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New Book Review – Amber Jane Butchart’s Fashion Miscellany.

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Every now and then a fashion book comes out that piques my interest primarily for the format. I must confess I am prone to a short attention span. I love to learn but I’m not keen on great lengths of meandering theory. Without indulging in a tangent worthy of AA Gill or legendary grot reviewer Chris Nieratko, there is a reason why I studied Law and Languages at University. I am not too fond of fluff or being told that X, Y and Z’s interpretation is more relevant than Z, Y and X’s. While studying A-Level English, I fondly remember arguing more about the relevance of interpretation rather than the book at hand.  I had two teachers: Mr Hill, who gave me straight A’s whilst simultaneously accusing me of truculence (a favourite word ever since) and Miss Thornett, who could barely contain her loathing for me and awarded me consistent E grades. I still remember her scrawl on one particular report: ‘Naomi is blissfully unaware of her surroundings’. I ended up with an overall E grade – I think you can guess who marked that paper. I couldn’t give enough of a shit to appeal it as I had four others that sailed me straight into Sussex. Miss Thornett (I’m assuming its still ‘Miss’?), my next book is due out in September.

For those who like their facts straight up, Amber Jane Butchart has deftly assembled the eponymously titled ‘Amber Jane Butchart’s Fashion Miscellany – An Elegant Collection Of Stories, Quotations, Tips & Trivia From The World Of Style’ (Ilex Miscellany £8.99). It is a slender yet attractive book covered in a tactile binding of peacock blue linen, embossed in gold, classical lettering. General knowledge books are hardly a new genre but taking the subject of fashion, assembling a tome that grabs the subject by both hands and turning it into a veritable font of useful and relevant knowledge is another affair. Amber seizes the opportunity to really flex her considerable fashion historian muscles. It is done with such aplomb that you can’t help but develop a deeper respect for the history of fashion and the anthropological elements that are intrinsically entwined in how we dress and why. I am very much in awe of how much information has been included in what is essentially a fairly slim book. Make no mistake, it is a book for all ages and genders (plenty on tailoring and historical movements from both sides) that doesn’t pander to the superficial nature that can trail behind fashion like an insecure try-hard.

So, without boring you with my own meandering theory and musings – my opener was more of a long-festering jab to a certain eye – my verdict: a book that packs a punch and elevates the academic side to this topic. Economics, politics and of course, the arts all have their ties to fashion, making this an entertaining read that equally lends substantial gravitas to the subject area – there is a reason it made Dawn O’Porter feel clever. It is also great for dipping in and out of…or you can just stroke the linen cover and enjoy the illustrations by Penelope Beech. It may be aimed at the gift market but I would suggest it’s time to treat yourselves first.

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13 Photos From eBay That Will Never Sell your Vintage

How not to photo sell your vintage on eBay.

From terrible poses, BAD props and scary mannequins here is my latest round up of the best of the worst. This is the gift that keeps on giving so I’ll be posting a new batch soon.

I was going to caption them Buzzfeed style, but there really is no need. Enjoy.

 

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Laura Ashley SS14 – First Look

*best unbiased face*

Fashion was strong at the Laura Ashley SS14 show and not far behind were some very novel home accessories.

There was a refreshing lack of floral and chintz but a heavy nod across the board to heritage prints of the geometric variety.  This gave the new collections a fresh yet timeless appeal. Twee was replaced by Broderie Anglaise, 1970s Indian Summer prints (elephants!), smocks, crochet and a large dose of nautical novelty. Soft denim and a less frou-frou rework of the 50s dress (still keeping the correct proportions) added a very modern feel to what will surely become a classic collection.

Accessories have also plundered the archives to form smart yet practical bags that will see you through the day and evening. The overall feel was relaxed chic with great detail but minimal fuss. Very contemporary yet at the same time very Laura Ashley of yonder (i.e. pre 1980).

I could not get enough of the blue and white prints, including this china plate inspired novelty print.

For home, it was really the accessories that stuck out.  The gold pineapple lamp was good enough to eat but too large for my handbag. It would not have looked out of place at Brighton’s Royal Pavilion.

I was really pleased with the use of green, and the bird motifs which always seem to do very well in the shop. I was also tickled to see the resurrection of cake forks. The new home fragrance, Beach Comber, smells of summer. I’m sure there was a G&T with a slice of cucumber in there.

Verdict: an exciting show with all the hallmarks of the brand. All killer no filler. Innovative Laura Ashley for the modern generation.

