I have been eagerly anticipating the arrival of Cath Kidston’s latest print, firstly because I love anything beachy, but also because it features lobsters. This isn’t the first time novelty lobster prints have been used and the latest offering from CK has has some rather fabulous lobster predecessors. I thought I’d share a bit of fashion history, before showing you my favourite pieces from the Cath Kidston collection.

Image from The Philadelphia Museum of Art (source)

This amazing dress by Elsa Schiaparelli dates from 1937 and was designed in collaboration with Salvador Dali. It’s one of my all time favourite dresses.

Image found via Pinterest

Above is a picture of Walace Simpson wearing the dress, photographed by Cecil Beaton in 1937 shortly before her marriage.

Image found via Pinterest from The Fashion and Textiles Museum

Horrockses also produced a lobster print, which can be seen in the above skirt. I really love this print and I hope one day it’s reproduced.

Another variation of the Horrockses Lobster print designed by Pat Albeck is included in the Horrockses book by Christine Boydell.

Lobster and Shells DressLobster Beach ToteLobster Kids SunglassesLobster Foldaway ShopperLobster Grace MugLobster Espadrilles 

I absolutely love the cute beachy theme of the Cath Kidston dress and the colours are really pretty. I also really like the simple lobster and blue background print on the shopping bag and really wish there was a dress in this print too, as it would love a bit more vintage. As well as the dress I really like the beach tote bag a lot and these are the two pieces from the collection that I’ll definitely be saving up for.

What do you think of the Cath Kidston prints, is there something from the collection that you like?

See the full Lobster range on the Cath Kidston website.

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The 1930s were an era of great upheaval. They opened with a depression following the Wall Street crash in 1929, and closed with the start of another World War. Despite the tough times, fashion was still an important part of many people’s lives, and the 30s remain one of our favourite decades in design.

The lavish outfits of Hollywood stars provided inspiration for everyday style, and the sweeping full length dresses that were the signature look of the decade made for spectacular dancewear. Designers such as Elsa Schiaparelli and Madeleine Vionnet were taking fashion to new and exciting places, and innovations like Vionnet’s new bias cut were gradually revolutionising the way the women dressed.

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1930s/40s Vintage Dress in Pale Aquamarine Water Silk (here)

By the 30s, the shorter-skirted and cheekier ‘flapper girl’ look had fallen out of favour, and been replaced with longer, more sophisticated designs directly influenced by stars of the silver screen such as Greta Garbo and Ginger Rogers (who often designed her own gowns). This water silk dress in pale aquamarine exhibits some classic features of the period; wide shoulders with puffed sleeves, gathered detail at the waist, and a long draping skirt which sweeps the floor.

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1930s Vintage Dress in White Silk Satin with Bias Cut (here)

The elegant bias cut was developed by Madeleine Vionnet in the late 20s, and this white silk satin dress is a perfect example of it. The fabric was cut across the grain instead of with it, allowing materials to cling artfully to the body in certain places (such as the bust and hips), but also to flare out into sweeping skirts. Like many bias cut dresses, which can stretch due to the nature of their design, this one has no openings or fastenings of any kind, and slips on over the head.

MelaMela41920s/30s Vintage Dress in Peach Velvet with Appliqué Velvet Flowers and Ribbon Detail

1930s designs were usually kept simple and flowing, with little to break up the line of a piece of clothing. However, details like flowers and bows were also added to some 30s dresses, harking back to some of the more embellished styles of the 20s. This early 30s dress keeps some design elements of the previous decade, with its appliqué flowers and ribbons and, interestingly, fastens with a zip. Although the zip was invented in 1893, they weren’t really used for clothing until Schiaparelli began to promote them in the early 30s – we think this particular zip may have been added to the dress in a later decade.

MelaMela31930s Vintage Dress in Lemon Tulle with Pleats and Bow Detail (here)

Dancing remained ever popular during the Great Depression, particularly because Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire were dazzling cinema audiences with their show-stopping routines. The long flowing skirts of 30s bias cut designs lent themselves to this incredibly well, showcasing rippling expanses of fabric. The skirt of this lemon tulle dress is accentuated with ruffles and bows, making it perfect for swishing and twirling.

