A vintage day out: Leeds town hall vintage fair

Today I decided that I needed a day out. Unfortunately I’ve been stressed out to the max with uni work and unless I am going to university or the post office I have altogether stopped leaving the house. (O.k. I did go to Bristol last weekend, but we’ll discount that) On the plus side this means that all I have been wearing on an almost daily basis is pajamas (no ironing, excellent), but on a negative note I will probably start suffering with some of vitamin D deficiency because I rarely see natural light (I’m only in uni two days a week meaning I really do barely leave the house). This is heightened by the fact that my bedroom is what would have once been the front room of the house, hence I don’t open my curtains. Anyway, that’s enough about the depressiveness of my life! The real point of this is that today I went to a vintage fair, not only that a really rather good one!
So, the location of the vintage fair was Leeds town hall. Which as a venue is somewhere that I totally love. Very Victorian and just very Leeds as well. Whenever the antiques roadshow comes to Leeds this is where they always go.
I cannot recommend this fair HIGHLY enough. Fantastic was not the half of it. The sellers there were all lovely, happy to chat and up for a bit of bartering. Unfortunately due to the precarious state of my bank balance at the moment I had to be a bit restrictive on my spending. I could have bought so much more because prices were (on the part of most sellers) very reasonable. I saw a lot of high quality 50s cotton dresses of the sort I normally by at around the 25-40 price point which I think is pretty good.
For anyone interested in antique clothing and textiles this fair is a must. I actually lost count of the number of genuine Victorian dresses I saw. There was a particularly spectacular purple Victorian silk dress that I was amazed to see there. The condition was fantastic and unusually the silk had not shattered. It was difficult to tell hanging up exactly the age of the dress although the vivid purple of it immediately made me think 1860s, AND it was only £95. If I had had my dealer head on rather than my student head I would definitely have bought it!
First up this little knitted dress which I picked up for the bargain price of £10. The seller whom I bought this from was selling things at pretty amazing prices.  It was marked up as being 70s, but I’m not so sure. Something is saying to me its earlier (unfinished seams inside and a very old looking metal zip). I love chevron designs and this dress is going to be a great little winter piece I think. It’s an excellent fit too!
or Goodlife vintage on facebook
 Then I bought these shoes, again this lady was selling her items at really great prices (£10!)  I vey much regretted not snapping up a pair of crazy 50s cats eye marbled sunglasses for £15. She also had THE most sensational 30s wedding dress which was an almost exact copy of the dress worn by Wallis Simpson in 1937. It was in excellent condition too, whoever snapped that up got an absolute bargain I think.  Nearly all of the images here are from this lady’s stall. Lovely stuff!

 Beads and Bows

And finally my absolute gem of the day. A wonderful 70s Radley dress with a (probably) Celia Birtwell print. When I get a spare five minutes I am going to do a little bit of research into this and try and find out for sure that it is but I’m pretty sure it’s right. The dress is in wonderful condition and fits me like a dream. I’m so happy with it! The seller who I bought this from was wonderful. I can’t enthuse enough about how great her stock was. For someone who rarely does 70s it was a dream. She had lovely Radley pieces as well as some Bus Stop and Ossie Clark. I could have spent a few hundred on her stall alone!

Lady Jane’s vintage bandwagon

This is my outfit for the day, all this not leaving the house means that when I do go out I tend to make an effort! The dress is a Horrockses (what a surprise) and I’m wearing one of my fave pairs of vintage earrings from Brilliant in Kingston (Surrey). The cardi is a non vintage one. It’s from American eagle. I think I’ve had it since I was 12 or 13!

