Thursday, 18 March 2010

Of Kitty Cooper

I think anyone who has cast even a casual glance over my blog will have probably realised that I Like Shoes. A Lot. You can imagine my delight, therefore, when I made a new footwear discovery this morning. Thanks to the treasure trove that is Daily Candy, I have made the acquaintance of Kitty Cooper and her wonderfully glamourous shoes. Kitty Cooper graduated with a first-class degree from the Cordwainer's Institute (part of the London College of Fashion), and has since set up her own business designing stunning shoes which are produced in an eco-friendly way. Now, I don't know about you, but when I think of eco-friendly fashion, my heart always sinks just a little bit, as my imagination conjures up images of tired looking, tie-died t-shirts or dresses made from straw with a belt of chewed up string. Recently, however, I've been forced to think again, not least thanks to Livia Firth's blog for British Vogue recounting her experiences dressing for the red carpet (Livia is the wife of Colin Firth) using only ethically produced, eco-friendly fashion. As you can see from the stunning dress by Orsola de Castro that she wore to the Oscars the other weekend, Livia has shown that one certainly doesn't need to forego style when salving one's conscience:

To be honest, the fact that Kitty Cooper's shoes are produced from recycled materials (such as vintage curtains, buttons, and cottons salvaged from the 1910s through to the 1960s), is -- for me -- merely an added bonus compared to their sheer gorgeousness. Her collection is only fairly small, but some of the designs are available in more than one pattern or colour combination.

These, made from a 1960s cotton, are ridiculously sweet for a summer's day:

Chovey, £245

These just conjure up pictures of garden parties and summer fetes: what could be more fun than matching the strawberries you're about to pop in your mouth with a couple on your toes? Just be careful not to get stuck in the grass with those killer heels:

Ginnie, £269

If you want to make a statement, this shocking pink and green combo would be a good way to go about it...

Nanti, £255

... while if you can cope with the towering heels, the breezy blue of this 1950s pattern would be a refreshing look on a summer's day:

Didicoy, £325

I am more than a little in love with the beautiful floral print on these little stunners...

Luke, £280

... while the naughty nautical style of these makes me think they're something the girls at Crumpet & Skirt would wear...

Rich, £325

... and this amazing pair with their 1910 ribbons would really make sure you stood out from the crowd:

Rose Lee, £319

Sadly, my excitement has been tempered slightly by the rather hefty price tags attached to these beautiful creations, so I think they may have to remain in the lust-after category, rather than filling one of the empty spots in my summer shoe closet. Even if buying them would be helping save the planet (well, ok, not quite). Still, a girl can dream, even if (to quote Sir W in his 1601 essay 'Of Complements) my purse won't quite stretch to

'the lengthning of my joyes, not a foote'.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Of Janet Hill Studio

I've fallen a little bit in love with Etsy over the past few months, and I thought I'd share with you one of the reasons why. I bought this beautiful print from Janet Hill Studio at the end of last year, and I'm not quite sure why it's taken me so long to get around to telling you about it:

I adore the muted colours, and the 1920s style of the outfit and hairstyle remind me of the divine Phryne Fisher, heroine of the wonderfully fun series of books by Kerry Greenwood, which have beautiful covers illustrated by the very talented Beth Norling:

I can just picture Phryne doing a spot of feather fan dancing!

I was also very pleased with a little pack of Christmas cards I picked up at the same time as the print:

I still need to buy a mount and frame for my print, and I can't wait to see what it's going to look like once it's up on the wall. I've also been browsing the Etsy shop again, and getting tempted to buy a companion piece (or two. Or three). There are some simply gorgeous prints for sale at the moment. I love the blurred, slightly dream-like quality of this one:

These two are both charming, and make me laugh as not even I am (quite) this bad when it comes to dressing for a walk in the country:

I am drawn to both the coolness of nighttime in Manhattan...

... and to the warmth of this picnic in the sun:

This one, entitled 'Elise sips Pastis in Montreal'...

... reminds me somehow of Edward Hopper and his famous depictions of cafe scenes and women in empty rooms:

Hopper is a favourite artist of mine (I really enjoyed an exhibition of his work at Tate Modern a few years ago), and although Janet Hill's work is much lighter in atmosphere, something of the melancholy wistfulness of Hopper's style finds traces in some of Hill's most beautiful paintings:

I love the poignancy of this one -- 'Anthea's Party' -- and the way, as with the rest of Hill's work, you can conjure up an entire story from just one image. This one reminds me too of the work of Marie Laurencin, whose paintings I discovered whilst on holiday in Paris just over a year ago. If you happen to be in Paris, make sure you go to the wonderful Musee de l'Orangerie in the Jardin des Tuileries, and if you do, don't just stop at the gigantic Monet waterlillies on the ground floor, although they are spectacular...