Near the end of the decade, when much of the world was gearing up for war, clothing styles started to become more reserved, reflecting the seriousness of the times. Eveningwear remained as glamorous as ever, but during the next few years designers would have to adapt their clothing to rigorous rationing and controlled commodity laws. Fashion wouldn’t begin to be truly luxurious again until the latter half of the 40s, when Christian Dior released his ‘New Look’ – wide shoulders, wasp waists and full midi skirts.

1930s fashion remains a huge influence on today’s clothing, and it’s not hard to see why. The revolutionary bias cut is a staple of glamorous eveningwear and bridal gowns, and original 30s pieces are becoming more and more sought after.

This article was written by Harriet Matthews from Mela Mela Vintage. Mela Mela Vintage is a vintage boutique in Greater London.

A couple of weeks ago I returned to Bath for yet another visit to one of my very favourite cities. This time it was to attend a couple of amazing talks for Bath in Fashion as well as a rather fantastic vintage fair. It was the perfect day for me, I love a long train journey where I can gaze out of the window at the British countryside or get stuck into a great book and then look at lots of wonderful vintage clothes.

The day was especially nice because I got to meet two lovely vintage blogging ladies. Knowing we would be in Bath at the same time Sarah from the blog Porcelina’s World invited me for lunch with a couple of her friends and Mim from Crinoline Robot. Both ladies write fantastic blogs and it was great to meet up with two people who love vintage as much as I do. We had a lovely roast dinner at The Bath Brewhouse before rushing over to Bath Function Rooms for the first of the two talks we were attending.

Bath BrewhouseMy lovely lunch at The Bath Brewhouse, we were too busy chatting to get any pictures of us!

The first speaker was Nicky Albrechtsen, avid vintage collector and author of the very impressive Vintage Fashion Complete. Her book is one of the very best I’ve read on vintage fashion and covers so much ground that it is a must read for any fashion enthusiast. I have been planning to review the book for a while now and promise to have it up soon.

Nicky Albrechtsen 1930s Cardigan

 Beautiful details on a 1930s cardigan from Nicky’s collection.

Nicky’s love of fashion from all eras really shone through and it was amazing to hear all about her collection and how she had picked up various pieces over the years. She collects vintage from all eras and doesn’t always focus on designer items but more on amazing pieces that are beautiful and timeless. As someone who likes to mix up my eras it was really refreshing to hear her talking about pieces on merit rather than too create a replica vintage look.

She also brought along several wonderful pieces from her collection as well as the stunning striped 1930s dress which is featured on the cover of her book and was rescued by her from a bin! Nicky’s collection of vintage clothing is so extensive that it is housed in a warehouse and is used as a reference point for designers and costume departments.

Vintage Fashion Complete 1930s Dress

Vintage Dresses Nicky Albrechtsen

 Two wonderful dresses from Nicky’s collection. The black one is a CC41 utility dress from the 1940s. The red one is a 1970s Gnyuki Torimaru dress made from a circle of fabric. How beautiful are all those drapes and details!

Between the talks I had a good look round the BathVA vintage fair which featured some really fantastic sellers. I love a fair where the majority of sellers have older pieces and early everything there was pre 1960s. There was also a great mix of home items, ephemera and fashion. Highlights for me included lots of cotton 40s and 50s dresses and some beautiful vintage silk lingerie.

Bath VA Vintage Fair

Vintage Accessories Bath VA Vintage Fair

I was very restrained and only bought two things. I picked up a pair of vintage seamed stockings for £3 and a beautiful vintage girdle for £28. The girdle is absolutely amazing and has some pretty strong boning. It is a struggle to get into but once on the shape is absolutely amazing! I’d been wanting one like this for ages so I was happy to finally get my hands on one in my size.

