Don’t ‘cha just love it when you have the perfect thing to wear to an event? I went to my sister’s birthday dinner at Brasserie Zedel last night, and what is one to wear to an art deco restaurant in the iddle of Autumn? A 1920s dress in butter-like brown velvet of course.
I have had this beauty for a few years, and like much of my genuine 20s stuff I try to only wear it for extra special outings. 20s pieces are just so delicate and fragile and much more prone to damage than my 40s and 50s garments. However this wee beauty is holding up quite nicely and I couldn’t resist a chance to wear her in such a perfect environment.
Camouflage can be a funny old thing, generally it will allow you to blend seamlessly in to your surroundings, i.e. for a woman in 2014 London, jeans, knee boots, dark coat. But sometimes on those very special occasions there is that rare and shocking phenomenon – dazzling camouflage. Dazzle camouflage is exemplified by Eddie Izzard’s ‘first battalion transvestite division’, blinding the opposition with their sheer glamour and well-put-togethery-ness. Well a common world view was clearly shared dear Eddie and Norman Wilkinson. ‘Who he?’ you say. He was a Lieutenant with the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve and in 1917 had the cunning planning to paint British merchant ships with contrasting abstract patterns in order to confuse the enemy. It was thought that it would be difficult to determine the direction, turning and speed of the vessels because the common lines of the boat would be broken up and concealed by the pattern.
In homage to his frankly genius idea, which by the way seems to have been very effective, the Imperial War Museum has teamed up with Patternity to create a range of products inspired by the bold designs of Mr. Wilkinson, known as the Fleet of Dazzle.
I really like a black and white design scheme a the beI think. I particularly like the mug and tote bag, and a think a nice bold tea-towel can really brighten up a kitchen. Like a good rug in a living room, it really ties the room together man.
I’m already well under way with planning Christmas shopping ideas (I bought my first present the other day), and I can think of several people who may appreciate this range. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, you can’t beat a good museum gift shop for original present ideas.
Right, I’m off to find my own dazzle camouflage now because I’m going out for dinner tonight at my favourite London restaurant, the Wolseley, and frankly blending in is boring.
I’m a bit rubbish with sunglasses. I tend to either forget to being them out of the house with me, or completely underestimate a prolonged spell of sunshine and instead just keep telling myself ‘it will go cloudy any second’ rather than actually putting the glasses on my face. I don’t really spend much on them either. The only pair of expensive sunglasses I have ever purchased where some DKNY lovelies that I picked up in duty free on my way to New Zealand some years go and then promptly watched bob down a mountainside about two weeks later when I fell in a glacial stream. Never again, I muttered to myself as a wrung out my sodden jeans. Those soggy sentiments have remained pretty true for much of the last decade. I am currently sporting a very nice pair of 70s tortoiseshell frames that I found at my Grandma’s house after she passed away. I’m not sure if they were hers, my grandfathers or even my mother’s from her youth, but they are terribly flattering and go with everything.
I’m also guilty of associating sunglasses only with summer and forgetting those bright autumn and winter days when the sun glares from snow covered fields.
Well not this year. This year I’m embracing my sunnies year round and I see no reason not to do a post about fabulous sunglasses in the middle of October! Also, maybe it’s time I risked buying an investment pair of sunglasses, I mean it was a long time ago and there aren’t many mountain streams in London. Let it go Chloe, let it go.
Now, I know Dita’s exclusive eyewear line for Dita Eyewear launched a little while back but in amongst dissertation realness, I couldn’t give it the attention it deserved. Which has actually worked out rather nicely because I can’t think of a better collection of lenses for the coming vampy October days, walking your black cat through the crispy leaves, seeking out the dark forces and joining their hellish crusade (name that quote pop-pickers).