... but wend your way downstairs to see the smaller gems they have hidden away in the basement, like this stunning portrait of Coco Chanel by Laurencin:

I was very excited to discover that prints of this picture are available to buy, and I think one might have to wing its way towards me before too long! But I'll still have room for another one of Janet Hill's, I think. The only problem is deciding which one, for, to quote Sir W in his 1601 essay 'Of Trappes for Fame', I sadly can't quite afford to be one of those people who

'spendeth all his treasure in painting'.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Of Seeing in the Spring

Well, the sunny weather has stayed with us over much of the fortnight (*ahem*) since I promised to get back to posting on here! Today was particularly balmy, and so I enjoyed trying out a new outfit to welcome in the Spring (it will probably be raining again tomorrow, but for today, it's definitely springtime). When my mum visited Oxford a couple of weeks ago, I was excited to find that as a treat she'd brought along a dress and cardigan that she'd picked up for me in one of my favourite shops: Boutique Eleven at the Heart of the Country Shopping Village, just ten minutes down the road from where I live in Staffordshire. A rather large number of the items in my wardrobe (no, we won't ask just how many items there are) come from this charming little shop. As they stock a range of really beautiful and unusual clothes, I seem to get complimented whenever I wear anything I've bought from there -- always a plus. I try to pop in whenever I'm at home, and the lovely lady who runs the shop knows me well enough by now to have an eye for exactly what I'm going to like, and because she usually only gets one of everything in each size, she's often kind enough to keep something back for me if she knows I'm coming up for a visit. Oh, the temptation... So this afternoon, I revelled in sitting in Duke Humfrey's with the sunshine streaming through the old windows and warming my skin in this little number from Sandwich:

It's actually slightly more fitted than it appears on the mannequin, and the streaks of cream and blue lighten up the different shades of brown to give it a real lift: I felt like I should be strolling along a beach in the sunshine eating an ice-cream while I wore it. When the occasional shadow did pass across my desk, I quickly whipped out this cardigan, also by Sandwich:

The photo really doesn't do it justice: in reality, the sludgy grey that appears in this picture is actually a delicious teal to match the stripes in the dress, and it's perfect for a bit of casual cover whenever I am forced to remember that it is still only March. The fact that the cardigan is actually a little bit longer than the dress it's going over also gives a slightly sexier edge to what can often be thought of as a rather boring item of clothing!

Sandwich has become a favourite label of mine since I started shopping at Boutique Eleven: their clothes are always fresh and pretty, and are a great choice for basics with a twist. I discarded my usual heels for once and teamed my new outfit with this cute little pair of flats from Marks and Spencer: I love the combination of camel and black, the patent is practical as well as stylish, and I've spoken before about the fact that I'm a sucker for anything with a bow on it. Sadly I could only find this tiny photo to show you:

I *still* haven't got a new camera sorted out, and, much as I've enjoyed embracing the retro chic of the disposable version (yes, I was pretty amazed to discover they still make them, too), I'm looking forward to getting my hands on something a little more up-to-date. Job for this week, perhaps...

I'll be sharing some more of my favourite fashions with you soon (including the leggings which may make me -- and I never thought I'd write this -- overcome my innate aversion to anything remotely resembling a pair of footless tights). I'm also going to be talking quite a lot about food and drink (never a bad thing, I feel), not to mention flagging up some favourite new websites and blogs and telling you about some recent film and theatre trips. In the meantime, keep your fingers crossed for more of this lovely sunshine -- I want the excuse to bring out some more of my Winter to Spring wardrobe. After all, to give you another weather-related quote from Sir W (this time from his 1600 essay 'Of Aduise'):

'from the Rayes of this sun proceed all blessings'.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Of Getting Back to Business

February, as you can plainly see, was a bit of a black hole where my blog was concerned! March has arrived now, and rather than being 'in like a lion, out like a lamb', as the old saying has it, we have been enjoying a beautifully spring-like, blue-skied day here in Oxford. No post today, but rather a promise that I will be resuming normal service from now on...

Until tomorrow! And let's hope with Sir W (in his 1601 essay 'Of Estimation and Reputation') that for a few days at least, we continue to see the sun

'dispersing his Rayes ouer the world'.