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

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

The colour of memory

A few months ago, I married.

Only a month later, my new mother-in-law died. Needless to say, what was an immeasurably happy time became a drudgingly sad one.

Kerstin was many things to many people. Mother, model, friend, shopkeeper... She knew where in Stockholm to find the finest cakes, source the most proper furniture and get the best haircut and styling. Some of these things she told me about, some I have learnt while visiting her city to attend to the various bits of admin that surround a family member's death.

One thing I was surprised to learn from her posthumously, was the absolute right red lipstick for me. This is a close to impossible task for many women, and is something I know she would have been immensely pleased I achieved thanks to her, and the make up she left behind.

The colour is Ravish Me Red, from Revlon. I put it on and it makes not just my lips look better, but my eyes and hair too. It makes them softly kissable and has reasonable staying power.

The best thing is, wearing it I remember Kerstin. I remember the glamorous woman she was. A woman who knew about lipsticks. A woman who moved from the Swedish countryside, to Stockholm, to LA, to London... And back again. Who brought up two devilishly smart children after her husband died only a couple of years after the second was born. Who welcomed me lovingly into her family. And who had bucket loads of style. I wish I had known her as the vintage style party girl she once was. I think we'd have been friends. Friends who shared lipstick.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, 3 September 2011

The golden dress of an opportunity

Kimberley had just left beauty school. She tripped up the curb as she got closer to home, but steadied herself. And laughed under her breath. She was happy, because tonight was date night. And she had the peachiest of dresses to wear.

She bathed and changed as soon as she got home, slicking her eyeliner into place. Then running out the door.

She was going to catch the bus and every time she thought about seeing Peter when she got off at the other end, her tummy swooped and soared. She wanted to see him, clasp him, and dance dance dance. Oh. Yes.

The bus came and she beamed at the driver. He more than beamed back. She found a seat, and then shifted to the window so a woman who had run for the bus could sit down and catch her breath. Phew.

After one more stop the woman turned, and put her hand on Kimberley's wrist. Kimberley looked at it, then leant her head on the woman's shoulder and heard her say, in the quietest of voices, 'There's luck in the very fabric of that dress.' Kimberley looked at her, saw that she meant it, and nodded. It was true. The luck and the magic shone through. And she was carried along on it.

She got off one stop early, it was a fresh and hopeful sort of day. And as she passed the florist stall she paused, and bought a bunch of spring daffodils in a feeling of celebration. She would give them to her love.

Monday, 22 August 2011

The reddest of hats for a red letter day

Beatrice ran and ran as fast as she could with her satchel bag bumping her thigh on every stride. I am going to get there, I am going to get there, I am going to get there. The thought ran through her mind like the train she was going to catch. Her right hand palm down and as though holding these thoughts in her head as it pressed her red hat into place. Firmly. On her good head on her broad shoulders. Sensible girl that she was.

Her hat was red letter day scarlet and would never be more apt. Because today was the day that she would meet her future. He was a man dressed in soiled overalls with dirt under his fingernails, a hard hat on his head and sheets of pencilled paper. He was going to teach her everything that she wanted to know, everything she needed to know and really dreamed of knowing, so that she could be an engineer. A real life and proper engineer. Who could make things, and build things, and imagine on the grandest scale there was until you reached Tower of Babel scale, which she would never do because she had no desire to build anything so unnecessarily phallic. Not that she knew the word phallic or much about the the object it described. But she just wouldn't do that. She wanted to build bridges and pull down walls.

Her mother thought she was going to secretarial school. Her father thought she was going to care for some other woman's children, and her sister knew all the thrilling details about the thrilling truth of the dream and it happening.

Her red hat was a stop sign. A stop to the life she could have led. So she could shift gears and live the one that she had always wanted. In a world of her very own creation in 1960's dreams.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

A beaded dress that dreams are made of

She tried to wake up, but couldn't. She was mesmerised by a dress in her dream. It was like something an angel would wear. At a disco. Or maybe ice skating. It was her dream dress.

This was the dress she needed, and as Man in the Mirror came from the stereo, she got up, and looked at herself in the mirror. She was the one who would wear this dress. In all its beaded glory.

Pixie boots, denim dress and t-shirt on, she was out the house.

The detailing she thought, I must find the detailing.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, 19 August 2011

It was the schmokin' summer of 1970

Today we saw Jimi. The Jimi. Sir Jimi. Jimi HENDRIIIIIIX. And he said that I was his inspiration. Well, that we were all his inspiration. But when he sang Foxy Lady. I'm sure it was to me. He gets me. Totally. And I am a frenzy for him.

