A Dress From Audrey’s Wardrobe

I, have been working in vintage fashion for over 15 years now, and, by far, one of the things I MOST love about vintage is the history and stories behind the clothes. I adore the fact that many of these dresses have been around longer then I have been alive, have lived a life, enjoyed outings and been loved by others before me. I especially relish in a dress when I find out who it once belonged to and where it has been before it arrived in my hands. I love pink, I love gold and I love vintage dresses, so, my heart skipped a beat when I came across this amaaaazing sugar pink and gold satin brocade cocktail dress. I saw this beauty on eBay and, to be honest, I couldn’t stop thinking about it, it had captured me and I knew I needed to make it mine. I’m a determined girl and that dress wasn’t going to go anywhere except for my closet. It was destiny for sure. I bought the dress, hitting the ‘buy it now’ button without hesitation, I knew that it and I would be a perfect match. Helen, who sold it to me messaged me straight away explaining that it had belonged to her Mother, Audrey Watson, and that it was a part of her huge collection of clothing that she had lovingly collected throughout her lifetime and that she hoped I would love it as much as her Mother had; that it had been a hard one to let go of. It immediately added charm to the dress that I now knew who it had belonged to. Then it arrived. It fitted me as if it had been tailored just for me and I knew it was gonna go straight into my own personal collection of vintage dresses that I will never be able to part with. It is a pure stunner. I love it so much I included in in my collection of dresses recently showcased in The Vintage Show as part of Norwich Fashion Week, I just had to show it off. In the package with the dress, Helen kindly enclosed a copy of an article in Saga magazine about Audrey and her vast collection of clothing. I was thrilled to know more about the previous owner and hurriedly messaged Helen to tell her that I loved the dress even more than I thought I would and to ask if she could let Audrey know that it will be forever cherished. She was delighted, I was delighted, and I hope Audrey was delighted too, that her dress had found a new happy owner. IMG_9870

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Would ya just look at the beauty? Isn’t it pretty? Made by ‘Marjon Couture’, I discovered that Audrey bought this dream dress in 1962 in a small shop in Sleaford, in a sale, she actually bought two of the same dress and took apart the second in order to make a matching jacket. Oh my. Imagine the days when there was more than one of these dresses on the rail! Audrey will be 88 years old in May this year and during her life so far she has amassed thousands of items of fashion including dresses, jumpsuits, jewellery and shoes. Just imagine! What a fashionable gal! Her collection has even caught the eye of vintage lover Wayne Hemingway, that’s how great her archives are! During the 60’s and 70’s Audrey made many trips from her home in Lincolnshire down to London to hit the boutiques on the King’s Road and Carnaby Street. How I would adore to ask her about all her memories; “I went for clothes that stood out and were unusual rather than a particular label. I didn’t want to look like everyone else” she said to Saga Magazine. The interview in Saga goes on to say that ‘One outfit was rarely enough. Audrey used to put several in the car boot in case she changed her mind halfway through the evening’, she sounds like a true fashion dream! The majority of Audrey’s collection has now been auctioned off and is now being worn by a new generation, you can see more of the story on the Facebook page that Helen has set up. It turns out that Audrey never actually wore this pink dress, so I will be the first person, after all these years, to wear it, and I cannot wait. It has been cared for and saved by Audrey until it found it’s new owner; meeee! Thank you Audrey for this dress, it will be truly treasured. “All my clothes have memories attached” said Audrey, and now it will be making new memories with me. I couldn’t love it more.

Here’s some gorgeous pictures of Audrey and her love for fashion!

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First image by Anna Gowthorpe, images of Audrey by kind permission of Helen and her Facebook page

An American Adventure

I’m back! Back from a holiday that was brilliant beyond words! Having had our shop in Norwich for so long, James and I had to always take separate, if any, holidays and so finally we got to take one together; and my goodness it was good! We decided we were gonna take a holiday to celebrate James’ big birthday and then when our beautiful friends who live in NYC announced that they were getting hitched in the middle of Moab Desert in Utah, we decided that a road trip through USA was the only way to go! We flew to San Francisco and spent a few days staying with my long time bestie Kristin, and then picked up our hire car, a Jeep and headed out to the desert! Going via Big Sur, Santa Barbara, Las Vegas and Escalante before hitting Utah for the wedding! Then a few more days of exploring, through Beaver and back to Vegas before flying home!

I was brought up, very fortunately, with lots of emphasis on travel and so I’ve spent much time visiting USA before as well as having spent time there studying for my Degree, I ADORE America, that place truly has my heart and this trip was a pure delight! My eyes saw things they couldn’t quite believe, the scenery in Utah was other-worldly and the heat was insane…45 degrees in the desert!! Wooosh! The trip was mind-blowing and then the wedding of our brilliant friends made it even more special! A beautiful glamping weekend wedding with the heat and the backdrop of the desert, it was so very magical I cannot even try to describe it. Simply luminous with love.