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Here’s Heritage – Reading’s Celebration of Nostalgia, 13th and 14th September.

Here's Heritage Fashion Artwork with Naomi

On the 13th and 14th of September I am delighted to announce that I will be participating in the second Reading Celebration of Nostalgia. This event has a very contemporary approach to nostalgia, which I find refreshing. I am excited to be hosting an evening catwalk show based on current trends, a book talk, and there is a chance to see parts of Reading Museum that are not normally open to the public. (In the evening. Squeak!). On Saturday morning I will be awarding some prizes at the fete. I admit I have never been to Reading and am looking forward to discovering the town and working with Alexandra Vintage. Best of all the whole event is free! It will be my first event in a long long time and I hope to meet lots of interesting new people. If you are going or trading let me know in the comments. Hope to see you there!

Here is all the information you need to know:

Alexandra Vintage is delighted to be working with Reading Museum to host the return of Here’s Heritage – Reading’s Celebration of Nostalgia. Forming part of Reading’s 4-day Heritage weekender and following the success of last year’s award-winning event, Here’s Heritage is back and it’s bigger! This year’s programme sees the exciting addition of Here’s Heritage Fashion on Friday 13th September – a vintage style evening with vintage fashion expert and author of ‘Style Me Vintage’ Naomi Thompson who will be talking about fashion across the decades, a vintage catwalk show showcasing the Alexandra Vintage Autumn/Winter 13 collection and behind the scenes access to some of Reading Museum’s hidden treasures.

Here’s Heritage Fashion launches the Here’s Heritage weekender welcoming back its charming, traditional Fete on Saturday 14th September in Market Place, Reading Town Centre. Browse a fete of trader delights, including arts and crafts from local Reading arts charity Jelly, vintage inspired beauty, the latest Alexandra Vintage collection of trend-led fashion & accessories, enjoy a cuppa and delicious cake by Reading market regular Cakeaways, all whilst listening to 40’s music trio Some Swell Sisters live and watching performances by Berkshire’s StageAbility Stage School. A lovely day out for all the family!

 

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Here’s Heritage Fashion Reading Museum 13th September 2013, 6pm – 9pm Here’s Heritage Fete Market Place, Reading 14th September 2013, 11am – 5pm

Third Velo Vintage Ride and Occasion

Late one Friday in June I found myself gazing at the slippery silver bottom of the river Ex, completely changed by the early evening sun, as my train rattled along its banks towards Exmouth. There was almost no distinction between the shimmer of the clouds and the glitter of the river bed. The appearance of the odd boat tipped on its side in the low tide was the only indicator of land versus nimbus.

This blog is ridiculously picture heavy – but it warrants it. These images I am sharing with you are now imprints in my mind, stored in the same compartment that one usually reserves hazy childhood memories of meadows, fresh air and running around. A mythical time before booze and work. Do also check this out.

The sun (and rain) and colours and smells, which unfortunately I cannot convey by the medium of this blog, still linger in my senses…

I had long known of Velo Vintage, the Devon based bicycle ride organised by Sebastian and Alistair Cope, father and son cycling enthusiasts. I had finally got my act together for this one.

It’s the antidote to the traffic and magnitude of London’s Tweed Run, but every bit as fun with the magical addition of being located in Devon.

I had the pleasure of staying with Lizzy Cope (Alistair’s mother) – a formidable hostess, gardener and all round lady you don’t mess with. I was fed, watered, and popped to bed. Water, Devon Magazine, slippers from a cherished trip to The Savoy and fresh grapes all in my room. No wonder her potted plants do so well. I was quite in awe of her. She is the lady in the fur coat with the lovely 50s tulip hair ‘do.

The following morning a gathering of well dressed families and riders began to appear from the side streets of Exmouth. It was really nice to see how many children were participating – what a great memory for them. I watched in awe as the lady from Devon Leather hand stitched a tool roll in age old method that makes the stitch stronger than most. Chapeau! were also in attendance. Both companies product excellent and unique cycling related gifts.

After the assembly of participants, exchanged moments of mutual admiration and some general preening, we set off. I was bestowed the honour of both leading the ride and being Mr Cope juniors’ ‘stocker’ on the back of ‘Hercules’ their 1930s tandem.

Through the small roads we passed thatched houses, fields and the sea. A well deserved break awaited us at the Swan Inn where large platters of pork pie wedges and healthy chunks of creamy cheddar were passed around.