Vintage Girdle

 My new vintage girdle with some stocking boxes from my collection.

We then returned to the function rooms for a talk by the ‘king of vintage’ himself, William Banks-Blaney. I have followed William on twitter for quite a few years now and I am always blown away by the pieces he finds for his Marylebone shop. William is known for supplying celebrities with the most amazing vintage ensembles for the red carpet and his knowledge of vintage couture is incredible. William travels the world hunting out the most iconic pieces of clothing from some of the worlds most well known designers. The highlight for me would have to be a 1920s little black dress by Chanel which he sold.

William has just published his first book Twenty-Five Dresses. The book looks at the dresses which really changed the history of 20th Century fashion and what the social reasons were behind the designs. The dresses really tell the story of the lives of women at the time as well as the designers behind them. William picked 4 dresses from the book to talk us through and we were all blown away by his knowledge and enthusiasm for the subject. I feel like in the 45 minutes he was talking I learned an incredible amount and I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on his book.

I was really grateful to have been invited to attend the talks by Bath in Fashion and now I can’t wait to go again next year. I might even try and attend the whole week as it really is an amazing series of events.


Vintage Cherry cake Recipe

I have another fabulous vintage recipe to share with you today. I don’t often make large cakes as I find them a little tricky. However since seeing a cherry cake being made on Bake Off a while ago it was definitely something I wanted to try. I’ve seen a few recipes for cherry cakes in my vintage cook books and this one is definitely my favourite. I’ve re-worked it a little bit and I’m so happy with how it came out. it is absolutely delicious.

Traditional Cherry Cake Recipe

Ingredients:

225g Butter

225g Sugar

4 Large eggs (beaten)

350g Flour

A pinch of Salt

1/2 tsp Baking powder

225g glace cherries (halved)

50g mixed peel

The rind of one unwaxed lemon

Flaked almonds to decorate

Icing Sugar

Cherry Cake Recipe

How to Make:

1. Pre heat your oven to 180 degrees, butter your cake tin.

2. Beat the butter and sugar until it is fully combined and creamy.

3. Add the eggs to the mixture one at a time.

4. Mix the flour, salt and baking powder and add gradually to the mixture.

5. Add a little milk to the mixture.

6. Gently mix in the halved cherries, mixed peel and lemon rind.

7. Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and bake for around 40 minutes or until cooked through.

8. Turn out cake into a wire rack and allow to cool fully.

9. Decorate the cake with a full drizzles of icing as well as some flaked almonds and a few halved cherries.

1930s Cherry Cake Recipe

Cherry Cake Vintage Frills

I love the traditional look of this cake, wouldn’t it look lovely as part of a vintage tea party! Please let me know if you try any of my recipes. A couple of people have shared pictures with me on Instagram and it was lovely to see that people had given them a try! I was also wondering about doing a few vintage recipes on Youtube what do think? xxx

In recent months I’ve found very little time for reading, by nature I’m an avid bookworm so it’s always a real treat when I manage to fit a little reading into a busy day. I read a wide range of books, I love light-hearted chick lit as well as history books and books on vintage fashion. My biggest love is books written in and based on the 1920s and 30s. It’s such a glamorous era of history. I love authors like Nancy Mitford and Agatha Christie and have read most of their books.

Book People Carola Dunn Collection

I thought I’d write a little list of some of my favourite books and authors from the era to offer a little inspiration to your reading lists…

The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald:

I have to say I absolutely loved the recent film of this book. I know it received mixed reviews but I’m a huge fan of Baz Lurhman’s films and I adored the opulence of this stylised interpretation of the book. If period authenticity is what you expected then I can understand the disappointment, but the film was everything I wanted it to be. The book itself is a stunning use of language and every word is perfectly placed. If you are one of the few who hasn’t read this yet I would highly recommend it. It was written in 1925 and set in 1922.

