Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Quaintrelle Gifting

Quaintrelle do everything in style, even last minute gifting! For anyone looking for a last second holiday gift we have some new designs for patch boxes in at my online store, to go with our popular velvet flocked beauty spots. Little mirrored porcelain boxes with golden hinges just like the antique patch boxes of the 18th century. They were a popular gift in bygone days and make a lovely little gift in these modern times for vintage girls (and dandies too)

Our patches come in a selection of colors, and in a mix of shapes like  rounds, hearts, moons and stars, just like rococo court ladies, 1920's flappers and 1940s trend setters!

I'll be shipping any holiday order for these by noon tomorrow which still leaves time with priority mail.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Paragon of Teatime Fancy

Assorted Paragon Teacups
I drink a lot of tea, tons of the stuff, decaf or I'd die amounts of it, and when I'm sitting down to a cup properly, I like to drink it in style! Starting with an ironic teacup buy back in high school (Old Country Roses from my days working in a fancy glass and china department) it's built into something a bit more opulent and a straight up obsession.

I've had to slow down acquisitions due to lack of space and fear the collection might get (ok has got) out of hand. I still have a "to get" list though for cups that fill a particular hole in my collection, and cups that are just plain "like woah!". One cup recently ticked from that list was "vintage Paragon teacup".

I love Paragon cups for a few reasons. First, there are so many unique designs, second  vintage flavor, and third and most importantly a lot of their cups were crazy over the top! Gold, gold, cool colors, flowers, more gold, and a lot of the time inside the cup designs. Which is a great opportunity for more gold more flowers and they look smashing shining up through a non milky tea, with of the band of the saucer showing around it like pool of amber awesome (Can you tell I love these things? You should probably just go and add "a vintage paragon teacup" to your list of stuff you need to have too).

So yeah, paragon cup was on my list, and yeah, I'd been hunting, but like I say limited teacup real estate remaining, and so many designs, it was hard to chose just one! Till I ran across this cheeky little thing....

It had all the design elements I wanted from my Paragon cup, bold use of gold, hand painted flowers, in cup designs, cobalt blue (another thing on my "to get" list)  and to top it off it was being sold as a trio! (I found more cool cup and saucer combos than trios, and the fact they didn't often name their patterns makes tracking down a matching side plate tricky) I was already sold on it when I read on to find this pattern is actually a re-production of a design they made for Queen Mary back in 1913. ROYAL TEACUP!  (Royal teacups are a special love of mine and covered by the "like woah!" clause)

According to the Paragon International Collectors Club the Queen Mary Pattern (# 8902) was first designed for a service presented to Queen Mary on a visit to the Paragon (then Star) factory in 1913.  The pattern was then re-issued in the late 20's to the public, with is where mine comes from (the stamp on my set date it to between 1930-1933) 
Turns out I got a pretty good deal on my little set, and that this is one of the few paragon patterns out there that came in a ton of different pieces and is relativly easy to hunt for (Paragon replica queen mary X). For me I don't need extra pieces, just the trio, but for anyone looking to collect a matching set (and who has deep pockets) it's perfectly possible with a little patience to collect a full vintage tea, or even table service fit for a queen!

You might also be used to seeing cups like these pop up on Pinterest, Tumblr etc all the time, now you know they're Paragon china (seems to be nearly always Paragon or Royal Albert in those things). If you're a vintage lover, tea lover, or just plain fan of fancy things I heartily recommend adding one to your wish list, you just have to find the cup that suits you best!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Don't Fear the Flapper (dress)

Queen of curves Marilyn Monroe as Clara Bow
 I decided to face a bit of a vintage fashion fear and obsession head on these past few weeks. That love/fear for me has been the 1920's. I love that period for style and decorative arts. One of my all time favorite designers is Jeanne Lanvin, and even as a period of history, it's fascinating!

As a fashion though it be daunting to wear. It's so counter my usual way of thinking. These were women throwing off the corset and the tyranny of the tiny waist. hemlines rollercoastered, and it really was the decade that set the pace for modern clothing. But me, I'm not all that into modern clothing. I love my corsets because for us they are a choice not a mandate, and my waist is one of the few things about my body I actually feel comfortable with. I know how to handle it and use it to my advantage when dressing. To wear the 20's I'd have to be willing to let my waist go (become invisible not actually physically go), and that scared the heck out of me, but still I recently set said on a voyage of flapper self discovery!

