Archive | August 2015

Une Jolie Boutique

On a beautiful hot, summers day my friend and I arrived with sea legs via the Thames Clipper in leafy, historic Greenwich.  After making our way through the thriving market area with many colourful and interesting stalls, we came out on Nelson Road to discover an intriguing shop owned by someone my friend used to work with. The shop is called Joli Vintage Living (Joli being a clever combination of the owner and her son’s names) with the added bonus of being like the French word ‘Jolie’ meaning pretty. The quirky shop, selling all things vintage, opened around two and a half months ago. The owner, Jo, used to work in charity shops for Save the Children and The Maypole Project. She has always had a love for vintage things and previously had her own shop that she had to give up due to family commitments; now her son has encouraged her to once again follow her heart. She selected Greenwich for its diversity in terms of people from every nationality and a good mix of tourists and locals.


As we entered the store the sweet sound of a baby grand piano welcomed us. You feel like you have been transported back in time as you are surrounded by beautiful furniture and crockery, some of which has been previously sold in high end stores such as Harrods. This then gives way to jewellery, bags and other accessories. As we made our way through to outside there is a back yard, harbouring many more classic items including an old highchair and pram, a stunning dolls house and a London bus stop sign as well as a rail of clothes.







Heading downstairs via a staircase decorated with London scenes on each step; a nod to the tourist clientele as well as vintage posters down the wall such as an advert for Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s there was the distinct sound of a vintage record player, before we reached two further rooms with more furniture and a host of clothes, shoes and bags. Everything is displayed expertly, with clothes ordered by era; it is like an Aladdin’s cave – every time you look, you see something new. Jo sources at auctions mainly as well as doing commission sales; EBay is not for her as she prefers to see items in the flesh so you know exactly what you are getting.





The shop began with furniture and home accessories but fairly swiftly branched into clothing when the demand for it became clear. Currently 80’s and 90’s stock is flying off the rails. I asked Jo what she thought the best era for fashion was and she thought the 50’s were very elegant but the 60’s and 70’s stand out for her due to the new found freedom people had. I couldn’t resist this beautiful dress, which although new, has been made in a 1960’s style. Currently I can’t quite fit into it but there is some motivation for the diet.


The most interesting pieces she had when I visited were the baby grand piano which attracted many a budding musician to tinkle the ivories; and some London traffic lights.

Only a short boat or train ride from Central London, a summer trip to Greenwich is a must on any tourists bucket list and this shop is not to be missed. The shop opening times are below:

Monday closed

Tue-Sat 11-6

Sun 10-6

Please visit the shops Facebook page for the latest arrivals. Happy rummaging!

Dizzy Heights

When I turned 30 two years ago I felt like I had reached a peak with nothing but a large descent into old age ahead of me.  I thought that birthdays would simply become more and more depressing. How wrong you can be! Since turning 30 my life has only got more interesting and fulfilling. Yes 30 brings with it fine lines and grey hairs as well as a difficulty in shifting those extra pounds from over indulgence but at the same time a new sense of acceptance of who you are and how you look means there is a lot less anxiety. Suddenly what other people will think becomes less of a restraint and we begin to please ourselves more.  What clothes size we fit into or that spot on our face becomes less of an obsession and we make way for simply enjoying ourselves and grabbing every opportunity that comes our way.  Having tick boxes is a great motivator but as an article I was reading the other day said, these should all be things we want to do and not things we think we should do at our age. A survey by the Huffington Post concluded we are most happy at the age of 33. With all this in mind I am looking forward to flying through the next 8 years by the seat of my pants and having many new experiences to write about before as the saying goes ‘life begins at 40!’

By way of celebration of my birthday this year I decided that to arrange a big event would be too much like hard work, so instead I had a number of mini parties; the first of which was the preceding weekend.

A friend and I attended Cocktails in the City which took place in Bedford Square Gardens in central London. This event comprises of 25 London cocktail bars coming together with pop up stalls, along with street food sellers and entertainers to create a festival with a difference.

