I am a woman of fashion (Danse Macabre)

danse macabre

Don’t be so boisterous you filthy Wretch, I am a Woman of Fashion

A simply marvellous quote to memorise, cherish and keep…… in the hope of an opportunity to use it.

Happy Hallowe’en


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“…one of New York’s original Mad Men”

Now here’s an exhibition I’d love to see if I could just click my heels and hop on a passing transatlantic train.

Mac Conner illustration

‘Mac Conner: A New York Life’  is a look at some of the glorious illustrations drawn by McCauley Conner who began his career in the advertising agencies of Madison Avenue. The exhibition is being held at the Museum of the City of New York who are billing Mr Conner as one of New York’s original ‘Mad Men’

Working in those pivotal years following WWII, he was part of the advertising world remit of creating the American dream. A happily married couple, 2 children (one of each) living in a pretty house in the suburbs, the man commuting into the city for a white collar job whilst the wife  kept an immaculate home whilst looking immaculate herself. So very Betty and Don Draper (the early years)


He then moved to illustrating magazine stories, most famously for Redbook, the Saturday Evening Post, and Cosmopolitan. His illustrations have a cinematic quality to them. He captures a scene in the story which makes you want and need to know what happened just before and what will happen afterwards.




mac illustration3

It is the first ever exhibition of Mac Conner’s work. He celebrated his 100th birthday last  November. When asked if he would be at the opening of the exhibition, he replied,

“Yes,….if they’re serving Martinis”

I hope they did.

mac cocktails


The exhibition runs from 15th September through to 19th January 2015 .



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Ad men? Mad men….(absolutely barking)

vintage magazine advert for Triumph underwear

Undies to be sold in. Not you? Don’t bargain on it. The will of Allah could catch you in your undies any time. Blushmaking? Not in Triumph fashion undies. Get in some quick. They’re a great buy.

What was the ad-man thinking when he came up with this little gem? And what was Nova (champions of Feminism and fore runners of Women’s Lib) thinking when they actually published it in the May/June 1969  issue ?

It’s just a shame that they left off Triumph’s famous slogan;

“Triumph has the bra for the way you are”

That would have made this bit of vintage advertising just perfect(ly gross)




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…….and here’s the original

Biba photograph Nova magazine

I’m so pleased that I still have this.  When I saw the cover photograph from Barbara Hulanicki and Martin Pel’s new Biba book, I thought it originally might have been from Nova .

I was right *smug grin*

The iconic photograph is by Elizabeth Novik (Elizabeth Novick) and appeared in the December 1969 issue of Nova magazine.

Nova magazine cover 1969


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Yesterday is the new tomorrow

It has been a long time since I added a post. Things have been pretty much up and down lately, but not in a good way. The Glamma Mamma became critically ill and things were a bit touch and go for a while. I’m extremely happy to say that she beat the odds and pulled through and now is back to her old self. Nevertheless I’ve decided to come and live with her, swapping London for the sticks.

It feels pretty weird coming back to to live in the place that I left when I was 17.  Of course, I’ve been back since then for hundreds of weekends, long and short, Christmases and birthdays. But never for more than a few days at a time and rarely ventured beyond the garden gate. Now I’m a native again, I’ll need to get acclimatised to the more laid back pace of life

The first thing that I’m finding it difficult to get used to is not being able to pop out to the shops what ever time I fancy (I think I might be missing Westfield, I never thought that I’d EVAH admit to that!) At least there isn’t a Tesco, Tesco Metro, Tesco Express, Tesco Extra,Tesco Superstore on every corner, which seems to be the case in my area of London.  Everything here closes at 5.30 but if you dare enter a shop after  5.15 you get zapped by narrow-eyed-death-ray-stares.

Thank goodness for internet shopping :-) :-)

No bookshops (no surprise) so I’ll need to hit Amazon for Barbara Hulanicki’s new book “The Biba Years 1963-1975″ which I’ve been looking forward to all year

cover of The Biba Years 1963 - 1975

(It’s a beautiful cover, I think I remember the photo being originally used in a glossy mag…Nova perhaps?)