20's dames weren't all ultra skinny, and not necessarily ultra tall, something I always felt a person would need to be to pull the look off. Keeping that in mind I decided to pull my first 1920's dress into my closet and challenge myself to try wearing this decade to see how it felt.

My 1st dress is this one. A dropped waist (scary!) Nile green Charmeuse straight style dress with lace and ribbon roses for accents. When worn I was kind of shocked at first to see a straight figured person looking back at me, but found that the waist kind of reveals itself in movement, and all the motion in the dress has a surprisingly playful feel as a garment in action. The freedom of movement was the nicest part of wearing the 1920's. Though I did still pull on my long girdle to keep my line as smooth as possible it was very freeing to poddle about in.

I'm a pretty full figured gal, and really very short (just 5'0") but the style was more forgiving than I had anticipated, and I'm now largely over my fear of the roaring 20's as a look!

I'm loving my first 20's style flapper dress.  I don't think I'll be hanging up my waist cinchers and petticoats for good (I learned to love my 1920's lips but can't give up on my 1950's hips!), but I do think I'll be bringing more 1920's outfits and looks into rotation from time to time. I hope this helps a few more of you feel confident to give this look we love a try too!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


I have kinda crazy tastes, and sometimes that leads me to style awesome, and sometimes to style horror. A little obsession that's eating away at me right now that could fall either way is the 1920's bullion wig. I just can't decide if they are crazy cool or crazy bad.

I mean I remember wearing a tinsel wig in the 80's and that was decidedly crazy bad, but for special photoshoots, shows, events etc, the bullion flapper wig unusual super hit hit or terrible terrible miss?

Not sure what I'm taking about? It's these glittery beauties/beasts....

From Timeless Vixen Vintage

From Antique Dress
V&A Museum
 Sometimes referred to as wigs sometimes as cloches these unusual and distinctly 1920's headdresses are somewhere in the middle. The great Sydney Flapper on Livejournal was able to shed some light after landing both a bullion wig and article on the article from the seller! The 1922 newspaper clipping did indeed talk of them in terms of wigs so I guess wigs thy were? Made kind of like a hat with real metallic threads for hair they could actually be made from silver or gold!

I can't help but wonder though, with their style all puffed up once again (times seems to have been hard on most examples and flattened them out considerably) could they be strikingly cool and glitteringly deco and glam? I know I love them as art objects but are they equally lovable as fashion objects?

I've got a mad desire to make one, but hesitant about spending the $$$ on something that could be doomed to be a sparkle disaster from the get go, though undoubtedly the making journey would be an interesting one!

How do you guys feel about the bullion wig!? Bring it back or let go?
Michelle Harper

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Soda Streamline

Yesterday was Sodastream shopping (RIP original Sodastream, you served us well over the years buddy), and after being in a bit of a fashion funk lately a perfect excuse to get all dolled up and head to the mall like all the cool kids do.

Been in the middle of a serious 1920's-1930's kick lately, I've always loved the styles, but found my equal love of all things 50's a more natural fit for my body type, which has had me shy away from earlier vintage styles. In the middle of my usually super mid century style wardrobe (which I realize I haven't been photographing much lately), this little outfit has been my main outlet for earlier decade fashion fixes! Mostly from a new collection coming out in a few weeks with other goodies it was nice to wear something new from my little studio again. Really excited to get some earlier vintage styles into my life, Not sure a lot of 20's 30's fashions are a super natural fit for what nature gave me, but I love playing out with them so who cares!

Outfit Rundown:
Blouse & Trousers: Vivcore (coming soon)
Pearls: Vivcore Society Pearl necklace in Navy with the white bracelet as an extender
Lipstick: Besame Merlot
Hair: A bit of a quick messy attempt, but curled on hot sticks and pinned under for a faux bob look (never enough commitment for the crop!)

Friday, October 12, 2012

They Let Me Eat Cake

Last weekend I got the chance to shake off some of my frilliest drawers, stiffest corset and favorite accessories from the Vivcore vault for a shoot with my best friend and model Kitty Lynne and the talented guys and gals at Capital Bombshell. The result is a candy colored rococo retro pin up shoot that puts some oo lala into the genre Du Barry was a Lady style!

