Friday, 29 July 2011

Summer 2011: Why Nautical is Here to Stay

YSL Resort 2012, Image from

Ahoy there, my hearties!
Hope your Friday is smooth-sailing.

A good friend recently asked if I still sell nautical-themed items. She said she remembered the sailor shift dresses and red anchor cushions in my Leeds and Harrogate shops.  It triggered happy memories for they were my best-selling stock in 2008- 2009. This reminiscence prompted her to ask why the nautical/sailor theme is still going.

Research yielded the following reasons:

❤ Support for the Royal Navy
The Victorians and Edwardians were heartily supportive of the Royal Navy, which would travel to new undiscovered nations to extend the Empire.
In 1846, 5-year-old Prince Albert (who would later become Edward VII) wore a custom-made sailor suit for use aboard the Royal yacht. He looked adorable and so started an unprecedented trend for the children of the middle and upper classes. The Edwardian era — also called 'The Age of Opulence' — was emblematised by the leisurely pastimes of affluent people. These included yachting, bathing and promenading. Railway, tram and bus services developed, many of which aimed at transporting the masses to seaside resorts. There was even a charitable organisation in London which organised trips to the beach for the poor. The sailor look never left the fashion scene.

Image from Wkipedia of Prince Albert
 ❤ Coco Chanel
In 1917, Coco Chanel took inspiration from Breton fishermen wearing stripy shirts. She was visiting Brittany at the time. Her relationship with the Duke of Westminster from the 1920s to 1930 brought her into frequent contact with the yachting fraternity. Since then, the loose trousers and stripy shirt  has become Chanel's trademark look.

Kenzo 2006 Nautical Collection

❤ YSL, Kenzo, Vivienne Westwood & Adam Ant
Yves Saint Laurent introduced a naval collar and reefer jacket in his catwalk show of 1962.
Later, Paris-based Kenzo adapted the reefer jacket in the late 1970s and in 2006, Kenzo's catwalk under Antonio Marra made a sensational comeback. In 1980s England, Vivienne Westwood created the pirate look and English musician Adam Ant wore naval-inspired costumes.

Adam Ant via

❤ That breezy, care-free feeling
The nautical look never came from high fashion. Its roots were adapted by fashion houses simply because of the assured calm and lightness that it evokes. And from a business of point of view, translating it to daily wear for ordinary folks like us has never been easier because there's not much to modify. People simply love the nautical look because it projects the ambience of relaxing seaside holidays. And who doesn't want to be on the beach?

Summer 2011 Photoshop by yours truly. View my Spring 2011 here.

How about you? Are you feeling sea-sick that nautical is still on trend?
Love it? Loathe it? I'd like to hear your thoughts.
Thanks for reading!

Vintage Dress (sold), Ms Zinski on Etsy
Red aviators,




Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Hot Stuff

Hello my lovelies!
I hope everyone's enjoying the heat. Time flies and soon it will be autumn so I'm hoping you're all having fun.

This post is for IFB Project no. 6.
I hope you like it.

With apologies to surfer and artist John Van Hamersveld, the original creator of  The Endless Summer  movie poster
❤ No surf? No problem.
All the resorts are packed with tourists wanting to bake themselves tan. Bars and cafés are full. So, I was  on the cycle path with my daughter — she documenting our little escapade with an old digicam, I yelling "go! go! go!" — praising her elegant balance on her board and her remarkable fearlessness.

Eyewear Headworx, Board Sector 9, Bambi Shirt ASOS, Denim Alex Drake Vintage, Canvas Shoes Alex Drake Vintage 
Photos by Olivia, 6 years old

❤ Dawn swim? Well, not quite.
Getting ready to get in the water before the throng of grockles arrive.
You wont be in anybody's way, and you can practice your  solo synchronised swimming techniques (yes apparently there is such a thing as solo synchronised swimming).

❤ Gelato: The ultimate refreshment

We have a few more weeks before we go back to our beloved old Blighty so I'm mostly soaking up the heat.
How about you? How's your summer going so far? Any stunning photos to share?
Thanks for reading and do keep in touch!

Joy x


Photo credits:

Friday, 22 July 2011

Unforgettable Visual Treats

How's it going, my creative readers?

Here are some astounding adverts and typography I've come across whilst waiting for some inspiration to zap my brain into writing mode.

Snail mail, anyone? I miss that familiar thrill of surprise and anticipation that comes with everything in the post. Remember IYS (International Youth Service)? Happy memories.

 Do it for yourself, not for anybody else. Need I say more?

 I'd like to think it's nice to have both, especially if you're a guy.

Speed kills, indeed.

For those considering a degree.

How clever is this?

My favorite typography so far.