The day then took us to the stunning National Trust property, A La Ronde (photos sadly lacking) and then back to Exmouth for a musical knees up and competition winners. As my best dressed ‘lady’ I selected the young Emmeline whose authentic 50s dress, hair net, period hair and accompanying sausage dog won me over.

The Guvernors’ Assembly provided much amusement though I shall say no more for fear that they may not share their copious amounts of ‘pop’ next time. It was a pleasure to spend time with them and they certainly ‘perked’ up the ride somewhat.

For £12.50 you got a cream tea, a pint of real ale, entertainment and the most magical (and well marshalled) cycle ride I have ever been on. Far too cheap me thinks me Messieurs Cope and Co.  A lot of money was also raised via the raffle for local charities. Bravo!

I came home with a suitcase of Ringtons Tea and some new peppery chap related snack that was most pleasant to ingest. The next ride is on the 7th December and I can imagine the scenery will be just as magical in a different way at that time of year. What a fabulous crisp ride that shall be.

On a last note Mr Cope senior is due to set off on an incredible solo journey via a traditional Flaxland canoe and Pashley bicycle to raise money for 3 different charities. Three hundred miles of water, one hundred and eleven locks and three hundred and ninety miles of land! Please sponsor him here. Good luck Alistair and enjoy your adventure.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

**News Update And A Request for Help**

I’m super pleased to announce that my first book is now on sale at the illustrious Pie & Vinyl in Southsea. For me this is just as exciting as having it in Liberty’s and the V&A. Home turf means a lot.  I’m hoping that when Lauren Lavern visits as promised, she might fancy making a cheeky purchase ;)

I am heading to Birmingham next week to judge and present an award at the National Vintage Awards organised by Kate Molloy of the Vintage Directory. My category is ‘Best Online Vintage shop – Fashion and Accessories’. Are you going? Let me know! I’m already flouncing around trying on frocks.

I’m currently in talks with a French Concierge company who have asked me to resurrect my personal shopping days, which I’m excited to offer again.

A request for help: I am looking for any makers of good reproduction vintage accessories, be they hats, gloves, scarfs, shoes, costume jewels, bags or hair flowers and combs. I am also looking for modern makers with a vintage twist or modern makers that you think will become future collectables as their pieces are so different or unique. Sound like you? Then please get in touch via my contacts page or by emailing hello@naomithompson.co.uk – pictures essential please.

Lastly I believe I am in this month’s Homes and Antiques magazine  (print and online) at the Decorative Living Fair. It was such a well organised event. Like an uber posh Antiques Road show for one’s abode.

Thats all for now folks!

Naomi x

Laura Ashley A/W13, Archive Collection and a Sneaky Infiltration.

 

On Thursday Liz and I were invited to the Laura Ashley A/W13 Press Day and Archive Exhibition Preview. It takes a lot to get me to London these days but this was something not to be missed, for obvious reasons and others less so - which will become apparent later.

Liz and I have both loved a bit of ‘Lashley’ for a while now and I refer to it in my talks on ‘buying vintage’ as the prime example of a British collectable brand that retains its value. We also sell LA dresses in our regular vintage collections. In honour of the archive collection preview we donned our best vintage pieces and arranged to meet at Victoria station. I was wearing a short 80s skater style dress with a daring low back (rather saucy for Mrs Ashley) and Liz being Liz, of course had a mind-blowingly rare 70s number that featured a  dear print on swathes of blue cotton.

We were rather tickled at the reception bestowed upon our frocks on arrival. Before we even got through the door we had been asked to do numerous shots of us walking into to the venue by the camera men who were recording the event. Cue lots of walking a backwards and forwards up the same steps. When we finally entered (Il Bottacio off Hyde Park no less) we were warmly greeted by the social media team whom we had previously chatted to via twitter. I bought a copy of my book as a gift but it turned out they had it already and were fans which made me feel a bit fluttery, as one does when there is a mutual meeting and appreciation of one’s efforts.

After a beetroot and berry smoothie and a strong coffee I set about examining the new collections with determination (more on why later). I had a chat with their new accessories designer who has been at the company for 6 weeks and we discussed future archive inspired pieces and the vintage girl’s love of the wicker basket bags they bring out each season – both the current tan coloured one and the much coveted white wicker version that came out a few seasons ago. Liz and I both honed in on a delectable plum riding jacket which I promptly decided to try on (probably a press day faux pas). The equestrian theme was carried on in a number of garments featuring horseshoes and even horse heads. The rich plum colours almost made me long for autumn. There were fewer dresses than I had expected but a huge selection of tunics, slim fit trousers and cropped jackets.