Model: Kitty Lynne
Clothing, jewelry, fans, wig: Vivcore
Photography, Sets: Luigi Crespo 
Makeup: Jennifer Butt (you should see what she does with hair if we hadn't run out of time. Seriously, she's magic!)
I loved working on this shoot, and working on decadent projects like this. Can't wait to collaborate with Capital Bombshell again!

Want to make some pin up magic of your own? They are open for bookings, and I'm still selling the fashion!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Dance of the Dressmaker

Well guys I took a not so elegant leap this week and went to my first ballet class!

Nikolay Krusser via Dust jacket
When I was a little girl I took ballet classes like just about every little girl. I wasn't very good. To be honest I wanted to throw on a tutu get in some point shoes and twirl like a swan from the get go. My 6 year old brain couldn't fathom all the up, down, pliƩ repetition. So it felt by the side in favor of trampolining (boing!). As an adult however actually getting those boring looking things right takes a lot of effort and concentration (the missing ingredient from 6 year old me!)

I always wanted to do ballet growing up. I'd go to watch the ballet with my dad and my heart would just about burst when the orchestra struck up and the dancers came on stage. I never gave it a go though. I knew I'd never be a dancer like that, and decided I was just to old to even try. I've since learned however that that is bollocks! Ok half bollocks...I really never will be a dancer like the ones I saw at the ballet, I dedicated my life in a different direction, but you really never are too old to enjoy something for your self and get better at something just for the pleasure of learning something different, self improvement, and yeah maybe executing a perfect pirouette at age 50. Because although we might think by the time we're 50 neither we nor anyone else will care, we'd be wrong.  I remember at 18 picking up skateboarding and thinking about how I'd be like, 25 before I'd be any good, and ZOMG so old!
My new ballet shoes

So yeah, for a few years now I made a whole bouquet of excuses, too old, too fat, too unfit, too uncoordinated, but in the end like I say, you really are never too old, and all the rest, just showing up and trying will take them out of the equation. Getting over embarrassment can be hard, but once you take that leap over that one hurdle, who knows what you might be able to enjoy! Me? We'll I'm now a 32 year old beginner ballerina with a great "front attitude" struggling to figure out how to "make my knees point that way". Better than a 32 year old girl signing "I wish I'd tried that".

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Falling for kanzashi

Having been unable to use a sewing machine for a while, I've been a busy kanzashi making bee! Fall gallery updates are all lined up, and what better way to kick off these updates than by finally including with the king of Fall kanzashi, Autumn tinted maple leaves.

This new pin is really getting me in the mood for cooler weather. Its also the 1st November kanzashi to hit the Kanzashi Core site, and (drum roll please)... Kanzashi Core's 100th kanzashi featured in the galleries!!!!!!
100 Kanzashi Party!

To celebrate the 100th Kanzashi Core kanzashi  I'm throwing a kanzashi extravaganza! Till  the end of September every full kanzashi order (this excludes barrettes) from our kanzashi shop will receive a free pair of tsumami kanzashi barrettes. Also everyone who orders a kanzashi this month will also be entered to win this rather tasty, retro kimono inspired purse to go with their new hair ornaments.

Launch it!

With the Fall updates on the zine site, I'm making a push to get new updates to the shop part too, but need the support of all you kanzashi lovers to make that happen!

Despite a flood of interest and requests when the kanzashi shop re-opening was anounced, it hasn't had the sales needed to sustain it.

If you are one of the people excited to see the kanzashi shop open again please help get the word out. Tweet us, Facebook us, Tumble us. I'd love to work with any blogs interested in the shop and the art. Most importantly, buy your favorites!

I have the seeds of a book in progress, prototypes happening for chic lucite geiko style kanzashi and even super out there courtesan sets! I hope with enough support (indie speak for sales) I can bring these things to you.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Red X Plague Style!

Our house has recently been hit by some kind of curse, my husband and I alternating with various "knock you on your ass" illnesses and medical almost impossibilities. So been quieter than usual here lately, sorry :(

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Rococo Pants

Vintage fashion, antique fashion, there have been so many things done so well over the course of fashion history. I find a lot of the time when I think about fashion history, there are things I love about each and every era, and there are some periods that just did things better than others!

