Saturday, 30 June 2012

Shooting the Romanovs in a Tea House

One of my first blog posts was about the New Sheridan Club spy-themed party in December and it was a delight to return for their summer party, this time jubilee themed.  The party was held at the Tea House Theatre, absolutely wonderful venue that I will definitely be returning to.

There were various jubilee themed games including ‘pin the safety pin on the queen’ (I was awful, getting one straight through her eye to gasps of “anarchist”).  ‘Whose Queen’ was another, in which you had to throw an inflatable crown onto Rachel’s head.  Depending on how complimentary you had been to Queenie, she could make it rather easy or quite difficult.  There was also the customary shooting game, this time ‘Shooting the Romanovs in the basement’ in honour (if that is the right word) of the last of the Russian royal family.  My past as a sharp-shooter for hire was finally put to good use in a vintage setting as I actually won!  As such, I was awarded the set of matryoshka dolls adorned with the faces of the Tsarina and her ill-fated children – along with the face of NSC member Will Smith in the place of Tsar Nicholas.  I think my tiara must have been bringing me luck as I also won ‘The King’s Speech’ on DVD in the raffle!

I opted to wear a beautiful dress that I’ve only worn once (for my 19th birthday) as the lace is quite damaged and therefore I am unable to dance in it.  I also wore my tiara (bought for that very same 19th birthday, I was dressed as the Queen Mother – don’t ask!) and a last minute alteration, a white opera scarf as a sash instead of the corsage I’d made.  As ever, the NSC threw a marvellous party and I am already looking forward to the next one (and finding out the theme).

Thursday, 21 June 2012

A Rummy Old Day at the Launch of Mr B.'s 'The Tweed Album'

This post is a little out of chronological order, but it was such an enjoyable evening, it has jumped the queue a little.

We at the Vintage News, are great fans of Mr B. the Gentleman Rhymer , having seen (and interviewed) him at many events over the past few years (and even more so because parts of the video for ‘Chap-Hop History’ are filmed near my house!)  As such, I was delighted to be going to the launch of his third long-player ‘The Tweed Album’.  As is befitting of an album titled such, the launch was at the London branch of Walker Slater.  The venue was perfect for the launch, as Walker Slater has a fine range of tweeds in their London and Edinburgh establishments (incidentally, the front cover of the album was at shot the Edinburgh branch).

Even though we only saw him a few days before (at Vintage Nation), I was impressed that the set played was different.  One song I’d not heard before but particularly enjoyed was the shoe-gazing medley, also a big hit with the rest of the attendees – it certainly was unbelievable (sorry).  The launch was also an opportunity to have a nice catch up with Fleur De Guerre and meet Beatrix Von Bourbon (who was wearing the most gorgeous Terry de Havilland shoes).

A few people complimented me on my jacket (including one of the designers for
Walker Slater surprisingly) and I then proceeded to tell said people that it was a small boy’s jacket from the ‘80s.  I really should just have said thank you, I blame Hendrick’s.  

Hendrick's were the sponsers of the event
and ready suppliers of a few fine G&Ts.

Please excuse the awful photo of me, but it’s the only one of what I was wearing.  At least you can catch a glimpse of Beatrix’s shoes!  Apart from the album, Mr B.’s club tie was also on sale.  It features a silhouette of Mr B. and did not look out of place amongst the selection on offer.

I’d been listening to ‘The Tweed Album’ for the last couple of days so I was quite amused when ‘Curtsey for Me’ and ‘Edward’s Dilemma’ were performed, knowing full well their suggestive lyrics.  The album, starting as it does with the bold claim ‘I Invented Hip Hop’ meanders through various interpretations of Chap-Hop.  ‘A Rummy Old Day’ sounds to me very summery and brings to mind the music of the early naughties.  ‘Nicknackatory’ has a particularly catchy chorus and ‘Tinkerty-Tonk’ closes the album with a lovely lilting melody.  After a couple of weeks, the track that keeps popping into my head has to be the first of two Bullingdon related ditties; ‘They Don’t Allow Rappers in the Bullingdon Club’ (I think we need to get someone at Oxford to verify if this is the case!)

I’ve not listened to Mr B’s past albums in as much detail as ‘The Tweed Album’, but I can safely say that it is more of the sort of chap-hop finery that we have come to expect from everyone’s favourite gentleman rhymer.