Those of you of a similar age to me will fondly recall Sex and the City – my love of this series deepened my already growing love of cocktails. The exact definition of a cocktail as well as the origin of the word is unclear however the first recorded use of cocktail to describe an alcoholic beverage was in 1806. Over the year’s popularity of cocktails had waned until the mid 2000’s when mixology suddenly came to the fore of fashion again and more and more complex cocktails were made. You can’t help but feel glamourous with a martini glass in your hand.

Our £15 entrance ticket included a guide to the event and one free drink. I headed straight for The Craft Cocktail Company from Bethnal Green for a cointreaupolitan, being that like my nemesis Carrie Bradshaw, my cocktail of choice is generally a cosmopolitan. I was not disappointed with this twist on the classic drink – however it tasted less like alcohol and more like fruit juice which ensured it didn’t last long!

There were presentations throughout the day and we chose to sit in on one entitled The Motorcycle Diaries. The Motorcycle Diaries was a 2004 film where two friends travel around South America on their bikes so this session focused on alcohol that is local to South America. I dragged my friend to a front row seat – determined to be front of the queue for any possible tastings. I was invited up to the stage to make a Pisco sour. Pisco is a brandy made in Chilie and Peru and on its own it is horrible, what I imagine paint stripper to taste like. I was instructed to put a small measure of Pisco into the cup – naturally my small measure is probably most people’s definition of large and the guy found this quite funny. I then added lemon and lime juice. The final ingredient which I was rather sceptical of was egg white which apparently makes it a smooth drink. It was then time to shake the cocktail and the people leading the session claimed that your face when shaking a cocktail is your sex face! I then poured the mixture into a previously chilled glass and topped with bitters. It was such a laugh doing this and I got to keep the cocktail afterwards which was actually quite delicious. Various other drinks were made by people and then we all left with a complimentary margarita shot.

Cocktail making

By now we were well away and decided that food might be a sensible option. This would be my only criticism of the event as for hot food only pulled pork was left by 3pm which my friend sampled and I had cold chicken with tomato salad.

I found my favourite bar – Trailer Happiness, Portobello Road, otherwise known as the Bacardi bar! When not drinking cocktails, wine or bubbly; Bacardi has always been my spirit of choice. We were given a small balloon to hand to our favourite bar so mine went to them before I even tried my drink. My Bacardi cocktail had a fabulous garnish on it with a banana leaf and a flower.


One of the bars, Barrio had set up a table and paints for you to paint a wall tile that will be used in one of their branches. It was really relaxing to put some head phones on and just let the creativity flow.




Next we visited The Rivoli Bar at the Ritz and indulged in champagne.





Next stop, we visited Loves Company, a Tia Maria stand which had a pop up beach and we relaxed in a deck chair whilst enjoying a salted caramel cocktail.




Beach fun

To finish up we both had a repeat of the drink we chose on arrival.  It was a beautiful sunny day and a great way to relax on a Sunday afternoon after a busy week at work. For the event I wore a green dress from Torza boutique with leggings and my trusty oasis flip flops.


The Saturday before my birthday, my husband and I went to our favourite restaurant in Rainham, Eight which I have mentioned on here before. For this I wore a grey polka dot dress which I got from Pink Flamingo in Rochester; it is a little daring for me so I wore a white basic vest top underneath. Grey can be a depressing colour so to lift the outfit I wore my red LK Bennett wedges.

Eight outfit

On the Sunday we had a nice family tea at Mums. Mum made me a coffee and walnut cake which is my favourite and she decorated it with an Audrey Hepburn icing plaque as we enjoyed the exhibition the other week so much; see I Believe in Pink blog.


