Sunday, 29 August 2010


I was recently commissioned to design a special seating plan and table name cards for a couple who married this August. They tentatively contacted me about 6 weeks previously following recommendations of my work from happy brides on a wedding forum. Their brief was rough and fairly open to combine their love of music festivals, gigs they've shared together and to include photos and lyric quotes if possible. 

I went away with a few immediate ideas based on a special festival style poster seating plan which were tested for viability.  There were so many elements to try to combine I was starting to worry the result may become too busy and actually detract from the function of the seating plan. So I then had the idea to combine their facing silhouettes with the heading to create a unique logo. I chose a decorative, slightly grungy font for the band names for design consistency and to avoid using actual band logos for copyright reasons. The couple kindly supplied me with personal photos and I set to work drawing it up. The result was fine but still not quite what I'd envisaged. Then amongst the personal photos they emailed I found a lovely candid shot of them together taken at one of the gigs - it was natural, happy and encapsulated the whole spirit of their original request. It worked perfectly.

The table cards became mini versions with the 'logo' on the reverse and an appropriate song quotation of the couple's choice along with the band table name and the date & venue they saw them perform.

My first set of design proposals shown to Yvette & David was met with "We can't find the words to say how much we LOVE this! Thank you so, so much - it has surpassed our wildest expectations - we actually got quite emotional looking at your designs, they are perfect and we are so happy!"

Final artwork was approved and colours requested to fit with their other venue styling. The poster was printed on A1 satin paper and mounted in a slim silver edged frame and the photos above emailed to clients prior to sending the parcel. Their response...?

"Aaagggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh the photos are AMAZING!! Thank you so, so much! I have been going through a bit of an 'in shock' phase this week so far that the wedding is almost upon us. This has just completely broke me out of that and I could scream with excitement! When we first thought of it we didn't know if anyone would 'get it' but you have totally brought it to life. I can't wait for our friends to see it - we have kept the idea top secret, and I think our friends and fellow gig buddies will really love it!"

Saturday, 28 August 2010

TART AT 40 WINKS - My Adventures in Wonderland

Part 2 of Belated birthday treat – and 'treat' it most certainly was!

40 Winks has been noted 'the most beautiful small hotel in the world' according to German Vogue. Nestled in the bustling East End of London it is home, showpiece and exclusive guest house of fantastical interior designer, David Carter and often used for style and fashion shoots. Additionally, he runs several monthly events including 'Tart'.

So imagine, you've been invited into one of the most eclectic and evocative townhouses in London. The door closes on the grey world outside and for the next 4 hours you enter a grown-up girl's Wonderland of dressing up, fine cake and gin cocktails served in vintage bone china. It's another time, another place. You are requested to arrive promptly at 2pm, leave your shoes by the door (given slipperettes to wear instead) and "Do please make sure you all dress up and look your glamorous best for the occasion. Mr Carter is very strict about such matters and suffers from a terrible allergy to jeans, leggings, sweatpants and anything synthetic." 

Curiouser and curiouser ...

Saturday morning I dressed in a midnight blue cocktail dress, my favourite foaming red petticoat and pearls, then made the grimy trip to London. 

Naomi Thompson and Miss Severina greeted me with a special Tart cocktail. They gave me a tour of the beautiful house, an opportunity to discover it's witty details and decadent charm. Rather than showing little mobile phone snaps I'd rather you see it photographed professionally in it's true finery, so please visit

Every room held a little promise of the afternoon to come. The basement kitchen presented a delicious afternoon tea from Vintage Patisserie and Hendrick's Gin cocktails served in dainty cups. I was introduced to style and fashion designers from Figoli and (No) Smoking in the salons above, and then led to meet top vintage hair and beauty experts, Lipstick and Curls briefly peeking in a bedroom brimming with vintage clothes from Naomi's collection. Upstairs I found angelologist and author Angela McGerr and couture designers from Roy Storch, the nimble fingers of Xhilarate and pin-up & Forties enthusiast Fleur De Guerre who was on hand to offer advice. I then met the softly spoken dandy, Mr David Carter, who welcomed me to his home. 

I began by having a much needed makeover more suiting to my retro style dress. Experts instructed how to properly apply red lipstick (without getting it over my teeth, rest of my face, everyone else's face) while 20 or so other ladies arrived in groups. Later, Fleur gave a talk on embracing your inner starlet and a mixologist demonstrated the art of fine cocktail making (with much tasting, of course.) I won't go into too much more detail of the whole afternoon because if any of you, my dear readers, decide to book I would love you to enjoy it with the same element of delight and discovery as I did.

