, that hair. I love her very much, and so a nice lecture about her influence in fashion is a pleasant way to spend a Thursday evening in my book.
14th February – Valentine’s Late at the Churchill War Rooms. This looks like a hoot! Music from the Vintage Mafia Dj’s and love letter witting are just some of the entertainment, along with lots and lots of dancing.
2nd March – Oscars Night! – Much like the Superbowl last weekend Oscars night is a chance to stay up stupidly late and shout at the TV until the small hours where upon, if you haven’t been sensible and taken the day off work (or happen to be a full time student, ahem) you have to crawl your way through the next day trying not to fall asleep in the work lift on your way to get your millionth cup of coffee. Why do we do it? I have no idea, but there’s something fun about it and I’m not going to stop.
6th March – The Vikings exhibition is starting at the British Museum. The good old BM always knows how to throw together a great centrepiece exhibition and who doesn’t love Vikings? One thing I would suggest however is to book early and at a slightly odd time because exhibitions in the BM reading room always pull in a huge crowd and can get very elbowy at peak times. Best to go crack of sparrows on a Sunday morning in my humble opinion.
7th March – Grand Budapest Hotel is released!!!
14-16th March – Formula 1 Season starts in Melbourne! I love F1, I’ve been following it since I was a whippersnapper and Grand Prix weekends are simply better weekends. As some of you may recall I went to the Hungarian Grand Prix last year when T was working out there, and we’ve been to Abu Dhabi in the past. The dream is obviously to attend Monaco one year. It’s good to have dreams.
15th March – Bletchley Boutique. This is a glam day running once a month at Bletchley Park which includes hair and makeup tutorials, tea and of course access to the Park itself.
28th March – Captain America, Winter Solider is released. I’m loving this Avengers franchise so darn much. There’s not a bad film amongst them. I can’t wait for this one.
5th April – The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945- 2014 at the V and A opens. Well the title says it all really doesn’t it? Don some fabulous sunglasses and sashay around some amazing designs.
17th April – Matisse Cut Outs at the Tate Modern opens. The final phase of his career has been widely discussed however I’ve always liked Matisse’s cut out work very much and the idea of working with pure colour is very appealing, so I would quite like to go to this.
3rd May – Wedding Dresses 1775- 2014 at the V and A. Despite many aspects of weddings, especially the ‘princess for a day’ mentality attached to it making me very uncomfortable indeed, I still think this exhibition could be lovely to look around, especially for the historical pieces.
10th May. Eurovision! I am unashamedly obsessed with themed menus and I’ll use any old excuse to create one. SO as you can imagine Eurovision is a pretty big deal in my house and the annual Eurovision party I throw is one of the many highlights of my year. Wild times people, wild times.
Current- 17th May – Artist Textiles – Picasso to Warhol, well this just looks wonderful. An exhibition tracing artists within textiles featuring the works of Miro, Dali and Moore.
25th May – There is a D-Day Anniversary Air show at Duxford. I’ve never been to Duxford and this seems like as good a time as any to venture up there.
5th June – Aldwych Station Tour. These tours run Thursday to Sunday throughout June and are a chance to explore the disused Aldwych Underground station, Sherlock style. I think I’m right in saying that this was supposed to run last year during the 150 year anniversary of the tube but was postponed. I tried to get tickets then so I’ll definitely be looking to book again this year.
12th June – GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! It’s only the ruddy World Cup! Last time the World Cup was on I was watching it in Greece where I was digging on an excavation with lots of lovely Americans. We would sit in the main square of the village at night right beside the sea and watch the games on the small outdoor screens of the bars. We drank cheap booze and I would explain the various kiss and tell stories relating to each player. Very good times. I can’t wait for this year.
23rd June – Someone stick a navy blazer on Sue Barker, its Wimbledon time! World Cups and Olympics may keep us waiting for years on end but good old Wimbledon is always there for us during those awful sport free years. Like a dependable Labrador Wimbledon is nice company whilst you’re doing the ironing, or at your desk, or on the tube, or on a romantic date if it’s a late start and goes to a tie-break (delete as applicable).
July 2014 – Imperial War Museum London reopens! Whoop!
3rd-11th July – MY 30TH BIRTHDAY EXTRAVAGANZA SPECTACULAR! So I’m turning 30 in July which I’m really looking forward to. Some people I know dreaded turning 30, but I think it will be great. In my mind I will now turn into the sort of woman who has 6-weekly tint and trims at the hairdressers and employs a window cleaner. I know these things won’t really happen but it’s always nice to think they could. So in amongst lots of nice family and friend centred events going on, the big bit of my birthday is that I’m off to the Riviera to Bardot my ass off for a week at St.Tropez, Cannes and Monte Carlo. Starting 30 right.
12th July – Chap Olympiad. I read somewhere that this was the date, sorry if it’s not and I’m passing on misinformation. I’ve never been to the Olympiad, which I feel really guilty about because it’s supposed to be fab. Hopefully I’ll shake a tail feather this year and make it happen.
16-17th Aug – Ramsey 1940s Weekender – This is a lovely little weekender in the Cambridgeshire countryside. The Ramsey 1940s weekend is not as well-known or large as some other vintage weekenders but there are some nice stalls, an air show and a dance in an aircraft hanger on the Saturday night.
12-14th September – Goodwood Revival weekend. I like Goodwood a lot. It’s a slight bugger to get to if you don’t drive but it’s so lovely when you get there. I went a few years ago and had a blast. Vintage and motor racing, what’s not to love?
14th- 21st September – Agatha Christie Festival, Torquay – This is a week long celebration of all things Agatha in her hometown of Torquay. There are various theatrical performances, murder mystery events and of course cream teas galore throughout this week.
24-26th October – MCM Comic Con London. This comic con is actually on twice a year in May and October but I’ve always gone to the October one so it’s become a bit of a tradition now. It’s a wonderful day out packed full of people dressed in their favourite cosplay get up. I’m always filled with the warm and fuzzies when I see so many people coming together and becoming friends and maybe finding love through a shared interest in elves or a niche Japanese anime that only a handful of people will have seen. It’s a place so filled with happiness. I just love being there even though I’ve never dressed up. I might this year though…
TBC 2014 – Endeavour is back! Inspector Morse in the 60’s as played by Shaun Evans (who even though he hates me saying it IS T’s doppelganger). There is no confirmed TX date for this yet but it will be sometime in 2014. My guess would be around April/May, but it is only just a guess.
TBC 2014 – Downton Abbey comes back in 2014. No tx dates have been revealed but going by the age old scheduling rule of putting all your good stuff on in the Autumn when the nights draw in and people stop drinking Bulmer’s in beer gardens until 11pm, I reckon it will be in September/October.
Phew! It’s going to be a great year!
Now make a wish
I’m very thankful that I have never suffered from that terrible condition – new-do fear. New-do fear is when you toy with the idea of getting a new haircut or colour and then back out muttering things like, ‘maybe when the days start to get longer…’, or ‘I’m not sure how it would work at the gym’. Well to you poor unfortunate souls, at the risk appearing like a sea witch trying to obtain the voice box of a little mermaid, and simultaneously lightly plagiarising a major sporting brand, I say – JUST DO IT! I’ve never truly understood the fear. Hair is hair, by its very nature it grows back. If you don’t like it dye it again, cut a bit more off, style it differently, tie it up, stick some flowers or clips in it, buy a wig or wear a hat if it’s that bad. Maybe this seems unsympathetic and I really don’t mean to be but people, IT’S HAIR! Most of us came into this world without much and we will probably go out again in much the same state, so let’s have some fun with it while we can.
I’ve pretty much had every style, colour and amount of hair possible to have, it’s been white blonde, pink, purple, blue, streaked, black, various shades of red from cherry to pillbox. It’s been very long, bobbed, fringed, straight, and curly; when I was 17 my ex shaved the whole lot off with his Dad’s beard trimmers at my bequest. Recently I’ve been itching for a change again (I did change to a reddy brown colour a few weeks ago but I mean another change). So I’ve been spending a bit of time in the inspiration realm that is Pinterest under the auspices of research. As such I thought I’d introduce a new feature blog spot and do a series of posts about iconic hairdos.
First up is the pixie cut.