On my actual birthday – I took the day off work as usual (I never went to school on it so why should I have to work it?) and Mum and I went to Rochester. Rochester is my new go to place. I adore looking around the unusual and vintage shops. We ate lunch at an Italian restaurant and then rather than ordering pudding went to Fleur de The – a beautiful shabby chic café/shop and enjoyed coffee and scones. I couldn’t resist purchasing 2 miniature cups and saucers with a butterfly motif on them from there.



The Saturday after my birthday I went with my friend to Greenwich. Our birthdays are only a fortnight apart so as a joint celebration we decided to climb The O2. The O2 is a large tent like construction which was built as The Millennium Dome to celebrate the start of the third millennium and reopened as The O2 in 2005. It was constructed with Greenwich’s role in time and date in mind. It has a diameter of 365m (equal to number of days in the year). It has 12 yellow support towers (representing either 12 calendar months or 12 hours on standard clock face). The dome is 52m high at its central point (representative of the 52 weeks in a year). The climb is a 190 metres tensile fabric walkway over the top of the Dome with a central platform at the top with 360 degree views of London. It was quite a challenge as going up the walkway is 28 degrees steep and coming down 30 degrees. The fabric is also quite springy like a trampoline. The views at the top make it well worth undertaking though – you can see Canary Wharf, The Gherkin and the Olympic Park amongst other sites.


Afterwards we ventured into central Greenwich on a Thames Clipper which I had never been on before. These are high speed catamarans and I don’t think I have ever travelled on water so fast; they have a maximum speed of 28 Knots.  Once there we got lunch at a pub in the market area and soaked up the cosmopolitan atmosphere. We then discovered a wealth of unusual, quirky shops and visited her friend’s new vintage store, Joli Vintage Living. Look out for a future blog all about this fab store.

There will be one more chance to celebrate at the end of August as for my gift; my husband bought me day tickets to the V Festival so look out for an upcoming blog on that too.

Enjoy the summer!

I Believe in Pink

One sunny Saturday in July, my Mum and I visited the National Portrait Gallery in London to see an Audrey Hepburn exhibition. Audrey was a fashion and film star and according to People’s magazine one of the top 50 most beautiful women in the world. Perhaps what made her so beautiful was her innocence, shyness and vulnerability; she never saw herself as beautiful.

Audrey Hepburn by Bud Fraker, for ‘Sabrina’, Paramount Pictures, 1954

Audrey Hepburn by Bud Fraker, for ‘Sabrina’, Paramount Pictures, 1954

The exhibition documents the film stars life through more than 70 images, many previously unseen – consisting of photographs, film stills and vintage magazine covers. Also displayed are a pair of her leather ballet shoes.

Audrey Hepburn on location in Africa for The Nun’s Story by Leo Fuchs, 1958 ©Leo Fuchs

Audrey Hepburn on location in Africa for The Nun’s Story by Leo Fuchs, 1958 ©Leo Fuchs

Audrey died in 1993 in Switzerland with her two sons and partner by her side. Now, over 20 years later – she still remains an incredible icon; as an actress, a fasionista and a humanitarian for her work with UNICEF which she became a special ambassador of in 1988. She is a truly inspirational woman and a positive role model for women everywhere. After her death, Italian shoe designer, Salvatore Ferrugamo created a ballet pump style shoe named after her.

Audrey was born in 1929 in Belgium, although through her father she was a British Citizen. She was an accomplished ballet dancer who was dancing by the age of 5, however her ballet teachers deemed her too tall to make a profession of it.

Dance recital photograph by Manon van Suchtelen, 1942 ©Reserved

Dance recital photograph by Manon van Suchtelen, 1942 ©Reserved

Her father abandoned the family when she was young and he and her mother later divorced in 1935. In 1937 Audrey and her mother moved to Kent where she attended a small private school in Eltham. Upon the breakout of World War 2, Audrey and her mother fled to her mother’s native country, the Netherlands; falsely believing that they would be safer there. Audrey adopted a Dutch name so as to not stand out. They lived in Arnhem which I myself have visited and seen the bridge that was the centre of the battle of Arnhem; see previous blog. Audrey danced to raise money for the Dutch resistance and couriered letters for them. Times were hard with problems with supplies getting through and Audrey suffered malnutrition as well as depression. This perhaps inspired her later work with UNICEF. After the war they moved to Amsterdam. She then travelled to London where she continued with her study of ballet and also did some modelling.   In 1948 she became a chorus girl in London’s West End.

