Category Archives: Vintage

An Interview With Author Caroline Young

This week I’m interviewing non-fiction author Caroline Young and reviewing her latest book ”Kitted Out” . Caroline’s previous books include “Style Tribes”, “Hitchcock’s Heroines”, “Living With Coco Chanel” and “Roman Holiday”.

MY REVIEW

This book, from the very beginning, had me spellbound. The book is all about style and youth culture in the Second World War – absolutely fascinating stories from those who were teenagers/ twenties and what their uniforms, clothing and general style meant to them. It was so interesting to find out how they adapted regulation uniform to try and make it slightly more stylish without angering those in higher authority, how they tweaked clothing in general for those “dances” … how despite there was a war going on, style and music icons were still revered and styles copied. I enjoyed reading about the different uniform styles for both men and women, in all the services too. I think the most fascinating part of this book are the stories – not just from those who served from the UK, but the American GIs, the Land Girls, the German swing kids.

THE INTERVIEW:

Hi Caroline, it is such a pleasure to welcome you onto the blog …

Hi! I’m Caroline. I’m a non-fiction author from Edinburgh, specialising in film, fashion and pop culture. My books include Style Tribes: The Fashion of Subcultures, Hitchcock’s Heroines, Living with Coco Chanel, Roman Holiday: The Secret Life of Hollywood in Rome, and Kitted Out: Style and Youth Culture in the Second World War. 

Who or what inspired you to research and write about style and youth culture in the 2nd World War? 

The idea was sparked when I was researching my book Style Tribes, which explores fashion in subcultures over the last 100 years. I’d featured a number of youth movements around the time of the Second World War, including the zoot suits and the swing youth in Germany, and it made me think of how young people expressed themselves in wartime. Even though uniforms were rolled out in countries around the world, creating this sense of mass homogynisation, there was still a need to express oneself, and to proclaim individualism, even more so when being surrounded by tragedy and death. I then thought of the men of the RAF who were the heroes of the Battle of the Britain, who suffered enormous losses, and developed their own language and style codes to become a bit cliquey. I wanted to look at the different factions, the hierarchies and the subtle ways uniform could be adapted. There was a lot of scrounging for equipment in battle, taking pieces from the enemy as a souvenir or because it was a better piece of clothing, and I found all those stories so intruguing. 

I found your latest book, “Kitted Out”, absolutely fascinating. I was amazed at the stories of how both the men and women adjusted their uniforms slightly to add a bit of style to them and the style uniform envy that went on.  I must admit I quite like the khaki ladies uniforms  – the colour and style anyway – Which uniform would you have found most appealing? 

I really liked the land girls’ uniform – with the cord breeches, and shirts, and the turbans wrapped around the head. I think for many young women, going away from their homes for the first time and working outdoors, it was really a revelation. There were lots of accounts from these women who considered it one of the best times of their lives, of absolute freedom, even though they were often judged by the farmers for the unladylike clothes they were wearing, and for going to the pub with soldiers from the nearby bases. 

I liked how you included a section that included the German youth and their love of swing too. It seems such a shame that a war was going on because it just highlighted, to me at any rate, how youth the world over are just the same. Overall, were there any aspects of the stories told that surprised you, pleasantly or otherwise?  

Swing music was definitely an equaliser in the war, and one of the stories from Germany that I found fascinating was of examples of Luftwaffe pilots tuning into the BBC as they flew closer to Britain, so they could listen to swing music, because foreign radio, and jazz, was banned in Nazi Germany. 

A lot of the stories I featured were surprising, in the way that these young people faced challenges head on, and had to ignore the pain in losing friends as best they could, because there wasn’t really a choice but to get on with it. One of my favourite people in the book is Diana Barnato, a female pilot in the ATA, and absolutely fearless. She lost her fiancé and then a husband in the space of a couple of years, and almost was killed a couple of times when flying planes – once when the undercarriage fell away while thousands of feet in the air. I also loved her descriptions of going to London nightspots until 4am, discussing flying techniques with fighter pilot friends, and then catching the train back to the base, changing from an evening dress back into her uniform, and going straight back to work. 

Growing up, have you always wanted to be an author or did you have other career aspirations in mind?

I always wanted to be an author from a young age, absolutely. I can remember typing out notes on my grandfather’s typewriter when I was about five years old, and I always enjoyed writing little stories. I couldn’t really think of anything else I wanted to do apart from write, and so I think it was destined. I’m also a history geek, and love the research aspect of writing non-fiction, and coming up with new ideas. So I’m always writing, and thinking about writing, and thinking of great subjects for future books. 

 
Are there any new writing plans in the pipeline?

I have another book on Chanel coming out next year; a fun little guide to the designer called What Coco Chanel Can Teach You About Fashion, and will be published by White Lion. I also have a couple of ideas that I’m developing, including a book on the Hag Horror genre of movies which I’ve called Crazy Old Ladies. On top of this I finally finished a novel in lockdown, one I’d been working on for the last eight years. So I’m hoping to find a publisher for that. 

Are you a bookworm? What is your favourite genre and/or authors? Kindle or actual book? 

I am definitely a bookworm! If I am in the midst of writing a book, a lot of what I’m reading is dedicated to that subject. Last year, when I was writing Kitted Out, I was reading endless books on the Second World War. So it’s great to have time to read novels. I really like David Nichols, Liane Moriarty and Lucy Foley, and I have been getting into the domestic thriller genre, as I’d love to write one myself. I have to confess I tend to read off my Kindle – I’ve just fallen into the habit and it’s useful for highlighting notes. But nothing beats the look and feel of an actual book. 

Is “Kitted Out” available to purchase worldwide?

I believe it is available worldwide – I’ve certainly seen it online in bookshops for different countries. 
 
If you could visit any place in the world to give you inspiration for your next book, where would you go and why? 

I would love to go to Venice, as I can imagine being inspired to write a thriller set in the city, with all those alleyways, or the romance of a costume ball. And I’m fascinated with the twenties, so I’d also like to go the French Riviera so that I could trace the footsteps of the American bohemians like F Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and Gerald and Sara Murphy. 