However, I must tell you about the clothes. Naomi kindly brought along a rack of vintage gems for us to try on whilst offering valuable styling advice. There was a little moment towards the end of the afternoon when the room became free of other ladies and when much gin had been nervously quaffed, so I took the opportunity to have a less self-conscious look. As a child I was raised on the Hollywood Musical. There's a scene in 'Gypsy' where the tom-boy heroine is finally allowed to dress as a woman, about to make her leading stage debut. She tenderly touches the mirror reflection of her blue satin dress and says with surprise "I'm pretty Mama, I'm a pretty girl". Well, a little shimmer of peacock blue caught my eye on the clothes rail and within moments I was standing before the mirror in the floor length gown, (serendipitously in my ...ahem... ample size) with a silent gasp. That dress stayed on for the rest of the afternoon!

The events came to a close with the presentation of the Queen of Tarts prize - a bespoke corset from What Katy Did, bequeathed to the girl who made the best transformation from Cinderella to Starlet and we were each given an ├╝ber gift bag of goodies to take home. And so I found my way, once more, blinking and slightly tipsy on the steps of the white rabbit hole hotel. "Wow" greeted my husband, clutching a Halford's carrier bag. He had spent an afternoon of Yang to my Ying in a nearby cinema watching The Expendables and man-shopping.

Thank you so much to everyone involved with Tart at 40 Winks for making me feel so welcome. 
Would I recommend? Hell, Yeah!

Photos of some Tart!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010


As mentioned on my previous post this was Part 1 of a belated birthday present treat. My husband had kindly bought us tickets for the Saturday. Alas the glamping weekend ticket prices were more than the price of a European weekend break and so we travelled from Kent to West Sussex to get there for early doors, Saturday morning deciding that if we thought it worthwhile we could always make a return journey on Sunday. My experience below is purely as a 'punter'.

I had been looking forward to this for months – it sounded like a great concept, bringing together fashion, music and art & design from 5 decades of British Culture – but therein lies the flaw. Perhaps by catering for 'everyone' it can never be anything but a bit of a mish-mash and potentially soulless. 


Festival Fashions
Great to see most people dressed accordingly, and it was pure joy to see how and what they wore. There was much evidence of inventiveness and personal style on display from old and young. We were secretly thrilled to be stopped for photographs and complimented on our attire. I wore my trusty retro red swing dress with petticoats, pincurls and pearls – Tim wore his favourite dapper Jump the Gun brown suit (and unfortunately wellies as he refused to spoil expensive brogues in the mud when it starting raining on arrival).
Favourite dress moment: the utterly gorgeous lady in the Let's Rock tent dressed in a heavily fringed burlesque style dress, Victory Rolls and snake illustrated seamed stockings whisping their way up her calfs. As she shimmied, she was totally unaware of the effect she was having on the men behind her, all taking snaps on their mobiles. Or maybe she did ;-)

Bonhams auction items on display 
Thrilled to see the Othello dog Biba display in the flesh and slightly spooked by the ape costume from '2001 a Space Odyssey' movie. Lusted after an early Rock & Roll review poster and 50s china tea service.

The Market Place
What more can a girl love than the challenge of rummaging through racks of clothes looking for a beautiful gem among swathes of 80s horrors? And I found one! A fabulous citrus coloured print cotton swing dress from the 1950s. Pur-chased swiftly! 

Foodie Demonstration 
Pineapple Upside Down cake prepared by gorgeous patissier Eric Lanyard. Nom, nom, nom!

Soul Casino Club
Seeking solace from the rain, we danced our muddy shoes off to some cracking Northern Soul, rammed among hundreds of other festival goers till the steam literally rose!

Let it Rock
Enjoyed watching the swing dance lessons and loved the raw energy of the Caezars set. 

Main Stage
Martha & the Vandellas sang 'Dancing in the Street'. 'Nuff said.
Noisettes - ok, not my idea of 'vintage' and wasn't expecting to be wowed but they were actually really, REALLY good entertainment value. Singer Shingai launched herself into the crowd for a rousing 'Never Forget you'. Skies cleared... finally. 

Disappointed by...

I realise no one was to blame for this, but we just missed the freedom of lazing on the grass inbetween acts. Downside to glamming it up at a festival is you care deeply if you get mud on your prized vintage. Deckchairs were provided in some areas but they were obviously sopping wet too. It also meant that all the tents were overflowing during downpours and you couldn't legitimately get in to watch certain acts eg John Shuttleworth in the Leisure Dome.