She had numerous small film roles during the early 50’s as well as becoming the face of Lux soap. The first thing people probably remember her for was her performance in Gigi on Broadway in 1951. In 1953 she landed the lead role in a film called Roman Holiday for which she received numerous awards and this could be said to have launched her career.

For me one of her most famous roles was as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s which was at the height of Audrey’s career in 1961. There were people that thought her taking this role was risky due to the characters loose morals. The film is about transformation and the American dream and of course Audrey’s own life can be seen to have followed a Cinderella theme as did many of her film roles.

Image courtesy of The Daily Mail

Image courtesy of The Daily Mail

Her relationship with Givenchy, the Parisian courtier began with the film Sabrina, when pre-production in 1953 she visited him in Paris and used some of his samples for her character in the film. He was never given credit for Sabrina but Audrey made sure his name was always mentioned on her future films. She had a unique style and knew what features she wanted to emphasis; as Chanel says ‘Fashion changes, but style endures’.  What began as a business relationship became much more than that and they remained friends right up until her death. She often described him as her psychiatrist. My favourite picture from the exhibition was this one of her in a pink Givenchy dress.

Audrey Hepburn photographed wearing Givenchy by Norman Parkinson, 1955 © Norman Parkinson Ltd/Courtesy Norman Parkinson Archive

Audrey Hepburn photographed wearing Givenchy by Norman Parkinson, 1955 © Norman Parkinson Ltd/Courtesy Norman Parkinson Archive

For this day I wore a pair of wide leg trousers from Oasis. These form part of their current collection which is a collaboration with the V&A museum (a museum close to my heart since the Alexander McQueen exhibition and Shoes: Pleasure and Pain ).  The museum gave Oasis some historical prints from its archives for them to bring to life in a new collection. This particular print is an 18th century print by London-based designer, William Kilburn. I coordinated this with a simple pink vest top from Oasis as I wanted the trousers to be the stand out piece of the outfit. For shoes I matched the background navy colour with these navy, suede Mary Janes which my Mum kindly treated me to in M&S on one of our shopping trips. I like to match shoes and bag and this navy Hobo, also from Oasis is stylish as well as practical – with room for all your bits and bobs. The outfit was finished off with my tribute to Audrey Hepburn – a small tiara like the one Holly wears in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Unfortunately I didn’t quite master the beehive to match.





I wanted to also share my Mum’s outfit of the day as I thought that she looked great too. She wore some beautiful LK Bennett shoes with an M&S blue broderie anglaise dress and accessorized with a LK Bennett clutch bag.


After the exhibition; we continued the glamour and got a black cab to Doubletree by Hilton, Westminster hotel where we enjoyed a pink afternoon tea. We were greeted with pink champagne and our tea was then brought out in a wooden box which didn’t really have the same appeal as the tiered cake stands which are usually provided. Unfortunately this was not one of my favourite teas – being somewhat of an afternoon tea queen as there were only a few sandwiches and the cakes were not really to my taste. The pink theme was consistent however, as along with the usual assortment of sandwiches and scones, there was a pink cone with cream in it, a tart with a pink macaroon on and a champagne truffle sprinkled with pink sugar. I have to admit it was good value for money given that it was under £30 for the two of us.



All in all we had a lovely day as we always do when we get together.

There are many famous quotes from Audrey, my favourite being ‘nothing is impossible, even the word says I’m possible.’ My inspiration for the title of this blog came from the quote ‘I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.’ If this quote isn’t a mantra for all women to live their lives by then I don’t know what is.

