Decorating tips for the brunette bachelorette

cocktail drinking bright young thing

cocktail drinking bachelor girl




an admiring uncle?

an admiring uncle?

Scan 2

Scan 4

I do <3 love these decorating tips from a big fat 1930s book I found tucked away on mamma’s shelves.

I’m not altogether sure if the author of this piece altogether approves of the bachelor girl this article is aimed at. The tone suggests that she should make time in her  dashing, dancing, cocktail drinking life and cosy down with a bit of needlework.

“Let us first design a background for those embroideries and for a brunette”

Would you ever have thought to decorate your home interior  to compliment your hair colour?  The dull gilt walls and ceiling and black lacquer woodwork is something I could definitely live with even though I’m not brunette

It seems really racy to advise  a bachelor girl to furnish her bedsit with a cushioned divan and a cocktail cabinet. Asking for all sorts of high jinks I’d have thought.  ( I have reservations about the ‘admiring uncle’ too… but if he also stocked up the cocktail cabinet, then hurrah for him ) .

I just wonder if she would have had time or even the inclination to make that  embroidered mural panel……..?

Posted in decor, Fashion, miscellanious, vintage | Tagged , , , | 25 Comments

Wake up Mary, and smell……………….life!

wake up

wake up

By gum, it’s been ages!

By gum??? where the heck did that come from. I’ve never used that expression in all my life. It must be something to do with my  blogging long  silence. (Come to think of it, I’ve never used “heck” either). I’ve read about people coming out of a coma and speaking with a completely new accent. I can only imagine that something similar has happened to me. Anyway, 2014 has been a very “challenging” year so far, that’s a polite way of saying it’s been a nightmare. But nevertheless things are returning to an even keel and guess what, even the sun is shining. Hyacinths are poking their bumpy little heads out of the soil and the daffs are in full swing.

Ain’t life grand!

Posted in miscellanious, vintage | 14 Comments

Don’t know why there’s no sun up in the sky

Derry & Toms vintage advertisement

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“Come into my parlour” said the spider to the fly “and I will make you beautiful before I let you die”

Biba beauty parlour leaflet cover showing deco lady design

The Biba Beauty Parlour

The Biba Beauty Parlour

Biba beauty parlour middle pages

“My life began at forty-one and I found Regis and began to look a different me

Everyone noticed right away

“What have you done?” they’d gasp entranced

“I’ve met this man” I start to say then shut my mouth

Why share him with the world?

But now I do exactly that

I stand inside the purring Biba Beauty Parlour

and see the subtleties of his seduction

I watch while trembling chrysalis emerge

as glowing butterflies,

baffled by the mirror image of their own beauty

I seeth to see that what he did for me

he does indeed for everyone

Is nothing sacred now I ask!

I’ll be a naughty girl demand to have my hair go green!

The devilish man! He’s just said “Yes”!

Already plans a luscious face to match!

He knows I’ll never leave him now.”

Molly Parkin


Biba beauty parlour price list

The devilish Mr  Régis Huét

The devilish but delicious Mr Régis Huét

Posted in Art Deco, Biba, Fashion, vintage, vintage beauty, vintage fashion | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

A Very Happy Christmas to One and All

peeping santa

Wishing everyone a most joyful Christmas.

(Cheeky Santa cover illustration by Herric for La Vie Parisienne)

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It fits to a T

the T shirt counter at Biba

the T shirt counter at Biba

Do you see all the cubbyhole shelves behind the counter. The ones that look as if they are coloured in? Well those shelves were actually filled with precisely folded t shirts. Zoom in and you might just see the folds. Can you imagine what a painstaking task keeping that unit tidy must have been?

Although Biba is best remembered for the sheer glamour, Biba t shirts were  must have items. Pure cotton and specially dyed for each season’s range of 24 different colours. And a brilliant range of designs. Up to then T shirts had been , well, just T shirt shaped. Barbara designed them as  fashion garments. They were made in England in a small factory which had been producing traditional, old style vests and knickers.

Vedonis traditional underwear

Vedonis traditional underwear

Overwhelmed by the sheer volume of orders they had to expand several times to keep up with demand.

Roll the clock forward by 40 years and Barbara Hulanicki’s latest venture is a new range of T shirts with matchy-matchy jumbo sized silk scarves and tote bags. Each piece features Barbara Hulanicki illustrations or designs

iconclub illustrated tees

iconclub illustrated tees

iconclub graphic tees

iconclub graphic tees

What I especially like about these is the way the pattern is echoed on the long sleeves. Almost like having an armful of bracelets à la Nancy Cunard

The t shirts and silk scarves are being made in the UK, in a factory in London’s East End. The totes are made in Poland. You probably know that Barbara was born in Poland but came to live in England when she was 12, so it’s quite apt that her new designs  are being produced in both countries. You could say that it’s a match that fits to a T.