In the marketing blurb for this range Dita is quoted as saying that she avoids true vintage sunglasses as the proportions tend to be wrong for modern faces and can look ‘grandmotherly’. Well I’m sure we all have some opinions on that statement but you can’t deny that this range is a beautiful marrying of the glamourous and ghoulish B-movie aesthetic with luxe modern design. In Ms von Teese’s own words, “the way to capture the elegance and spirit of vintage style is to understand that it must be done with a contemporary twist to make it current and sexy. This is what this collection is about: sexy, wearable eyewear that conveys high-glamour and elegance.” I have to say that I agree. I’ve written in the past about what I’ve termed artistic vs authentic vintage and I will always be a fan of mixing and matching the pieces of the past that resonate with me to create my own identity. It may vary and fluctuate, but it will always be mine and not brass a rubbing of a woman who had her own beauty and voice.
There are 10 designs in the collection in varying colour ways. Below I’ve selected my favourite six, perhaps unsurprisingly all in their black incarnations. I do think classic black sunglasses can’t be beaten, also at this time of year the white or brighter designs would seem out of place. So, here are my top picks for this season.
I’ve always wanted to spend Halloween in America. Those guys know how to do Halloween. Here in the UK we start to get excited about Halloween at, oooh, around 2.30pm on the 31st, and we’re all done and dusted by midnight. But over in the U S of A, it’s the land of the scream and the home of the errm, jack o’ lanterns for weeks before the big night. I grew up enviously wishing I lived in the town I’d seen in hundreds of films. You know, the one with leafy suburban streets decorated with paper skeletons and cardboard tomb stones, children running around in costumes and some cute guy in a William Shatner mask lurking by neighbours hedge as I walk home from school, oh wait…
Well it seems those folks from A Curious Invitation and Antique Beat feel the same way I do because they have organised a month long celebration of all things death. It’s also in aid of helping to preserve Kensal Green and Brompton cemeteries, which is doubly pleasing.
There are some really fascinating events occurring from the 11th October up until All Souls Day. There is something to appeal to everyone, with taxidermy by Margot Magpie, séances and a series of very interesting lectures on varrying aspects of death and the afterlife. The walking tours by Robert Stephenson look particularly fascinating, as does the tour the Museum of London Osteology collection. The closing night of the event boasts a performance of Schubert’s Death and the Maiden in the Dissenters Chapel and a torchlight parade.
For more information visit the website here!
It’s October! It’s October! *Runs around waving hands in the air and smashes through the patio windows*. Yes dear reader, it’s here – the best month of the year, fat like a pumpkin with orange leaves, spiced lattes and spooky films. It’s better than Christmas, my birthday and Eurovision combined, and they are three events I definitely put my face on for.
So to kick off this month long spooktacular I’ve complied a few of my favourite October web picks to gets us all in the mood.
Kitti Quay Sunglasses $40
Tatty Devine Bat Necklace $44
Vintage Spider Jumper £9.49
Jeffrey Campbell Bat Back Heels – $180
1960s Orange and Black Miniskirt – £28.48
1960s Pumpkin Princess Coat - £93.67
Scream Tote - £10
Black Cat Blouse – £10.76
Pumpkin Spiced Latte (it’ the law)
Happy October everyone!
And so has been the moto of my life for just about as long as I can remember. September is the time for fresh starts and new beginnings. For many years September has signalled the advent of a new school year. Psychologically and physically it’s a time for me to plan, organise and discard the things I don’t need. It’s also an excuse to buy new stationary and woolly hats, two things I love shopping for more than is probably necessary.
This September however is a weird one for me. I don’t have a new term to start. I finished my dissertation last week and with it my masters (where did that year go?) and now I’m facing a future without classes, text books or late night walks home from the library. In a way it’s liberating. I get to spend Saturdays mooching about the shops or at football matches and Sunday evenings watching BBC dramas and eating stew like normal people. I have time, so much time on my hands, to the point that I’m not quite sure what to do with myself. It’s strange and a tiny bit scary. So much of my life, and ergo identity, has been bound up in being a student. I’ve spent nine years in higher education which is longer than any job and some friendships I’ve have. I love being a student. I love library cards and timetables and picking which classes to take. I love trudging home from lectures on a cold December night with my arms full of books and smelling people’s dinners cooing as I walk up my street. I love getting home and finding T has made us soup and warmed my comfy clothes on the radiator. In short I’ve loved the last few years of my life.
