Category Archives: places

Paris in the Spring Part 1: Mandarin Oriental Paris

St Pancras Eurostar

St Pancras Eurostar

At the beginning of May, I was lucky enough to take a wee trip across the Channel to Paris. I think it’s amazing that you can hop on the Eurostar at St Pancras and find yourself at the Gare du Nord in Paris in a matter of hours. We really wanted to make the most of that opportunity before leaving London so on a Sunday morning a few weeks ago we boarded the Eurostar bright and early, and arrived in the French capital just in time for lunch. I’m by no means a Paris expert, but I thought it would be fun to share some of the things we saw, places we went and what we ate, over a few posts.

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Lifework: Norman Parkinson’s Century of Style

Lifework: Norman Parkinson's Century of Style

Lifework: Norman Parkinson's Century of Style

Lifework: Norman Parkinson's Century of Style

Lifework: Norman Parkinson's Century of Style

Norman Parkinson was one of the greatest and most enduring fashion and portrait photographers of the 20th Century. He was an innovator who changed the face of both genres: eschewing the stiffness of the time, his images capture life, spontaneity and character. He photographed everyone from movie stars to models, rock’n’rollers to royals, in an impressive career spanning six decades.

The legendary photographer is subject of a new retrospective at the National Theatre, ‘Lifework: Norman Parkinson’s Century of Style’, which coincides with the centenary of his birth this month. The exhibition traces the photographer’s lengthy career from his first forays into fashion before World War Two to shots taken shortly before his death in 1990.

Lifework: Norman Parkinson's Century of Style

Lifework: Norman Parkinson's Century of Style

Lifework: Norman Parkinson's Century of Style

This collection of Parkinson’s most striking images makes it clear why many consider him the father of modern fashion photography. So many of his creations could leap from the pages of a magazine today because he actually introduced many of the motifs we now consider to define the genre: juxtapositions, unexpected props and far-flung locations. Parkinson’s pictures tell a story, marrying fantasy and escapism with a natural and easy elegance. This is, after all, the balancing act of fashion photography – it gives us just enough of a hook to make believe, yet conveys an otherworldly ideal. Parkinson found beauty in the ordinary and made it extraordinary.

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Lifework: Norman Parkinson's Century of Style

Lifework: Norman Parkinson's Century of Style

Lifework: Norman Parkinson's Century of Style

As well as being famous for taking fashion photography out of the studio and into a new fantastical realm (as well as for his impressive moustache), Parkinson is probably best known for his now iconic images of high profile subjects. A favourite of the Royals, and a regular at Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, he soon came to the attention of some of the most eminent personalities of his day, from the Beatles to David Bowie.

He was somehow able to capture the character of his sitters and convey something about them – maybe it was his own larger-than-life persona and sense of fun that enabled this insight. Either way, his images are an important cultural record, particularly in light of the modern-day notion of ‘celebrity’ that had begun to dawn during his time.

Lifework: Norman Parkinson's Century of Style

Lifework: Norman Parkinson's Century of Style

Lifework: Norman Parkinson's Century of Style

Parkinson’s greatest skill over six decades was reinvention: from fashion to wartime reconnaissance to portrait photography, he was truly the master of his medium and his legacy is still felt today.

The exhibition itself is well-curated, covering the full range of Parkinson’s work and giving a sense of his sheer prolificness. I really enjoy smaller-scale exhibitions in less-likely locations such as this. The atmosphere of the National Theatre was relaxed and we were able to take in the exhibition at our own pace, aided by the snippets of information on offer. I’d thoroughly recommend a visit before the retrospective finishes in mid-May. The BBC has a new Arena documentary about his life and work (directed by Nicola Roberts and set to air on 21 April – I can’t wait!) and designer Roland Mouret has also curated an exhibition to mark the centenary with Bath in Fashion. Clearly the idiosyncratic photographer’s enduring appeal shows no signs of waning.

