Sunday, 6 November 2011

Evins- shoe maker for the stars

Have you heard of Evins the shoe designer? Google it and you'll probably be redirected to Evans the shoe shop. This is a travesty.

David E. Evins designed shoe after shoe for decade after decade, many of his designs selected and worn by stars on the silver screen, the red carpet and in the White House.

David Evins
David E. Evins himself

He began his career as a fashion illustrator for American Vogue soon after World War II. While sketching shoes for the magazine, he started to alter what he saw for effect, trying to make the shoes more appealing. His editor was not impressed, and sacked him. Telling him that if he wanted to design shoes, then that is what he should do for a living. And so, he did.

Shoes (Pumps)
Evins designed shoes from 1958, now owned by The Metropolitan Museum of Art
He first worked as a pattern cutter for others, but in 1947 opened up a factory with his brother Lee in the spiritual home of high heels: New York City.

A year later he won the prestigious Coty Award to celebrate American fashion innovation. The prize was for his creation of the shell pump, a design which showed more of a woman's foot than ever before. In the 50's he launched a handmade shoe called '6 ounces'. It sold for $175 a pair at a time when quality women's shoes typically cost about $45. Arguably, many of us wear shoes based on this early design every day as our fail safe court shoes for work and dinners out. Supposedly Evins reaction to the many awards he won over his career was to stand in the middle of the factory floor and say: 'No kidding?'

But to really appreciate his importance in the history of shoes, you have to look at his client list. He designed shoes that were part of Grace Kelly's trousseau- fit to see her become a princess. And for Cher, Jackie O, Marilyn Monroe, Ava Gardner, Judy Garland (supposedly his favourite dinner date), Marlene Dietrich, Elizabeth Taylor and was an absolute favourite of Nancy Reagan who routinely ordered six pairs a year- two styles in three different sizes for winter, summer and for when aboard Airforce One.

Image courtesy of Cote de Texas blog

Evins died in 1991 at the age of 85, but his legacy lives on and if you would like to own a pair of his famous shoes, I have one pair for sale, and they are as lovingly designed as you would expect.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Fitting fifties

The quickest of posts to share a photo of Gabriela from Austria, dressed in an original pink 50's jumper. It's the colour and texture of a cloud at dawn. And the bows at the sleeves are to die for.

And, ladies and gents, don't she wear it well?

And so on trend for autumn 2011. Nod to heritage? Check. Knee high boots? Check. Midi skirt? Check. Handbag held, not worn? Check. Outdoor paradise of a background? Check.

Just wish she could come visit and style our Belle Amie Vintage shoots too.

Thanks, Gabriela (x). Cannot wait to see you in the spotted pleated skirt which is currently on its way to you. And to take note of how you style it... 

Friday, 21 October 2011

Ada- She wore bluuuue vintage velvet

So I have been quiet over the past couple of weeks thanks to the sad loss of my i-Pad. I miss it. And barely function alone. But, I couldn't mourn it forever. Especially when I had photos of the utterly lovely Ada from Norway in a vintage velvet and taffeta prom dress to share with you.

Ada's kids love her in the dress, and so does her dog. I think I love him.

And her utterly stylish Scandinavian home. This blog doesn't usually focus on home style, but I could not let this go without comment. The sheepskin, the blonde wood, the huge windows, the crochet blanket. And again, the doooog! Woof.

Thank you, Ada. You look glowingly stunning. And I hope that you have a chance to wear the dress to a suitably glamorous occasion very soon. Although, if I was you, I think I'd find it hard to leave that house.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Think Piiiiink this October

So, once again, October is here. It is the month of Halloween, falling leaves and, lest we forget, Breast Cancer Awareness.

Bizarre as it is, breast cancer does just what the song in the Audrey Hepburn classic film 'Funny Face' from 1957 tells us to do, we 'Think Pink'.

And so, in honour of that, this month I am going to donate £5 to the Breast Cancer Partnership for every pink thing I sell through ASOS Marketplace.

A couple of the things you could choose to get hold and make me make a donation at the same time look like this:

Pink quilted jacket, peach maxi cocktail dress, high waisted 80's polk-a-dot-trousers, hot pink shorts.

More will be added as the month continues and donations, fingers crossed, stack up and up and up...

If you're not in the pink mood- it happens to us all sometimes- then please do just go over and make a donation on the Breast Cancer Partnership site.

I recommend them because I know them very well thanks to my day job, and because I find the protect, pioneer and support women against breast cancer a unique one. We all need to know what we can do to prevent breast cancer... and do it. While helping women and families who are afflicted by the disease.

Thanks for thinking pink and, I hope, for your generosity. If you also sell on ASOS, Etsy, Ebay or any other site, please do think about making your own donation, of any amount and for as many or few things as you can. Would love it if the vintage and handmade community got behind this!