A companion read to A to Biba but with a lot more photos and illustrations. It also contains facsimiles of the much sought after 6 mail order catalogues from the late 1960s. It also promises previously unpublished material.

This got me thinking about all sorts of  things that happened during my time at Biba. I don’t suppose the book will include the glorious pig’s head incident, or the tiny Oriental men kicking seven shades of sh*t out of each other in the Rainbow Room. The time when water miraculously turned to tequila or the iconic 70s rock star who was scurrilously nicknamed rent-a-star because he attended every single Biba event. The naked (yes totally, utterly nude) lady cavorting on the mirrored counters  or the sparks’ open all hours snug in the depths of the 1st floor.

But they’re some of my memories of an amazing time had. By a girl from the sticks.






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A Shout-out for Shoe Sleuths

I just acquired these fancy  shoes. Perspex soles and heels and a see through vinyl upper decorated with fabric flowers. The insole is floral textile too.

Made by Timothy Hitsman, which I suspect is an American label.

But I just cannot put a date to them. Are they modern or vintage?

The heel has a rectangular ‘foot-print’ (heel-print?) which makes me think 1980s

Any ideas?

perspex and vinyl shoes with floral trim


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAtimothy hitsman heels

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A Gentle Aid to Beauty (Guess the ad)

a drawing of a 1960s lady looking in her dressing table mirror

She’s elegant, she’s classy and she’s advertising something, but what?

The illustration in this  advert from Woman’s Mirror, 12th June 1969 caught my eye  . Have a guess what the product is . You might just be surprised.

Face cream? Nope

Hairspray? Nope

Facial hair bleach? Nope

Laxatives? Nope

Here’s the blurb;

caption for chewing gum advert as an aid to serenity and wrinkle control


Right-o, I’m off for a private chew. I shall return wrinkle-free and serene.

I may be some time…..


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Victorian Hipster

Kensington, 27th June 1906 2 very fashionable ladies

Kensington, 27th June 1906

I imagined that Victorians were stiff, starchy and very correct but the girl in this photograph oozes sass and style. It was taken by Edward Linley Sambourne who was an illustrator and cartoonist for Punch.

He became passionate about photography and would roam the streets of Kensington taking pics of women often using the snaps as the basis for his illustrations. By that token, he could probably be described as the very first street style photographer.

(He also took saucy nude photos…his wife called them “Lin’s little secret” in her diary but we won’t go into that just now, because after all, it’s Sunday.)


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Vintage , Secondhand, Beautiful Old Clothes

fashion photo of girl in lilac cheesecloth and lace

Lilac cheesecloth tiered skirt with matching v-neck long-sleeved blouse £30.00 from Yak,41 Pembridge Road. W11 and North End Road. SW6. White cotton petticoat with green ribbon trim £12.99 from branches of Dorothy Perkins. Flat Green pearlised shoes with leather thongs, Plum £18,50. Fake flowers from a selection at Fenwick.

Chantilly Lace

Play the romantic heroine in a haze of antique lace. Very Gone With The Wind. Very feminine. Search for lace trimmings on market stalls, and transform your plainest blouses. If the lace looks a bit past-it, you can always dye it, and it may be that all it needs is a good biological wash. And if you can’t be bothered with all that, go to a good secondhand clothes shop, as we did, and find beautiful old clothes.

Scan 1

Peach camisole top with elasticated waist, from a selection of secondhand clothes at Razamataz, 12 North End Road, SW6. Cream lace blouse with lace on front and cuffs, £39.00 from Essences, King’s Rd. £W3. White cotton petticoat from a selection at £42 from Edina and Lena, 141 King’s Rd. SW3. Pink pearlised flat shoes, Plum £18.50. Fake flowers from a selection at Fenwick.