Lifework: Norman Parkinson's Century of Style

Lifework: Norman Parkinson's Century of Style

Lifework: Norman Parkinson's Century of Style

We’ll definitely be paying a trip to the National Theatre again, it’s a fantastic venue. The South Bank is one of my favourite places in London and as we were nearby, we took the opportunity to wander along the river to the Tate as well. Sadly the Roy Lichtenstein exhibition was sold out until much later in the day but we paid a long-overdue visit to The Tanks instead. This space in the underground chambers of the Tate recently opened and plays host to a programme of performances and events. Formerly an oil store, this is one very industrial space, which I’m sure is intended to juxtapose artily with the displays – it was venue to a number of fashion shows during LFW. I’d recommend a trip before it shuts soon while they expand the building above.

The Tanks, Tate Modern

The Tanks, Tate Modern

The Tanks, Tate Modern

The Tanks, Tate Modern

Never one to miss an opportunity to try out a new baking haunt, we also took a little detour to visit Konditor & Cook in Waterloo, as I’ve heard only good things about their cakes. After much deliberation I went for the apple crumble tart and Al had the almond St Clement’s, which were both delicious. They also have shops at Borough Market, Soho, Chancery Lane and the Gherkin and I highly recommend a sweet treat if you’re near any of those places. They also have a cake hotline… now that’s dedication to baking!

Konditor and Cook

Lifework: Norman Parkinson's Century of Style

Fashion, art and cake – a day well spent if you ask me.

Lifework: Norman Parkinson’s Century of Style is open at the Lyttleton Exhibition Space at the National Theatre from 1 March until 12 May.

Camden Passage Market

Camden Passage Market

Camden Passage Market

Camden Passage Market

Camden Passage Market

Camden Passage Market

Camden Passage Market

Camden Passage Market

There’s nothing I enjoy more than visiting a market at the weekend, perusing the rails and hunting for unexpected vintage treasures just waiting to be found. However, particularly at some of the trendier London retro hotspots (East London, I’m looking at you), the crowds can put me off the prospect entirely. Don’t get me wrong, I love these markets too (and I’ll make sure to blog about them soon) but sometimes you just have to be in the right frame of mind for them, and willing to ignore a certain amount of posing occurring around you! Camden Passage Market sometimes gets forgotten about alongside the bigger, busier markets, particularly its nearby sibling Camden Stables Market, but it’s one of my all-time favourites because of its village feel – altogether more manageable in size, more laid-back in ambiance and offering a high quality and great variety of vintage goods.

Due to the snow this weekend the stalls at Camden Passage Market were a little less full than usual I thought, although last time I visited, it was bustling in the height of Summer! I was particularly drawn to the vintage jewels (magpie at heart), cute floral frocks and the most amazing tiny little shop filled to the rafters with antique crockery – piles upon piles of cups and saucers balanced precariously.

Camden Passage Market

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One of the things I love about Camden Passage is the beautiful antique shops and independent boutiques alongside the stalls – the market is after all only really there on a Wednesday and Saturday. This includes one of my favourite ever vintage shops, Fat Faced Cat, which has a brilliantly edited selection of vintage finds. Filled with unique items – such as quirky old books (I loved the Home Guide to Nursing above), kooky knits (just look at that reindeer jumper) and perfectly preserved blouses and dresses (I liked the pink polka dot number) – Fat Faced Cat does the hard work for you. The quality is really great, but premium vintage such as this does come at a price! If money were no object I would happily spend away in here, but it’s well worth a trip simply for masses of inspiration. They have a fantastic selection of menswear too, vintage-loving menfolk take heed!

Issy's Milky Way Camden

Issy's Milky Way Camden

Camden Passage Market

Issy's Milky Way Camden

Issy's Milky Way Camden

Issy's Milky Way Camden

Another big attraction of Camden Passage is the cute coffee shops and eateries lining the streets, almost as many as there are antique shops; ideal for a spot of relaxed weekend browsing and café-hopping. Issy’s Milky Way is the perfect place to refuel between shops and stalls. Inspired by ’50s diners and all things Americana, this unique milkshake bar is a ray of sunshine. The banana milkshake comes highly recommended, and the cakes were seriously yummy! I loved the décor – tongue-in-cheek and authentic down to the last detail, it was a masterclass in kitsch. Just look at that cat clock! So wrong it’s somehow right?