However, I’ve never been one to look too far back. I’m good at leaving things behind and I’m pretty stoical generally about where life takes me. As this September rolls around the turning leaves signal more than just the end of summer. Their crispy golden shells under my feet are calling in my new life. A life away from the world of television where I worked for so long, away from weekends of essay writing and away from saying ‘I’m studying archaeology’, when someone at a party asks me what I do. I’m no longer studying anything, now I’m doing. I have to do to make it so.
So, as I breathe in a big gulp of brisk September air, what is my life to be?
Well, I have a job starting this week at the Imperial War Museum which I’m really excited about (rest assured there will be many more trawls around the gift shop and exhibitions on this blog in the coming months). The rest of my time will be spent doing the things I haven’t really been able to do much of over the last few years; random coffee dates with friends, seeing more of my family, going on trips and reading books for fun. Essentially nourishing myself with all the wonderful things that make me autumn happy. This wee blog will also be receiving much more attention. I think it’s been ticking over pretty nicely but feel it deserves some extra love, so that’s a project for the coming months.
To mark the start of this new, and very best of seasons I also bought myself a little present in the form of this dress. In true-to-me mode, I’ve been stalking this baby online for the best part of a year and finally gave in and bought. It’s not going too far to state that it may be the dress of my dreams. It’s as if someone extracted everything I love about autumn from my dusky, wood smoke scented imagination and moulded it in to a garment. It reminds me of midnight walks and clear starlit skies above bare-treed woods. It’s that time on a Sunday evening at about five o’clock when it’s getting dark and chilly and everything is very quiet because all the humans are indoors, cuddled on the sofa and eating biscuits. It’s bonfire’s night cold hands, ghost stories and frosted metal fences. I never want to take it off.
Oh and I am applying to do a PhD next year. I can’t never be a student again.
My life looks a lot like this at the moment, except without the gang of sassy study buddies and with much messier hair. In fact that’s what my life has looked like for pretty much the last decade because I’m slightly obsessed with studying and loved university so much the first time I decided to do it all over again.
But my life is looking a lot more like this than usual because I’m now under two weeks away from my dissertation deadline. I’m not stressed really, it’s got to be done, I’m lucky to have the chance to do it, so get your head down and werk, is my basic position on the subject. However it does mean my blogging schedule is being severely curtailed. I love blogging and would hate to shove up rushed and frankly half-arsed posts just to keep up appearances so, I’m going to take a wee time out for two weeks and let normal service resume as soon as those 15,000 words are in someone else’s care.
Hopefully by that time it will also be PROPER AUTMN and not this terrible warm imposter that we’ve been saddled with so far. It’s the third day of September and I left the house without a damn coat today, what’s the world coming to? I feel cheated *shuffles off to kick non-existent piles of leaves*.
‘See you’ all in about a week and half, wish me luck!
I took a day trip to Brighton yesterday to spend time with some of my favourite people. We ate hearty pub food, hid from the rain and mooched around the Pavillion. It was a really lovely day. Here are a few snaps I click whist out and about arouund town.
So much colour on a rainy day!
The post-box pixies sent us our photographs back from Secret Cinema’s Back to the Future screening! It was quite exciting to sit down and actually open a packet of photographs for once. As amazing as digital cameras are in many respects, you can’t deny that certain nostalgia of not knowing how your photographs will appear and the inevitable shock and horror when faced with a really dodgy one.
I actually thought twice before posting these pictures because we are so used to seeing beautifully crisp and well lit images on blogs that I thought these would look out of place. I admit, not all the photographs presented on this blog are of professional quality. I try to limit it as much as possible but some are simple camera phone snaps, which is generally because I can’t carry the big fancy shmancey camera about with me all of the time.
But I actually quite like the grainy quality of these shots. They are the style of pictures I remember from my youth and I think they add a distinctly authentic touch to the events of the night. I like the imperfection they capture, unsanitised and honest, like here…
A few more dates have been added to the run so in the interests of anyone planning to go I won’t give a blow by blow account of the events of the night. Also I think the ‘secret’ part of the ‘Secret Cinema’ is quite a nice thing to keep intact.
I will say however that the scale and standard of the show exceeded all of my expectations. I can see why there were some teething problems with the opening nights, which I’ve heard were down to health and safety certificates.
There must have been a cast of at least a hundred extras running around, acting out small vignettes from the film and interacting with the audience. Before we had even got inside the gates I had been nominated for prom queen and T had received a scoop (he was dressed as a pressman) from a passing band of rowdy youths. Policemen in American cop uniforms guided the queue and kept us all in check from J-walking in the wrong areas. Inside was a huge reconstruction the Hill Valley’s central square, resplendent with boutique stores and of course the famous Social Services building clock tower. I initially thought that they really had run out of time and not finished painting the details of the facade of the building before realising that it did in fact double as the stage and screen for the night’s show.
We spent some time wandering though the parade of shops which included some ingenious creations, such as the hardware store where you could purchase folding cardboard seats to use whilst watching the show and Lou’s diner which served Pepsi Free and ‘milk, chocolate’, along with burgers and apple pie. There was an awful lot of apple pie on sale everywhere, and I have to say that the warm slice I picked up from the pulled pork stand was hands down one of the best I’ve ever tasted, it was heavenly and dripping with sugary caramel syrup. Because my sweet tooth is insaitiable I also picked up two bags of homemade marshmallow in rocky road and Banoffee Pie flavours. I sadly forgot to take any pictures of them and of course snorked the lot during the show.
After feeding time T and I went to the prom in the reconstructed high school. It was decorated, as you would hope, in green and blue streamers ready for the Enchantment Under the Sea dance. We checked out the lockers which were bedecked with graffiti and postcards, poor George McFly had some very rude things adorning his locker. The band was in full swing in the school hall and we arrived just in time to hear them blast out Johnny B. Goode. We stomped and boogied about so that’s that awesome experience ticked off the bucket list.
We also took a stroll down Riverside Drive and nosed about in some people’s homes, which were ostensibly sheds bedecked with period furnishings but had the effect of those charming prefab post-war houses which became ubiquitous across the US and parts of the UK; small, neat and with everything a little start up family would need.
We also took a trip to Doc Brown’s house which was true to the film in most respects but sadly there was no Einstein :(. (Some people are never happy are they?)
After some more character interactions and a quick dip into the the town cinema which was screening Cattle Queen of Montana with Ronald Regan (the actor!?), the show started.
A suitability heartfelt homage to Robin Williams was played and then the opening credit rolled and I basically didn’t’ stop smiling for an hour and a half. Key moments in the film were enhanced by live action and the whole thing was just joyous. I hadn’t seen the film for a few years and watching it again I was amazed by the level of detail that the organisers had crammed into the venue; the gang of mechanics who only appear in the film for a split second where running about all over the place, the Mayor was there as was the Hill Valley postman. It reminded me a lot of the Drowned Man, I loved being able to explore at my own pace and creating my own experience by choosing who to interact with.
Altogether it was a fabulous show and utterly worth the entrance fee. I really hope they do a Back to the Future II screening, I mean, I want to find out what happens to Marty’s kids!
When I was over at the Imperial War Museum the other day I took a nosey around the gift shop, because there are many things in life I can resist but a museum shop is not one of them. There are lots of goodies in the shop that aren’t available online and one range that really caught my eye was a fabulous assemblage of men’s knitwear.
I realise that I’ve been woefully neglectful of men’s clothing on this site and seek to write (ha!) that wrong now.
The knitwear in question is made by Realm and Empire, a brand determined in their aim to combat what they refer to as the ‘questionable heritage styles’ which have become prevalent in menswear in recent years.
I’m not sure how they have swung it but before they start to develop each new season, those folks at Realm and Empire take an access all areas visit of the Imperial War Museum archives and use original documentary materials as the basis for their collections.
As such their clothes have a distinctly utilitarian and subtle appeal. This season’s looks include the Officer collection, complete with excellent cable knit jumpers in green, charcoal and navy and some very nice overcoats indeed.
Being British made (the knitwear is produced in the Midlands) is a key component of the range and clearly ties in perfectly with the overall branding.
For the more discerning vintage gent I think a few key items like the forest green wool scarf or Duxford cardigan would be welcome additions to any wardrobe. For those chaps who are more comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt, like my very own mess officer, I don’t think they will find the range too niche for their tastes.