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

As I’m sure lots of people can identify with, over the last six months I’ve been in leggings and cosy socks and jumpers, as I’ve been hunkering down at home, and I live in Scotland, where the weather is never that great, even over summer. But I love ankle boots with floral dresses and pleated skirts, or jumpsuits. I also have a faux-leather dress that I can’t wait to wear again – I just need an occasion to wear it for. 

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

I’m a little bit addicted to Oliver Bonas at the moment, as it’s just full of colourful, fun pieces that are real mood-enhancers. I’m also a big fan of Whistles, so I keep an eye out for when they have a sale on. 

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I need some new shoes for autumn, and a nice warm coat. I think I need to buy practical clothes at the moment, as I bought quite a few new summer dresses and a bikini, and then my holiday was cancelled due to increased travel restrictions. So I’m thinking comfortable clothing to wear around the house is the way forward.

Boots or Shoes?

I like boots, because I find them more versatile, but I’m also always walking everywhere so I tend to wear trainers a lot at the moment. 

For Pinning Later


Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc

www.carolinejyoung.com

Twitter @caroline79

Instagram – carolinejillyoung

Fabulous chatting to you Caroline! Thank you for joining us on the blog.

Linda x

My thanks to Caroline Young for the copy of Kitted Out to review.

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Caroline Young.


Share This!
Pin It

An Interview With Radical Tea Towel Co

I’m being decidedly topical this week – the impending General Election in the UK next week, the current strikes in France, the ongoing criticism of Donald Trump in the USA…. what could be better than interviewing a homeware & giftware brand that has been inspired by radical thinkers throughout global history? Designing tea towels, aprons and other paraphernalia on topics such as democracy, the NHS, the Welfare State, Free Speech, Free Love, Votes for Women…. in fact, every topic done designed for those radical left and liberal minded people to proudly display their political and social beliefs. To find out more, I caught up with co-founder Bea of The Radical Tea Towel Company …..Hi Bea…

Hi! I’m Beatrice and I am a co-founder of The Radical Tea Towel Company.

Who or what inspired you to create the Radical Tea Towel Company?

It was May 2011 and I was looking for a birthday present for an elderly relative who was into left-wing and radical politics. His sight was poor so a book was not an option. I decided something practical like a tea towel with a political message on would be a great idea but, despite googling for over an hour, I simply couldn’t find one anywhere.

History & Politics abound in your range of Radical Tea Towels – how do you pick your design topics – do get ideas from customers, from what’s trending on social media?

It’s a combination of those things: customers do make suggestions all the time and we add the best ones to a list which we review each January. We also think about topics that are in the news, for example in 2015, when the refugee crisis was at its height, we produced our Refugee tea towel with the quotation by Emma Lazarus from the Statue of Liberty. 

Which topic/ tea towel has attracted the most attention so far? Have you got a personal favourite?

It’s probably the ‘Women’s March’ design.  It was based on a design by Margaret Morris for the song sheet of Ethel Smyth’s suffragette anthem “The March of the Women”. 

My personal favourite is the  ‘Rosa Parks’ design which shows her sitting on the bus in the run up to the Montgomery bus boycott just before refusing to give up her seat. What an inspirational woman! 

Although you are based in South Wales, are your tea towels available overseas?

Yes! We have websites in the US and Canada. but we get orders from all over the world! 

 Radical Tea Towel US

Obviously the tea towels can be used as tea towels, but some people have had them framed like works of art and even some have used them as ready made banners for activists at rallies. Where was the most unexpected place you’ve spotted your tea towels? 

I have 3 great examples!

A customer sent in a brilliant image of our ‘Women’s March apron’ hanging on a balcony in Galicia on International Women’s Day as part of a defiant protest for women’s rights. It’s a tradition in Spain to show you are on strike! 

Another one sent in an ‘LGBTQ tea towel’ from the McMurdo Station in Antarctica. The temperature was minus 40! 

And then Jeremy Corbyn brought out a ‘Tony Benn tea towel’ and read out the quote about hope on it at a speech he made to his supporters at the Sanctuary Pub following his September 2015 leadership victory!

Have you always had a career or a hobby in the homeware/giftware sector in the field of designing, marketing etc? 

No! I was a languages teacher for most of my working life! This business was a completely new departure for me! 

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Jeans and stripy tops with a gilet and leather ankle boots.


Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

Yes, Boden for tops, M & S for footwear & jeans.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Some dark brown, calf length leather boots.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots. I find them very comfortable and they keep my feet and legs warm and dry in wet Welsh weather!

For Pinning Later

Links you would like to share e.g. website/Facebook etc

www.radicalteatowel.co.uk

https://facebook.com/radicalteatowel

https://twitter.com/radicalteatowel

Thank you Bea! There you go readers, if you’re stuck for ideas for gifts, for whatever the occasion, for that radical person in your life …. or if you yourself are a loud and proud radical, why not get yourself a tea towel or two!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of The Radical Tea Towel Company

Share This!
Pin It

Steampunk Day At Bressingham

In July, my husband, myself and our teenage sons went on a day trip to Bressingham – a sort of steam railway/museum/gardens centre near Diss, in Norfolk. Finding a place that would amuse us all as a family, avoiding theme parks, is becoming harder now my boys are teenagers. Having not been to Bressingham before, and we all like steam trains, it seemed an ideal place to visit. The added attraction was that it was “Steampunk Weekend” too – but I was unaware of this until we arrived ….

Bressingham

So, what is Steampunk? According to the Oxford dictionary it is “A style of design and fashion that combines historical elements with anachronistic technological features inspired by science fiction”… According to Wikipedia, “Steampunk is a sub genre of science fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th century industrial steam-powered machinery.” I first noticed as we arrived at 10am glamorous women in Victorian lace up boots and long corset style gothic/Victoriana style dresses… men in dapper jackets … top hats and goggles . I thought they must be members of staff …. I thought Bressingham was just about steam railways ….but then I realised they were members of the public mingling in the queue alongside those in bog standard shorts and t shirts. I did feel underdressed!