Every book by Agatha Christie (especially Poirot):

I had already seen most of Miss Marple and Poirot on TV before I ever picked up an actual Agatha Christie novel. I love her style of writing and her mysteries are so fun to read, I never guess the actual culprit so it’s always a great surprise when they are revealed at the end. Poirot is the my favourite deceptive of all time and his idiosyncrasies are even more amusing in the books than on TV. There’s a reason Christie has inspired so many imitators over the years, as she is simply the queen of cosy crime.

Gentleman Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos:

The book is very different to the famous Marilyn Monroe film from 1953. For a start it was written in 1925. It’s of the same era as Gatsby and is one of many of the time that represents the jazz age. It’s a fab and very fun book and is perfect for would be flappers!

Nightingale Wood by Stella Gibbons:

I read this a few years back and it’s one of my favourites. The book was written in 1935 and tells the story of a young widow forced to live in the country with her late husbands family. There are many plot similarities to Downton Abbey and I’m sure the script writers must have read this book first!

Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day by Winifred Watson:

This book is just magical, I’ve not seen the popular film based on it and personally I don’t want to as I love the book so much. Miss Pettigrew is a penniless governess and through a series of misunderstandings, ends up befriending Delysia LaFosse a young socialite. Miss Pettigrew ends up getting glammed up and enjoying the perfect day with Miss LeFosse and the ensuing fun is absolutely adorable. Read this book if you want something to make you smile. The book was first published in 1938.

20s and 30s novels

Nancy Mitford:

Mitford is one of my very favourite authors. Her books are full of upper class English wit, and are often inspired by her and her sister’s very unusual lives. I’d recommend reading about her and her family as well, as their story reads like a novel in itself. They were at the very heart of the 1920s London party scene and as well as being aristocratic debutantes, they were also Bright Young Things.

I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith:

This wonderful children’s book from the author of 101 Dalmatians, is about a girl living an impoverished life in her families castle. The fate of many wealthy and aristocratic families in the early 20th century was the struggle to maintain great houses once the money had dried up. The book is written in the form of a journal and it’s an absolutely lovely read.

Before I Met You by Lisa Jewell:

Lisa Jewell is one of my very favourite modern authors. Her books go beyond chick lit and are complex and dark as well as being beautifully written. The book has two stories running parallel in both 1990s and 1920s London. The book is about Arlette who lives in London at the hight of the roaring 20s, but after tragedy strikes she leaves the city and never returns. Moving forward to 1995 her granddaughter has newly arrived in Soho and is looking to discover her Grandmother’s story. The book is very sad at times but id a fantastic read which would make a brilliant film.

Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh:

This one took a while to get into for me. But as Waugh is such an iconic reader and also a good friend of Nancy Mitford, I just had to read one of his books. This book was written in 1930 and is a satire of the Bright Young People of the 1920s.

Daisy Dalrymple Mysteries by Carola Dunn:

Having recently made a vow to read more, I took to one of my favourite websites. The Book People are great for picking up bargain books and I really love their bundles of books which are so cheap I have to stop myself buying more books than I could ever actually read!

Having read the first few Daisy Dalrymple books on my Kindle I was really pleased to see a bundle of 12 books from later in the series none of which I had read for just £6!!! I cannot wait to get through these and I’m sure the hours will slip by very quickly reading all of them.

Daisy Dalrymple Books

While looking through the book collections I spotted a couple from authors I’ve not yet read I got a set of 5 books by Molly Keane. Keane was an Irish author who wrote her first few books under the name M.J Farrell had a writing career spanning from the 1920s to 80s and is known for her wickedly black humour. I can’t wait to give these 5 novels a try.

Molly Keane Book

I also got 3 books by Barbara Comyns whose books were published in the 40s to 80s. Her books are set in the early 20th century and she is also completely new to me. I’ll report back as soon as I’ve managed to read them and let you know what I thought. Although these are set in the Edwardian era I thought I’d give them a mention anyway.

Barbara Comyns Books

What are your favourite books from the 20s and 30s? I’d love some recommendations as I know there are so many great authors I’m yet to discover, my list of books to read is increasing at an alarming rate at the moment.