The trip cost us money we don’t have and I feared James and I would drive each other crazy in a car for two weeks, but, it was worth every cent and squabble, what a wonderful adventure we had, a perfect start to our new non-shop chapter of life! I’m pretty snap-happy with my iPhone when travelling and seeing new things, so I documented the whole trip on my Instagram; lots of you appeared to enjoy sharing my journey with me, such fun! These are just a few highlights, if you wanna, you can see all my holiday snaps here!

What a ride! Now back to reality and pretty dresses! xx

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Brave New World

bl1So, we’ve been without the actual physical shop for just over a month, although it kinda feels like forever already. Very strange to have a less rigid structure to each day, and to have Saturdays off, what a novelty! Not to suggest that I’ve been having a break, ooh no, that would be way too simple. Emptying out the shop and getting the online shop set up has taken up all of my time and, I’m so glad that the online shop is now alive! Obviously it’s exciting as it’s the start of brand new chapter, but my goodness it’s scary and overwhelming. There’s so many differences to being online than having a bricks and mortar shop, some good, some not so much. It’s gonna take a long time and much marketing, learning of new skills and blowing of my own trumpet to let people know I am here, but I shall endeavour, and so far, so good. I have a damn nice office so that makes it an easier transition, James re-purposed all the glass and chrome shelving from the shop fittings so I have floor to ceiling shelves as well as the trusty Prim wicker chair that many a customer has sat in over the years – it’s now for my cat to sit on and keep me company. I have my Slim Aarons print above my desk and of course Miss Moss pouts her pretty gaze towards me all day long from the wall. The online shop is still in it’s infancy and the site will only get better with heaps more categories and teeny tweaks to make it a perfect shopping experience for you. I kinda like my new role, I kinda love it here, let’s hope that the new wonderful world of Prim means I can make it a permanent position.

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Sun, Sun, Sunday!

 

 

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Whoop, yesterday was a Sunday full of bright winter sunshine, and so we headed to the coast for a runaround! Zooming off for a bluster of sea air and a blaze of sunlight in our eyes…a good kinda day off. The tide was out at Sheringham and the white stone exposed far out on the beach made us feel as though we had landed on the Moon, brilliant. It always feels so good to get a day away and to explore the coast. We also met a cat which made the day even more perfect. Winter sun is ace. Happy day. 
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A Bellville Sassoon Birthday

Holkham Hall in Norfolk, oooosh what a stunning place! Having intended to go there for ages, my recent birthday meant we finally got in the car and zoomed off for a day of loveliness. We had been meaning to go for ages, firstly because we knew it had a Bellville Sassoon fashion exhibition ‘Glamour and Gowns’ taking place, secondly because I LOOOVE stately homes, and, thirdly, because we were sent a personal hand written invite from the Viscountess of Holkham Hall; Polly Coke. Viscountess Coke had been into our vintage shop and bought two stunning 1930’s dresses, she followed her purchase up by sending us personal invites to the exhibition and hall, super! Viscountess Coke is the daughter of Belinda Bellville, founder of British fashion label Bellville Sassoon and so her own stately home was just the perfect place to showcase an exhibition of her Mother’s work.

The house and gardens were gorgeous, beautiful in their original and well maintained state with knowledgeable staff telling stories and you also got the really nice sense of the Coke family still using a large portion of the house as their actual home, wonderful. The fashion exhibition was a stunning, sparkly and brightly coloured contrast to the dark interior of the house, a delight for my eyes indeed. This small but thorough exhibition was beautifully curated with great information and a selection of dresses that represented the decades of Bellville Sassoon wonderfully. Gold and silver baubles hanging from the ceiling and the beautiful room itself made for an exhibition that was nothing short of enchanting.

Bellville Sassoon was founded in 1953 by Belinda Bellville, originally naming it ‘Bellville Et Cie’, she opened her first shop in partnership with Sydna Scott in Knightsbridge. By 1958 the business was growing rapidly and Belinda had had her first two daugters, the third, Polly, who went on to marry into the Coke family, was born later in 1967. Belinda met David Sassoon and he joined the business, his expertise in pattern cutting and his technical knowledge proved the perfect addition. In 1970 he became a partner and the name Bellville Sassoon was born. At the end of the 1970’s, Tatler Magazine declared that Bellville Sassoon had made more society wedding dresses than any other couture house. This British label had become famous for it’s luxury cocktail, party and wedding dresses, with a host of glamourous ladies wearing their designs, including Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie Kennedy, Madonna and of course, Princess Diana. I also saw some of their designs in the Diana exhibition at Kensigton Palace. At Holkham they had on display a sketch and photo of Princess Diana in her Bellville Sassoon ‘Going Away’ outfit; a canteloupe silk dress with bolero jacket, 1981. She adored it so much she wore it on many occasions including her tour of Australia in 1983.

My favourite dresses in the exhibit were the bright pink raw silk skirt with a hand beaded lace top, 1960, a polkadot flamenco style dress in silk taffeta and silk organza, 1987, a pink silk paper taffeta dress with bustle trim, ruched bodice and draped skirt, 1980, and the cutest candy stripe silk paper taffeta puffball dress, 1980.

Such a delight of an exhibition and a super birthday day trip.

This exhibition is on until late October 2013, and Holkham Hall is open on various dates over the year, for more information visit www.holkham.co.uk