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


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.


Peppermint Candy Live

Peppermint Candy Live

Calling all hepcats and swing queens!

Jazz FM presents Peppermint Candy With the Broken Hearts this Wednesday 6TH July at London’s Cobden Club. Divine evening of Jazz and swing with the Broken Hearts
This Wednesday swing divas The Broken Hearts will be hosting Jazz FM’s Peppermint Candy live!

The Broken Hearts will be hosting bands and DJs for this one time only swing music and dance extravaganza to celebrate the launch of Peppermint Candy on Jazz FM and their upcoming Peppermint Candy swing music compilation album.

The party will be putting the crowd in a spin at the Cobden Club for on the 6th of July across the venues three floors and Grand Music Hall with The Correspondents headlining and music from Top Shelf Jazz. The Broken Hearts will be DJing as well as Nick Hollywood, ‘King of Swing’ Paul Golledge and Mikyla/ The She Set.

Dinner tickets are available at £50 or evening tickets from £15. There are some fabulous goodie bags for the first 50 guests from Tatty Devine including Tatty Devine jewellery, Hummingbird Cupcakes and the Peppermint Candy CD. An event not to miss.

Peppermint Candy Live

July 6th at the Cobden Club

Buy tickets here!


The Broken Hearts Present Peppermint Candy


Amber Butchart and Nisha Thirkell are first AKA the Broken Hearts are DJ extraordinaires who met working at the hub of many a vintage seeker’s shopping sprees: Beyond Retro.

Their DJing covers music from way back to the birth of swing to the crispest of modern adaptations, moving back and forth between lindyhop, balboa and shag to neo-swing and electro-swing creating what makes simultaneously a vintage collection to die for and the freshest of sets.

Amber and Nisha have created DJ sets for shows across Europe and in the US and bespoke soundtracks, play-lists and compilations for the likes of The British Film Institute, the British Fashion Council, Lulu Guinness, Magnum, and Hendricks Gin. Broken Hearts also run a fashion and style blog, have created silent movie soundtracks, recorded songs using a live tap dancer, starred in their own music video as vaudevillian magicians and design clothes for Beyond the Valley. Their circus stylings and vintage expertise makes them an effervescent, eccentric presence in the vintage community, even within this uniquely styled community; the Broken Hearts really stand out.

The latest offering from Broken Hearts is their brand new show Peppermint Candy, which launched on Jazz FM, on Thursdays from 6 – 7 pm. Amber and Nisha say “Swing is a constant source of inspiration for us – a music and dance born out of tough times, which has given rise to a rich culture very much alive today.  Our first DJ sets were at Speakeasy-style parties so we’re really excited to bring this type of music to a wider audience. There’s a thriving contemporary scene and our radio show will immerse listeners in the whole culture; music, dancing and style.”

Peppermint Candy’s motto ‘Swing is not just a Dance, it’s a way of life’ couldn’t be more perfect, as a Jazz and Swing specialist show they’re bringing new life to the genre, giving some much needed love and attention and some pepping up and branching out that’s jazzed-out bliss for lovers of swing and newcomers alike.

The show is bursting with variety, covering not only music, but the ancestry and legacies of swing stars and influences, culture, style and fashion. Their show included tracks from the greats such as Louis Prima and Jelly Role Morton and featured artists you may not have heard of but certainly will love, such as Carmen Maria Vega’s gutsy brand of swing and Nick Hollywood, one of the pioneers of electro-swing.

Peppermint Candy is supported online with a regular blog and a weekly style and fashion guide. Their finely crafted playlist displayed real knowledge of the original era and its influences right up to present hits and show a labour of love that promises a fantastic show from here on in. I’ll be listening on Thursday, and if you don’t have a radio to get Jazz FM, you can catch their show online from their page on the Jazz FM site.

I can’t praise this show enough, so you’ll have to tune in, turn up and get down.

Peppermint Candy airs on Thursdays from 6-7 pm

Jazz FM can be heard nationally on DAB and online globally at www.jazzfm.com


Amber From The Broken Hearts Launches Theatre of Fashion Blog

Amber by Anthony Lycett

Amber Butchart is one half of, arguably, the UK’s most stylish DJ duo, the Broken Hearts.  Known for looking as good as they sound, they combine matching vintage costume with the best of avanguard modern design. It rather makes sense then, that today,  Amber has launched her own fashion haven Theatre of Fashion

We took a peak this morning and it’s already jam packed with posts, bringing together Amber’s unique vintage syle, love of dramatic design and almost encyclopedia knowledge of fashion history. Being the nosy types we got the inside scoop on what to expect, and Amber shares her favorite blogs.

VS: You have a new fashion website launching today. Being one half of the most stylish DJ duo ever, we feel you are pretty qualified for this; but tell us what we can expect from it?

While there are a lot of great vintage lifestyle blogs about, I feel that there’s a lack of blogs focusing on fashion history, with socio-cultural analysis thrown in too. People love vintage style – you can see that from the obsession over Mad Men – but I wanted to write about something with more weight than how to dress like Joan, Betty or Peggy. I also wanted to combine it with my other two passions, film and performance. I’m really inspired by the places where fashion and performance overlap, the way you take on a different character each day when you get dressed. So you can expect everything from features that track current trends back through history, to profiles on silent film stars and circus performers and how they’ve influenced designers or movements. For one of my first posts I’ve researched a Victorian jacket I own to try to date it accurately, and it took my on a whole journey through the Arts and Crafts movement and Aesthetic Dress. I felt the name Theatre of Fashion captured all of this perfectly.

VS: Djing all over from Istanbul to Blackpool makes you a busy lady, why are you launching the Theatre of Fashion?

AB: I’m a bit of a geek at heart as anyone will tell you. I’ve always liked writing and have been involved with academia for a long time – I taught at London College of Fashion while I was doing my MA, then I was offered a Research Fellowship there and most recently I did some research assisting for my former tutor in the Vogue archive, which was amazing! I wanted to create a space where I could engage with this without the pressure that would come from going back to school full time, which I certainly don’t have time for with our hectic Broken Hearts schedule!

VS: You are a pretty well connected lady. Can we expect some exciting guest posts?

AB: I don’t have any plans as yet, as I’m just starting out – but it would be great it if evolved to that stage! I like the idea of creating a platform for people to share their thoughts and work, so I would definitely encourage it in the future.

VS: What other fashion blogs do you like, or even dislike?

AB: My favourite blogs aren’t necessarily about fashion. I love history blogs, like Georgian London, and The Look which is an in depth view of music, style and culture focusing mainly on the 60s and 70s. My friend Russella has one of the funniest blogs I read, Glamorous Gardener which is all about the trials and tribulations of being a fabulous drag queen and a green-fingered gardener extraordinaire. Another friend Marawa is an incredible circus performer – she travels the world spinning her hoops and documents everything she eats along the way on her blog.  But in terms of fashion and style you can’t beat Fred Butler‘s blog, Mademoiselle Robot and Black Dot Cooperative which is always full of inspiration.

VS: We know you are a fan of vintage, but which current designers do you rate?

AB: In my day (and night) job the Broken Hearts we have a lot of our costumes made for us. We especially like Amechi who’s made loads of stuff for us over the years, Ada Zanditon,  and the millinery magic of Piers Atkinson. I love designers that have a sense of drama in their work, and I love historical references too. So I’m really interested in the theatre of Marko Mitanovski and Jayne Pierson. I also like the James Hock collection I saw during Fashion Week – you can read more about it on the Broken Hearts blog.

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