The full range can be seen on Barbara Hulanicki’s brand new iconclub website here

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Fashion on the radio

Did you have that gale force wind where you were?

The sheer force of nature spiralling everything out of control. Just a bit like the past couple of weeks where I’ve had  TOO MUCH to do. I hit the deck running and at times it felt like I was jogging on the spot, but looking back quite a lot was achieved. One of those times when loose ends which should have been tied in a timely fashion, all got snarled and extra energy was needed to untangle them all. Still, most things are sorted now and there is only Christmas looming on the horizon. I’ll wait a bit before tackling that and hope that the adrenalin kicks in for a last minute shopping orgy.

But this weekend is going to be all mine. Do not disturb. I am going to hibernate and recharge for at least 24 hours and Sunday is going to be my day of rest.


And aren’t Sunday mornings the best!

Time  sets a leisurely pace. No mad dashing with a jumbo hit of caffeine in one hand and half a pair of shoes in the other to match the half a slash of lippy  (did I really go out like that?).

No, Sundays are about just being. Doing or not doing . Getting dressed or not. Eating a late breakfast. (Poached eggs always seem to turn out perfectly on a Sunday. Rubbery bullets every time else)  Skimming the Sunday supplements and listening to the radio. Glorious BBC Radio 4. The Archer’s Omnibus followed by Desert Island Discs

This coming Sunday will be a real treat because Barbrara Hulanicki will be the castaway on Desert Island Discs

Barbara Hulanicki O.B.E.

Barbara Hulanicki O.B.E. photo from BBC Radio 4 webpage

Desert Island Discs is one of the longest running radio programmes in Britain. It’s an absolute institution. Each week a guest  is invited to imagine that they have been castaway on an uninhabited island where they will be marooned for ever. All they  have for company is a Bible (or appropriate religious text….a recent, P.C. addition to the format) and the complete works of Shakespeare. In addition they are allowed 8 favourite pieces of music to take with them plus one luxury item. The choice of music and luxury item are the kick off points for the interview and it is interesting to hear how much sometimes is revealed about the subject from their favourite songs.

If you’re not in the UK it is possible to listen over the internet as long as you have Flash player installed on your computer.

You can access BBC Radio 4 here;

It will be fascinating to hear what music she picks. Will it be Hollywood golden age musical scores or Roxy Music , reminders of those heady Biba days.

Bryan Ferry and Amanda Lear at Biba (photo by Mick Rock)

In the roof Garden Restaurant.Bryan Ferry and Amanda Lear at Biba (photo by Mick Rock)

Some Chopin perhaps as a nod to her Polish roots? Miami Sound Machine? No, perhaps not.

How about Back to Black by Amy Winehouse , it’s  certainly Barbara’s preferred colour.

Any suggestions?

We’ll just have to wait and hear.

11.15am on Sunday in the UK

Repeated at 9 on Friday

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Beau monde in Bermondsey

There is always a lot to lust after at Kerry Taylor’s auction house in Bermondsey. The next sale on 3rd December has so many fabulous pieces, but I’ve limited this post to just 3 gowns from Paris in the 1920s


This stunning cocktail dress is a total work of art. It was designed by Natalia Goncharova who was a famed avante-garde artist in pre-revolution Moscow. Rebellious and insouciant, she shocked society by openly living with her lover, Mikhail Larionov. The couple loved to provoke reaction and would paint  images, or offensive phrases on their own and their friends’ bodies — and then parade through the wealthiest parts of the city or sit in cafes having a nice cup of tea, totally oblivious to the outrage they had caused.  She came to the attention of Sergei Diaghilev who commissioned her to design sets and costumes for the Ballets Russes and so a long partnership was formed. Living in Paris in the 1920s she began to design dresses  for Maison Myrbor. This exclusive salon was owned by Marie Cuttoli and was part fashion house, part art gallery. Myrbor showcased  textiles, rugs and dresses  with abstract designs.  Mme Cuttoli worked with the leading artists of the day.  Picasso, Léger, Dufy, Matisse and Braque were amongst those who created unique pieces for her shop. (Incidentally, Mme Cuttoli lived at 55 Rue de Babylone, later the home of YSL.)

This dress dates from about 1924, it is made from crêpe de chine  appliquéd with abstract shaped  decorations made from velvet, metallic fabric and silk. There are three tiered flounces on one hip which are embroidered with metallic  bands.