I’m always slightly uncomfortable talking about when a certain fashion or beauty trend came into being because I think these things can be seen as too cut and dry and essentially incredibly narrow in vision. When we say that women first cut their hair short in the 1920s what we really mean is that women in western popular culture did so. There could be countless examples of women with short hair from different cultures throughout history and with differing motivations for said dos. Heck, women in Classical Greece sheared their locks when entering mourning and this is still a practice adopted in some communities today. This chronological approach to trends also of course completely negates the choices of those who buck trends either individually or as a sub-culture. Having said that, it is true that the 1920s did indeed see SOME women cut their hair short and instinctively one would suppose this to be a natural starting point for popular associations with the pixie. However it seems to me that many of these ‘20s’ cuts were short bobs rather than the definition of a pixie cut that I have in mind. My clarification for a pixie is that no hair in the front section should fall below the cheek bone and a lot of the 20s and 30s styles seem to sit thereabouts. Of course there are some, like Josephine Baker who are the exception to this rule but broadly I think the distinction holds true.
The pixie as I define it, I feel really came to prominence in the cultural landscape in the 1950s and 1960s with elfin beauties of the day like Hepburn and Farrow defining the look in an aesthetic age of generally very long and very big hair.
These women and their cuts are simply divine, so chic and effortless with their only accessories being some killer cheekbones and a cigarette, and maybe an apartment in Nice.
Here are some contemporary Hollywood ladyshapes who have made this cut utterly enviable.
Gosh there are so many and I can’t picture them all but a few others include Halle Berry, Charlieze Theron, Rhiannon, Carey Mulligan, Anne Hathaway and Hermione Granger. Also can we have a special round of appluse for Dame Judy who has been working a pixie for about fifty years now.
Here are a few shots with random origins that I’ve found through eons of entirely too much internetting around…
I also wanted to give a special pixie shoutout to Kelly Framel of The Glamourai who even though she has grown it out now, for many a year sported one of the most lustyworth crops on the internet.
So remember Just Do It!
Because I’m an observant monkey I noticed the other day that I don’t have a ‘links I like’ style sidebar on this blog. This is something I think I’ll rectify in the not too distant future. I like those things. I’ve found many a good read from clicking through other blogs recommendations. So in homage to that very concept and in the spirit of giving credit where credit is due I thought I’d compile a list of a few of my favourite blogs out there. This is certainly not an exhaustive list and there are many, many more saved in my favourites bar, but these are ones I seem to check out most frequently.
So in no particular order…
The Freelancer’s Fashion Blog.
I’ve been reading this one for years and it’s always been a source of inspiration in one way or another. I think the thing I like about it is that Ulrika seems to make everything look so darn easy. From refurbishing multiple houses to knocking up a vegan cake and then hopping up on stage to do a burlesque turn, it’s all done with a laid back charm. This is a really great place for recipe ideas, hair inspiration and an excellent example of a chilled blogging style.
The Rockabilly Socialite.
I’m not into Rockabilly. In another life when I drew a sort of cartoon character/comic strip style blog I actually drew a sketch on this very subject and how for some reason people always assumed that I was. Not that there’s anything at all wrong with that whole scene of course (as if that needs to be stated) but it’s just never really been a style or sub-culture that’s flicked my switch. But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the Rockabilly Socialite’s blog. There’s always something new on it regarding a subject that I know nothing about and Dollie seems like a really sweet lady who’s doing her thing and living life and I’ve got a lot of time for that.
A friend recommended that I take a look at this blog a while back and I’m so pleased that she did because it is really lovely. I like Solanah’s relaxed vintage meets rustic style and the photography is really great; sometimes evocative and moody, sometimes incredibly light and dreamy. All around a wonderful place to stop by for a while.
I’ve simply never come across someone so dedicated and skilled with hair. I’m always amazed by the styles Ruby comes up with and am boggled by the variation of her dos. Her blog is about much more than hair however and also showcases her enviable collection of vintage, fantastical make-up creations and a host of other great information.
The Fiercest Lilliputian.
I can’t remember exactly when or how I stumbled across this blog but I’m very glad that I did. Emma has a fabulous sense of style and uses colours so cleverly to add bright pops and flashes to her outfits. I pretty much want everything she wears. Oh and the girl gives good face to the camera and can pose really elegantly.
Nubby is a bit of a tour de force blogger and an invaluable resource for any creatives out there. She offers advice, tips, guidance and links on everything from personal branding, marketing, graphic design and portfolio development. To be honest some if it is a little over my head as I’m rather more comfortable sitting in a corner reading a book about dinosaurs than getting the 411 about the latest in social networking, however I find her whole ethos and direction pretty impressive. I also like how she basically only operates in black or white with flashes of red, which reminds me of a modernist Cruella de Ville, and that is a very good thing.