We proceeded to have a good gander at the archive collection. Liz rapidly became engrossed in a long conversation with their archivist who looks after the Welsh LA treasure trove…I think she had her eye on Liz’s dress. We had a good look around home wares and we both loved the new geometric print wallpaper and home accessories inspired by a vintage 50s (yes 50s) LA scarf (pictured below). We even bumped into the super hot illustrator Emma Block, who I hadn’t seen since my book launch early last year.

The gathering of ladies in the Home dept. were also quite keen to quiz us on our frocks.  We had a good old chin wag with the design team, the buyers, the PR peeps and the Head of Buying. It was a wonderful opportunity to talk to so many of the current creative force behind LA. We discussed what Liz and I do, who we write for…even our secret project that we have coming up. I then dropped a mini bombshell. I mentioned that, two weeks ago, I started working as a shop girl for…yes, you guessed it, Laura Ashley! I currently work in the Southsea store in the fashion floor and was partly there as a sneaky shop girl spy on strict orders to report back on the new collections. Staff AND writer – a pretty unique position to be in, do you not think? I think it certainly threw them a little.

You may be wondering why I’ve returned to ‘work’? Well for a myriad of reasons, starting with the fact that the shop is a sunny seven minute walk from my house.  More importantly, I am enjoying the return to the ‘front line of fashion’. In my short time as the latest part-time ‘LA gal’, I have met some extraordinary people and it is a joy to have them come back in again and again. I get to share the mixture of exhilaration and relief when the perfect outfit is found for an important life event, or a gift has been found for the person ‘who has it all’. It’s the same kind of satisfaction I got from being a freelance vintage personal shopper, except this time there is more than one size! You are let into the intimate details of a person’s life and then it’s up to you to see how you can help problem solve their dilemmas. I get the feeling that, as a trusted British brand, people expect to find what they need and they rely on us to help them achieve that. I hear about their weddings, families, funerals, first homes and once-in-a-lifetime excursions. I also enjoy hearing their feedback, their likes and dislikes, their views on the new collections and their stories of wearing the brand as children. And of course there is the uniform allowance and the discounts, which are rather generous and certainly not to be sniffed at! Furthermore, I get to assist with visual merchandising, which I very much enjoy. All this is seamlessly held together by a harmonised team of like-minded people who all genuinely care about the customers and pulling together to make the shop a success. It can be exhausting and hard work (ahem, Sale time!) but I don’t take my work home at night and have plenty of time to write.

Importantly, it has actually improved my well being. Although I initially found being on my feet hard, it keeps me active and fit – no need for a gym membership. I enjoy the routine and I get to talk to real people about real clothes, rather than working from home and communicating via the internet. As any freelancer or home work knows, the day can easily become lonely and stagnant. As I explained to the Head of Buying, it’s a life style choice. So there you have it. I’m pretty chuffed to be a LA shop girl and I’m delighted to say I will also be producing a blog for the Laura Ashley website shortly. It’s the perfect combination of the two things I love.

I’ll leave you with a selection of pics from the event and you can read more about the new collections here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nomology part 1 – Ditching The Fake.

By the end of this summer, it would have been two years since I left the bright lights and hubbub of London, and two years since I returned to my island home town, Portsmouth. Those bright lights were blinding me, causing me all kinds of aches and stresses. I just wanted to sit in the dark for a bit. I came home to the sea and a very different pace of life.

It dawned on me this morning, that since I became a seaside gypsy, I rarely wear make-up or high heels anymore. I have been in heels pretty much every day since I was 13. I loved that elevated feeling, the way my feet arched – I even liked tottering around. My feet weren’t so keen and rebelled. For a long time I couldn’t wear flats; years of said tottering had shortened my plantar fascia and it felt an ice lolly stick was permanently wedged under my arches.

As for make-up, it never really agreed with me in the first place. It used to fall off my face. It was like trying to apply make-up to a waxy lemon. Wearing the amount I wanted turned into blankness in photo shoots. Enough to make me look preened in pictures translated to feeling like a drag queen in real life. Ditching the foundation was easy. The sea air here has done wonders for my skin. Eyeliner, an absolute staple since the early 90s, was gradually phased out. Now I can see the natural shape of my eyes and my freckles.  I do love a slick of mascara and a product like Benetint or Soap & Glory’s Cheekmate (my one has lasted over 2 years) provides a natural rosy glow to lips and cheeks in one tiny dab. I’ve also started drinking Kiki’s Nature’s Living Superfood which is a pricey powder but probably the best thing you could ever put in your body. I’ve since grown a horse-like mane and get ill much less. I also have my natural hair colour for the first time ever. I like it. It matches my eyebrows.

I don’t feel this is ‘letting myself go’ – I’ve never felt more confident since ditching the add-ons. It makes me think that we are wrongly encouraged at a young age to ‘improve ourselves’ when really we should be enjoying what we have. I shudder when I recall almost getting my lips ‘done’ aged 25. There was nothing wrong with them, I just felt it would make me feel ‘perfect’.

I still enjoy dressing up and glamming up. I had my hair and make-up done for Annabel Beeford’s fantastic book launch and I felt tres slinky. I went to a hot rod and custom car show with my new friend Emma last week and I even dug the hair curlers out. I just don’t feel the need to every day.

Hair extensions (had those), fake nails (ditto), fake eyelashes (ditto again) and plastered on make up  are now commonly seen on teens, all day every day. Are we failing our young with this quest for continuous self improvement?

What do you think?

This morning, wet hair – touch of mascara.

 

 

Velo Vintage Summer Occasion & Ride – Saturday 15th June 2013

 

If you are a fan of old fashioned bike rides then you most certainly have heard of the Tweed Run. Having experienced it twice I can say it really is one for the bucket list. These days though I prefer a more niche jaunt along the coast. No taxi drivers trying to run over the marshalls, which I have seen in London.

It is with sheer delight therefor that I can announce I will be participating in the Velo Vintage Summer Occasion and Ride in June. On the back of a tandem no less. Velo Vintage is a delightful affair run by father and son team Alistair and Seb Cope, who both attended my book launch last year. I can vouch that they are lovely chaps and cycle pros to boot.

The ride will take us through the coastal resort of Exmouth, in the County of Devonshire. We depart at 11.00 am along a route that will take in a short section of the Jurassic Coast. At midday (ish) there is a surprise! And at 2:00 pm (about) we shall arrive at the very beautiful National Property, A la Ronde for afternoon tea. At 4:00 pm we shall find ourselves back in the centre of Exmouth for, well…..something to pick you up a little and some music.

‘The 3rd Velo Vintage Occasion & Ride is set to be a fabulous day with a record number of registered riders, some fabulous venues and splendid entertainment!’

As if that wasn’t sufficient there are some marvellous prizes to be won.

I will  be judging the Best Dressed Lady and the Best Dressed Gentleman competition, which is being sponsored by Ringtons Tea and an additional prize of a photograph taken in the camera obscura being used by Light-Play.

Chapeau have just come on board to sponsor the best tache for gents and ladies! (ladies can knit, crochet, cut out of cardboard or anything else to join in the fun!)

To celebrate the launch of the Anglo-French cycle route, the Tour de Manche, a luxury hamper of French and English goodies will be awarded to the best dressed dame and the best dressed monsieur (and their bicycles) kitted out in the most “fantastique”French costume!

All this for a contribution of 12 Guineas (£12.60 in new money).  Can you think of anything more delightful to do on a Saturday in June?

PS doesn’t Jeni look fab on her Pashley?

The Decorative Living Fair – 16 May 2013

I am delighted to announce that I am part of the Homes and Antiques panel of speakers at the Decorative Living Fair this week. The fair, organised by Caroline Zoob, will be held in the stunning grounds of Eridge Park, just south of Tunbridge Wells (my first visit to Kent). Caroline is a much sought after designer and author of Childhood Treasures (2004). The Handstitched Home is due for publication this year. I am very much looking forward to having a nosey around the stalls as well as dressing my lovely model Kat Zoob. My book will be for sale with the ladies from H&A, or feel free to bring a copy should you wish to have my terrible scrawl across it.

Its my first engagement for quite some time so please be gentle – in fact this is my first bloglette since September last year. I couldn’t even remember my own login. That said please feel free to show me you vintage treasures and I am more than happy to offer any advice as I will be there all day (translation: please talk to me).

Early Bird tickets (9.30am – 5.30pm) £10 Standard tickets ( 11.30am – 5.30pm) £7.50 can be purchased here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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