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When booking onto Sew in Brighton’s Rework Your Wardrobe workshop I somehow missed the line about having to have previous basic experience. I don’t. I have zero experience, but wanted to know how to take up vintage dresses so I can occasionally take my friends’ machines for a spin.
Cue learning faster than I can (now) sew. Here are five things I picked up in the three-and-a-half-hour session:
1. The ‘make a tote bag’ class is a rights of passage. And one I probably should have taken – just as the other five students in the class had – before going off piste on my first sewing attempt.
2. Treat your foot control pad with the type of hesitation you might if there were a small kitten cowering underneath it and your thread will come out. Every three minutes. It seems I have a similar approach to sewing as I do to driving and while being cautious is good, being so slow that you become a danger is not. Even my needle gave up and fell out – but at least I now know how to thread a machine.
If I had to choose just one style to wear every summer, it would be the Breton stripe.
Reading between the lines, it says nonchalantly: “I couldn’t be bothered to think too much about my outfit today”. (Whilst blowing cigarette smoke seductively, if we’re going all out with the anthropomorphism).
Not because the wearer’s attitude to dressing resembles that of a teenage boy, but rather you have better things to do with your time, you know what looks good and don’t have to try hard to get it right.
The question I have more difficulty with is which stripes in particular should accompany me on annual jollies to Cornwall and France.
To choose from are several boat-neck cotton tops from French brands APC, Comptoir de Cotonniers, Crique Privee, Captain Corsaire and Armor Lux – contrasting white with blue, yellow, red and purple – a sailor tunic from J Crew finished with anchor motif, a drop-waist Topshop dress and cute little shorts from Gap.
To make it easier, I usually just take them all. The light three-quarter-length tops to wear with denim cut-offs in the day, weightier cotton pullovers with jeans on chilly evenings and dresses and shorts down to the beach.
A unique archive of photographs of Hollywood stars from the 1940s to the 1960s will go on show in Brighton in May as part of the Artist Open Houses festival.
The exhibition includes images of Audrey Hepburn, Angela Lansbury, Dirk Bogarde, Peter Sellers and American President Harry Truman, as well images of historical social record showing subjects such as Queen’s rat-catcher and Britain’s first female chimney sweep.
The archive belongs to Brighton-based photographer George Douglas, who was born in Rottingdean and worked for Picture Post and Life magazine.
George died in 2010, leaving his house at 14 Silwood Road to friend and fellow Brighton-based photographer Roger Bamber, who discovered thousands of negatives in a dilapidated filing cabinet.
Now a third Brighton photographer, Nigel Swallow, is setting up studio in the house and will be exploring the archive, reprinting many of its images and exhibiting them to the public for the first time as part of the Brighton Artist Open House festival.
Having started his career in America in the 1940s, George Douglas moved back to England in 1950 to work for the Picture Post, which specialised in 35mm photography and a documentary style.
Pin-up lingerie brand Frantic About Frances has launched its first ever daywear fashion collection, inspired by 1940s to early ‘60s patterns.
The new Daywear for Dames range consists of six pieces, which can be mixed and matched to create four separate outfits.
“The collection is authentic to the post-war era, is wearable and comfortable and uses modern fabrics with an eye to vintage detailing” designer Jenny Mearns explains.
“Each item has been adapted from original vintage patterns and – as there is so much variation in women’s clothing sizes – is made-to-measure to ensure a perfect fit for every individual customer.”
Jenny plans to add capri pants and high-waist shorts to the range for summer and also offers a ‘bring your own’ service, turning customer’s favourite fabrics into dream dresses.
Here she talks us through the new collection…
Cath Kidston has launched a range of clothes and accessories based on Brighton postcard prints. Inspired by the British summertime, the ‘Brighten up your Day’ collection includes a sundress and skirt, chunky bangle, bags, stationary and more – all featuring sketches of the city’s best-loved landmarks.
A 15 minute train ride along the coast and at under £5 for an off-peak adult return, the estuary town of Shoreham-by-Sea is a must-visit for lovers of vintage, stunning scenery and interesting architecture. See what we got up to on our visit in this visual diary…
The new footbridge allows easy access over the River Adur to the coastal side of the town, where mid-century beach-front houses sit streets away from an eclectic collection of houseboats and you can enjoy views over to the imposing Lancing College.
This side of the estuary is also home to Shoreham’s Art Deco Airport, the oldest licensed airfield in the UK.
As well as a 1960s German minesweeper, concrete barge and landing crafts, the community of houseboats includes those transformed by their handy owners, such as this sculptural pair – modified with parts of an old bus, three-wheeler and bath among other salvaged items.
As all good small towns should, Shoreham boasts several charity shops, with three large stores on the central East Street alone. Vintage-lovers should make a beeline for Cancer Research, which has a dedicated section of men’s and women’s vintage, as well as interesting books, crockery and accessories.