Do let me know what you think about 'The Tweed Album' or any other Mr B albums in the comment section. Happy listening!

Sadie x
steel boned corsets by What Katie Did

Sunday, 17 June 2012

And what did we see... we saw the sea

The first time we had been invited to Portsmouth for a vintage event was for the inaugural Victorious Vintage (albeit on the second of two days) which was held at the Historic Dockyards.  As we arrived we saw that it was already quite busy, and there was more than enough to occupy the thousands of people through the gates.

There were three stages (including an acoustic stage) which played host all sorts of many bands.  However, the more ‘vintage’ singers had to perform in the smallest of the three stages, inside Boathouse No. 7.  I felt this was a shame as most of the rest of the event (stalls etc.) had maintained a ‘vintage’ theme, yet there were no swing or big bands that I saw (there was a rock ‘n’ roll band who played at least one song from ‘Grease’).  The headliners were Dodgy and The Lightening Seeds – big in the ‘90s but a slightly odd choice for this festival.

With Betty from Betty Blue's Loungerie
We had a few quick interviews with Betty from Betty Blue’s Loungerie (her siren suits are absolutely gorgeous), Katie Vale and Annie Andrews (who we also saw performing).  The day didn’t have a particularly ‘Jubilee’ theme, but I’m not sure if that was deliberate or not.

With Katie Vale the milliner
Annie Andrews performing

It was nice for people to be able to see some of the most important ships in British history without having to pay upwards of £20 a ticket (although this option was still available if you actually wanted to see inside the HMS Victory or HMS Warrior).  Incidentally, I found out yesterday that when my granddad was in the Navy, he was stationed (if that is the correct term) on the Victory in 1949, ’50 and ’57 - which is rather impressive and also explains why I spent a fair amount of my childhood looking round those very ships.  There were a few well dressed people (not as many as I was expecting) and here are a few I photographed.

I wore a blue and white striped sunsuit I picked up for £18 in Lewes.  I was hoping to be able to take off the white Broderie Anglaise skirt I was wearing, but alas it was a little chilly.  My shoes were from Marks & Sparks and the hat I made myself.  I was quite pleased when someone thought it was an original!
We bumped into Naomi Thompson
on her home turf in Pompey

All in all, I think it was a good day out, with a particularly interesting setting, but a few more clothing stalls (definitely more for men) and a little more thought with regards to the bands playing (‘Three Lions’ doesn’t strike me as particularly ‘vintage’) and Victorious Vintage will hopefully be an annual event and can come back much stronger next year. 

steel boned corsets by What Katie Did

Monday, 11 June 2012

A jubilant day of fabulous hair, rockin' rhythms and ridiculously high shoes

For the past couple of years, on the Saturday of Brighton Fashion Week, I've strolled on down to the Dorset Public House on Gardener Street as they would no doubt be playing the best rockabilly and R‘n’R the '50s had to offer and this year was no different.

In the past, Simon Webster pitched up his 1930s barber's chair outside the aforementioned pub, offering rockin' cuts to those passing by.  Regular readers will be familiar with the name Simon Webster as the VN attended the opening of his salon back in March.  This year, Simon was set up outside his salon, along with The Vanity Box.  The girls from the Vanity Box were creating beautiful vintage coiffeurs for the ladies of Gardener Street and I think you'll agree, the hairstyles are stunning!


As I had already curled my hair for the next day, it was up to Les to step up and face the scissors.  We had a chat with Simon about how the past couple of months had been at the salon, after which we interviewed Verity from The Vanity Box, (all of which you can see here).

After we'd finished at the salon, we managed to catch the musicians performing outside the Dorset.  Firstly, there was Dollar Bill, a one man band performing a mix of blues and country who I'd love to see perform again, but preferably somewhere with a dance floor.  After Dollar Bill it was the turn of Hollerin’ Stollar and the Pine Box Boys.  

Dollar Bill, the blues one-man band

ring Hollerin' Stollar and the Pine Box Boys

Mark, the Dorset's manager 
even got in on the action.
For some reason I had a major crisis of confidence in what I was wearing (maybe the fact that the day before a man had loudly remarked that I looked like I was wearing fancy dress, hadn't helped), so I changed my outfit a few times.  In the end I didn't wear any vintage and opted for a Matalan blouse, Vivienne of Holloway pencil skirt, an elastic belt and shoes I bought when I was in New York.  It was the first time I'd worn the shoes and considering how high they are, they were surprisingly comfortable!