My 14 year old son Jack was hooked – he immediately purchased a top hat that was customised for him whilst we looked around Bressingham and we was able to pick it up later. My youngest son settled for some groovy goggles. I enjoyed looking at the beautiful bodices being sold on the stalls … and I enjoyed admiring the gorgeous outfits being worn.

Bressingham itself is a great place to visit, with or without a special event going on, but the Steampunk event certainly added a special air to the place. Bressingham consists of many parts: Bressingham Rides, Bressingham Gardens, Bressingham Museum.

Bressingham Rides

We were lucky because on the day we visited all 3 railway lines with their impressive steam locomotives were running . The railway lines covered the woodland area, around the gardens and around the perimeter of the site. The working locomotives were all different and the journey times were longer than the usual miniature railway ride.

However, the large Victorian steam galloper occupies a prominent position near the entrance, and although my youngest son had his leg strapped up as he had broken his foot, with a bit of help, he was able to ride on the horse alongside his dad and brother. In fact, him and his brother had quite a few gos over the course of the day. I must admit, the merry-go-round looked lovely but it made me feel dizzy just watching let alone riding on it. I stayed at the side, holding Ethan’s crutches and taking photos.

There was an old fashioned fairground full of penny machines, hoopla stalls and other attractions of the Victorian age. A small crazy golf course was a lot of laughs and at £2 per person provided a good half hour’s entertainment as we battled it out between ourselves to see who would become the family champion …. my husband came first, I came 2nd…

Bressingham Gardens

The gardens are renowned worldwide for their horticultural excellence – there are four linking gardens displaying over 8,000 species and varieties within its 17 acres. The gardens are privately owned by the, appropriately named, Bloom family. Adrian Bloom and his father, Alan, have each created a 6 acre garden : The Dell and Foggy Bottom. Unfortunately we only managed to view the gardens from the garden railway train journey and didn’t have enough time to wander through the 17 acres as well. I will definitely head for the gardens on my next visit, perhaps in Spring when the gardens are in full bloom.

The Bressingham Museum

In fact there are 2 museums ….

The Locomotive Sheds were full of trains and carriages from yesteryear – bringing the glory of steam engineering up close. You couldn’t actually step inside the locomotives or carriages but there were especially built platforms along the sides so you can have a good old peek through the windows . The royal carriages were really fascinating. The old posters dotted around the walls were interesting too – the old away day trips by train I can remember well as a young girl – I remember one day railway trip we made as a family around 1974 was from London to Blackpool via Preston ( we didn’t have long there as a day trip and it rained all day!)

National Dad’s Army Collection – based on the popular TV series, Dad’s Army, you wander through the fictional “Walmington On Sea” with the original props and vehicles from the series.

Other Facilities

There is a gift shop and a cafe with indoor and outdoor seating that served the biggest slices of chocolate cake I have ever seen and picnic areas. Warranting a special mention are the toilet facilities for both men and women. They are both sparkling clean – hard to achieve in a public place – but the floors, toilets, sinks were spotless even by mid afternoon.

There were extra shops and stalls as part of the Steampunk event.

Recommend?

Oh yes, definitely.

If you are into gardens, then Bressingham gardens would delight. Steam train/train enthusiasts would enjoy. Ideal family day out – for babies the gardens would be ideal pram pushing area, for older children and adults the merry go round, crazy golf, & trains would delight. Not sure there was enough to please a toddler though.

For Pinning Later

Linda x

All photographs are by Linda Hobden.

For more details about Bressingham check out their website: www.bressingham.co.uk

Photos and Article copyright © LindaHobden.

Share This!
Pin It

An Interview With Dress Code Nine

Whether you are going on a special night out, going to the Races or it’s your Prom night, nothing beats wearing a glamorous dress.  What could be better than going to an Aladdin’s Cave full of dresses, a specialist boutique, whose mission is to dress you up to the nines for your special event, regardless of your budget?  Dress Code Nine based in Kelvedon, Essex is the Aladdin’s Cave owned by Carla – she has over 200 stunning dresses, stylish heels, fascinators & jewellery  – plus a dedicated Prom dress department too! I caught up with Carla recently to chat about dresses….

Hi! My Name is Carla Lynch and I am the proprietor of Dress Code Nine which opened on October 7th 2017, offering evening and occasional wear for ladies all ages and sizes.

What inspired you to set up “Dress Code Nine”?

I love a dress and always have, I think most ladies do, but you can not always find the dress you need for the budget you have at the time. I wanted to address this with my boutique.

Although you do have dresses available to purchase, you have over 200 dresses available for hire from sizes 4 -24. What are the advantages of hiring a dress for that special event?

Not everyone has the funds or feels comfortable to spend so much money to buy a ball dress which you only wear once. This gives my clients both options: a hire collection and a purchase collection to choose from.

Your range of dresses include high-end designers such as Gino Cerruti, Jora Collections, Kiss Me Kate Designs, Eliza and Ethan – all are totally gorgeous! What dresses are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

It is the Jora Collection. They are gorgeous dresses at a very reasonable price. I love them, the quality and designs are stunning.

Out of all the dresses, do you have any favourites?

Oh yes the one which springs to mind at the moment is one of the Jora collections. It is a gorgeous wine/burgundy colour with a diamante back with a train coming down the middle. If you have a look on our website www.dresscodenine.co.uk under the Jora collection you will see this, it has proved to be a Prom favourite this season.

When going out for a special event, I tend to choose a red dress – occasionally I pick blue or green. My daughter, for her prom, picked a stunning black lace dress. Do you think age plays a part in picking a colour of a dress? Which age group do you find most adventurous when it comes to picking colours for dresses?

I do not think age plays a part, It is more what matches your skin tone, hair, eye colour. Ladies of all ages can be adventurous when you least expect it.

Not only do you have a stunning range of delectable dresses but you also have accessories too. What accessories do you offer to match the dresses?

We offer bags, Fascinators, Hats, Jewellery, Shoes, Wraps.

You have a dedicated department just for prom dresses – what do you feel makes a good “prom” dress?

A style which suits your body shape is a must, as well as colour. A good quality dress also is a big thing for the ladies that come and see us.