Issy's Milky Way Camden

Issy's Milky Way Camden

Issy's Milky Way Camden

Issy's Milky Way Camden

Issy's Milky Way Camden

I can’t wait to go back and explore some more! Lastly, if you’re in the area then Ottolenghi‘s on nearby Upper Street comes highly recommended. We had the most amazing brunch – I had a deliciously spicy Shakshuka and Al had the tasty (and substantial!) cinnamon French toast.

Ottlolenghi Islington

Ottlolenghi Islington

Ottlolenghi Islington

Ottlolenghi Islington

Lovecrumbs Edinburgh

Lovecrumbs Edinburgh

Lovecrumbs Edinburgh

Lovecrumbs Edinburgh

Lovecrumbs Edinburgh

Lovecrumbs Edinburgh

Yes, that is a wardrobe FULL OF CAKE.

Having heard only good things about Lovecrumbs in Edinburgh, it was top of my list of places to go when I was home for Christmas. And it was certainly worth the wee wait! This cosy tearoom in Edinburgh’s West Port (just along from the Grassmarket) is a haven for cake lovers, tea addicts and vintage aficionados alike. The brainchild of lovely lady bakers Rachel and Hollie, Lovecrumbs is the icing on the cake (!) of Edinburgh’s excellent baking scene. They sell a variety of bakes and cakes as well as tea from Anteaques, coffee by Artisan Roast and hot chocolate from Coco.

Lovecrumbs Edinburgh

Lovecrumbs Edinburgh

Lovecrumbs Edinburgh

Lovecrumbs Edinburgh

Lovecrumbs Edinburgh

With their unique flavour combinations, Lovecrumbs’ bakes tasted even better than they looked (click here and drool). After much umming and ahhing, I went for the festive white chocolate and chestnut tart (the chestnut purée really gave the chocolate a lovely depth of flavour) and the deliciously spicy orange, chilli and clove hot chocolate. Al had an apricot scone and violet tea (complete with a thermos of boiling water for refills!) which was seriously yummy.

The atmosphere is relaxed and homely, just like an old friend’s front room. For me the pleasure was in the details – mismatched furniture, vintage teacups and retro utensils. All this contrasted with the almost industrial, stripped-back décor with exposed beams and pillars, which kept things modern and avoided the risk of looking twee.

Lovecrumbs Edinburgh

Lovecrumbs Edinburgh

Lovecrumbs Edinburgh

Lovecrumbs Edinburgh

Lovecrumbs Edinburgh

Lovecrumbs Edinburgh

Lovecrumbs Edinburgh

Lovecrumbs Edinburgh

Lovecrumbs Edinburgh

Lovecrumbs Edinburgh

This was the first of two visits whilst I was at home – if I lived in Edinburgh, you’d have to keep me away!

You can find Lovecrumbs at 155 West Port, as well as the Drill Hall Food Market (Out of the Blue Drill Hall, 36, Dalmeny St, Leith). They also offer a wholesale service and make cakes to order for events, including bespoke wedding and celebration cakes. Click here to follow them on twitter and here to like them on Facebook!

Lovecrumbs Edinburgh

Lovecrumbs Edinburgh

The West Port is one of my favourite parts of the city – it’s filled with brilliant vintage and antique shops, including Edinburgh stalwart Herman Brown. Here are a few shots of ‘Cabaret’, one of my favourite vintage shops, which deserves a post of its own!

Soho’s Secret Tea Room

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I’m always on the look out for new places to go and different things to do and see in London, attempting to add at least one new discovery to my list each weekend, whether it’s a new route to a familiar place, a quirky boutique, an exciting new place to eat or just somewhere cosy to while away an afternoon. Soho’s Secret Tea Room was one such weekend discovery. This gorgeous vintage-inspired tea room is an absolute delight tucked away above one of London’s most famous pubs (reportedly the first veggie pub in London) the Coach & Horses on Greek Street. There’s something exciting and a little bit mysterious about going behind the bar (if you’re lucky and they have a free table!) and ascending the rickety staircase to the hidden tea room – like entering a different era.

