The humble rise of the Prom June 22 2014
It is the season of Proms, when school kids celebrate their last senior year, the girls get to dress in gorgeous flowy dresses and the boys get suited and booted. Over the weekend, I went to wave my niece Olivia and her friends off to their Prom in a vintage bus.
The bus was privately owned and its proud owner gave me a brief history and let me on board to see its original leather and fabric interior with bunting hung inside, it really was adorable. The bus was lovingly made in 1954 and was originally with the Aldershot & District Traction Co Ltd for the London link.
As we ate canapés, chocolate strawberries all washed down with Shloer, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters all got snap happy in taking photos of the excited group of friends.
But how did Proms get started? When I left school, they just had a Leaver's Disco, in fact, our year were so bad, the school opted not to have a Leavers Disco for us!! I also think it may have had something to do with fact that there was a teachers strike going on as well not just we were the naughtiest year in the school!!
Virtually unheard of 15 years ago in the UK, Proms are now the highlight of the school leaver's year, where pupils look forward and start planning their big day way in advance.
So where did it all start? Prom's started across the pond in the US, it was an event to bring together people from all financial standings and heritage. Ever see the film "Pretty in Pink"? If you have, you get the idea!
The word “Prom” comes from the French word, "Promenade", which means "walk" or "stroll". Early in the Twentieth century, it was considered inappropriate to dance with men that you were not married to so the girls would take short and heavily-chaperoned promenades around the block with their dates.
In the 1930s and 40s "Prom" stories of good and bad memories were published by school papers and were taken seriously. By the 1950s and 60s Proms had moved from school gyms to fancy ballrooms with heavy competition for the titles of Prom King and Queen becoming a popularity contest, usually going to the best looking and best dressed couple.
In 1963, President John F Kennedy had to cancel a fundraiser at the Beverly Hilton because the hotel double-booked a school Prom. The Hilton tried to cancel the Prom but luckily for the Senior Highs, the President cancelled his event!
In 1975, President Gerald Ford’s daughter, Susan, got to have her prom at the White House. No stinky old school gym for her!
Today, parents from the US and UK alike complain that Prom's have become expensive and more of a competition of who has spent the most as much as it is a show for the kids. Yes, it can be expensive if you let it but you can buy a Prom outfit fairly cheaply if you shop, around and look no different to someone who has spent a small fortune. It's not necessarily how much you spend but how you wear it.
All in all, the Prom is a wonderful night, for boys and girls to dress up and celebrate the end of their exams and the end of their school years with friends who they have shared so many laughs, tears and experiences with. And as the girls and boys are teetering on the edge of adulthood, the Prom will hopefully, be a night remember.
Lace & Tweed Vintage Fair June 01 2013
After a hearty breakfast in the greasy spoon near where I live, my friends and I went to Lace & Tweed Vintage Fair in Guildford. "So does anyone know where we're going?" I asked. "No..." everyone said in unison... It was lucky that Rachel and I had looked this up on the map the day before because no one had a clue where it was although I had a rough idea. Up the hill in Guildford town we trundled, up through Jeffries Passage (phnaar phnaar said the Actress to the Bishop) and there on the other side was the Holy Trinity Church with a big sign outside saying "Lace & Tweed Vintage Fair".
Set in a beautiful Anglican Red-brick church in the centre of Guildford, the Holy Trinity was built on the site of a Medieval Church that collapsed in the 18th Century. It is thought the foundations of the church are Norman. There were so many beautiful things on first sight, it was difficult to know where to start looking. The first stall I stumbled across was a stall selling the most beautiful 1920s and 30s dresses, some with their tags still on, having never been worn!
Musicians and a live DJ played on the stage and a backdrop of Black and White movies were being played. We sifted through rails of clothes and mounds of jewellery. Rhiannon had found a vintage scarf and I had spied a vintage brooch. Lorna was umming and ahht's really hard going to a ring about a dress and Rachel was meant to be looking for a birthday present for her friend but ended up buying for herself!
With so many pretty things to buy and reasonably priced too, it can be all too easy to get carried away and spend a small fortune on stuff that you don't even want! I was very good and managed to contain myself but then that's because I have trip to New York coming up and I was saving all my pennies for a trip to Brooklyn's flea markets and thrift shops. Oh my God, I can hardly wait!!!