So, there we go. As I said not at all an exhaustive list but just a few highlights of some of where I spend my time in internet land.
Keep up the good work ladies!
Instalments of Audiobook of the Month have been a wee bit thin on the ground of late. There is a very simple reason for this, namely, I don’t sit at a desk staring at a computer screen for eight hours a day anymore which means my audiobook listening time has been sorely culled. I still sit at a desk every day but now it’s for more like eighteen hours and I’m reading about dead people rather than scheduling television channels, which let me tell you takes a darn sight more concentration. So I now have about two hours a week to listen to radio/podcasts/audiobooks and that just about gets me through the Archers Omnibus.
However after about three months I’ve finally finished one. I was listening to The Secret Listeners by the brilliant Sinclair McKay; however in a move entirely out of character for a completionist like myself I broke off about two thirds of the way through because this came out…
I like Bill Bryson’s work very much. I rank him alongside David Attenbourgh and Michael Palin as one of a breed of humans put on this planet to point out interesting things to all of us who are too busy trying to upgrade our phone contract whilst simultaneously buying an M&S meal for two to notice. These are lovely people. They make the world a better and more fascinating place. When I feel truly dispirited by the modern world, say after reading about total tools threatening to rape women on Twitter for having the audacity to, you know, say something, I’ll think about Bryson and the like and remember that somewhere in a jungle in South America there is a species of frog who wave to one another. Or that atoms in my body would once have also been contained within Shakespeare’s. Or that in 1879, at the age of fifty-four John Merridew left his profession as a local baker to become the world’s leading authority on rare tropical diseases. That last one I made up, but similar wonderful characters seem to crop up in Bryson’s books frequently. In fact, it was listening to A Short History of Nearly Everything at my desk in the spring of 2008 that inspired me to not simply spend my evenings watching Kath and Kim on an endless loop (although a noble pastime) and go back to university instead. ‘If Mary Snelly can discover 243 new species of newt with no formal training whilst working as an Edwardian parlour maid, I can get another degree’, I didn’t say to myself because I just made her up too, but very nearly kind of did.
So I was pretty chuffed when I discovered that old Bryson had written a book, using his similar format of, ‘ooh look over there! An interesting thing!’ but centred solely on the year 1927.
1927 in America was apparently one of those years when lots of things seemed to coalesce and converge in the cultural landscape. I suspect London in 2012 will have similar books written about it in 90 years time by another eternally curious member of our fair breed. This was the year that saw the race for transatlantic air flight go bananas and completely consume much of the world’s imagination; it was the World Cup, F1 and Wimbledon final all rolled into one. Bolstered by the lure of the Orteig Prize, (a $25,000 pot awarded to the first team to complete a non-stop flight between New York and Paris), teams from America and France pushed their planes, wallets and physical selves to the limit. Many men and women lost their lives during this year of air travel frenzy and Bryson tracks in his usual sympathetic style, the stories of many of these doomed missions. Of course as we all know, a lanky, slightly strange chap from Minnesota eventually succeeded in the task after setting out from Roosevelt Fields on the 20th May 1927, making it all look positively easy and immediately becoming an international Godhead in the process.
During the same summer, the first female prisoner on death row was killed by electrocution, President Coolidge announced he would not be standing for re-election, The Jazz Singer was released, a wave of bombings occurred, apparently in a show of support for the imprisoned Sacco and Vanzetti and the New York Yankees had their best season on record and secured their place in history as the greatest team to have ever lived.
There are coincidences and crossovers peppering the narrative and you see how so much of life is a spider’s web. Just people meeting people, at parties, boxing matches or in court rooms. Governors drink cocktails with movie stars and people fall in love, marry and unknowingly form dynasties. The summer of 1927 was the epoch of much. However I’m not entirely convinced that the same party trick Bryson is so good at, couldn’t be applied to any year in American history. Or British history, French or anywhere else on Earth with a reasonably large population and some international connections. All years, months, weeks and days have fascinating, weird and confounding things happening in them which will inevitably connect and dissipate into larger motifs of cultural identity. However that’s a small point and really shouldn’t at all detract from the sheer delight of this work. Bryson’s style is the same as ever and unfaultable; interesting, romping and sweet in equal parts and once you get used to his slightly-softer-than-expected-New-England-with-a-British-lick accent, he is also a pretty good narrator.
If you have the time in your schedule I would heartily recommend purchasing a copy of this little number, it will remind you that the world is pretty fascinating, because sometimes we all need reminding.
Anyone travelling along the A40 westwards out of London cannot have failed to spot the monolith of Art Deco design that is the Hoover Building. I imagine this is a bit of a love/hate building for some but it is undoubtedly my favourite building in the whole of London town. Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the Shard can all take an assured back seat to this utterly stunning example of all that was great about Art Deco design. I feel tremendously fortunate that it stands roughly five minutes from my house.
Work started on the building in 1932 by the Hoover Company who soon expanded the site as demand for their products boomed in subsequent years. During WW2 it, like so many factories, ceased it’s usual production and embarked on making electrical components for aircraft. It was saved from a rubbley fate courtesy of German bombers by being covered in webbing and netting and even had a look out station on the roof manned by elderly Hoover staff. During the war it operated a 24 hour shift pattern and I can’t imagine how it must have felt to arrive in the middle of the night for a shift at this great big steam-liner of a building.
It was saved from slow and undignified decrepitude and demolition after Hoover left the premises in the 1980s by the intervention of Tesco’s of all people ( or companies).
Now I can’t deny that I felt a wee bit nauseous when I first went to the back of the building and saw a whopping great Tesco’s supermarket there. ‘Is nothing sacred?!’ I screamed internally. However after getting over my initial shock and horror I realised with a tinge of sadness that only an organisation with the resources of say, a major national supermarket could possibly have afforded to take on the up-keep of such a huge and ornate building. I have to grudgingly admit too that they have done a superb job and I wasn’t surprised to learn that they worked closely with English Heritage in the restoration of the building which would certainly have come under the cosh of a unscrupulous developer had both parties not stepped-up to the plate.
So here she is, the most wonderful building in London, and unfathomably unknown to many. Also, yes peoples this is also my local supermarket. I can honestly say I get slightly light headed every time I pull into the car park and see those swathes of white painted walls and chrome fittings. I feel like I’m on an MGM lot, which is entirely suitable because this building can also be seen in the Poirot episode ‘The Dream’ in the guise of Farley’s Pie Factory.
Cape – Vintage, Etsy
Hat – Grandmas
Dress – Absolute Vintage, and you know a funny thing? When I first tried this on I assumed it was standard 80s does 20s, but then I started to wonder. It’s certainly not original because the fabric is all wrong. It’s superbly made, with six bands of chevron stitching on all cuffs and collars. It has no labels at all and was definitely made by some rather skilled person. I’m wondering if it might have been a film or TV costume, because it couldn’t have been worn more than once; no staining, tears, loose seams or smell at all. Weird little dress but I love it all the same.
Stockings – Vintage, Etsy.
Shoes – Ebay
Bag – Present
Scarf – Greetz from Tiz
Gloves – Grandmas
You should all swing by and have a look if you get the chance. Also pick me up a pint of semi-skimmed.
For me January is a time for simplicity. A time to de-clutter my life, house and wardrobe as I make plans for the year ahead. For many this week is the first time back to work since Christmas Eve and perhaps the first time out of pyjamas also. The weather is cold and rainy, our bodies are still in shock from all of the rubbish we put into them over the last few weeks and generally we are in need of some TLC as we detox, organise and refresh.
It’s no surprise then that I have lately been craving simplicity in my clothing. I suppose this style has some very on-trend definition and title but I’m just going to call it clean-clothing, tying in nicely with the clean eating we are all attempting at the moment. I think the cocoon-like shapes of much of this style work on some very basic level to give us chic, stylish, no-fuss clothing from which we can emerge in the spring when it warms up a bit.
There are several companies out there (in fact there are gazillions) selling this brand of minimalist chic, everyone from YSL to ASOS seems to be doing a nice line in tunic dress and white shirts at the moment. However below is a collection of a few shops I particularly like.
Black Blessed I stumbled across via various internet clickings and I want everything on their site. The model also has a nice Louise Brooks bob, so they must be great.
Envelope is a nice little spot of the internet where small businesses and shops based in Japan come together to sell their wares collectively. It’s like going on a wonderful shopping trip without the airfare.
Totokaelo is a rather pricier option and sports designer collections including the brilliant Issey Miyake, and if anyone can do easy-dressing it’s Issey Miyake.