If a lady is going to a special event, for example, a Valentines Ball and is interested in hiring/buying a dress – how do they go about visiting “Dress Code Nine”? Can they purchase online, is it appointment only or can they drop by and visit your boutique?

We are appointment only so we can give that one to one service for each lady that comes to our boutique to find their perfect dress so they are dressed to the nines.

When choosing dresses to add to your hire collection, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, current fashion trends, requests, traditional charm or bits of all those?

Everything you have said is important but the most critical purchasing decision for me when buying from designers is catering for my client base.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

A dress with 3 inch heels

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)

The high street has its place and for me, it is great for mass produced but good value outfits. I do love a Karen Millen dress and heels.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

More dresses, sparkle diamante flip flops and shoes and another bag or two.

Boots or Shoes?

Has to be shoes. You can wear shoes throughout the whole year for different occasions where boots are more just for winter.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Dress Code Nine.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dresscodenine/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dresscodenine/

Google+: https://goo.gl/maps/Athj5F5Uoqy

website: http://dresscodenine.co.uk

Thank you Carla for giving us a glimpse into the world of dresses and I am so pleased to have your shop close to where I live! 🙂 

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Dress Code Nine.

 

Share This!
Pin It

An Interview With Bagsy Me First

A few years ago I interviewed Tink from Bedhead Boutique who made bags out of old vinyl records. This year I have discovered another lady who makes bags but this time out of books! My love of books and bags first attracted me to Kate Lowe’s website, Bagsy Me First.  In  June 2016, Kate was awarded #WOW Winner (Women In Business) and the award is well deserved too.These handbags are exquisite, and being inquisitive, I had to interview Kate to find out more. Welcome Kate…

Hello! I’m Kate, and I make purses, wallets and all kinds of bags out of books. (I do love books and I am very gentle with them, I promise. But if you shudder at the very thought of a folded page corner, look away now.)

What inspired you to launch Bagsy Me First!?

As a bookworm and inveterate ‘maker of things’ I was inspired by celebrity book clutches to evolve my own recipe for turning real books into bags. When people realise your bag is made out of an actual, for-real book… *Big smile!*

Where do you find the books to use to turn into handbags? Where do you source the fabric used for the lining?

I find books online and in second-hand bookshops/charity shops. Very occasionally a customer will supply a book. The fabric is from a local shop; sometimes online. It’s best to see/feel fabric up-close and personal.

You have an online shop and cater for custom orders. Have you had any unusual requests?

I’ve had custom orders for bags constructed out of gig posters and a ‘Goosebumps’ book handbag that lit up, for a stage show.

What are the most popular titles/authors requested/sold?

All the classics. And Harry Potter, of course.

What book are you turning into a bag at the moment?

Neil Gaiman’s ‘American Gods’ is on my sewing table right now and it’ll be a handbag tomorrow.

To start a company like this, you must have a love of books! What genre of books do you like reading? Any favourite book or author? Have you got a favourite book bag?

I have a weakness for vintage green Penguin paperbacks. My own wallet is made out of a 50 year old green Penguin paperback by John Dickson Carr (I collect his books) and using it daily gives me joy.

Do you read the books before they are turned into bags?

No, but I made it a mission to read some of them afterwards. If a customer wants a bag made out of a particular book then it must be special! I have a long list of handbags that I’ve now read, that I wouldn’t have read otherwise.

Growing up, did you always hope to have a career connected with books or were your dreams directed elsewhere?

Driving a mobile library around villages is something I’d love to have a go at. My ‘proper’ job is a graphic designer.

Where do you prefer to read – in bed, in a comfy chair, in a library surrounded by books or elsewhere?

Over breakfast with a cup of tea.

You are based in the UK, do you ship overseas too?

Yes; I have customers using my items in 30 countries (so far!) which feels pretty cool.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Mostly thrift-store dresses of varying vintage, and DM’s or pumps.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Vintage/thrift shops and second-hand book shops make me go ‘Oooh’ quite a lot.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe/accessory wish list?

A pair of trail shoes for X-country. Going to give it a go this season.

Boots or Shoes?

Can’t beat boots for comfort (and stomping!)

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Bagsy Me First.

Oh, do come say ‘hi!’ Help yourself to a good ol’ rummage in my shop and if you fancy something made out of a particular book, just ask. The kettle’s on, and we have Hobnobs; welcome to Bag End!
http://www.bagsymefirst.com
https://www.facebook.com/bagsymefirst/
https://www.instagram.com/kate_bagsymefirst
https://twitter.com/Bagsymefirst

Did someone say “hobnobs”? Thank you very much Kate for joining us on the blog! I am having a hard time trying to think which book I would love to have as a bag… The Alchemist is a contender … and Lady Chatterley’s Lover … or perhaps, The Great Gatsby… dear readers, which books would you pick? Do share your thoughts, I’d love to know…

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Kate Lowe, except for the black & white pin later photo which is by Linda Hobden

 

Share This!
Pin It

An Interview With Fashion Blogger Ivy Ekong

Based in both London and Nigeria, Ivy Ekong is a wardrobe consultant and independent fashion blogger, whose fashion website offers instant exposure into the escalating African market.  She is well known on her blog for combining luxury items with pieces from up-and-coming designer collections, high street outlets and vintage finds; and she has also launched her own jewellery line too.  I caught up with bubbly Ivy to find out more…. Hi Ivy!

image

Hi! My name is Ivy Ekong. I am a wife and a mum of 2 gorgeous girls. I am also a Fashion Stylist and a Fashion Blogger. I attended Ambrose Alli University in Nigeria where I graduated with two degrees in Business Management and Economics respectively. I also trained in Personal Styling & Image Consultancy through the well known Colour Me Beautiful Academy in London. I draw upon my knowledge and experience as a high fashion model and a stylist to bring my blog (IvyEkongFashion.com) to life. I have always had a passion for fashion, and  I now share my professional insight on my blog – I document my colourful fashion sense and OOTD’s , including high street wonders, up and coming designer collections and vintage finds. Ivy Ekong Fashion is not your ordinary fashion blog. It’s a multicultural online community. I am a very fun and loving person. I love taking on projects that are challenging. I also hope to the make my mark in the fashion industry in the long run.

image

You founded your own exclusive personal styling and image consultancy company, Icon Mode. What was the inspiration for setting up the company?

I have always known what I wanted to do and be in life, even at a tender age. I had a dream and I am currently living that dream. “IconMode,” which means “Fashion Icon,” is a business name I picked out when I was just 13 years old. I wrote down the name in my diary and said that one day that name will be a household name. I will change people’s lives and careers through effective personal styling. I also worked in the banking sector for some time, not because I loved working in a bank, but because it was part of the preparation process to get me to my vision. The world is evolving everyday. Men and women are more conscious of what they wear now and
are more interested in knowing and learning more about colours, styles that suit them, etc. Celebrities also want to be branded by their personal style. These were all part of what inspired me to set up IconMode.

image

IconMode offers a range of services – luxury personal styling range of services – luxury personal styling, personal shopping, fashion styling – as well as workshops offering courses such as Make Up and “Body Language & Influencing Skills”. What services and courses are most popular?

The most popular services are the Full Image Consultation, and the How to Style workshop.

Your IconMode shop sells your range of costume jewellery, Hair Extensions, Pre Owned Fashion Items and “Colour Me Beautiful” cosmetics. I love the IconMode Costume Necklace “Genevieve” –
Which products are most popular this season?

Thank you Linda, “Genevieve” sold out quite quickly, it a very lovely piece. What we sell on IconMode shop are products women have daily need for. If you noticed we do not have bulk items. So once a particular product sells out on the site, they are not restocked. The cosmetics and hair extensions are also very popular this season.

image

Any project or new shop lines/services for 2016 planned?

I am focussing on my blog in 2016. IconMode has been my baby for so many years  now but it has now evolved to something bigger and better which is IvyEkongFashion.  My blog has a huge social media following and subscription which makes me believe this is the right direction to go. I am working tirelessly now to make the blog a huge success. I am hoping to work with more brands as well. 

You are one of the most successful black fashion/beauty bloggers in the UK, with your iconic style of combining luxury items with up-and-coming designer collections, high street pieces and vintage finds. What do you like most about blogging and how did you become a blogger?

I love dressing up and posing for the camera, which is very important in fashion blogging, especially if you want your content to be original, which I do. I love being an inspiration to other women who are still trying to determine what their personal style is. I didn’t start blogging until 2 years ago when a lot of people encouraged me to start a blog because they love my style. As a fashion stylist, I am privileged to get invited to fashion events and shows which you have to dress up for. It was only natural to create an avenue to showcase those outfits so that people who love my style can shop those outfits by creating direct links on my blog. Over the years, the blog has grown from being just an avenue for showcasing my outfits to being a huge platform for the multicultural community. We have YouTube videos now too, where we discuss topics that are very important to women, such as self-esteem, confidence etc.

image

Have you always had a passion for fashion and beauty? If you weren’t in the fashion/beauty business, what career do you think you would’ve pursued?

I have been in the fashion industry since I can remember. I have always loved fashion and living a healthy and luxury lifestyle. Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Beyonce, Grace Kelly, and Diana  Ross were all fashion icons I looked up to,even at an early age. At the age of 8 I had my own unique style. My mum would always say that I was the “Fashion Icon” in the family. When I was younger, I used to style my friends, family and close relatives. They would seek my opinion before they put on or buy any outfit, and I would say wear this with that, don’t wear that, etc. I don’t know what other career path I would have chosen if I wasn’t in the fashion and beauty industry. I believe I was born to do this.

image

Have you a favourite style icon, past or present?

Beyonce Knowles and Victoria Beckham.

I like dresses from the 1950s; tunic dresses of the 1960s; the hippy styles of the 1970s; the colours of the 1980s… what decade of fashion are you drawn towards? Which popular styles of any decade didn’t/don’t float your boat?

I am  City-Chic with a bit of Classic. I love both vintage and current styles.  I am not such a great fan of the hippy styles though.

image

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I would normally be found wearing a skirt (pencil skirts or big bonded skirts) with a bodysuit, a pair of Louboutin pumps and a Chanel Classic Bag. Or a pencil dress. You will hardly find me in a pair of jeans unless I am running errands or picking my kids up from school.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

I don’t have a favourite boutique – as a blogger I am always on the go and I shop wherever I find something that is of interest to me. I love both designer and  high street brands. I do shop at Westfield or at Selfridges when I am out and about. My favourite online stores are ASOS, Net-a-Porter, Houseofcb and Very.co.uk.

image

What are some of your current fashion obsessions?

– Vintage Chanel bags and accessories . A must have for every closet . They are timeless and will never go out of style.
– Chunky jewellery . I loved jewellery so much that I designed a jewellery line.
– Black trench coats are very handy and are very stylish as well.
– Jimmy Choo and Louboutin heels are definitely an obsession. Once you have a pair of these you will definitely want more pairs. They enhance a woman’s legs perfectly.
–  I am also obsessed with the two piece outfits popularly called the co-ords.

Boots or Shoes?

I choose shoes over boots anytime, any day. That’s because boots are seasonal and cannot be worn with some outfits. Shoes, however, can be worn during any season and are more versatile.

image

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about you and your blog.

TWITTER: https://mobile.twitter.com/account
INSTAGRAM: http://instagram.com/ivy_ekong
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/ivyekongfashion?ref=hl
EMAIL: ivyekongfashion@gmail.com
BLOG: http://ivyekongfashion.com

It has been great talking to you Ivy! I love to mix and match outfits too – I have worn an Alice Temperley designer dress with some vintage wedge sandals; and I like to revamp and update my old outfits with new season shoes and accessories.  Do you, dear readers, like to update old outfits, mix & match or do you enjoy finding bargains in charity shops? Do tell !

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Ivy Ekong.

 

Share This!
Pin It

An Interview With Messina Hembry Clothing

If you enjoy hunting for vintage clothing and preloved designer garments on websites such as Ebay and ASOS marketplace, then my guest this week would be a familiar name to you.  Messina Hembry is eBay’s largest retailer of secondhand branded clothing and is one of the top 10 boutiques on ASOS marketplace. They have now launched their own new stand-alone e-boutique to compliment their existing outlets and I caught up with founder Zac Hembry to find out more. Hi Zac…image

Hi there! I’m Zac Hembry the founder here at Messina Hembry Clothing.