There was a hair and beauty pop-up parlour and Lorna said she wanted to have her hair and make-up done so we eagerly watched while she was made up 1940s style with me snapping away with the before and after shots. For £10, Lorna had eyeliner flicked on her eyelids and Victory Rolls put in her hair and Lorna became Lana, a beautiful starlet from the 1940s!
Aww look how beautiful Lorna looks!
It was a unusually warm day today (yes I know it's the first day of June and June is in the Summer but it had been cold and raining that week) and Rachel and I were gasping for a drink, a cold drink. Handy there was a large vintage tea room then! I'd say this was the biggest bargain of the day because for £2.70 we got a cup of tea and plus a top up and a large slab of homemade cake! Lemon Sponge, Carrot Cake, Victoria Sponge, Scones with Jam and Clotted Cream, Chocolate Brownies, the list went on... There was even homemade lemonade! After a hard morning of mooching, supping tea and scoffing cake was well deserved.
And best dressed goes this lovely lady...
Get the Gatsby Look May 26 2013
Seeing "The Great Gatsby" the other night has inspired me to write about how to replicate the glamorous fashion of the Roaring Twenties from from drop-waist tea dresses and head scarves to crisp bow ties and spectator shoes. You don't have to dress head-to-toe in it, you could just pick out a few items that replicate the style of Jay Gatsby or Daisy Buchanan. Just mix and match, using items from a variety of lower-priced stores like H&M, Accessorize, Primark and eBay. I picked up a lovely strand of knotted faux pearls from TK Maxx for £7 by the Danish jewellery makers "Pilgrim".
You could also sift through secondhand shops and vintage fairs that evoke the era although, actual clothes from the 1920s will be expensive so try to replicate the look cheaply rather than spending a small fortune (unless you want to of course.)
You can easily pull together plenty of fashions and accessories that reflect 1920s glamour by just searching the racks of less-expensive clothing stores like H&M and Primark. Half the fun can be in the treasure hunt.
Plenty of fashion stores offer such looks as drop-waist dresses in lace or embellished with sequins or beads and head scarves. Accessorize are doing pretty turbans and embellished clutch bags that are very 1920s.
Looking for a strand of Faux Pearl and T-bar shoes with a small heel? Shop at low-priced shops like Primark, you could easily pick up both a Faux Pearl necklace and a pair of shoes for about £15 or less! Pin a Feather or Diamanté brooch to your turban and wrap a string of Faux Pearls around your neck and voila! you have my dahhling, the Flapper Girl look!
Beaded Bag - Accessorize
And boys, if you don't want to wear a Pale Pink suit like Jay Gatsby, you could wear a Pale Pink vest and matching jacket with a Beige pair drop-crotch skinny fit jeans with Slip-on Boat Shoes without socks. Just don't roll the sleeves up on your jacket or you'll end up looking like Crockett and Tubbs from Miami Vice! We're talking 1920s here not 1980s!
Betsy Blue has some beautiful decadent brooches for sale from the Art Deco period. Art Deco is possibly my favourite era, I just love the smooth clean lines of the furniture and architecture and the glitz and glamour of the fashion from that time. I am an old romantic at heart. Here are just a few Art Deco brooches on the website..
Greatness of the Gatsby and the Prohibition May 22 2013
Last night, I went to see to “The Great Gatsby” in 3D. I have heard of the book and the original film made in 1974 with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow (I still can’t believe she was once married to Woody Allen!) but I had neither seen the film all the way through nor read the book at all.
The story takes you to New York during the roaring 1920s when America saw Prohibition and the stock market boom. It is a love story or rather a love triangle between the mysterious Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), the delectable debutante Daisy (Carey Mulligan) and her incredibly rich but unfaithful husband Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton). It begins with a young Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) coming to New York to seek his fortune. Carraway moves into a bungalow in West Egg an area for the newly rich on Long Island next to the huge mansion, chateau, palace, whichever it is MASSIVE, of Jay Gatsby.
Gatsby throws parties for all and sundry to come to his house without invitation in hope to entice a particular someone but only Carraway seems to get an invite. Carraway is Daisy’s cousin. Are you getting the picture?
People are only interested in Gatsby for what he can do and give them but Carraway wants nothing from him but his friendship. Carraway helps Gatsby to a “chance” meeting with Daisy and Gatsby wants to rekindle the love that was once between them. Daisy loves Gatsby but as Gatsby discovers, he has money but he doesn't have the name or position or social power that her husband can offer.