I’d read about the Secret Tea Room before we visited and although it didn’t get five star reviews I thought that the retro concept sounded intriguing. I definitely wasn’t disappointed. Everything had clearly been thought out with such care and attention to detail, from the vintage crockery and tableware to the trinkets and treasures decorating the room. The kitsch tablecloths and lace doilies, floral cups and saucers, photos and pictures decorating the walls in vintage frames (including my favourite – the vintage covers of Private Eye) and the stunning red record player (playing retro music of course) all contributed to a unique ambiance. The Secret Tea Room was perfectly cosy too – just like visiting the familiar front room of a friend. The service was warm and friendly, which added to the homely feel of the place.

And not to forget the food of course! The homemade scones were a highlight for me (they came with scrummy homemade jam and clotted cream), and paired with the range of expertly selected leaf teas (16 in total!) made for the perfect afternoon tea. If it was up to me, I would have gone for retro bakes to match the surroundings, but the contrast of the more modern pastries and cakes with the vintage environment added something to the experience. I do prefer my cakes a little daintier too (we had the afternoon tea selection for two) as I found I was nearly full after just the scone, but if you like your afternoon tea a little more substantial then this will be right up your street! The tea itself was delicious, and perfectly brewed thanks to the timers that came with each pot.

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Soho's Secret Tea Room

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For our trip to the Secret Tea Room and then Highgate’s Christmas Fair I wore my Whistles red and black flecked jumper with leather details, which hasn’t been off my back since I got it in October. I wore it with my faux leather pleated skirt, tweed Crombie coat and ankle boots. This faux fur Cossack hat dresses up even the most simple of outfits, and paired with the tailored coat and leather details I felt it gave the look a smart, military twist.

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I’ll leave you with a few snaps from the Highgate Christmas Fair. They had camels and baby reindeer… Need I say more!

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The Pringle Archive Project 1815-2011







Luxury knitwear doesn’t get more iconic than Pringle of Scotland. The heritage company, founded in 1815, has recently collaborated with London’s top fashion school Central St Martins.

In recent years, the tradition-focused brand has been updated with vibrant colour and modern cuts, first by Creative Director Claire Waight Keller and then by former Balenciaga designer and recently appointed Creative Director Alistair Carr. Still faithful to the brand’s traditional roots, the updated offerings have proven a hit and this most recent collaboration encapsulates Pringle’s unique take on modern heritage.

Pringle of Scotland has an established collaborative relationship with CSM: earlier this year, BA Fashion History & Theory students were involved in the archive project researching and cataloguing the company archive at Pringle HQ in Hawick. Supervised by course director Alistair O’Neill, students examined archive pieces, images, printed memorabilia and British Pathe footage and held a delightful ‘Day of Record’ where 300 local residents brought anything Pringle-related along.

The creation of the brand’s iconic Argyle pattern and popularisation of the twinset are key moments not just for Pringle but for fashion generally. The knitwear’s growing reputation is charted via the long-time association with women’s sportswear, especially golf, and the endorsement of the Royal Family. The findings of this research are currently on display at the Pringle of Scotland 1815 – 2011 Exhibition with a fascinating selection of photographs. It really showed how fashionable and youthful the brand was in the 60s and 70s at odds with the prim and proper connotations the label has tried to shift in recent years.

CSM MA Fashion students were asked to design a capsule collection of knitwear based on the archive findings for the second part of the project. Five students’ designs make up the collection of womens and menswear. Although the students worked independently, there is a sense of continuity to the collection: students enjoyed experimenting with the twinset and argyle print. The collection is certainly true to Pringle of Scotland’s roots, reinterpreting the archive in a vibrant and contemporary style.

The collection by MA students is on tour as a pop-up shop around the country and is currently housed on the second floor at Harvey Nichols Edinburgh until Wednesday 24 August – if you haven’t seen it yet then I’d strongly encourage you to go along. A fascinating exhibit of the brand’s unique history, it is encouraging to see such a show of support to emerging talent.


Beautiful archive pieces



Vintage Festival 2011

Apologies if you’ve been looking on here and there’s been nothing new for ages, I had to take a little break from blogging as we had no internet in the flat in London and we were just so busy! However, this also means lots of exciting things to blog about which I look forward to sharing with you now that I’m back in Scotland and have access to the internet.

