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.



  1. Wow, how mad is that! I love it when these serendipitous things happen and that is one lovely dress. I know what you mean about Susan Small-they can be a bit hit n'miss, but sometimes there's a gem.
    Have a glorious birthday tomorrow and see you after the vote!

  2. I so love this story! And that dress .... which suits you so perfectly. It was meant to be. Enjoy your birthday and party! x

  3. First of all best wishes for your birthday in advance of a few hours, tomorrow I have to get up early to Pisa and I will have a busy day away from your computer .. Then the referendum, I would like to express my opinion against this selfish Europe but Italy have no importance we citizens, is an increasingly nagging feeling ...
    but now I want to talk about good things, indeed magical .. like the story of this dress! The fate was perfect, it was right that you had this marvel of cotton and polka dots! these colors are so natural that you are a perfect and romantic country girl, even your hair! Now that I think about when I was little my mom gave me a white dress with delicate blue flowers, I was a tomboy, but now I loved this dress. A few days later my grandparents returned from their vacation in Hungary and Yogoslavia, they brought me a lamp doll with an elegant white dress decorated with the same flowers: amazing, it was the same fabric! Today I lost both the dress the doll, but the memory remained with her magic!

  4. happy birthday. The odds of you buying your Mother's dress are insane! It's a damn fine dress, too.

  5. I have just discovered your beautiful blog! Love it! And the story of this dress is just amazing - it has to be one and the same dress.(the scooped neck at back is fabulous) I love the sound of this Snoopers Paradise/Attic. Your photos are fabulous (and no, I think your hair is perfect for this).

  6. Wow that is quite an incredible story! It really is a pretty dress and it is so neat that it finally made its way around and ended up with you like it was meant to :) I have a similar story actually! I once found a red dress at a thrift store and wore it to visit my friend, and she said she used to own the same dress but had recently donated it! There's no way to tell for sure if it's the exact same dress she owned but it seems likely! It's funny how things work out sometimes.

  7. What are the chances of that? So glad you bought the dress as its perfect on you and looks utterly wonderful.
    Some of my favourite dresses in my wardrobe (s) are Susan Small, she made some ace stuff! x

  8. What a story! So interesting. Thanks for sharing.