The story also shows you a little of how America dealt with the Prohibition during the 1920s with its organised crime and corrupt constituencies. Prohibition came into effect 16 January 1920 until 05 December 1933. It was never illegal to drink alcohol but the Prohibition restricted the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcoholic beverages. With no businesses able to sell alcohol, an increase in organised crime became rapid as the supply and demand for alcohol became more and more. Infact, the Prohibition saw people drinking alcohol more than ever before, probably with the thrill of the thought of breaking the law and never knowing when alcohol was next going to be available. Underground drinking dens began popping up everywhere. These were called “Speakeasies”. Speakeasies were so called because you would had to talk quietly or whisper the password in order to gain entry or give some kind of secret handshake.
Beautiful window display celebrating the Gatsby at Tiffany's New York (sorry it's not very good but this was the best I could take through the window!)
Although the film was set in the “Jazz Age”, there was music including Beyoncé and Andre 3000's cover of Amy Winehouse's, "Black to Black" Lana Del Ray's, "Young and Beautiful" and Florence + the Machine's, "Over the Love." I read that Director Baz Luhrmann wanted to represent music in the film with the “Hip-Hop Age” because the author of "The Great Gatsby", F Scott Fitzgerald made lots of references to contemporary music of that era and Luhrmann wanted today’s viewers to feel the impact of modern day music the way Fitzgerald did for the readers of his novel at the time of its publication in 1925.
Speakeasies were a major contributor to the development of jazz music. With so many speakeasies springing up everywhere, they needed something different in order to draw more patrons. Jazz musicians suddenly found a demand for their craft and speakeasy patrons embraced this new style of music.
I loved all the glitz and glamour the film brought to the Silver screen. I really liked the soundtrack too. The clothes were absolutely fabulous for both the men and women, the dresses having been made by Prada and Miu Miu... But I did find Leonardo Di Carprio a little stiff in the film, his “preppy” accent somewhat inconsistent but I’m not entirely sure if that is how his accent is meant to be because of his character. I don’t want to say too much here because I don’t want to give the film away. I was also disappointed with Isla Fisher’s first appearance in the film as the good time girl Myrtle Wilson coming down the steps to greet Nick Carraway and Tom Buchanan, I wasn’t sure if she was meant to be Australian or American. She was meant to be American and her accent did get better as the film went on. I know I’m being picky but come on, if you’re an actress and you’re doing an accent at least get it right from the off set!
People I know who have seen the film love it but reviewers don’t seem so charmed by it. So I will let you make your own mind up whether or not to see it but I personally really enjoyed the film and I might now even go out and buy the book!
Looking cool in our 3D Glasses!
Oh I do love to be beside the seaside! April 24 2013
After my ordeal from the weekend before doing the 5k obstacle run in Devon, I had marked in my diary the Bournemouth Vintage Fair for the following weekend. I was still feeling pretty poorly and yes, you may laugh about how feeble I was being but I really was not well, I can only describe the pain as if flu were in my bones. I think I may have even had slight hyperthermia from that day in Devon and still hadn't fully recovered because I just felt rough all week.
My friend Sarah and I set off in the morning down the M3 to be by the seaside for the day. The fair itself was in the Pavillion which was built in the 1920s and had the splendour of Art Deco architecture and décor. It is set just a little off the beachfront and was already very busy by the time we got there.
The Ballroom was where it was all happening and it was heaving with stalls selling their vintage wears. Despite feeling poorly, I could hardly contain my excitement, there was just so much to see and I wanted to see it all there and then! Sarah had to reel me in a bit and said, "We need to do this in an orderly fashion or we may miss out on seeing certain stalls and you don't want that." "Er, yes..." I replied, "You're right..." And she was. Sarah's sensible, I’m not so sensible and we started to do the rounds!
As music from yesteryear blared out through the speakers, we mooched around at the vintage bags from the 1950s, we tried on sunglasses from the 1960s, we “oohed” and “ahhed” at the pretty vintage glass perfume bottles, we stared at the fur stoles from the 1940s and of course we made a beeline for the vintage brooches!
I had saved my pennies especially for the day and I managed to pick up three lovely brooches.
After a lovely afternoon, we had seen all that had to be seen and so we headed for the beachfront to blow the cobwebs away and by golly, did it blow! The wind was so strong it could have swept you off the pier into the sea never to be seen again! At that point, we decided to head off the Harry Ramsdens for a well deserved dinner of Fish and Chips. Well, Scampi for me as I don’t do battered Cod!