Can. You. Even. Imagine. Thrilled in the proper and electrical sense of the word. Thrilled.

I want to live in festival land for life. I'd banish Hells Angels. I want all the people who want things smoking in a good way, the fun way and the love way. Jimi's way, my way and our way.

The Isle of Wight is where I'll be forever happy. We all will. I love you Jimi. I love you all.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

There's no place like home. There's no place like Paris.

She looked at him, looked over the sea, and then down at her beautiful red shoes on the aged promise of the promenade. And that's where her gaze remained.

Blinking and blinking again, her eyes itched. Where there should be tears she felt a drought, and where there should be sadness, a frozen solid lung.

He stretched out his arms like a zombie possessed, but she could not enter their stiffness. And after rubbing her arms as if she had survived a shock, he took his own back and wrapped them around himself.

She tried to count every diamanté on her satin shoes: If each was a wish, what would I do? Would I magically make my small town discontent disappear? Poof. Would I conjure away my ache for a job in Paris? Kazam. And for friends I've never met? Pazazz.

Then I could stay here. Right here. With him. As me. Would I sense there was a sky full of other lives I could be living, streets I could be walking, birds I could be hearing? Would I wonder? Would I slowly start to yearn? Until my heart broke, or I broke his again? Would my slow build wish be for him to change? My love? Ta dah.

And as the thoughts took over and the diamantés sparkled one by one, she knew that the she she was here, was never her at all. Nothing could change. A life in Paris was her own promise, a promise that she made to herself. She had slaved like Cinderella for this chance, never believing that it would come. Or digesting what it would mean for them. To him.

She clicked together her heels, smiled with one side of her mouth. There's no one like me, there's no one like me. And there's no place like Paris, no place like Paris.

Or love like ours.

She patted his chest, just above his heart, although that was unintended. Turned on her scarlet heels, and walked away. He braced himself. Then turned and walked towards home.

He to his baked beans, patio, car wash on Sundays, daily dog walks and three piece suite. She to power shoes, own office, daily conference calls and walk-in-wardrobe.

They would never speak again, but met often. In moonlit dreams- where boardrooms, childhood roots, 80's ambition, unrealised desires, the shine of the new and the comfort of the old- could never come between them.

In both their dreams, they walked the seafront. And she was always wearing, red sparkling shoes that echoed the stars.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, 8 August 2011

Blooming pretty in 50's pink

Quick break from fictional tales to feature a frothy lace and net dress in candy floss pink, and its reality star vintage wearer and sky gazer Ingrid:

"This dress is stunning! I'm very excited. Hoping to wear it to a wedding or two this summer..."

Ingrid's heart leapt and bounced for this dress as soon as she saw it on ASOS Marketplace, but we emailed a couple of times to be sure it would fit her shape and needs.

"I just hope it fits. I love it!"

Then I swathed it in glitter wrap and got the dress on it's way to it's rightful modern day owner to be worn to a wedding.

And... "it fits like a glove! Like it was made for me. Boyfriend gave it the thumbs up. So Grace Kelly. Woop woop!"

My own heart leapt with pride when I saw Ingrid in the dress. It looks a-MA-zing with her temptress hair, floral accessory and blush detailing, no?

Ingrid said, "I wore it to a wedding this weekend and got SOOOOO many compliments."

Not surprised, Ingrid knows how to do style in swishing skirts.

Thank you Ingrid for shopping with Belle Amie Vintage and letting me share these pretty as a picture actual pictures. I hope you get lots more wear from this sumptuous dress. And to hear all about it.

If you've made a Belle Amie Vintage purchase and would like to see it here, email me a picture and tell me the tale of its outing... Hoping for a happy ending. Xxx

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

The mermaid with a black rippling tail

Tiffany had been shown through to the empty hotel restaurant. She could see the movement of people, drinks and dresses in the bar through a narrow archway and mingling cigarette smoke.

The high ceilinged restaurant, despite it's dark wood furniture and neon artwork, was sterile in comparison. She waited. Her own dress ruffled and fanned around her. She rubbed the skirt between her finger and thumb for comfort. This was the dress she had dreamed of. A black mermaid of a dress.

It was lady enough for the restaurant, but edgy enough that she could have walked into the bar and turned heads for being a better version of one of them- glitzy, glamorous, confident and urbane- not a grubby girl with no money or contacts from the back of beyond and nowhere. She took a deep breath and reminded herself that that was because she wasn't. Not anymore.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad