Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Diamond Jubilees are a girl's best friend

This is just a quick blog about what I’ve got planned for the Jubilee weekend. Firstly, I’m rather excited about the Jubilee, not because I’m hugely royalist, but because any excuse for cakes and bunting is good by me.  Also, I feel cheated because I had to work last year during all the Royal wedding celebrations (the closest I got to celebrating was making cherry bakewell cupcakes for a party I couldn’t attend!)  Anyway, although I will be working again this year, it’s going to be a lot more fun this time!

The cupcakes in made for the Royal
Wedding, yes I still have photos
Firstly, on the Friday I will be reviewing a new play in London called The Shadow Formula.  Described as ‘a suspenseful spy drama set in pre-war London’, the plot is full of intrigue, murder and double-crossing.  Like all self-respecting spy dramas, The Shadow Formula has its fair share of double-agents, deranged scientists, German spies and femme fatales.  There will be a review to follow shortly (well, after I’ve seen the play, naturallement).  Performances will be running on 07-09 and 14-16 of June at the Greenwood theatre in London.  If you’d like to find out more just have a look on their website www.shadowformula.com.


But wait – there’s more.  You lucky people - there is also a competition to win two tickets to the press night (this Friday, 1st June).  All you have to do is email info@shadowformula.com with your contact details and the name of this blog (The Vanity Case) along with the answer to this question: What was World War II spy Agent Zigzag’s real name? 

On the Saturday, it appears that Brighton will be going back to the ‘50s as there are a lot of events going on around the Pavilion and Museums as well as the annual 1950s day on Gardner Street.  Always on the Saturday of Brighton Fashion week, the Dorset pub on the corner (a great pub and the centre of the vintage/rockabilly scene of Brighton) will be the epicentre of a day of ‘50s fun.  We're looking forward to seeing Simon Webster and his team (who we last saw at the launch of the salon) creating 1950s 'dos for people out enjoying the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

Me interviewing Simon at the opening of
his Gardener Street salon back in March

Simon Wesbter hair will be once again teaming up with Dorset, as well as The Vanity Box (great name!) to bring the good people of Brighton the Jubilee Vintage Hair day.  To the sounds of the coolest kittens and heppest cats of the ‘50s coming from the Dorset (with maybe a few platters spun by Simon himself) you can book yourself an authentic pompadour, victory rolls or DA to be cut and styled in an antique barber’s chair.  To complete your look, you can have your make up perfected by the Vanity Box.  Spaces are filling up fast, so be sure totelephone the salon quickly to get your place in the barber’s chair.  Spaces available between 10-5 and the number to call is 01273 605577 to book your place.  It’s also worth noting that a certain member of our team (let’s not be coy, it’s Les) will be getting his hair cut by Simon at 3pm - worth coming down even if it’s just to see that! 


On Sunday (3rd June) I will be going to Victorious Vintage in Portsmouth Historic dockyard with the rest of the Vintage News crew.  Rather than repeating myself, you can read all about it here.  It’s also running on the Saturday (2nd), but as you can see I’ll be busy, although I think my mum is going
on that day! 

Now all I’ve got to do is plan what I’m going to wear – a lot of red, white and blue I think!

steel boned corsets by What Katie Did

Friday, 25 May 2012

1940s Relived at Brooklands

When we set off from Brighton, the weather wasn’t as bright as we’d hoped, but we set off in a good mood regardless.  We’d been asked to attend the inaugural 1940s Relived event at Brooklands by Paul, the events manager, who we’d met at the Tweed Run in NovemberAs we arrived, we were greeted by a Concorde (oh how I wished I could go on one of those when I was younger, that and see the Spice Girls in concert!) That was only the start of many aeroplanes, cars and other vehicles.  I won’t go too much into them (to be honest, I’m not that bothered by cars, I just like them if they’re pretty), but here are a couple of photos in case you stumbled across this expecting hard-hitting motor journalism.

