Saturday, 23 July 2016

Postcards from Europe: France

Bonjour! Here is the second installment of my Postcards from Europe series (read here for info about the project). The second European state I decided to tackle was France. I love France, I've visited twice; once to Paris and once to the south. I want to go back a thousand more times. The glorious food is enough on it's own but coupled with the weather, beautiful fauna and copious amounts of delicious (and cheap) wine it really has taken my heart in a big way. I'm hoping to take another trip there next summer, my boyfriend is currently learning to drive so the hope is us and a few friends will trek over there.

Of course another of my major interests in France is it's fascinating textile history; from silks to linens to printed cottons, it has a long and tangled history. I constantly find prints that I love and find that they originally hail from the French, for instance the fabric of this dress.* I knew it was French in style (it reminded me so much of Provencal lavender bags). However, it turns out it definitely is French and is a fabric designed by Charles Demery who designed for the French house Souleiado (read this article for more info on him). They sold (and sell) their fabrics wholesale so it seems very likely that Susan Small used their fabrics. In recent years Cath Kidston has ripped them off in a major way, I hadn't really realised (doh) until today how similar her prints are to Southern French cottons. 

*As you might of guessed this dress is the counterpart to the other Susan Small dress

I took inspiration from a couple of images but mainly the below, I loved the black scarf against the Fleur print dress and the yellow flowers (I used St John's Wort because they are my birthday flower and are currently out in abundance):
Source: 1

Behind me you can glimpse a tiny bit of our newly mosaiced cob oven (thanks ma!)
I've also begun a mural in the garden, so I'll put together a little post on it all soon.

My mum has also been working hard on her 14 countries, a few of you asked me to share hers too so here they are:

Romania (Penny MacBeth, 2016)

Spain (Penny MacBeth, 2016)
I'll be back very soon with another postcard from Europe, until then Au Revoir! 

Outfit Details

Provencal 1970s Susan Small dress - Ebay
Printed cotton shirt - Celia Birtwell for Uniqlo
Black shawl - Zara 
Straw hat - Topshop

Friday, 22 July 2016

Eden Project

Hello! Summer has finally hit here in Cornwall, you'd be right to think these pictures look a little too tropical though... I spent yesterday wandering around The Eden Project. I'm sure most of you here in England have heard of it but for those who haven't (and those further afield) it's a botanical tropical and mediterranean series of gardens set in two huge biomes. I spent a lot of time there as a teen but until yesterday hadn't visited in about 6/7 years. Those years have definitely done it a favour, it was so much more luscious, the palms are now towering and the fauna was off the scale great. I think we hit it at the best possible season, everything is just still in flower and it's yet heaving with visitors.

The biomes are temperature controlled, so they are heated according to the area they are exemplifying. The tropical biome is my favourite (and always has been) it's incredibly humid and steamy, so it's very easy to feel you've been transported halfway across the globe. At first it feels a little overwhelming but you soon acclimatise and it always feels a bit sad to come back to the normal temperature of Cornwall!

Of course for the day I had to wear an outfit that did the beautiful backdrop justice, I opted for this glorious kaftan that I picked up in a charity shop just before I went to France. It was perfect as it allowed me to stay cool in the humidity (I totally pitied all the jeans wearers - if you are visiting definitely dress lightly, especially in Summer as it gets hotter due to the sun shining on the biomes). The headwrap is actually a scarf from Lush, usually used to wrap up their lovely smellies it makes the perfect wrap for bad (and good) hair days. I've worn it so much since I received it for my birthday.  

I was going for a sort of Matisse meets Gauguin look; lots of pattern, lots of colour and a tassels for good measure.

Madras Rouge, Matisse, 1907 (source: 1)
Nave, Nave Moe, Gauguin, 1894 (source: 2)

There is also the Mediterranean biome, this was so much better than I remembered. It's much cooler in temperature and they now have a pizza restaurant in the biome so you can eat amongst the magical plants (we were so sad when we realised as we had just eaten lunch outside!) They have an amazing array of cacti, grape vines and, my favourite, a vegetable patch of tomatoes, aubergines and other med delights!

I'll be back very soon with more of Postcards from Europe series. Hope you're all well!

Outfit Details

Cotton kaftan - charity shop
Lovebird headscarf - Lush
Raffia earrings - Mango 
Beaded necklace - car boot sale


Monday, 4 July 2016

Postcards from Europe: Germany

I haven't felt much like blogging in the last week. My last post (pre-birthday and brexit) seems a lifetime ago, an awful lot has happened since then. I was starting to feel rather hopeless and helpless about everything (as I'm sure many others were and still are). A change came along when I saw a beautiful project started by my friends over at The Glorious Art House, they always have a way of bringing cheer to a sad situation. A few days after that fateful day they began Make it Write, a project that encourages people to have a positive voice during these tough times by sending a postcard to an office, cafe or home in Europe. The postcard can include a friendly message of solidarity or hope, a picture or just a happy memory. I felt so inspired reading about it; it gave me a little solace to know that I know so many wonderful people and LOOK they aren't giving up, and I shouldn't either! I am still European, I love Europe. I was born there, without the EU, I would not be here. SO to cut a long story short my mum and I put every country in the EU into a hat and picked 14 each. We are now going to each make 14 postcards celebrating each state, and at some point in the nearish future they will travel to The Glorious for a small exhibition.