Scan 2

Cream silky long-sleeved elasticated-waist dress with lace frill collar and cuffs from a selection at Razamataz, North End Rd. SW6 White lace long scarf tied round waist, from a selection at Razamataz. White net gloves from Baggage & General, £2.90. Flat green pearlised shoes, Plum, £18.50

Photographs by Alex Henderson. Images scanned from Honey & Vanity Fair, November 1978.

Vintage or Secondhand?

What I like about this editorial is the matter-of-fact use of the word secondhand. Not Vintage with a capital V but secondhand. It made me think about how we now use Vintage as a portmanteau word, stuffing it full of all manner of old clothes from the 1990s right back to 1914. Anything before that would, I suppose, be classed as antique.

Are we overusing the word vintage? Should it be used only for high quality garments from the past or is it okay to use it for any type of clothing just because it is more than 24 years old. I’m pondering on this one…..




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Who will inspire future designers now……..?


It’s a secret language, known to all different people, in different ways, that enables them to read a subliminal message without realising they’re reading it. It affects people on many levels, and even people who think they’re not into fashion or reject fashion are then being informed just in the case of rejecting it. The fact that they had to react against it was a conscious decision.

Louise Wilson O.B.E  (23 February 1962 – ✝ 16th May 2014)

Louise wilson

LOUISE Wilson was unanimously acclaimed as one of the most influential individuals in a highly competitive industry. As head of the Fashion MA Course at Central Saint Martins College in London the list of designers she trained is legendary: from Alexander McQueen and Hussein Chalayan to Giles Deacon, Zara, Roksanda Ilincic, Christopher Kane and Marios Schwab. She also taught many who hold senior posts in the fashion business such as stylists, journalists and editors.

Indeed, the elite of British fashion came under her scrutiny and (often scathing) criticism. There was a saying at St Martins that went: “If you can survive Louise’s comments, you’re ready to go into the world.” But Wilson maintained a balanced and purposeful attitude towards her students. She encouraged them and offered constructive advice when it was deserved.

Her experience, wide knowledge of colours and expert eye was unequalled in the world of fashion. She remained a total enthusiast and was blessed with an infectious sense of humour. She recently said: “It’s a privilege to be around youth. It keeps you young in your thinking.”

During her time in the Eighties as a student at St Martins, Wilson was much influenced by the teaching of Ossie Clark. After graduating in 1986, Wilson worked part-time as head of women’swear at Central Saint Martins. She spent some years in Hong Kong and working for Gianfranco Ferre in Italy before returning to the college as course director of the Fashion MA course. In 1997, she was head-hunted to become design director of Donna Karan of New York but returned to London in 1999 to be the professor in charge of the MA course.

Her influence extended well beyond pure education of fashion and design students. Her teaching was considered idiosyncratic and all-embracing. Wilson would often provide particular assistance to a student’s career and find placements at houses such as Lanvin and Balenciaga.

Her commitment to UK fashion spread throughout the industry and helped make the UK industry – and London Fashion Week – one of the most relevant weeks in the fashion calendar. In 2012, Wilson received the Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creator at the British Fashion Awards.

Wilson retained a strong vocal hint of her Scottish origins and was invariably dressed in black – whether teaching or attending a show. “People think I’m rude,” she said three years ago. “I’m not rude, it’s just honesty. In Who’s Who my hobbies are listed as eating, sleeping and voicing one’s opinion. Not,” she added with a smile, “necessarily the right opinion, but it’s mine.”

The respect she was held in the world of fashion is reflected in her being awarded the OBE in 2008 and was in The Lady’s list of 125 of “the most intelligent, empowered and inspirational women”.

Louise Wilson was not only a pillar of the London fashion community, but was also recognised as an institution among colleagues and students. Many of today’s greatest talents were taught and inspired by her: she had the uncanny knack of spotting and encouraging originality. She was often asked who was going to be the next Alexander McQueen. “Alexander McQueen,” she replied with a wry smile, “didn’t know he was going to be Alexander McQueen.”

Obituary by Alasdair Steven for The Scotsman

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