Paul Poiret printed chiffon afternoon dress, the print by Raoul Dufy, circa 1924,

Paul Poiret dress with Raoul Dufy, print circa 1924,

When not in his artist’s studio or hanging out with Mme Cuttoli at Maison Myrbor, Raoul Dufy was also dabbling in fashion as a textile print designer for Paul Poiret. The Celia and Ossie of the Parisian beau monde.? Early on in his career Paul Poiret was greatly influenced by the flamboyance of the designs at The Ballet Russes . He moved fashion design away from the traditional tailored shapes and brought in draping and flowing shapes which hung from the shoulders for a looser silhouette (and so ending the tyranny of whalebone corsets) He believed that fashion and art went hand in hand (in fact he started his career as a fashion illustrator),  and  commisioned Raoul Dufy to  design prints for him. His flowing shapes were the ideal canvas for Dufy’s bold, flat, one dimensional prints.

This ‘afternoon dress’ is demure yet rather racy. It is multi layered, white organza over a  pink crêpe de chine petticoat with the navy and white Dufy print overdress set off by deep Valencienne lace cuffs and collar.



This is a stunning dress by Mary Nowitzky, a Russian emigree who opened her Parisian salon in 1924. She was known for knitwear, sportswear and negligees,  Her flowy beach pyjamas and painted silk creations perfectly encapsulated that mid 20s jazz age vibe. She married a Prince who whisked her off to America where she continued to design clothes for society ladies.

It is a long, column dress  decorated with printed and hand painted butterflies on the kimono style sleeves and on the hem. A loose and softly draped shape caught in with long sashes. The bold combination of colours is fabulous. Plain blue chiffon front and an acid green back panel compliment the butterfly wing pattern.

All images © Kerry Taylor Auctions

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Some of my Biba Coats and Jackets

Guess what?..I’ve been back up in that attic and lugged down a few of my Biba coats and jackets. They all date from the early 1970s .

Vintage Biba  ocelot print faux fur swing back coat

Vintage Biba ocelot print faux fur swing back coat

This is probably what most people would think of as the archetypal Biba coat. Animal print maxi with  an A line shape falling from very narrow shoulders . It has a triangular inverted soft pleat at the back to give it fullness. Boat neckline fastening with a large square button.

Biba black/brown chevron stripe faux fur coat

Biba black/brown chevron stripe faux fur coat

Very glamorous black and brown faux fur coat. The 2 colours actually go in zigzag stripes, but the crushed finish to the pile stops the stripes from looking like stripes but gives it a mottled, textural look. The shape and cut is very similar to the coat above. Classic Biba designs were often made in a variety of fabrics.

Vintage Biba tiger stripe faux fur swing back jacket

Vintage Biba tiger stripe faux fur swing back jacket

A short pile faux fur with a zebra stripe in a tiger colour way. It has a shawl collar and big, stand up puffs at the top of the sleeves. Deep turn back cuffs. A swing back for a fabulous swirly fit.

Vintage Biba faux fur belted coat

Vintage Biba faux fur belted coat

This was my favourite and I wore it constantly. I called it my hamster fur coat….don’t ask me why.  Very narrow shoulders and puffed at the top of the sleeves. Deep turn back cuffs. A big square collar and 3 huge button fastening. Ankle length with a deep split at the centre back. Long tie belt.

Vintage Biba Black faux fur jacket

Vintage Biba Black faux fur jacket

Black faux fur fabric with a crushed finish (to mimic crushed velvet) and a chevron “stripe” where the pile of the fur is shorter, for a lovely textural finish. Very tight fitted shape, fastening with a front zip. Peplum skirt to emphasise the nipped in waist. Huge, rounded edge black fur collar. Deep black fur cuffs finish very skinny sleeves.

Vintage Biba grey leopard faux fur jacket

Vintage Biba grey leopard faux fur jacket

And here’s almost the same jacket, shorter and in a grey animal print faux fur fabric with a short pile.

Vintage Biba cardigan with faux fur collar and cuffs

Vintage Biba cardigan with faux fur collar and cuffs

This is a  cardigan jacket knitted in  black and white yarns which give it a textured  look. (the knit actually reminds me of fisherman’s sweaters) The collar and cuffs are made from a very feathery faux fur , black with random white tips. Straight sleeves with puffs at the shoulders.  Quite deep patch pockets, lined in satin to stop them drooping. Edge to edge with no fastening.

Posted in Biba, Fashion, vintage | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Note to self

google title commemorating Edith Head's 118th birthday

google doodle commemorating Edith Head’s 118th birthday

I often don’t  notice the Google doodles  but today’s really caught my eye. I have been meaning to read about Edith Head for years and years so this will be my aide mémoire . Any recommendations ?

Posted in Fashion, vintage | Tagged , | 15 Comments