The Audrey exhibition runs until 18th October and is definitely worth a visit.

Shoes Pleasure and Pain

On American Independence day, I visited the Victoria and Albert Museum in London with my friend to see the Shoes: Pleasure and Pain exhibition. I had been looking forward to this for weeks as it is certainly an exhibition made for me; my idea of heaven.  


High & Mighty shoot, American Vogue February 1995 (model: Nadja Auermann) Dolce & Gabbana suit, Summer 1995 © Estate of Helmut Newton / Maconochie Photography Image courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum, London

I’m sure women everywhere can identify with the fine line between pleasure and pain that shoes often occupy. How many times have we worn a fab pair of heels dancing and ended up crippled by the end of the night and sometimes even walked home in bare feet? So why do we do it? Shoes have the power to make us feel differently about ourselves, that’s why.

Status is often implied by the shoes we wear – when we see a flash of a red soled Louboutin – we know the person has not only class but money. History also supports shoes as symbols of status with royalty wearing heels to tower above their subjects and geisha shoes with their huge platforms that elevate the geisha to quite a height so that they were in the eye line of men and above other women.  Talking of platform shoes, on display at the exhibition were the famous Vivienne Westwood blue mock-croc platforms which Naomi Campbell fell over on the catwalk in during a Paris fashion show in 1993.


Installation view of Shoes: Pleasure and Pain 13 June 2015 – 31 January 2016 Christian Louboutin ‘Pigalle’ pump Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Heels make us walk differently – they thrust our hips forward and elongate our legs which is seen as attractive to men, hence shoes often being seen as fetish objects.

An entire outfit can be changed by the choice of shoes – how many times have we borrowed a pair of heels in a dress shop in order to get a true impression of the dress?

Personally I feel that heels make my silhouette appear to be thinner and therefore I feel more self-confident. There is the added bonus that once we reach adulthood our feet don’t change size so they always fit however many chocolates you have eaten! I have often been shopping and resolved to buy nothing, having had my self-confidence shattered by the mirrors in the changing rooms to only then purchase a pair of shoes to cheer myself up.

I felt as though I should wear some nice shoes for the exhibition, which gave me an excuse to purchase a new pair! (Not that I need an excuse). I had read an interview in Look magazine with Kat Maconie, a British shoe designer who launched in 2009, and I was inspired to check out her collection. I purchased these stylish black sandals with chain ankle strap and the must have block heel. I wore them with an embroidered playsuit from Boohoo. I must admit I am a convert to the playsuit trend since purchasing this one. In the past I have found them not to suit my build particularly well but thought I would try again since stars such as Ella Henderson look fab in them without being stick thin. I am so pleased I did as this black one complements my curves and the embroidery is so pretty and unusual. I used my red quilted bag from Fashion Union to complement the red embroidery.


shoe box


The exhibition contains around 250 pairs of shoes and looks at the history of shoes, the basics of making them, the fairy-tale quality of shoes, shoes as tools of seduction as well as our obsession with them and contains a sample of some shoe collectors hoards, as well as many shoes from the museums archives.   There is a pair of Imelda Marcos’s shoes – she infamously had a collection of some three thousand pairs. It has been suggested that her obsession may have been born out of the denial of shoes when she lived in a garage with her ailing mother as a child.   Interestingly the collections were not all of designer shoes and one in particular contained lots of high street labels.

There was a video running shots of shoes from movies and my favourite scene of Big proposing to Carrie with the blue Manolo’s I wore for my wedding was amongst them, although I was disappointed that the shoe itself was not part of the exhibition   There were however a few pairs of Manolo’s there and also a Jimmy Choo shoe which Carrie wore in an episode of Sex and the City. There was also a pair of white stilettos worn by Marilyn Monroe.

