Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Small World

This is an exceptional story, one that I've been so excited to share since it unfurled a few weeks ago. On the May bank holiday my brother and I took the train to Brighton to spend the day with our cousin Esther. We did all our favourite Brighton things - bought rock, visited the pavilions and wandered the lanes. We spent an awful lot of time in Snooper's Paradise (those of you who don't know it, it's a sort of mecca for vintage lovers, crammed to the roof with wonderful oddities), and it's posher counterpart Snooper's Attic. I nearly always find something wonderful within it's rails. This trip was no exception, having wandered about downstairs we scaled the stairs to the attic. There are always SO many frothy and delicious concoctions it's hard to focus in on any one item, I generally just wander about in a haze. However, this time my eyes leapt towards a beautiful green and red dress with a sort of French lavender bag print. I was instantly drawn to it, soft worn cotton, it looked like the sort of dress I had been searching for some years. I'd seen some a little like it in Camden Passage during my second year of university but didn't have the funds to meet the prices. I inspected the price tag, £32.00, not too bad but did I want to blow my budget for the day on one garment? Throwing caution to the wind I went to try it on, it of course was the perfect fit, length, colour. For some strange reason I decided to put it back and have a think (I always think it's good to do this, and then if it's still whirring in your mind an hour later dash back!) I was feeling exceptionally drawn to it, and kept thinking about it as we wandered about. I really rarely buy items from vintage shops, I'm more of a chazza/car boot girl, so it has to be pretty moving for me hand over the catch.  I did what I always do when I'm in a flummox re clothing purchases, call my mum! She didn't answer, I called her husband Steve and he did, phew, she was in the supermarket, 'could you pass the message on'. At this point we had migrated to Oxfam books. Within 5 minutes, mum had telephoned back and said YES are you mad GO GO GO, and I had clambered back up the stairs and purchased said frock. 

Fast forward to me arriving back in London that evening and sending my mum a photograph of the dress, here is the conversation that ensued:

Excuse are exciteable chatter but we truly were both SO amazed (in fact I still am). My mum also sent me the following photograph during the conversation that her friend had recently unearthed (that she had never seen before!):

Mad right! Even odder is that (as I make reference to in the above conversation) I had some weeks before been watching a dress on ebay by the same designer, Susan Small, for one reason or another I forgot to bid and thought no more on it. It came back into my mind after inspecting the label of the green dress, and I ventured onto ebay to see if it was still about. It was! I sent a photograph of it to mum, and low and behold she also had that one - both given to her by a dear friend in the 1990s. Of course I had to bid then, and I won (no other bidders at all!) The strangest thing is that Susan Small's other garments from what I can see are not very attractive at all, lots of polyester, none of them bear the slightest resemblance to these two dresses so it makes me feel near certain that these are the actual dresses my mum owned!

Of course given its resemblance to Provencal lavender bags I had to give its first outing in France. On arriving I quickly realised it would be far to warm to wear it so I instead donned it for a quick shoot on our last day. The garden at our villa was the perfect setting for it, kumquat and lemon trees perfectly fitted my dream of being a French farming girl.  Sadly my hair does not match that dream, it was particularly warm this day and it descended into a fuzzy mess. 

I love owning garments that have intriguing stories behind them, do you have any strange stories surrounding items you've bought? I'd love to hear about them if you do!

In other news tomorrow is my birthday and the referendum, what a delight! I'll be dressing up and partying my way through - it's only way I can feel any joy at the prospect of having such a momentous occasion happen on my birthday. I'm having an Eu themed party, and I've spent far too much time painting my ensemble (I'll be sure to take some pictures). Of course I'll also be voting, and I hope those of you who can will be too. See you on the other side, hopefully.


Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Adventuring in France: Part 4

On our second to last day we trotted off to Nice on the train, and my oh my was it Nice! We started by walking an extremely long way to the Musee Matisse - we realised rather too late that we could've caught a tram there. It was glorious when we did finally arrive, lots of fabulous drawings, paintings and cut-outs. My only sadnesses were that they were changing over the temporary exhibition and that there were no pictures allowed. 