For me when it comes to silhouette I love the 18th century. It was so stylized, blown up and just plain magnificent. A total over the top caricature of femininity. I love the high heaving bosoms, the massive wide hips and exaggerated round bottoms. It was a silhouette that was impractical, imposing and really kinda sexy! Of course what was spectacular on the outside was a little heavy handed underneath. Not without charm, but not quite as tactile and seductive as we think of lingerie today. Of course however it was these foundations that made the shape so great!

When it comes to underwear I have to tip my hat to the Edwardians. There was some hardcore foundations going on there, but the pallet and treatments really made them look so dainty and delicate, no mater how much strain and coutille was in action.  Edwardian society was where beauty in the boudoir really came into it's own. Having fancy drawers went from being indecent temptation to a moral obligation! To be so darn seductive your man would never want to stray! Obvious social flaws and insults aside there, I thank them for the laces pastels ribbons and roses under our dresses.

And that is why I'm always unapologetically anachronistic.

My every day is mid century fem, but I love to play with historical styles and clothes. I've got quite the personal collection of stays, hoops, rumps and naughty garters, and these days the odd client who loves them too!

I recently finished off some panniers for a great customer and friend who'd commissioned some updated stays a while back, and recently ordered some hoops to match through the custom service run through the Vivcore shop
latest commission

complete silk trousseau with embroidery and handmade flowers
show ensemble
My very first set from 2007

Obviously these aren't so much daily wear items. For everyday I wear my various girdles, crinolines and relativly plain silk corsets that keep sleek under clothes. I do love making this kind of things for shows, photoshoots and other foundation enthusiasts though when ever I get the chance. I'd love to work more with burlesque performers and photographers looking to do something rather grand, and brides who are looking to make a real splash with a matching trousseau of foundations, gown and accessories. I just love an excuse to cut up some steel and hand set some rhinestones!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Retro Belle

Not much to read today, but I know everyone loves a good retro photo or 4! I had the pleasure of shooting with the lovely Kitty Lynne the other week and snapping the following shots of our Mid Century Mode collection.

She's such a gem to work with, and always one of the funnest parts of being a designer. You can still snap up the dresses from the Vivcore shop, and stop by Kitty's page too for even more! There is also a quick interview with her from a few months back when we first started working together.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Out of Retirement!

Last one of a bit I promise! But if blogs are about life, mines been pretty much re-launching my kanzashi the past few weeks.

The first new collection went up in the shop today! It's been over 6 years since I last sold kanzashi, so I've been feeling rather excited about this update. I've always loved working with these, and been amazed to find out just how many of my old kanzashi followers are still with me after all this time! I hope I can win a few more people over to wearing these hair ornaments, and get back to making these as part of the regular design schedule♡ 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Kanzashi Challenge Redux!

The post last month I had made about using Japanese hana kanzashi as an alternative to the good old pin up flower clips really re-cemented my love of hana kanzashi! (traditional Japanese flower hair accessories) I got routing through my old research, and pawing through photos of modern and vintage kanzashi again and got to thinking about a goal I had set myself ages ago, and never completed...

Years ago I began a challenge trying to create one of every style of monthly maiko hana kanzashi. Not just one for every month, but at least one of each and every motif for each and every month of the year plus special occasions (about 5 designs per month on average, but some have as many as 11!). I did a lot of research over the years and have quite an extensive list drawn up of what that would roughly entail. Looks like about 70 hana kanzashi to meet that basic challenge.

Back in the day and managed to put together about 20 kanzashi towards the challenge, so that means at least another 50 to finish up the basic challenge (eek). This past week, after a sizable break from the challenge I dusted of my trusty kanzashi making tweezers, re-vamped the Kanzashicore❤ website and got stuck in!

Newest Additions
The first 2 were ones I thought would really compliment my retro floral dresses. June's clematis which had been a design that fascinated  me for years, and March's large peony kanzashi to go with a current favorite dress,
After that since it's now July, I dug into the silver bridge kanzashi of the Gion festival (held later this month) and the round fan kanzashi to set out my ultra tiny petal making skills. (The big silver bridge one I wore out over the weekend with a big 60's bouffant hair do!)