For that fruitful weekend.

Nurture our one and only planet.

And don't we know it.

Blogging is a tool to share one's creativity and unique voice
in order to help create a more interesting world. 
Stop that "my-fashion-blog-is-better-than-yours-so-I-won't-follow-you" already.
Now is the time to communicate, collaborate and celebrate
21st century media.
 Won't you join me?

Thanks for reading.

Photo credits:

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

In the Hood

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

This is my contribution for the IFB Project no. 5 - finding inspiration in one's neighbourhood, which is now included in the round-up. Thanks for all your wonderful feedback.

“Your next-door neighbour is not a man; he is an environment. He is the barking of a dog; he is the noise of a pianola; he is a dispute about a party wall; he is drains that are worse than yours, or roses that are better than yours.” 
- GK Chesterton

© Alex Drake Vintage Photography
The beach beckons... let go of everything. Quietude, repose — all in the balmy breeze. Breathe in...

© Alex Drake Vintage Photography
This is where dreams are made... believe and they'll come true.

© Alex Drake Vintage Photography
We are all surrounded with good things.

© Alex Drake Vintage Photography
Happiness is evident everywhere... even in little things.

© Alex Drake Vintage Photography
Spread the word... let's all link in and share the love.
Keep in touch.

© Alex Drake Vintage Photography
These are our exceptional neighbours Ippocampo and La Bussola. Once, my husband broke our only bottle of wine for dinner. Shops were shut in the night, so I headed down to Ippocampo and came out with an unopened Vino Frizzante. Last week, we ran out of milk, again, in the night. I went to  La Bussola and having told them of our problem, the owner sent me home with a carton of milk. Both neighbours refused to take my payment. Perhaps to get rid of me. Nevertheless, I feel I've integrated into the usually insular Italian community where we're currently based. Being friendly usually helps. I guess they like that I try so hard to converse, even in my broken Italian.

© Alex Drake Vintage Photography (photo appeared here)

Hope you're all having a nice day.


Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The Misunderstood World of Kitsch

Image Alex Drake Vintage

Last week I was fortunate enough to be a part of the IFB Links à La Mode Weekly Round-up, where one of the bloggers, the lovely Kimmie of KPfusion,  pondered about whether or not fashion is subjective. My personal answer was: "everything in life is subjective".

Today I've been attempting to rationalise the anarchy of my desk. Unsuccessfully. But during the attempt I came across some old photos of my previous furniture shop in the UK. At first glance the photos scream "Kitsch!". I gave them a second look, however, and an inner voice protested: "It's not kitsch, it's colourful and cool!".

Image Alex Drake Vintage, Shop stock 2006
As a vintage goods trader, I've never really put my foot down and 'educated' clients who would make a point of saying "Hey your things are Kitsch". It's not my style – I don't usually like to impose. And the absolute pared-down truth is, if I make a sale, especially to the person insisting on it, then I'd be a fool to challenge them. I'm in business. I'm not a crowd of demonstrators trying to put the world to rights.

❤ What exactly is Kitsch?
I'm guessing you've heard and read the word 'kitsch' at some point. In my case, I often hear it. Worse, people have pointed at my stuff and openly verbalised the word, with a palpable mockery in their tone. Often, I have the last laugh when they buy the item in question.
On Wikipedia, kitsch is dissected and analysed by artists, academics and theorists. For all its worth my understanding is that it's just a word made up by the upper classes in late 1800s, to taunt the 'newly moneyed bourgeois' and label the latter's taste as 'crass, cheap, worthless' imitation of high art. It was deemed as a 'threat to culture' and was 'evil'. It was also a willful forgetting that the old money of 1800s Western Europe was the new money of 100 years before.

Ducks via; clock & Tretchikoff Alex Drake Vintage; tv boat lamp CDianneZweig
❤ Avante-Garde vs. Kitsch
American essayist and art critic Clement Greenberg is known for his 1939 essay 'Avante-Garde and Kitsch'. Wikipedia states that he believed "Avante-Garde was the product of Enlightenment's revolution of critical thinking...while Kitsch on the other hand was the product of industrialization and urbanization of the working class...a populace hungry for culture, but without the education to enjoy cutting edge avant-garde culture".

Exactly a week ago, the American artist Cy Twombly - cited by the BBC as the 'original graffiti artist' - died in Rome, his home since the late 50's. I couldn't help but notice the echoes of the great divide between High Art and Kitsch and Cy Twombly vs. Banksy (I like all four by the way). For your reading pleasure, check out the controversial article from the Guardian cited at the end of this post.