Many acts/events seemed to require prebooking...
... which we didn't realise beforehand eg The Torch Room, esp when Kitten Von Mew was on, the make up & hair parlour (we were told it was booked out for the whole day within about 5 minutes of opening). There seemed to be a lottery to get into the fashion shows. I'd been looking forward to seeing at least one but everytime we queued we were turned away and told they 'might' give out entries but 'you'll have to wait around to find out'. 

Hence, we actually saw very little of the things we'd been particularly looking forward to. 

Not enough of...
Had hoped to see more art and design from all eras on show. Thought some of the displays were a little 'art college' but without the wit and energy. 
*NB-I don't have anything against art students, (I was one myself once upon a time) just anticipated more. 

Overly Commercial
Bemused by presence of Primark and John Lewis. Added nothing of vintage cred.
The Abbey Road Studio – a few photos on the walls and excuse to flog luxury brand headphones. 
Ditto some of the other shops in the High Street. Wondered who buys a Schaffhausen watch at a music festival. However I do appreciate events need sponsors. Not sure these were the right 'brands'.

Gutted to have missed: Kitten Von Mew, The Chap Olympiad, The Damned (on Sunday), Fashion show (any).

Overall we had a good time. I wanted to LOVE it but couldn't. Not enough to want to make the 2 hour trip back again on Sunday. 

Tuesday, 24 August 2010


Well, hello! Please excuse lack of posts for a few weeks. As well as being busy, busy, busy with all the lovely weddings this month, I also made sure to fit in a few days off with family. Rather than go away we've been having good, old-fashioned days out around the South East, often involving retail therapy along the way. Here's my brief roundup:

The City by the Sea is one of my guilty pleasures and we try to visit every few months. The shops in the North Laine quarter are inspiringly random - favourites include:
Velvet Store - Scrumptious array of gift and homeware and much more.
Get Cutie - Very wearable retro styled dresses in an amazing variety of bold and colourful prints. Choose from cowgirls, to Elvis, from delicate birds to Sculls and Roses.
Tantalus - Sells unusual fragrances and gifts, within an exquisitely dandy, masculine space. A gentleman's shop.
Battle Antiques - Now, I owe a debt of gratitude to Twitter friend Joannabrownuk for suggesting I visit this place earlier in the year. It's more than an antique shop - it's a feast of curiosities and museum of macabre - the kind of shop that Sherlock Holmes or Jonathan Creek might run if they decided to ditch the crime solving business. Goodies include ancient surgical tools, bath chairs, golden age magician posters and various skulls.

Vintage at Goodwood
Part one of my birthday present (in May) from my husband. I had been looking forward to this but alas the rain decided to come hard and heavy. Whilst it was generally good fun there was a lot that didn't live up to the hype. Did buy a rather sweet fifties dress though. I'll give a full verdict in a special post soon.

Oft visited for shopping but this time actually visited the cathedral.

London Dungeons
Yes, really! For all the years I worked in London and lived nearby, pouring scorn on the long queue of tourists that daily gather to be fleeced in the name of entertainment - we decided to see for ourselves. I have to confess... we quite enjoyed it. Funniest moment was seeing a grown man scream when one of the exhibits turned out to be a real person.

I didn't come last. That's all you need to know. (I didn't come first, second, third, fourth... either)

A little jewel on the North Kent Coast with the sweetest cottages, quirky shops and seafood restaurants. Lunched at the Samphire - quite perfect Eggs Florentine. Purchased from a great little vintage clothing shop called Pearl and Hemmingway that I discovered stocks gorgeous What Katy Did frillies, bought another notebook from Frank and er... Cheese.

In addition to this I bought far too many books and haven't actually had time to look at any of them yet: including one on Rock & Roll style graphic design , biographies of Joe Meek, Mark Oliver Everett (Eels), Anthology of Sherlock Holmes and 2 books on Golden Age Magicians (eclectic? moi?)

Tart at 40Winks
Part 2 of birthday present and something quite special so deserves a special post.

Sunday, 1 August 2010


Sometimes the heart rules the head and this weekend I fell in love with this little beauty. It's a 1991 Nissan Figaro in Midnight Purple with a vinyl soft top and pale creamy interior. Not the most practical car but what could I do? - I was smitten! 

Tuesday, 13 July 2010


We're absolutely delighted and proud to appear in this week's edition of OK! magazine (issue 734) within a gorgeous double page gift feature celebrating David & Victoria Beckham's 11th Wedding Anniversary. And we're amongst excellent company – Aston Martin, Asprey, Chanel, Apple and Diptyque are just a few of the others mentioned. 

"Nota Bene"
"We all know that the Beckhams love to throw a good party, so should they have a glitzy bash for their next anniversary they could send out these invitations by Prettywild."

PS. David & Victoria, we've reserved a space for you in the order diary ;)