Also, I just thought this was a nice opportunity to throw in a few of my vintage outfits of late! Please ignore the mess of my room in the background of most of the pics. I’m not the tidiest of people at the best of times!
My all time favourite vintage dress (I think). This was the first Horrockses I ever bought, its getting a bit tight on me now but I still adore it. I was actually dancing manically around my room at the time, hence the picture of me jumping off my bed. It’s a pretty good action shot! In the background you can just about see my vintage wardrobe, yes I do have a specific wardrobe for vintage!!!
Ace novelty print 50s American skirt here. The necklace is from one of my fave vintage shops Mela Mela in Teddington
One of my blanes dresses. You may have seen my blue one in a previous post about the last vintage fair I went to.

Valentina: A forgotten legend

So, I’m currently knuckling down hard to final year work. But when I came across the image above I rediscovered a designer I simply couldn’t RESIST but write about, the designer in question is Valentina.
As part of one of my themes this year I am working on trying to use as few seams as possible in my designs. Whilst searching this on Google I stumbled across Valentina, a designer I had heard of but completely forgotten about (and no this isn’t me misspelling Valentino!)
Valentina was  a Russian emigree. Her full name was Valentina Nicholaevna Sanina Schlee but she went by the name “Valentina”. She went to America to pursue a career in dance, but without speaking English this proved to be very difficult. She then chose to puruse a career in looking glamorous, or modeling as one might say! Valentina was undoubtedly an exotic beauty as these pictures prove.
Valentina is a designer of great interest as she was working at a time when Paris totally dominated couture, yet she was working in America and receiving renown for a similar design style to that in Paris (interesting at a time when America was really trying to forge its only distinct style away from the look dictated by Paris) She was the first “celebrity” couturiers in the U.S.A , becoming as renowned as the celebrities she dressed. One of the women whom she dressed was Greta Garbo, who infact had an affair with her husband George Schlee. She was the first designer to really promote the idea of “persona over product” herself appearing on the cover of American Vogue to promote her clothes.
Her work is similar to the likes of Vionnet and Madam Gres. Especially in the 1930s she focused heavily on bias cut and garments which were almost moulded to the body. Looking at her garments from this period you can see the superior construction used. She created often quite simply cut garments but they were always executed to the highest of standards. The look was quite minimalistic without being too basic. The smallest of seemingly insignificant details tended to turn her dresses into something fantastic. I particularly love these two dresses which feature revealing sections. Whilst the 1930s was undoubtedly the decade of the back these show off different areas which would have probably seemed quite daring in the 30s.
What I find fascinating also is the price of her clothes, even in the late 40s her clothes cost between $800 to $1,200 a piece. Her designs were those which event he wealthy would have had to save up for!  Valentina made couture garments in the true sense of couture. Her dresses were really made to fit the wearer, often she would ignore their wishes and chose to make garments which she knew would suit them. She stated, “clothes have little independent existence of their own.” Valentina made her garments so that they enhanced the wearer, and it was clear that the lady was wearing the clothes rather than the other way around.
This is a quotation from her which I really liked and is  very inspiring for my current work;
“To simplify a dress, I make as few seams as possible. And I am forever standing away looking at it, asking myself what I can take away from it rather than what I can add to it.”
She also often designed ensembles which could fit a wide range of sizes. These normally were  created with waist ties which meant the wearer could determine the exact look they wanted for the ensemble. She tended to create garments which were without padding or boning. Her clothes were essentially “unstructured” so that they could mould to the wearer.
For anyone interested to find out more about the designer there is a book Valentina: American Couture and the Cult of Celebrity. The image here is from the exhibition which the book accompanied.
Most of these images come from the Met Museum website, do take a look, some fantastic images available!

Parcels make me happy

Today I am feeling distinctly sorry for myself as I am poorly with a v bad cold. On the plus side my mum was rather sweet and sent me a parcel today that cheered me right up : ). And yes, she really does call me Betty : /

Today I also received two lovely pairs of vintage shoes in the post. Sadly neither fit me (I have small but rather wide feet) so they will simply be added to my “beautiful shoes to stare at lovingly” collection.
The Rayne shoes are particularly fab, the velvet is very soft, I just want to stroke them!