What inspired you to launch Messina Hembry?

I always had a desire to start my own business once I had left university. I wanted to create something which could offer people real savings and doing it in the most environmentally friendly way possible. I always had a keen interest in buying and selling second hand designer clothing on eBay which lead to the creation of Messina Hembry.

Have you always had a passion for fashion?

I have always loved designer brands but I found the new price tags really limiting. I always had to shop smart on places like eBay or etsy. There is something really satisfying knowing that someone has already paid 4-5 times the price for the same item. My passion for fashion definitely came from the savings from buying second hand pieces.

image

When choosing outfits to represent Messina Hembry, do you go by popular styles, customer requests, your own preferences, the uniqueness, the brand or bits of all those?

We always try to choose our most exclusive pieces when picking out styles for Messina Hembry. We want really want to show off the pieces which people can’t get hold of anymore. Some of the more difficult stuff we like to show off include any Moschino, Versace and YSL are always winners!

image

My favourite items from your website are the collection of Diesel jeans – timeless pieces! What outfits/brands are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

We’ve always got a high demand for any Ralph Lauren and Lacoste. I think we because we offer such great savings on these brands it’s really pushed the demand forward. Whenever we can get hold of the more expensive brands like Burberry, Armani and D&G they always go really fast as well!

image

Your company is the largest retailer of secondhand branded clothing on eBay and one of the top 10 boutiques on the ASOS marketplace as well as having your new standalone e-boutique. What do you feel was the hardest part of getting your company launched? What advice would you give to others who aspire to see their passions materialise into reality?

The hardest part has definitely been building the inventory up. As every individual item has to be photographed, measured and listed online we had months of really hard work to ensure our stock levels were large enough to give our customers a lot of choice. There was a lot to learn in a short space of time so I would advise anyone with a similar idea to ensure they’ve done their homework and make sure you are familiar with the rules and regulations on any marketplaces you’re thinking of selling on.

image

Which famous lady or man would you love to see as the “face” of Messina Hembry?

It’s a long shot but we’d really love to see someone like Leonardo DiCaprio representing the brand. He loves his designer clothing whilst having a keen interest in the environment and I really think that’s the way I want to push the company forward. We want people to understand not only are there great savings in second hand clothing but the environmental benefits are astounding as well.

As you are based in the UK, is your clothing range available overseas too?

We currently ship worldwide on our eBay store & ASOS marketplace boutique. On our website we only currently ship to the EU, Australia and USA.

image

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Normally it has to be a Ralph Lauren shirt, Diesel  jeans, Nike trainers and Barbour jacket. All of course from Messina Hembry.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?(apart from your own!)

There are some really good online thrift stores in America like Twice or Poshmark which we tried to use to as guidance for the business. We also really like Etsy for unique designer vintage clothing.

image

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Messina Hembry

www.messinahembry.com
https://www.facebook.com/messinahembryclothing
https://twitter.com/messinahembry
https://instagram.com/messinahembry/

Thanks for chatting to us today Zac and I wish your business every success. Dear readers, what has been your best vintage/preloved fashion item that you’ve bought?  I once picked up a fab dotty Next dress that still had the tag in it from a local jumble sale about 12 years ago for the princely sum of 50p – I was really chuffed with it as the tag marked it up around the £50 mark! It saw me through quite a few social events & parties that year!

Linda x

Photos have been published with kind permission of Zac Hembry

Share This!
Pin It

An Interview With Hollie Kamel (Wedding Singer)

With less than a fortnight to go before Santa does his rounds over the world’s rooftops, I felt that my guest this week should be someone who is a bit Christmassy yet a bit sazzy …. someone like the dropdead gorgeous Hollie Kamel, with her seasonal name, her angelic voice, and her sazziness!  Hollie is a popular wedding, party and event singer – and I caught up with her recently to chat about music, her wedding business and her passion for fashion too .. welcome Hollie…image

Hi – I am Hollie Kamel and I am a Professional Singer and UKA Salsa Dance Instructor & proud mummy to a gorgeous little 5 year old called Jasmine Lila.

You’re a professional wedding, party & event singer. When did you realise you had a passion for singing?  What made you take the plunge to pursue wedding singing as a career?

I first started singing as a child, as I come from quite a musical family (my brother has had a few top 40 download chart hits!). To begin with I was in the school musicals and then went on to perform on radio and at about 16 started to train classically to give me a strong foundation of technique and skill to perform from. However, my career took a very corporate path, in media, marketing and sales and my singing and dancing was always a part time profession. This all changed once I had my little girl, as part time corporate doesn’t really exist, so I took the leap of faith to launch myself as ‘Hollie your Wedding Singer’, perfect for Weddings, Parties & Corporate Events!! 😉

imageYou offer an excellent range of bespoke entertainment including solo singer, duo, and a mini function band.  What tends to be the most popular package?

I provide Solo Singer, Party Duo & Themed Show packages and to be totally honest, they are all really popular and different in their own right. Where everything I do is bespoke, I always tailor make the package to meet and exceed the client’s needs and depending on their event, the service they choose will reflect this. (I do find that Vintage/American Songbook/Jazz is hugely popular & of course, Party Singer!!).

What do you love most about being a wedding singer?

What I love most about being a wedding singer, is that you are blessed to share and be a huge part of their wedding day and all the love, celebration and emotion that surrounds it.

imageYou have a vast range of songs in your songlist portfolio. What are the most popular songs requested for the wedding ceremony, wedding breakfast/reception, and for the evening do?

Most popular Wedding Ceremony songs include:
• How Long Will I Love You
• At Last

Most popular Breakfast/Champagne Reception songs include:
• Let There Be Love
• All of Me

Most popular Evening Reception songs include:
• The Shoop Shoop Song (in his kiss)
• All about the Bass
• Dance with Me Tonight

imageIs there any song on your list that you really enjoy belting out? Any song on the list that makes you groan?

