Sunday, 21 July 2013

Dancing and Dreams Come True at the War and Peace Revival!

I don't consider myself to be lax when it comes to dressing vintage, but as I was travelling to Folkestone to The War and Peace Revival at the Racecourse, I noticed that I was surrounded by immaculate vintage fans in their complete 1940s apparel. Usually I am one of the first to don my favourite dress and co-ordinate a whole outfit, but on Wednesday I decided to forgo the usual look and opt for a more subtle approach. By subtle, I mean, Closet by Dorothy Perkins dress, Vivien of Holloway belt and badly done Victory Rolls. (Thanks to Natasha from Pretty Me Vintage who soon put those right!)

To be honest, I felt a little out of place at the Revival. When you're surrounded by people who have taken a long time to choose an outfit you tend to feel a little awkward. I hadn't realised that the Revival would be so popular!
I met up with my contact for the day, Shona Van Beers of Heyday Vintage who is absolutely lovely, and was whisked off to the neighbouring stall "Dress Circle Vintage" to find me two outfits to parade at the fashion show. This was my first "debut" as a vintage model and I think it went well.

 The lovely Rosy Apples

I chose a beautiful homemade 1940s summer suit for the "War" part and a gorgeous 1950s dress for the "Peace" part. I then met with my fellow models, including Burlesque artiste Rosy Apples, her cute little Teacup Yorkie Hattie, and Tori and Laura. We had lots of pictures taken and I will be posting them once they have been uploaded. We shared a dressing room in the Victory Marquee with a Californian act, The Satin Dollz who were also really friendly.

Once the fashion show was over, I took the opportunity to walk around the stands and stalls at the event. It was extremely hot and after a quick refreshing glass of Crabbies Ginger Beer I returned to the Victory Marquee to watch the afternoon acts perform. It turned out that Rosy's boyfriend Adam was performing Dean Martin songs and as someone who loves swing and big band, this was the perfect way to spend the afternoon. Adam is extremely funny and very witty at playing to the audience, if you get the opportunity to see him perform, it's definitely worth it!!!

Mr Adam Hoffman, Singer and All Round Entertainer!

Then came Miss Luna Nightingale, who sings the hits of the likes of Billie Holiday (complete with fake cigarette in true jazz style). This girl has an astounding range, and blew me away with her vocals!

The lovely Miss Luna Nightingale

I also got to meet all the acts in person including Mother and Daughter duo Sincerely Yours, from Staffordshire, who also gave a brilliant performance of 1940s hits.

 "Sincerely Yours" Copyright Colin Baker.

It was then that I realised my yearning to get back on stage. As a former musical theatre student, the performance element never really leaves you, and being there made me realise how much I missed it.
Luna gave me some sound advice about what to do if I wanted to do something similar and with a little encouragement from both her and Adam, I agreed to perform at the Jazz Bar on Friday.
We adjourned to the said Jazz Bar and Adam performed a few more tracks whilst I danced with a real American, who was dressed in full 1940s army uniform! At which point all the old quips about the "Yanks" came out, and thankfully all were taken in good humour!
 With the day sadly drawing to a close, I bade my goodbyes and headed home, with a promise that I would return on Friday.

On the Friday I got up bright and early, dressed in my finest California Cottons dress with pink ribbon and floral print and took the train once more from London Bridge with seconds to spare.
The journey was very pleasant and I took the opportunity to make the most of the empty carriages by doing vocal exercises to ensure that my voice would be in condition for singing. The fashion show passed quickly and even standing on that stage I could feel panic setting in. I would be singing in front of people again, why didn't I feel happy?

I can't tell you how nervous I was when I stepped up onto that podium and sang those three tracks. I started, quite literally, with shaking legs and a matching vocal for the classic Dusty Springfield hit "I Only Want to Be With You", followed by "Smile" by Nat King Cole and my personal best, "The White Cliffs of Dover" by Vera Lynn. This one received the most applause and according to Luna, it was the best of the three. I was then approached by a gentleman who had been watching who said "Thank you for singing that, my wife loves that song," which brought a smile to my face and a tear to my eye.

I watched the professionals doing their routines, and met with Laura, one of Luna's friends who later joined me on a shopping trip around the vintage stalls and watched me make a purchase of a pair of cute unworn 1950s plaid Capri pants!
The whole event was an amazing experience, and has given me the confidence to pursue my ambitions. Overall, a thoroughly perfect way to spend two days!!!
Now off to book tickets to "War and Peace Revival, 2014..."

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

The Populaire Review:

I promised a review of Populaire, and here it is:

Since I spent most of this film drooling and sighing over the incredible costumes, this review will be short and sweet. The story is relatively simple. A young Audrey Hepburn type in the form of Rose Pamphyle (played by Deborah Francois) lives in rural Normandy with her sister and father in a small general store which has a new typewriter on display in the window. Rose waits until her Father and sister have gone to bed before trying it out for herself and over the coming weeks, teaches herself to type.

Fast forward a few months later. A Don Draper type,  Romain Duris is trying, unsuccessfully to appoint a new secretary at his insurance offices in Paris. A gaggle of hopeful wannabes gathers, including Rose, who is scorned for her country style and demure ways. Duris, as Echard, begins to interview the hopefuls and during a call, discovers the Rose has a rather noisy talent for typing. Strangely enough, he hires her and invites her to work with him as a project to turn her into a typing champion. (My Fair Typist, perhaps?)

Rose agrees and moves into Chez Louis where she gradually falls in love with him. After failing at the first regional trial for typing incorrectly, Echard sets her to work with a new typewriter and teaches her to type properly. Rose paints her nails to match the keyboard and shortly after a rather awkward confrontation with Louis, she enters the regional trials again, succeeds and makes it to the National Championships, where the former champion, a fiancee of the heir to the Japy dynasty  is forced to admit defeat.