The last weekend of July saw the Vintage Festival take over London’s Southbank Centre, with all six floors of the Royal Festival Hall transformed into a celebration of all things vintage, retro and British. In a time where summer is now synonymous with music festivals, The Vintage Festival is a refreshing concept, which joins fashion and music in a truly unique event.

Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway first imagined the concept in 2007 and along with the Hemingway Design Team and experts from Wolverhampton University worked to create an authentic celebration of all things creative, especially British fashion, music and art, which first ran in August 2010 as ‘Vintage at Goodwood’.

Tickets for students were only £30 (50% off) and as ticket holders we gained earlier access to the vintage marketplace. The marketplace and vintage high street were both free, which we didn’t know beforehand – a tip if you’re on a budget next year, as this gave a flavour of the festival. Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair (which I discovered earlier this year when they came to St Andrews) curated the 150 traders who brought fashion, collectables, furniture and homeware to the Southbank. The eclectic offerings, high quality and reasonable pricing were testament to the success of Judy’s ethos. The vintage high street had some adorable pop-up shops such as Cath Kidston and a Batiste hair salon (a great idea which meant half the festival were sporting beehives and Marcel waves!)

Vintage Marketplace

Loving the Vintage Marketplace with my bargains (details to follow...)

Gorgeous vintage Fendi sunglasses

Vintage tea room

Vintage Funfair

Cath Kidston shop on the vintage high street

Old stamps decorated one wall

Al and I enjoying a stroll around the sunny vintage marketplace

More fabulous vintage inside the Royal Festival Hall (there were some real gems in here!)

…such as this amazing Dior jacket
…and this Chanel dress (£85!)

There was this stunning Chanel tweet suit too.

The Royal Festival Hall was dressed up to evoke the spirit of eras past in a stunning series of themed venues in homage to decades from the 1920s to the 1980s. The Studio 1970s bar and balcony DJ (complete with disco balls) seemed to have the greatest allure, packed with people from midday sun to well past midnight. Seventies classics (with just the right amount of cheese) kept us dancing, and the sunshine and stunning views were an added bonus. Another highlight was the Warehouse rave, set up in the loading bay of the BFI. They managed to make it feel like it was the early hours of the morning during the late afternoon and the atmosphere was electric.

Throughout the day, creative workshops and decade appropriate entertainment kept festivalgoers amused with themed bars and restaurants, craft classes, and the vintage funfair. Vintage favourites such as The Chap Olympiad and best in show parades joined Southbank regulars such as the food market, given a special vintage twist for the weekend.

If you enjoy people-watching then there was ample opportunity at Vintage 2011. The effort that so many Vintage attendees had gone to was just fantastic, donning their vintage Sunday best in homage to their chosen decades. Street style snappers were prolific and in the surrounding areas you could quickly spot who was on the way to the festival.

1950s Rock 'n' Roll Diner

Crafts area

The Bonneville Barons (amazing!!!)

The 70s balcony bar was a definite highlight

Retro midori and gin cocktail (and Al's Laphroaig)

Pretty much the perfect day

The Torch Club was brilliant - The Clore Ballroom was transformed into a stunning venue for vintage dance

The Warehouse

There was also a vintage fashion show organised on the Saturday by Jo Wood, boasting the best of her personal vintage collection. I knew there would be some impressive pieces in there as I’ve read about her vintage habit before. Just the right amount of sparkle, simple styling and a sense of fun made for the perfect addition to the day. There were a few organisational issues that the Vintage Festival could iron out before next year, but I appreciate that people management in such a setting can be a challenge.








There was so much to do and see, and the authenticity of every detail made for a truly memorable day. As regular readers will know, I am a big fan of all things retro, so I am incredibly lucky to have been able to attend the Vintage Festival. It was tricky trying to decide which decade to use for my outfit but I eventually plumped for the 1970s. I wore a vintage 70s C&A floral dress I picked up at the Vintage Kilo Sale (more on that soon) with a floppy 70s style hat from New Look and leopard belt and patent loafers from Topshop.

floppy hat! (note the beautiful turquoise Ossie Clark dress to the right)

Peter Pan collar detail and close-up of pattern