Songs I love to sing:
• Somewhere over the Rainbow
• At Last
• Rather Be

Songs I could live without singing for a while
• Wind Beneath My Wings
• I Will Survive

What music genre do you enjoy listening to?

Where do I start with the genres I like listening to…..I love SO many kinds of music and it really depends on my mood. I love vocal based music like Eva Cassidy and the Carpenters, James Taylor etc, but I also love R&B and of course Salsa!! I have a HUGE passion for West End Musicals!

imageIf you had the chance to sing a duet with anybody in the world, dead or alive, who would be your partner and what song would you sing?

If I could duet with one singer (dead or alive) in the whole world then I would love to choose to sing with Jessie J (as I think she is vocal Viagra) but her range is SO huge that I wouldn’t be able to – so instead I choose to sing Somewhere over the Rainbow with Eva Cassidy !

Have you had any unusual song requests?

I have had some very strange requests in my time including ‘Gilbert O’Sullivan’ numbers and Copacabana!

Singing all year round at weddings, parties and events must be a strain on your voicebox. How do you try to keep your voice limbered up and ready for performing? How do you avoid the dreaded sore throat/croaky voice etc?

As a Singer it is really important to continually look after your voice, so I always do the following before a performance:
• Warm up
• Avoid dairy
• Take Vocalzone
• Drink lots of water

As a cure for a ‘sad’ voice I do the following:
• Take Singers Throat mix (the most evil tasting liquid in the WORLD)
• Drink Honey and Lemon (Hot)
• Steam
• Hum
• Vocal REST!!

imagePersonal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing on and off stage?

On stage you will find me wearing very glamorous evening dresses or ‘themed’ attire (such as Vintage) with ridiculously high heels and accessories and ALL my hair and make up intact!! Lol!
Off stage you will normally find me in skinny jeans, ugg boots with a skinny rib t-shirt in the summer and a trendy jumper or hoody in the winter!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

As far as retailers go Amazon is amazing for costumes and accessories. I love QUIZ at Lakeside/Westfields for glamorous party wear and Ali Express for every kind of costume, dress or outfit (but it takes about 8 weeks to arrive but is CRAZY cheap!!)

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wishlist?

My next purchase needs to be another shorter style, sparkly or sequinned party dress for xmas season (more laid back events).

Boots or Shoes?

For me, boots or shoes is hard, because boots at home and shoes at work nearly always!

Links you would like to share eg website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can follow you and your career

https://www.facebook.com/holliekamelsinger
https://twitter.com/holliekamel
https://www.youtube.com/user/holliekamelsinger
http://uk.linkedin.com/in/hollieyourweddingsinger
http://www.pinterest.com/holliekamel/

Many thanks for chatting to us today – I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous, Fun  & Eventful New Year! For those readers in the UK who are looking for some fabulous entertainment then Hollie is your girl – she’s simply divine! My wedding song was Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” – what was yours? Please do tell!

Linda x

All photos were published with kind permission of Hollie Kamel.

Share This!
Pin It

An Interview With The Miniature Perfume Shoppe

20140130-133720.jpgLove is in the air… it’ll soon be Valentine’s Day and what lady doesn’t like to be wooed by perfume? For this week’s interview I’m chatting to Leslie Ann and Allen Aaron White of the Texan based Miniature Perfume Shoppe – a perfume bottle shop and museum rolled into one. Leslie Ann White is the Founder and Owner of Miniature Perfume Shoppe. Her professional career of more than twenty five years in the cosmetics industry includes time spent as the Cosmetics Buyer for Foley’s (now Macy’s) Department Stores, and an Account Executive for Clinique Labs responsible for 24 accounts and $10M in annual sales. When not out on the hunt for the next great mini through either her travelling or surfing the web, most of Leslie Ann’s time is spent researching, processing, and professionally cleaning/restoring minis for Miniature Perfume Shoppe. As co-owner, Allen Aaron White (Leslie Ann’s husband), created the MPS website that launched online in 2009. With a varied and successful professional career that has included work as a retail manager, human resources executive, and ordained minister, Allen joined Miniature Perfume Shoppe full-time in 2011 where he currently serves as curator, photographer, and resident perfume historian.

A big welcome to you both, I adore your idea of a miniature perfume shop – it is the first & largest online store of its kind in the world devoted exclusively to the collector of miniature perfume bottles – where did you get your inspiration from?image
Leslie Ann : The inspiration for Miniature Perfume Shoppe began with a small sample bottle of Chanel No. 5. My mom had  just finished using a mini of her “signature” fragrance and asked me (I was thirteen and living in Scotland at the time) if I would like the empty bottle. Little did either one of us realize then that this would not only be the beginning of my personal miniature perfume bottle collection, but also my professional career in the cosmetic industry. Soon, I had two, then ten, then dozens of tiny perfume bottles. My collection continued to grow through the years (I still have that original bottle) with some of those minis ultimately becoming the first inventory for Miniature Perfume Shoppe. My personal collection today is less than a hundred bottles – mainly vintage Chanel minis – but being surrounded by literally thousands of minis every day, I feel a special connection with each and every one. It’s hard to let them go!
20140130-133731.jpgYou stock over 5,000 minis including limited editions,famous brand names, antique, vintage and new too.  What’s the oldest bottle you have, the rarest, the most extravagant, the priciest and the newest?
Allen: First launching with about a hundred bottles, Miniature Perfume Shoppe has since surpassed the 5,000 bottle mark (we currently have our eyes set on that 10,000 mini milestone.) Truth is, since we’re constantly searching for and buying minis from all over the world – individual bottles and entire collections – our inventory is constantly changing. With collectors in more than 35 countries our minis are often here today and gone tomorrow, and with hundreds of “new” minis arriving each week, every day is like Christmas around here. Through the years, some of the oldest (and rarest) minis we have had include miniatures from the mid-1800s, with quite a few regularly arriving from the 1920s such as a Grossmith Phul-Nana, Jaspy Myrodata, and a scarce La Mysteree by Lothaire. As for the most extravagant mini, well that is in the eye of the beholder, but it is hard to beat an Adrian Designs miniature or early Irice Czech glass bottle. Although most minis sell at our shoppe (on average) in the $10 – $25 price range, we also offer “Paris minis” as low as $2.95. Of course, scarcer, hard to find, discontinued miniatures in very good-to-mint condition sell for much, much more. The Priciest? A sealed Guerlain Shalimar “Umbrella” bottle from the 1950s, and a signed, numbered, Serge Lepage Botticelliana mini by Schiaparelli c1970s come to mind – each valued at around $200. We work hard to maintain as diverse a selection as possible with a mini for every taste and every pocketbook. As for the newest, well that depends on what arrives on any given day. Last week it was Wonderstruck by Taylor Swift and Flora from the Gucci Garden Collection.
20140130-133756.jpgTo date, what has been your most popular bottle requested?
Allen: There are some minis that are considered timeless and classic, usually because of either the bottle design or the fact that the fragrance has been discontinued or reformulated. Minis that we find very difficult to keep in stock (and usually sell within days of arriving) include: the original Shalimar, Lauren, Must de Cartier, Poison, and Anne Klein II.
What’s your most favourite perfume bottle?
Miniatures
Leslie Ann: Chanel No 5 from the 1920s-1930s
Allen: Champagne (with wire) by Yves Saint Laurent
 