Friday, 23 September 2011

Vintage with attitude

Material Girl Aziza

Oh yes, another happy bona fide Belle Amie Vintage customer. Check out Aziza!
She lives in France- ooh la la- is too cool for school, or pretty much anything, and knows how to style an 80's bomber jacket. As soon as the jacket arrived she sent me an email saying: 'she's so beautifuuuuuul'.

I think it is fair to say that Aziza has found her Belle Amie.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

The importance of being Edgar

So, the two men who gave their names to Edgar & Swan- one of our first, and arguably our most central department stores- weren't both alive when it became a national treasure of an emporium.

There are two accounts as to how this story began. The first sees William Edgar setting up a haberdashery stall at St James' Market in Haymarket. Penniless, he slept underneath this very stall every night. Saving what he could to start a shop of his own.

St James' Market, Haymarket c.1850 by Charles James Richardson
Alternatively, it began when he walked to London from Carlisle (yes, walked) ready with a letter of introduction from a draper he had helped out at home, and addressed to a London draper who we shall soon all meet, aka George Swan. Now if this is the case, Swan employed him from the off and a few years later Edgar had proven himself partner material. (Material. Ha! Geddit?)

Both these tales are romantic to someone like me, reading about it now from the warmth of home. I have images of him wrapped in the luxurious fabrics he would later sell, asleep on the cold damp streets of London, a Dickensian hero with charm and ambition. Oliver Twist like, walking country lanes on his way to the city that would see his retail dreams come true.

Was anyone else obsessed with the 1968 musical film version of Oliver as a child? I can still along. To all the songs. And must confess a bit of a crush on the Artful Dodger. The actor, aptly named Jack Wild, sadly died of cancer in 2006.
Whatever his introduction to the London, he must have been a hard worker to become such a spectacularly stellar success. Not to the manor born or to the manor bred, but to the manor made. As Eagle House in Clapham- now destroyed save the billiards room- was to become his home. A guidebook at the time described it as a 'large handsome house built with stock grey bricks' a 60 metre frontage and 'carriage drive', extensive gardens, a lake and gazebo. Florence Nightingale's grandfather was an earlier resident. And in those days there was no X-factor style quick buck to a house like this. Especially not from beneath a market stall.

The south side of Eagle House, Clapham, London

But that is it for now. I need to sleep (in a bed, but not a mansion) and dream of retail royalty...

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Hello to Swan & Edgar, Piccadilly Pedlars

I recently sourced the most peachy perfect of vintage clutches. Its label tells me it is from Edgar and Swan Ltd. A quick Google search, and I realise this is a shop we all know.

Once called Virgin Megastore, then called Zavvi and only last year, re-opening its doors as the first UK offering from European retailers The Sting who are a self proclaimed 'brand network'. (1. Mute your computer before clicking on their site. 2. Anyone ever shopped there?).
File:Virgin Megastore - Piccadilly Circus.JPG

This area of London is so busy with people, advertising, traffic and noise that you have probably never had time to look at the beautiful architecture above the changing brand names. Architecture which was mostly there before the tube station opened on the 10th March, 1906. 

Piccadilly Hotel, Regent Street front, 1905–8, in 1910.
Piccadilly Hotel, Regent Street front, 1905–8 thanks to
This particular building was owned by The Piccadilly Hotel. Amongst much controversy, debate and demands from the management of Edgar and Shaw, it was rebuilt between 1910 and 1920, and Edgar & Shaw moved in.

It was one of the first such department stores in the UK and London, following a trend which started in the middle of the previous century in Paris for a variety of goods to be made available under one roof. (Brand network anyone?) It was a destination for shoppers, fashionable ladies and those wanting to rest with a cup of tea.

Over the next few blogs I'll tell you more about it, what happened, who Edgar and Swan were, how their shop has fitted into all of our histories... and the clutch that I have from this very emporium.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Lady Lucy Luck

LOVE it when instead of a vintage fantasy, I have a current day vintage wearer to report.

And so, check out Lucy! Pretty in her pleated, belted pink dress. Stunner. She picked this 80's dress to wear to Chester races, and it brought her 'lovely compliments'.

No surprise as she nattily swapped the matching belt for a contrasting wide one, and accessorised with a flower in her hair and champagne in her hand. Plus gold shoes. (I am a sucker for gold shoes. Even my trainers are gold.)

Question is, alongside the compliments, did it bring Lucy any luck on the horses?!

PS the dress really reminds me of an emerald green one Mulberry have out for AW11. Or is it more the peach Chloe dress, now on sale at Net-A-Porter?

Thanks to Lucy snapping it up, there's no pleated vintage dress from Belle Amie Vintage right now, but if you want the trend, I do have a skirt. With Polk-a-Spots!!

Night, dears. And do send your vintage tale and photos to me and I'll post you on up. Xx