Here is the first country of my 14: Germany. I had to start with Germany. I love it; the Bavarian mountains, the golden trees in Autumn, the delicious Lebkuchen, dirndls, castles.... We also said goodbye to our German friend and housemate last week so it seemed fitting to begin with it. 

The hat was customised by my mum for my party last week (she came as the EU flag), strangely I realised when I was editing these that they look very 4th of July with the red, blue, white and stars -completely unintentional!  

Aside from Brexit I had a very odd week. Firstly because I somehow I ended up in a press frenzy re the dress in my last post and ended up appearing in the local newspaper and then also the Daily Mail (pls pity me). Anyway in a bizarre set of circumstances I am being paid, so I'm putting the money to good use and have joined the labour party. I like to think there is some karma in the world, haha.

The other odd, but very nice, occurrence is that a man contacted my brothers and I to say he wanted to donate some our fathers books to us that had recently come into his possession. He wants nothing for them, and I cannot tell you what a delight it is to have such a kind act of generosity after such a dismal week! 

I feel that I am coming up for air, and lots of good things are happening. Holding onto the good stuff is very important for us all right now. I hope you are all well, there will obviously be more to come from this series so keep your eyes peeled...

Linking with Visible Monday and Judith's Hat Attack 

Outfit Details

Dirndl - Vintage shop in Berlin
White cotton smocked top - Car boot 
Crochet choker - Made by my mum


Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Small World

This is an exceptional story, one that I've been so excited to share since it unfurled a few weeks ago. On the May bank holiday my brother and I took the train to Brighton to spend the day with our cousin Esther. We did all our favourite Brighton things - bought rock, visited the pavilions and wandered the lanes. We spent an awful lot of time in Snooper's Paradise (those of you who don't know it, it's a sort of mecca for vintage lovers, crammed to the roof with wonderful oddities), and it's posher counterpart Snooper's Attic. I nearly always find something wonderful within it's rails. This trip was no exception, having wandered about downstairs we scaled the stairs to the attic. There are always SO many frothy and delicious concoctions it's hard to focus in on any one item, I generally just wander about in a haze. However, this time my eyes leapt towards a beautiful green and red dress with a sort of French lavender bag print. I was instantly drawn to it, soft worn cotton, it looked like the sort of dress I had been searching for some years. I'd seen some a little like it in Camden Passage during my second year of university but didn't have the funds to meet the prices. I inspected the price tag, £32.00, not too bad but did I want to blow my budget for the day on one garment? Throwing caution to the wind I went to try it on, it of course was the perfect fit, length, colour. For some strange reason I decided to put it back and have a think (I always think it's good to do this, and then if it's still whirring in your mind an hour later dash back!) I was feeling exceptionally drawn to it, and kept thinking about it as we wandered about. I really rarely buy items from vintage shops, I'm more of a chazza/car boot girl, so it has to be pretty moving for me hand over the catch.  I did what I always do when I'm in a flummox re clothing purchases, call my mum! She didn't answer, I called her husband Steve and he did, phew, she was in the supermarket, 'could you pass the message on'. At this point we had migrated to Oxfam books. Within 5 minutes, mum had telephoned back and said YES are you mad GO GO GO, and I had clambered back up the stairs and purchased said frock. 

Fast forward to me arriving back in London that evening and sending my mum a photograph of the dress, here is the conversation that ensued:

Excuse are exciteable chatter but we truly were both SO amazed (in fact I still am). My mum also sent me the following photograph during the conversation that her friend had recently unearthed (that she had never seen before!):

Mad right! Even odder is that (as I make reference to in the above conversation) I had some weeks before been watching a dress on ebay by the same designer, Susan Small, for one reason or another I forgot to bid and thought no more on it. It came back into my mind after inspecting the label of the green dress, and I ventured onto ebay to see if it was still about. It was! I sent a photograph of it to mum, and low and behold she also had that one - both given to her by a dear friend in the 1990s. Of course I had to bid then, and I won (no other bidders at all!) The strangest thing is that Susan Small's other garments from what I can see are not very attractive at all, lots of polyester, none of them bear the slightest resemblance to these two dresses so it makes me feel near certain that these are the actual dresses my mum owned!

Of course given its resemblance to Provencal lavender bags I had to give its first outing in France. On arriving I quickly realised it would be far to warm to wear it so I instead donned it for a quick shoot on our last day. The garden at our villa was the perfect setting for it, kumquat and lemon trees perfectly fitted my dream of being a French farming girl.  Sadly my hair does not match that dream, it was particularly warm this day and it descended into a fuzzy mess. 

I love owning garments that have intriguing stories behind them, do you have any strange stories surrounding items you've bought? I'd love to hear about them if you do!

In other news tomorrow is my birthday and the referendum, what a delight! I'll be dressing up and partying my way through - it's only way I can feel any joy at the prospect of having such a momentous occasion happen on my birthday. I'm having an Eu themed party, and I've spent far too much time painting my ensemble (I'll be sure to take some pictures). Of course I'll also be voting, and I hope those of you who can will be too. See you on the other side, hopefully.