Commercial
Both: Hedonist by Parfums Viktoria Minya, Paris
You also buy in bottles – have you any that you are particularly hoping to come across?
We are always on the lookout for very early Guerlain minis (especially Jickey and Shalimar) and early ornamental Czech glass minis – the older the better.
You’re a big supporter of the Institute of Art and Olfaction – every mini that is bought you make a donation to the Institute – plus you’ve made a donation of books for their perfume library.  How did you get involved with the Institute?
Allen: Since we first opened for business, we knew that at some point we wanted to partner with and financially support a worthy non-profit organization. That happened last year when we discovered the Institute for Art & Olfaction, based in Los Angeles. For us, it was love at first sight (or sniff) because in the IAO we found the best of all worlds: fragrance, art, and perfume education. When we learned they were trying to build a perfume library we jumped at the chance to help, so since their opening in January of 2013 we’ve supported the IAO monthly. We also donate 10% of any sale made with an IAO discount code. The Institute is involved in some of the most innovative, cutting-edge work being done in the perfume world today and we’re proud to play a mini part in their success.
20140130-133709.jpgThe Vintage Bottles are intended for display purposes and not for use as an everyday personal fragrance.  So, tell me, what is your perfume of choice for everyday wear?
Leslie Ann: Because our miniatures come from diverse people and places from all over the world, we seldom know for sure how a bottle has been cared for over the years. Ideally, minis are kept in a closed display case protected from light and extreme heat or cold, but we cannot always say that with absolute certainty. For that reason, we don’t guarantee that “the juice” in a bottle is still good or wearable. That said, often the perfume in a bottle may be perfectly fine – even after decades of sitting on a shelf, although more often than not some of the top notes have “gone off.”.  As for my personal perfume of choice? That’s easy. My “signature scent” at this time in my life is Hedonist by Viktoria Minya. I think it is the most beautiful, intoxicating perfume on the market today. In fact, I love it so much (and my husband loves it on me so much) that we now carry the line at Miniature Perfume Shoppe. But I also have a fragrance wardrobe that I can choose from based on the season or special occasion. Of course, I also have the luxury of being surrounded by thousands of minis and fragrances every day. Depending on my mood, I can wear just about any fragrance I want anytime I want.
You also sell very cute perfume pins/brooches – I love the Montana silver tone – what’s the most popular? What’s your personal favourite?
Leslie Ann: All of our perfume pins and brooches are adorable – that’s why they are so collectible (especially in Europe), but you’ll almost never find my favorite in stock. That’s because they sell as quickly as they come in – vintage sterling silver perfume pins by Judith Jack.
20140130-133805.jpgYou have a library/resource area too – a great idea – what sort of historical enquiries do you get?
Allen: There is no shortage of great books, websites, and blogs on perfume. Through the years we’ve tried to include links to some of the very best on our website. But we’re excited to have just launched a perfume project we’ve been working on for sometime – The Mini Museum. (www.TheMiniMuseum.com) Although our ultimate goal is to one day have a brick-and-mortar building for our collection (we’re looking at sites in Houston and Paris, Texas), our virtual museum and timeline provide a photograph, fragrance facts, and perfume history for “every” miniature perfume bottle in our collection. It’s still a work in progress, but we’re hoping over time it will become a great perfume resource not only for mini collectors, but lovers of fragrance as well.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
Leslie Ann: Less now, than when I was in the corporate world, I have always enjoyed wearing timeless, classic, tailored clothing and accessories. Generally, some of my favorites include: Clothing: Christian Dior & Talbot’s, Cosmetics: Clinique, Handbags: Gucci and Coach, Shoes: Clarke’s (casual) and Vaneli (dress), Watch: Gucci, Coach, Mondaine
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?
Leslie Ann: With my many years in retail, I do very little shopping at department stores anymore, preferring to do almost all of my shopping online. Besides, the internet is open 24-7-365 and delivers right to my front door! However, Allen and I both love vintage so we really enjoy “going antiquing” (and mini hunting!)
 Boots or Shoes?
Leslie Ann: Always shoes, maybe an ankle  boot. I prefer comfort and simple elegance. For me, I find boots too constricting – like I can’t breathe, lol. Besides, more often than not here in Texas the boot of choice is the cowgirl variety. Definitely not me.
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about the Miniature Perfume Shoppe
Miniature Perfume Shoppe
Spring, Texas 77388 USA (Near Houston)
 
 
(New) Instagram/Miniature_Perfume_Shoppe
Thank you both very much for chatting to me…I love perfume and have found your shop and museum really fascinating. Hedonist is the featured fragrance of the Miniature Perfume Shoppe this Valentines Day – so don’t forget to sniff out a bottle soon…
 
Linda  x
 
Photo credits:  Photos have been published with kind permission from Allen Aaron White and for the Hedonist photo, with kind permission from Parfums Viktoria Minya, Paris.
Share This!
Pin It