There was singing from the Swingtime Sweethearts (whom we later interviewed), rather a lot of dancing and displays from the Brooklands Homeguard and the strategic command.  We also had a nice chat with Charlotte from Restoration cakes, who told us all about making a birthday cake for Dame Vera Lynn (which is featured in the most recent edition of Vintage Life Magazine).
Charlotte from Restoration Cakes

 There also seemed to be some rather dapper RAF chaps about the place, although unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to speak to them.  Now onto the important stuff – the clothes!  There was a best dressed competition running throughout the day, with the winners chosen from the plethora of beautifully dressed people present.

The winners were;

Best dressed man – Jethro (on right),
wearing a CC41 suit from the late ‘40s

Best dressed child – Thor (yes, Thor)

Best dressed lady – Cindy, wearing a 1940s dress, coat and shoes alomng with a 1938 fox fur, a hat of her own making and a lizard brooch which was a reproduction of one of Wallis Simpson’s favourites. 

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it on here, but recently I have become rather keen on hats.  I have bought some lovely ones (from the early ‘50s and I think all from the same woman’s collection) and have made a few (there may at some point in the future be a tutorial about that).  Anyway, I’m getting off the point which is that there were some phenomenal hats at Brooklands (many made by the Best Dressed lady, Cindy including the yellow hat below). 
I think it has to have been one of the best dressed events we have attended so far (perhaps because of the high number of wartime civilian reenactors present. As such, I had a field day taking photographs of some truly beautiful outfits and here are a few of my favourites.




We had a really good day and considering it was the first time this particular event had been staged, I was very impressed with it.  All I think I’d ask for are a few more stalls, perhaps someone like Judy could curate?  All in all, not a bad way to spend the day before my birthday. Also, two separate people came up to me thinking I was Lola Lamour - unexpected but rather flattering!

If you spot yourself in any of the pictures in this, or any of my other blog posts, then do let me know and I’ll add your name.

* due to ongoing issues with trying to add photos to my blog (why won't it just work?!) I've had to leave a few out, so sorry if some of it would make more sense with pictures!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Savatore Ferragamo - the architect of modern footwear

Whilst trawling the internet for bridesmaid shoes, I stumbled upon these, available at Office:

I thought ‘hmmm, these look familiar’ as they bear a striking resemblance to a suede pair designed in 1938 for Judy Garland by the visionary designer, Salvatore Ferragamo (1898-1960).

This pair were playfully entitled ‘Rainbow’

Office aren’t the only ones who have taken inspiration from this remarkable pair of shoes.  A few years ago, Jeffery Campbell made a pair called ‘Groovie’ that again show more than a passing nod.

Many of Ferragamo’s creations look decades ahead of their time.

Top Row L-R: ‘Lauren’; gold stacked heel ; 2006 version of the 1955 Cage Heel
Bottom Left: kid-covered cork, 1939
Ferragamo was known for his revolutionary heels, including the ‘f-heel’ wedge (may be familiar to fans of Irregular Choice):

from L-R: the 'America’; the famous ‘f-wedge’ heel in purple kid, 1947;
'The Invisible' sandal with nylon thread upper, 1947. See also the ‘Twist’ model

If all of that wasn’t enough, he is also credited with inventing the stiletto in 1955 (the ‘Romantica’) after having studied architectural pillars (architecture was always a major influence on Ferragamo’s designs).  One of the things that enabled Ferragamo to produce such statuesque creations was the years of anatomical study he went through in America.  He wanted the shoes to be beautiful, but also comfortable.

You can see early sketches of the 1938 'Maharani',
as well as a woven straw pair from the same year

Ferragamo may be best known for creating Dorothy's Ruby Slippers from the Wizard of Oz (1939) as well as Marilyn Monroe's red Swarovski crystal encrusted stilettoes (1959). The designer was as popular off-screen as he was on, designing for many of the personal wardrobes of Hollywood’s greatest stars.

The personal lasts of his A-list clients,
see the names written on each one

Sophia Loren being fitted by S.F. and her namesake, the re-released (in 2008) ‘Sophia’

Of the 350 patents S.F. took out (including the cork wedge in 1937) and the 20,000 models of footwear he designed, he only ever produced one pair of men’s shoes – the ‘Salvatore’, a beautiful black patent leather dress shoe.  One his more bizarre designs featured ankle boots covered in monkey hair.  I’d say it’s not surprising they didn’t catch on, but I think hair embellishments did make their way back onto the catwalks fairly recently!  

from L-R: leather and silk 'Ninfea', 1938-9; leather and cotton 'Booty', 1947

Salvatore Ferragamo is still operating as a global brand, but I prefer to think of what was created by the eponymous designer during his heyday that spanned 4 decades.

There is a Salvatore Ferragamo museum in Florence, Italy with the money made from tickets going to footwear design scholarships.  I’m trying to convince myself that a trip to Florence just to go to a shoe museum is entirely justifiable!

- also just found out that the Metropolitan museum in New York has a huge collection of his shoes - how did I not find that room!
retro swimsuits and bikinis

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Tweed Re-Run

After a fairly chaotic morning (we erroneously thought the start of the Tweed Run was in Covent Garden as it had been in November) motoring around London, we eventually found our be-tweeded brethren outside the Imperial College London.   

 After all of the cyclists had posed for pictures outside the majestic ICL building in South Kensington, they went to collect their steeds from the green nearby. 
I had elected to take the train to get to the metrop. while the boys pootled along in our two-tone ‘30s car, Betsy.  Once the riders had taken their leave (led by three gents on penny-farthings) we followed suit with Les filming out of the sun-roof. 
We found our own way to the half-time location, opting not to follow right through the middle of Hyde Park!  The half-way ‘refuelling’ took place in front of the magnificent Imperial War Museum. 

 Awaiting the cyclists were stalls from the various sponsors of the Tweed Run; Cordings, Tyrrells and Murcock of London (who were also at the November event).  There was also a tent set up for a string quartet to accompany the aforementioned refreshments with some Pachelbel and Vivaldi. 

After a few of quick interviews with organiser Teddy, the charming Christopher from Cordings and the elegant Sarah, whom we had met at previous events including the protest at Savile Row, the next leg of the Run was under way. 
Again we got lost, but eventually we found the final destination – it’s quite hard to miss 500+ tweed clad cyclists congregated outside a pub.  The pub in question, the Blacksmith and the Toffeemaker (fantastic name) was lovely and I think if ever I’m round Clerkenwell way again, I will be sure to pop in. 
Prizes were handed out for most Dapper Chap, Best Moustache plus others, but I’m afraid I missed them as I was busy sampling the whiskey and gingers (from a further sponsor, Auchentoshan) that were floating about.  I did, however, catch up with Pandora who deservedly won the most dashing dame in her absolutely splendid 1930s reproduction hunting tweeds, cape et al. 
I was quite pleased with my outfit for the day.  I had on a mint and white striped men's shirt, a mint cashmere tank top and a J G Hook tweed jacket that I think is for a small boy!  I also found some cropped trousers the day before, which I turned into plus-fours (surprisingly easy to do and surprisingly comfortable to wear).  I got to wear my ox-blood Dr Martens brogues and my new (well, new to me) felt hat.   The Dr Martens were new but everything else were charity shop finds. 
After I’d decided I’d taken enough photos of all the wonderful outfits, we left the festivities to go and have a quick look of the Vivien of Holloway sale at their Holloway Road shop.  I was hoping to get another pair of trousers or a skirt but alas, I couldn’t find anything in my size.  Anyway, a splendid day was had by all.  I imagine I (if not the whole Vintage News crew) will continue to be regulars at the Tweed Run.  You never know, next time I may even be on a bicycle...
Have a look on our facebook page and our website for more photos.

steel boned corsets by What Katie Did