I was unable to attend the 'after party' at the Mesmerist as I was busy making a surprise visit to my sister at her new job in Rottingdean, but from what I hear, the party was rather good!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

What is the Mysterious Shadow Formula?

After a day looking round the newly re-designed Fashion gallery at the V&A (more of that in a future post) and going for a meeting to apply for a millinery internship (which I got – again I’ll post about it soon), I headed to the Greenwood Theatre near London Bridge to see The Shadow Formula.

We’d been invited to the press night of this new play by David R. Roberts, on what was to be their second performance, but after some dramatic ‘flying scenery’ their first night had to be cancelled.  The play, set on the brink of war in 1938, is a classic caper of the ‘everyman dragged into a conspiracy... discovering what’s going on [and] running away from people trying to kill him’.  The standout performer was undeniably Edwin Flay who played Cary Donat, the man caught up in an international plot regarding the mysterious Shadow Formula.  Edwin was also celebrating his birthday on the day of this performance, so happy birthday to him.  The main character’s name – Cary Donat was a nice nod to Cary Grant and Robert Donat.  A reference to these two great actors is especially fitting as the play has themes of an innocent man pursued after being falsely accused, much like ‘North by Northwest’ and ‘The 39 Steps’.

 Cary Grant wearing 'That Suit' in another
Hitchcock classic, 'North by Northwest' (1959) 

 Robert Donat in Hitchcock's 'The 39 Steps' (1939)

The ladies' costuming was particularly good, with many of the ladies wearing quite luxurious furs.  The gents were not left wanting though, with Claude the barman (Gabriel Keogh) sporting a rather fetching Noël Coward style dressing gown in one scene!  Nancy the baglady (Hannah Rees) and Arthur the paperboy (Jack Richards) provided comic relief at the start of the second act, Arthur had a wonderful cockney swagger - worthy of being a character in itself!

I was particularly impressed with the sound design (Kirsty Gillmore & Sounds Wilde) and the actors’ use of space – not being limited to the stage.  The entire play was set to a wonderful soundtrack including Al Bowlly’s ‘I Can't Get Mississippi Off My Mind’, ‘The Hawaiian War Chant’ and ‘The Sheik of Araby’.

There are performances on 7th-9th and 14th-16th June with a BSL signed matinee on th16th.  The matinee will be signed by Wendy Ebsworth MBE, a sign-language interpreter whose stage credits include signing for the English National Opera, the Royal National Theatre and the Royal Court.

And you’ll just have to go to a performance yourself if you want to know what the mysterious Shadow Formula is...
steel boned corsets by What Katie Did

Monday, 4 June 2012

A Delightful Evening of Peculiar Dining

Sorry this post has been a bit late in coming, but I've had an awfully busy weekend which you will be able to read about in due course.

I was looking forward to the return of Hendrick's to the Brighton festival, as last year a large portion of my birthday was spent sipping their gin-based delights outside their Horseless carriage.

When we were invited to attend one of the many events Hendrick’s was hosting at their Library of Delightfully Peculiar Writings, one particular event stood out to us.  Along with lectures about the literary history of gin as well as few on more specific topics, there was to be a literary feast orchestrated by the culinary architects,  Bompas & Parr.  We were lucky enough to interview Sam Bompas before he was whisked away to add the finishing touches to the feast.   

We were able to have a look inside the dining area, which was set off by a beautiful crimson glow.  Along with the dining tables, one side of the room was dedicated to a tank of sorts which enclosed a breathable gin cloud. 

Adorning the shelves and cabinets that lined the walls were all manner of ephemera and curiosities that would have seemed more at home somewhere like the Last Tuesday Society’s Little Shop of Horrors  (incidentally, the society hosted a couple of events at the Hendrick’s Library).

The outside green (well Astroturf, but who’s telling) was open to the public and was as beautifully decked out as the dining room.

Jo (one of the Hendrick’s hostesses) was kind enough to supply us with a myriad of gin based beverages throughout proceedings.  It turns out I’m less rubbish in front of the camera if I’ve had a couple, at least that’s the story I’m sticking to...

Although we weren’t there for the entire meal (quite sorry we missed the exploding desert!) we had a very good time and look forward to Hendrick’s coming back next year.   If you would like to find out where Hendrick's will be unfurling their library next, have a look at their website, it’s rather good.