 "Don't mess with me!"

Rose strides to fame as the face of Japy typewriters with the aptly named Populaire model taking centre stage.

"I love my typewriter. Really, I do!"

Louis watches on helplessly as she learns independence and refuses her love when she declares it openly. Hurt and rejected, Rose retreats to New York to compete in the World Championships where she claims victory over her American opponent, Susan Hunter. Echard rushes up on stage and the credits roll as they share a sweet kiss and bow in front of the audience.

Populaire is truly a wonderful film, and I'd recommend any vintage fan to see it!
Now please excuse me whilst I go to source a pink typewriter...

Holly x

The Vintage Delights of Brighton

"Oh I do like to be beside the seaside..."

It's not often that I get the chance to visit Brighton, but when my friend invited me to this lovely seaside town for the day recently,  I couldn't resist.
With my lovely red case carefully loaded with an extra pair of vintage shoes and a roll of homemade sandwiches, I was ready.

I reached Brighton at lunchtime, having taken the train from London Bridge and we started our tour, beginning with The Laines and To Be Worn Again. I had heard a lot about this shop, and so spent about an hour selecting items from the rails and trying them on. Jonathan Logan, Kay Windsor, Lana Lobell...I was in my element!

I did like the Lana Lobell dress I tried on but it had suffered slightly with sun-damage. It was a pity really because the dress itself was quite unusual. Lilac with a lace bodice and ruffles. Having researched this label, this wasn't their strangest attribute:

Next we moved along to some of Brighton's best known vintage shops, where a gorgeous polka dot dress awaited. Made of handkerchief silk, I felt just like a character from a 1950s film! Falling in love with the print, I paid a deposit and we moved on to Snoopers Paradise. For those who don't know, this is Brighton's equivalent of a flea market. You can find ANYTHING here!
I managed to find a gorgeous Horrockses dress and bolero in powder blue with a white geometric pattern, but alas, it didn't fit. I even  tried on an Irish "Ascot Model" dress which was stunning, but far too long. The colour was a little strange as well. Dairy yellow, I would call it.

 Here's a similar dress:

  After snooping around Snooper's we began to make our way to the tea shop on the other side of the Laines. We were walking past a small and obscure vintage shop when I spotted a dress in the window. I recognised the style and immediately knew what it was. A California Cottons!

To anyone that knows me well, this is my equivalent of winning the vintage lottery. My eyes lit up and I dashed inside, desperate to prove that it was a California! I was soon greeted by the emergence of a familiar white label with the sombrero and tried it on. As with most of the California dresses, it fitted perfectly.
Don't ask why this is, I honestly don't know, but it cost my bank balance quite a considerable amount. (Sssh!)
 Isn't she a beauty?!

With the dress purchased, I resumed my tour of Brighton and we took the opportunity to have tea in a lovely traditional tea room, known as Blackbirds Tea Rooms. This adorable little place looks as though it was opened in the 1940s, and nobody changed the decor. I can only assume that it was like the much loved Lyons tea houses of yesteryear. The service was quick and efficient and the staff were very friendly. I had ham, tomato chutney and cheese sandwiches, which were absolutely delicious, and a full steaming teapot of English Breakfast tea. Perfect!

We had to hurry as we were also going to see the new film Populaire at Brighton's Komedia cinema. It was the best way to round off such a lovely day at this seaside attraction!


Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Afternoon Tea: The Tipsy Tea Cup Way!

It's a fact. We all love the idea of sitting around in nice plumped cushions on a glorious sunny day, drinking tea and sharing gossip whilst staring longingly at the Victoria sponge that looks so tempting, we might just skip the diet for another week.

Credit: Arthur Meehan.


However with our unpredictable British weather it can be difficult to achieve this. Even so, there's no harm in trying. A few years ago we fell out of love with afternoon tea. It was seen as something that only people of more advanced years did, with a nice giftcard for tea at the Ritz, or the Savoy. A very elite event, it wasn't seen as something to recreate easily at home.

When Downton Abbey launched onto our screens in 2010, no one anticipated the cultural effects that it would have. Suddenly old fashioned pursuits were being touted as modern and trendy, we wanted to experience the elegance and refinery of the Edwardian era in our own homes, but how to get it without the fuss?

Take one vintage teacup, place a wine glass podium and matching plate below it and what do you get? 


Elegant, quirky and a genius design, these are perfect for any occasion!

The creators of these lovely little items are the aptly named Tipsy Tea Cups, who aim to offer "A fusion of old and new, tea and cocktails." They have managed to combine the traditional afternoon tea with a twist quite literally, with vintage teacups atop wine glass podiums, with a matching plate for balance.

"The obvious use for your Tipsy Tea Cup is wine or cocktails, however there are other uses for these novel creations.  Perhaps place a tealight into the cup to provide subtle lighting or use it to serve your soup starter or Champagne jelly dessert to your guests or even just keep it as a decorative item. Whichever you choose we are sure it will become a talking point."

And they certainly have made their mark already, gaining a Royal stamp of approval as a supplier for the feature cocktail at the Queens Coronation Festival, Buckingham Palace.  The cocktail was designed by The Cocktail Lovers in association with The Kings Ginger Liqueur for this very special occasion.

Check out the link to The Cocktail Lovers article below:

If, like me you love afternoon tea, try hosting your own party with these quirky creations!

Visit their website at:

Or on Facebook and Twitter:

I'm off now to enjoy tea and cake!

Holly x