A whimsical wander through postcolonial literature, fashion, fantasy fiction, and more...
Saturday, 31 December 2011
Ring In The Old, Ring Out The New
Hope you've all had a lovely Christmas - mine has been very cosy and relaxing, and wonderfully restorative. Some of the lovely gifts I received included a Flowerpot Tangle Teezer which has been a revelation, and a bottle of L de Lolita Lempicka perfume from Bartimaeus, which is utterly bewitching.
The title of this post is a bastardisation of Tennyson, but seems apt when applied to a vintage post published on New Year's Eve! Allow me to introduce you to my first piece of vintage. I've written before about my reservations about the "retro revival" and full-on 1950s nostalgia. Nevertheless, there is a romance around the 1950s for me I will never shake, which goes back to my childhood watching Douglas Sirk films with my mum (there's something very Bollywood I think about his lush sentimental melodramas), all the films of Elvis, and pretty much anything that was filmed in Technicolor. And as a result I continue to aspire to recreate a different kind of vintage in makeup and outfits from time to time, a look that is part whimsy, part 1960s Bollywood, 100% Rabbit.
But I find vintage shopping difficult - the chaos and disorder of a lot of vintage shops, the forbiddingly tiny waists of proper 1950s frocks. Still, a few weeks ago I visited Bedford Place, a little street of independent shops, salons and eateries very close to my house in Southampton, and I stopped by Hepwrights', a vintage shop that's become the heart of this charming, quirky little corner of Southampton. I left after an hour and a half, after chatting to Mama Hep and Sophie for ages about Asian fabrics and vintage, and browsing and coveting away. It's such a warm, welcoming place, and Sophie and Mama Hep know pretty much everyone who drops in. Two Year 7s stopped by to just try dresses on in their break, two students stopped by just to say they'd handed in coursework, and I just fell in love with the place (as my presence there for 90 minutes attests!)
There are some amazing dresses, coats, shoes, as well as some pieces by local craftspeople (I love the rows of little wooden cottages representing the area I live in). But the magpie in me was attracted to the jewels in particular. I was restrained, picking up a reworked silver owl bracelet for my sister for Christmas, and this necklace for me. It is strung on silver chain which gives the clear beads a greyish tinge, which I love. They look like faceted pieces of ice, and I've been wearing this necklace for all my many Christmas social engagements (all three of them) and pretty much every other day. It goes with everything, but I particularly love pairing it with my marcasite snowflake earrings from Istanbul. The combination makes me feel very glamorous and wintry.
I sometimes daydream about the woman/women who wore it before me - did she wear it for special occasions, or was she a magpie like me, happy to wear sparkly stuff during the day? Which special occasions did she wear them to? Did she have a daughter who used to play with it covetously? And that's the magic of vintage, really, the tales bound up within the pieces, the unspoken histories...
Anyway, happy New Year's Eve, everyone! I'll be spending mine at home with my mum, as it's my dad's birthday and I never feel much like doing anything else on this day. We'll be having a Downton Abbey marathon and I'll be having a mega-Chinese roast duck fest (duck pancakes and roast duck and rice, my favourites). Hope you all have a lovely time ushering 2012 in, whatever it is you're doing.
Rabbit-like in a nose that twitches when I laugh and front teeth not 100% rectified by 7 years of braces, postcolonial in being of British-Bangladeshi heritage (and reading many many books thereon). Books, tea and dresses: these are some of my favourite things.