My Manolo Blahnik wedding shoes

My Manolo Blahnik wedding shoes


Installation view of Shoes: Pleasure and Pain 13 June 2015 – 31 January 2016 Manolo Blahnik ‘Tendola’ sandal, 2014 Victoria and Albert Museum, London

There is no doubt that shoes have power over our emotions but in fairy tales their magical qualities have been explored. At the exhibition were the red ballet shoe worn in the film, The Red Shoes, released in 1948. In this film a young ballerina joins an established ballet company and is chosen for the lead role in the ballet called The Red Shoes which is based on the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale first published in 1845 about the red ballet shoes that danced by themselves. In the film the girl is torn between her love of ballet and her romantic love, which when she chooses the man, she dies wearing the red shoes.


Red ballet shoes made for Victoria Page (Moira Shearer) in The Red Shoes (1948), silk satin, braid and leather, England 1948 Freed of London (founded in 1929), Photograph reproduced with the kind permission of Northampton Museums and Art Gallery

Another fairy tale shoe on display was the glass slipper from this year’s Cinderella film – you can read more about this shoe on a previous blog about the Cinderella Exhibition

I thought I knew all there was to know about shoes but I did learn something; the height of Louboutin shoes varies according to the size of the shoe. This keeps the silhouette of the shoe the same and avoids some unwearable angles.

Anyway, enough from me, who better to tell you about the exhibition than the curator herself, Helen who I was lucky enough to be able to put my questions to.

What inspired you to do this particular exhibition?

The idea of this exhibition came about 5 years ago when I came across drawers in one of the V&A stores filled with heavily embroidered Indian shoes with long curly toes made out of rich and colourful materials, embroidery with iridescent green beetle wings, silk, spangles and gold. These were unpractical, beautiful shoes for the Indian elite. I then realised that this was, and is, happening in many other cultures and historical periods such as ancient Egypt China, Renaissance Italy, Manchu China etc… and of course nowadays.

How many pairs of shoes were originally identified to be included and how did you narrow it down?

From the start of this project we always knew we would have around 250 pairs of shoes in the exhibition but choosing the final selection of around 250 pairs of shoes has been one of the most challenging aspects of my job. The V&A holds an extensive footwear collection, both Western and Asian, encompassing over 2000 pairs spanning 3000 years of history. I have also explored several private and public collections worldwide. Choosing the right pair of shoes has not always been easy. I wanted thought to convey a specific message and tell a story, I have consequently chosen shoes that could help me follow the narrative. I also chose pairs and shoes that were beautiful, sculptural and in a good conservative condition.

How long did the exhibition take to pull together?

Full time has been about 2 years but the original idea came about 5 years ago

Do the curators have a favourite shoe?

The favourite shoe changes from day to day – but to be able to include the Cinderella slipper from Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella movie was quite spectacular!

 What’s the most outrageous shoe on display?

Perhaps the shoes for bound feet from China, as people find this practice particularly gruesome and painful. But the history of foot-binding is incredibly complex, and there is not one story but many as the practice and meanings of foot-binding evolved and changed over time. In the beginning foot-binding was an elite urban fashion, not so different in a way from stiletto-clad westerners, achieving what was culturally conceived to be a sexy walk and to give the impression of small feet. And to be seen as wealthy and belonging to a privileged and exclusive circle.

All shoes have their own story behind them but is there a story you found particularly inspiring and if so what?

A pair of boots from 1943 were made by a local shoe maker in Kensington, London from the client’s old coats (one red leather coat, one ozelot fur coat). During the Second World War, the design of shoes was dictated both by a lack of materials and sensibility about what was appropriate. But these beautifully made boots circumvented wartime rationing. They push the boundaries of the acceptable, with scene-stealing red leather platforms and 10 cm high heels. The boots document the human desire for new and beautiful things, even in the midst of war. They show creativity, innovation and coping in adversity.

The exhibition runs until 31st January 2016 and is a must for all you shoe lovers out there.