Daneila Gregis produces huge tent-like dresses that somehow manage to look clean and crisp in a range of nice designs. Although again, they are a bit expensive for most.
Etsy is awash with handcrafted linen garments in varying degrees of elegance. One store I think do pull it off well is Camelliatune, whose ethos lies squarely with the importance of handcrafted products.
Also on Etsy are Elegantgens, who stock a lovely range of floral tunics in varying styles.
I really love these pretty naturally dyed dresses, tops and playsuits from United Bamboo. They are the sort of thing that are eternally useful for layering all year round.
Lastly is CDC who seems to have an absolute abundance of mix and match separates from which to create cute and easy looks.
Now the observant amoung you may cry, ‘but wait! This is supposed to be a vintage blog and none of this stuff looks very vintage to me Sonny Jim’. Well you would be bang on the banana there my eagle-eyed friend. However I’ve always felt that the great thing about simple pieces was their ability to be styled however the wearer chooses. Many of the designs above owe a debt of heritage to the creations of the 1910s and 1920s; the voluminous works of Paul Poiret and designs of Erte come to mind. Of course that is due to many of the brands above being based in Japan and much of art deco style being heavily influenced by eastern ascetics, it’s all very cyclical.
A white shirt or tunic dress can be anything you wish it to be. Depending on hair, make-up and accessories it could be 30s leisurewear, 50s casual or 70s hostess.
So with that in mind here is my outfit today.
Skirt – Topshop Botique.
Top – H and M.
If you like this look I’d recommend following ‘G’ on Pinterest (you can find her through my Pinterest; chloe_notebook – link on the side). I’m really inspired by her boards and I found a few of these clothing brands through her pins.
Ding dong bing bong! It’s New Year’s Eve!
I just wanted to pause for a brief moment to say thank you so much for taking the time to read this blog. 2013 was the year The Vintage Notebook came to life and it’s given me so much joy to write during that time. I hope 2014 will continue to be filled with books, dresses and Benedict Cumberbatch so that I can natter away to you all.
The New Year is obviously a time for reflection and I would say on the whole 2013 has been pretty darn good to me. I saw two dear friends get married and one become engaged. I travelled, a lot, to Budapest and other lovely places. We moved house, and although we didn’t want to leave the church initially, it has turned out to be a blessing in disguise as we have fallen hard for our new home. I quit my job and started a masters, which has been a complete dream and still seems slightly unreal. I went to Ireland to meet my amazing friend’s beautiful baby for the first time. I saw my family and friends be happy in new relationships, mark important birthdays, retire and other general good things abound. Oh yeah and I saw Bruce Springsteen again, *head explodes*.
Of course it wasn’t all sweetness and light because life isn’t like that. My grandma passed away in the spring and missing her still sneaks up and catches me unawares at strange times. Friends were sad and people got their hearts broken. This is unfortunately the, sometimes unfair, fabric of life.
But 2013 is almost closed and a new, crisp and clean diary needs to have its spine bent open for the first time as we all look forward to the future. Some people are poo-pooers of New Year’s resolutions but I personally think they are a good thing. It’s a worthwhile exercise to evaluate your actions once in a while and try to be better version of yourself. Even if you break all of them by the 4th, it’s still good to stand back and take a look.
So my resolutions are…
1. Stop fiddling with my hair ALL THE TIME!
2. Stop flaking, chipping, pulling about and generally knackering my nails.
3. Drink 2 litres of water a day. (I do this most days anyway after the dreaded kidney stones I had over the summer, but sometimes I forget).
4. Exercise a bit. (Generic one, but always relevant to me!)
5. Keep in touch with friends and family more. (Again generic but I have a bad habit of going off grid sometimes).
So, let’s see how long they will last.
2014 looks set to be a momentous year for me. I’ll be finishing my masters and trying to figure out what on Earth to do next, I’ll be turning 30 in July and Wes Anderson has a new film out. BRING IT ON!
Have a wonderful night tonight whatever you are doing and wherever you are. I’m having a quiet one at home with a boy, a curry and a nice grisly murder mystery, (I’m actually in the uni study room writing this and won’t get home before midnight if I don’t stop this and start reading something about Neolithic chamber tombs soon).
Again, heartfelt thank yous for reading this blog and I wish you the very best of New Years and a 2014 filled with adventures, laughter and excellent period dramas.