Nice has lots of amazing museums, galleries and churches, and many of them can be accessed by paying for 10 euro for a  museum pass. It's amazingly cheap and gives you access to all the big museums for 48 hours! We were pretty delighted when we found this out as it meant we could blow more of our money on postcards in the shop (always my biggest indulgence!!)

Having wandered about the Matisse museum and seen the Hotel Regina were Matisse spent his last days making the cut-outs, we walked back into the centre (getting a little lost along the way). Next up was the MAMAC, home to a wonderful selection of Niki de Saint Phalle pieces (this was my main reason for visiting - I LOVE her). They really do have a extraordinary collection; if modern sculpture is your bag then I definitely recommend a visit. They had great pieces by Calder, Christo, Stella etc. I was particularly enamoured by the Saint Phalle sculpture in the outside foyer, it reignited my dream to visit her Tarot garden in Tuscany. 

Alexander Calder

More Niki de Saint Phalle
We then headed into the old town, which was SO beautiful and filled with signs for interesting monuments, churches and palais'! We stumbled on Nice Cathedral, and I am SOSO glad we went in, it was truly one of the best places I've ever happened upon. It's completely mad; everything is gilded and frothy and wonderful. There are heaps of dedications to saints and reliquaries, including a fantastic dedication to Saint Reparata (who the cathedral is also dedicated to in it's entirety).

Dedication to Saint Reparata - including wax memento mori dolls (which I have been waiting a lifetime to see in the flesh!! They are very popular in French and Spanish churches)

After our visit there I didn't think Nice could get any better but it really could! We visited Palais Lascaris, a late 17th century palais home to thousands of ancient musical instruments from across the globe, plus the state apartments covered in frescos and filled with glorious high baroque furniture. It was one of the highlights of the entire trip and it was included on the handy 10 euro card - amazing. Again no pictures but I managed a few very sneaky ones when the guards had their heads turned!

Palais Lascaris

Palais Lascaris

Palais Lascaris
Palais Lascaris

Nice was such a fab place to visit for the day, I think I could spend at least 4 more there! I'd love to go back and see all the things I missed. There's a fabulous looking Russian Orthodox church, several more palais', a monastery... etc etc!!

I only have one more post from France and I'm done - PHEW!


Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Adventuring in France: Part 3

 Hello! More snaps from my trip. We spent this day exploring Saint Paul de Vence in the morning, we stumbled on the most amazing cemetery filled with tombs adorned with ceramic flowers. It was so moving, each had a little engraved phrase beneath 'mon amie', 'mon cherie' and my favourite 'regrets'. The photo above is me peering into another amazing chapel that we found, it was too dark to snap any pictures but I assure you it was very very beautiful.

In the afternoon we visited my top top place ever Matisse's chapel in Vence. We couldn't take pictures inside so here's one from google:

Source: 1
I really wanted a book on Matisse's chasubles that was in the bookshop but talked myself out of buying it (luggage constraints). I now deeply regret it as it seems to be pretty pricey online, I guess I'll just have to plan another trip to the chapel! Here's a sample of a page from the book:

Source: 2
Source: 3

Incredible right! What a talent he was. It really was the most moving experience inside the chapel, the light is like nothing else I've ever experienced. I definitely recommend a trip if you're nearby and if not watch this youtube snip.

Next we clambered back into the car and drove right up into the mountains along a very windy road to the little town of Grasse; famous for perfume and Fragonard! My two favourite things! We didn't spend very long there as we were a little tired from lots of walking the previous day but I did manage to slip in a quick visit to the costume museum. It was filled with glorious lace, jewellery and gowns from the 18th century so I was in heaven. I would have liked to visit the perfume museum and the Fragonard museum and the cathedral and a perfumery etc etc. The rest of the party were less enamoured with the place, and I can understand why it's a little rougher round the edges than many of the towns we visited but it has a such a rich history that I really feel it's a bit of a hidden gem. Anyway I will go back!! The cathedral has a Fragonard! I have to see that!

Until tomorrow mon amies, bon soir!  

Outfit Details

Cotton Bardot top - car boot sale
Shorts - emergency charity shop buy when I realised I didn't own any!
Blue bucket hat - Trago Mills
Espadrilles - E.leclarec supermarche
Blue cotton block print kaftan - East