In my head when I first set the challenge I had also hoped to expand it to the various other types of hair ornament that go in to completing the sets as well. Not just the silk ones, but also the silver, (faux) tortoise shell and gemstone combs picks and pins too, plus the kanzashi worn by full fledged Geiko when their own hair is styled for special occasions.  In fact, a whole heap of aspirations meaning Kanzashicore I hope will one day have literally hundreds of kanzashi described, made and displayed! (hopefully before the internet has been replaced by skynet or whatever) I also have some cute modern pin up designs to work on as well.

Beyond the Challenge!
I personally wear all my kanzashi in a way that matches my lifestyle as a vintage loving, non Japanese, general layperson fancy-pants, and will be adding some tips etc on ways to wear and enjoy these lovely ornaments for my fellow western fancy-pants to the site as well.

I'm also starting to make up a first round of kanzashi for sale again just like in the good old days! I should have the first kanzashi event up in a week or so for those who also rather adding these accessories to their wardrobe.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Wig Curious

I've been wig curious for a while as a great way to get over a few of my hair hang ups (up keep of red, permanence of black, thin hair and commitment issues). I was however a little apprehensive about finding the right one, and feeling confident all wigged out in public.

My biggest hang up was looking too "costumey". I really didn't want a nice outfit to be ruined by a Halloween looking wig, so I started scouring reviews and sites to find something that fit the following criteria...
  1. A nice natural looking fiber, nothing too shiny
  2. Retro style or styleable
  3. Blended colors
  4. Cute colors!!
  5. Ideally a nice natural looking top
  6. Not to pricey since I wasn't sure me and wigs were going to be BFF's or not
  7. No crimping. Some wigs have backcombed hair between wefts, I feel it makes my head look big
Amazingly enough I actually found a wig that met these criteria, and then some. The Eowyn wig from Arda. Now it might seem odd to some that when trying to avoid costumey, I went with a wig from a company specializing in cosplay, but the great thing about the top cosplay wig company is that, 1: Serious coslayers don't want to look Haloween costumey either, and 2: Cosplayers want to muck about with everything to get the details just right, and that means styling their wigs too!

The wig I bought is a maroon red, in a hyperlon fiber which has a little shine in a natural looking way, a nice feel and is heat stylable. It also has a large skin top so you can create a realistic looking center or side part. The fibers are a mix of rich wine red a few kind of browny, blondy colors which I think adds a kind of natural dimension that a flat single color wig just doesn't have.

Right out the bag I was really happy, but it wasn't quite pin up ready yet. Using some hair cutting scissors I cut in shorter, slightly U shaped bangs, then going with a center part cut the rest of the hair into a vintage appropriate U shape from the sides to the back. Set the hair with my large and medium hot rollers, and voila! A retro pin up style wig was revealed!

The extra bonus of these wigs by the way, is that apparently they can be dyed with Rit fabric dye, so you can mix up your own colors, or create some fun dip dye effects etc.

It took a while for me to wear it for it's first outing. The wig is quite bit larger and fuller than my real hair (one of the reasons I wanted it), and I wondered what separates the super star looking wig wearer from the awkward looking wig wearer? The conclusion, simply swagger! If you walk out like you own it people will notice your glamorous style.

I recently placed an order for a 2nd one in dark purple. I'm definitely a wig convert!
I love my new wig!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sunday Best: Jubilee

This weeks Sunday style post is full of jubilee flavor! Sad that I'm not able to really get in to the festivities like my friends and family back in England. But I'll be drinking tea whilst I work and keep things as fun and British as I can!

Outfit Rundown:

Trousers: Still not got these up on the site, future Vivcore swing pants.
Blouse: Sweetie Blouse
Pearls: My Society pearls in navy blue
Brooch: Vintage Birks silver locket
Belt: Up coming "Pretty You" accessory
Shoes: (can't seem em) but Jeffry Campbell sandals
Hair Clip: Pretty you bow.
Hair: Wet set in pin curls, then pinned under in a kind of faux bob style. I've been using heat sets a lot lately and forgot how much I adore a good wet set, it lasts forever!

Based on layout and code by Lena