Friday, 15 March 2013

The Look I Love. It Could Only Be....California Cottons!

Every time I go on a vintage expedition I struggle to contain my eagerness in the hope that I might find a hidden gem in those many rails, that distinctive orange or white label with the jazzy font and stitched sombrero perched on the 'C'. I am talking of course about California Cottons.
This brand, in my opinion is equal to that of Horrockses.

Very little is known about the brand itself, and its origins are unknown. Some vintage sellers claim that the brand is American and was exported to the UK and some say that it is a British brand inspired by the bright and colourful designs of the USA. Either way the only information available can be found on a blog, where advertisements for the brand are featured. Here are some examples:

Courtesy of Miss Rayne at

Courtesy of Miss Rayne at

  I am pleased to say that I  have formed quite a collection of this brand, in various styles and patterns, although most are of the drop waist variety. It seems to be a trait although looking at the adverts, the dresses were available in the pencil skirt and circle skirt styles.

My First California Cottons Dress!

I bought my first California Cottons dress at the Vintage Festival 2011 on the first stall I visited and I am so glad I did. As soon as I saw it I loved the quirkiness of the colour and design, the patterns are generally very distinctive, this particular dress has daisy buttons on the bodice and a cute little bow at the back which pops up when the zip is pulled.

The Cute Bow!!!

 Most California Cottons dresses contain an orange label however some have a little white label instead. Whether this is an indicator of age or era is unknown, but I would assume so.

I also own two pink floral dresses (same pattern but different styles) navy with white stripe, blue and pink floral (from Mela Mela Vintage in Teddington) and my prize winning pink dress with the small collar (BEST DRESSED at Festival of Vintage Epsom 2012) which I bought a week before the event!

My Prize Winning Dress!!!

I would love to hear from anyone who owns a dress by this label or anyone with information on the label. I'm hoping to extend my collection so if you are interested in selling, please contact me!

Holly x

Vintage in Paris!

It is easy to think of elegance, glamour and scandal when someone mentions Paris, it's something that comes naturally with seeing films like Midnight in Paris (which I have yet to see) and reading about the exciting exploits of Bright Young Things in the 1920s.

This however, was my second trip to Paris and I have to say, that it is suffering in the current economic climate. This is obvious from the amount of people begging on the streets and sleeping rough in the cold tunnels of the Metro, which looks to be the shape of things to come :(.


Still, I was there to enjoy the delights of shopping in the main city and with this in mind, I started what I could only describe as a vintage-shop-crawl (rather like a pub crawl) around the streets of Paris. I started at La Gallerie Lafayette which currently has a vintage concession in the centre on the first floor, and spent ages going through the rails to find something that wasn't 80s! Eventually I found two jackets I loved, but since the budget was to be tight for the three days, I decided on the cheaper one, a sweet Tricolon 60s jacket in orange-red with black buttons, an almost match to my lovely red Jonathan Saunders coat (Debenhams best seller 2012)!

Next I went to my favourite shop from the previous visit, Mam'zelle Swing near Hotel de Ville which has some amazing stock. Although the owner is very French, she is friendly and if you explain what you are looking for, she will find it for you. I must have tried on at least 12 dresses in the shop before deciding on a gorgeous French silk navy 50s blouse with orange buttons and a lovely mustard coloured bow blouse.

The Lovely Mamzelle Swing shop!

After trawling around the various thrift stores, including Frip'Star which is more of a jumble sale than an actual vintage shop, I was becoming desperate to find that one special item that would define Paris.

It took a long journey to Pelleport, an area located just outside Paris, and a very helpful resident of the town to give us directions to Goldymama Vintage. We arrived just as the evening was drawing in and the area around the Metro was quite intimidating, so we decided that if we couldn't find it down the road where the resident had suggested we would turn back.

Thankfully our efforts were rewarded. We headed down the darkened street where most of the shops were closed and then just as we rounded the bend in  the road, Goldymama appeared like a beacon, in full retro splendour with bright lights and rails and rails of beautiful vintage!


 You can find Goldymama at:

I couldn't wait to start and immediately pulled dresses from rails, dumping them in my friend's hands as I scoured for special items to try.

Of all the dresses and skirts I tried on none of them seemed to have that 'wow' factor. I was very disappointed, I had been so sure that we would find something amongst the many tempting pieces in the shop, but to no avail. My friend who speaks fluent French was able to ask the owners for the right items and one of them whisked her way around the stockroom, pulling out items for me. It took several attempts until my friend called out:
"The lady's got a 50s blue check dress for you."

I groaned. I was imagining the sort of dress from the 80s in a large gingham print, but this was something else.

I drew back the curtain and gasped at the sight of the dress. Typical 50s style with a full skirt and sailor collar I immediately knew that it would fit and that I would have to buy it. This was the item I had been looking for. I tugged it on and paraded around the shop. For some reason petticoats in France are quite ruffled which makes it difficult to determine the actual style of the dress, but nevertheless I bought it. I then asked to try the dress with a pair of shoes, and with the help of my friend's translation skills the lady brought out a pair of petite typical Parisienne shoes. They looked to be quite old, in a gold colour with sensible heels. I couldn't resist them as they fitted me perfectly, so I purchased those too.

I kept my purchases to a minimum after that but I would definitely recommend Goldymama and Mam'zelle Swing to any vintage fashionista looking for that one special purchase from abroad. Just be aware of the changeable weather, and wear sensible shoes!