Because we love the festive season almost as much as second-hand stuff, we’re on the hunt to find Brighton’s best vintage shop Christmas window, with a fantastic promotional package for the winner!
We’re looking for stunning Christmas window displays from vintage, second-hand, repro and charity shops in Brighton & Hove and will be putting all submissions to Vintage Brighton Facebook fans to decide which is the most enticing. The winner will be awarded a promotional post on www.vintagebrighton.com as well as one month’s free side-bar advertising on the site during January to help give business a kick start in 2014.
All entrants will also be featured on the Vintage Brighton Facebook page and the best, as judged by Vintage Brighton editor Jo-ann Fortune, will be featured in a round-up post on the site.
If you want to show off your window display, simply e-mail a photograph to firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Christmas window’ in the subject line by midday Sunday 8 December. Your image must be at least 575 pixels wide and you must own the copyright.
Earlier this month Tatty Devine launched an intricate fine jewellery range in collaboration with papercutter Rob Ryan, for which artistic director Harriet Vine explained that she made tiny paper models of each piece to get the scale right. It’s a way of working that’s familiar to Brighton’s very own papercutter Lou Taylor, who has also added accessories to her artistic offering.
Lou first saw the potential in transforming her paper art into Perspex when working with jewellery designer Jennifer Loiselle over the summer. Having created a limited edition run of lipstick brooches based on Lou’s ‘Lipstick City’ cut, the pair are now expanding the range to include other dressing table essentials.
In direct contrast to the mini make-up pieces and her summery fruit and flamingo prints, Lou’s new ‘Sky Safari’ collection – consisting miniature versions of “everything you need for a night’s star gazing” – has more of a masculine and cold-weather feel.
Lazer-cut by Brighton & Hove Plastics, Lou explains that the paper to Perspex process drew on the similarities between the materials: “Paper and perspex both have their weaknesses – paper is fragile and tears easily and perspex is brittle and snaps easily so it’s important to test out designs to see what works.”
With the summer drawing to a close, there is one type of drinking establishment that aims to keep that holiday vibe alive throughout the colder months – welcome to the Tiki bar.
Themed around South Pacific decoration, with bamboo furniture, wooden Tiki god carvings and serving rum-based tropical cocktails, these hut-style bars became popular in California in the post-war years and have such become associated with the Americana culture celebrated at numerous annual events in the UK as well as the USA.
It was at such meet-ups that Brighton-based Tiki carver Trader Tark first fell in love with the style. “I’ve been going to Hot Rod and American car shows for many years and Tiki culture seems to go hand-in-hand with Kustom Cars and Hot Rods, mainly because of the Southern Californian association”, Tark explains.
With Tiki bars somewhat thin on the ground in Brighton – the city has only the chain Lola Lo, a club that is popular among students and Bali Brasserie’s Tropical Bar, which has changed little since the 1980s – Tark decided to build his own.
There’s nothing quite like chancing upon a little-known gem of a café on a day trip – especially when out-of-town bargain hunting leaves you in desperate need of cake. We were so taken with Mid-Century inspired vegan hotspot Moose’s Kitchen on a recent visit to St. Leonards that we had to track down manager Maresa Bossano, aka Moose, for a chat.
Why did you choose to open a café in St. Leonards?
The property in St. Leonards is cheaper than in Hastings and ours is a great location –right by the train station and lots of good shops and art galleries including our friends at The Kave Gallery, Claremont Studios and 20 Kings Road. As well as interesting quirky second-hand and charity shops, St Leonards also has lots other nice cafes and pubs and music venues, gardens and the beach to attract visitors.
How would you describe the style of the cafe?
I wanted to go for earthy and natural but with splashes of colour, I was eating jerusalem artichoke and mushroom soup one day and decided I wanted the walls the same colour! The style is very reflective of my personal tastes, indeed many of the pieces came from my house, which is a mixture of second-hand, hand-made, Fairtrade items and things I’ve picked up on my travels.
While we greatly value the freedom and timeliness that online publishing affords, there remains something so romantic about curling up with a beautiful magazine.
Despite protestations to the contrary, print is still very much alive and kicking in many quarters and is a particularly treasured affordable luxury among those who love independent design and alternative lifestyles.
Regular reads at Vintage Brighton HQ include Midcentury magazine for interiors, Mollie Makes for craft and Vintagexplorer for news. But for fashion and styling, Betty is our new best friend.
Creators of the bi-annual magazine, Charlotte Jacklin and Charlotte Melling, champion independent designers and cult favourites, putting their own spin on current trends and by-passing the high street giants. The result is beautifully styled shoots that manage to be aspirational yet entirely relatable and realistic.
Alongside fabulous fashion features sit mouthwatering recipes, interviews with inspirational creatives and tips on everything from life skills to travel, all packaged up with original illustrations and distinctive design details that make us proud to call ourselves Bettettes.