Image via Cy Twombly Info
❤ Revenge of the Kitsch
In the 1950s, Kitsch wasn't just in paintings anymore. It established itself, more than ever, by occupying homes in the form of ceramic flying ducks, Vladimir Tretchikoff's green lady prints, starburst clocks, etc. Although Tretchikoff's work has always been blackballed by art critics - something that caused him huge distress - a month ago he had his first major retrospective (four years after his death in Capetown, South Africa). In 2008, one of his paintings sold for a record $559,000. And yes, his artworks are now on coasters, fabrics and wallpaper, gracing self-consciously chic homes all over the world.
Image via Retro-Luxe Blog
❤ What it means to me
If I were to ask you right now "What is art?", we could well start a discussion that rages for decades. As with everything else, it all comes down to personal preferences. For me, Kitsch is art - a product of creative energy and intention, whatever one thinks of the end-product. I can't draw or paint but I react to visually stimulating images. Art is art. No amount of scholastic interpretation can or will persuade me to like something which I don't understand, which doesn't trigger my pupils to dilate in awe. I believe artists and designers today are very fortunate, as we live in a highly tolerant, bohemian world. Where art and style are concerned nowadays, it's anything goes. I believe that therein lies the secret to contentment, satisfaction, and maybe even self-actualization. Life is relatively short – if Kitsch is your thing, enjoy it. I do.

Image via
Happy Tuesday everyone!

How about you? Does the word Kitsch offend you? Do you believe that Kitsch has killed high art? Do you own a Kitsch item?
Looking forward to hearing from you.



Thursday, 7 July 2011

Links à la Mode: The IFB Weekly Roundup

Ask and you shall receive

Edited by Vahni of Grit & Glamour

This blogging's been around a while now, and many are realizing what a rewarding endeavor it is, on a sartorial and psychological level. One thing I love about blogging is the opportunity to ask a question, ponder a theory—and have others share their thoughts and opinions as well. In this week's roundup, several bloggers reflect on the positive influence blogging has had on their lives and self-esteem. (Superb! Yay for blogging!) Others ruminated on everything from whether style is really subjective, to whether fashion as an exhibit is a trend. Or not.

Stumped for post ideas? Want more engagement with your readers? Been contemplating the style-related proclivities of society? Ask, lovelies. Everyone has an opinion, and most are chomping at the bit to share. But the most wonderful aspect of this kind of engagement is not more comments. Those are nice, yes. It's through discussion that personalities are revealed and relationships are forged. Your readers aren't just a little avatar and some words. They are vibrant individuals—and your biggest fans!

Links à la Mode: June 30th

  • Alex Drake Vintage: 10 Things I Like About the 1980s

  • Angela Osborn: 6 Lessons Learned from Coco Chanel

  • Any Second Now: Heartfelt lessons and thanks in this first year of blogging.

  • Beautifully Invisible: We Are Women. We Are Beautiful. We Are Real.

  • Beyond Fabric: On personal style and individuality—because redundant is the last thing you want to  be.

  • Blah Blah Becky: Proof that it's always worth trying a trend: cropped tops without muffin top.

  • Boheme Noir: Fashion Show Coverage: Roberto Cavalli S/S 12 Menswear

  • Bubbling with Elegance and Grace: Fashion Designer Exhibitions: Is this the new trend?

  • By Anika: Closet check: Do your clothes make you feel good about your self?

  • College-Style: #Trending in Milan: Using Twitter to keep up with girls' and guys' fashion #trends

  • Divergent Musings: Five ways that blogging has improved my life (it can improve yours too)!

  • Grit & Glamour: Worker V:2.0 (Ode to the Pencil Skirt)

  • Hippie Lace: You Cast Your Spell On Me: Spell & The Gypsy Collective

  • Idee Fixe: Kindness: A Tale of Kindness, Generosity, and a Vintage Coat

  • KP Fusion: In the business of blogging, is style really subjective?

  • My Orange Stilettos: Just because you're short doesn't mean you can't wear a midi.

  • Oranges and Apples: On "going out" clothes and sexual attractiveness.

  • Seamstress Stories: Boundaries on body confidence and a culture of bonding through body bashing.

  • Style Sizzle: 10 fashion lessons learned from living in the desert.

  • The Stylish Butterfly: The advantages of being the worst dressed—it works for Helena Bonham Carter!

    Day Dress Sale at Shopbop: Nanette Lepore, 3.1 Phillip Lim, DKNY, Lela Rose, Daftbird, Tibi, Red Valentino, Rebecca Taylor, Lucy in Disguise, Shoshanna, & DVF Wrap Dresses

    If you would like to submit your link for next week’s Links à la Mode, please register first, then post your links HERE. The HTML code for this week will be found in the Links a la Mode group will be published later today. ~Jennine


    Tuesday, 5 July 2011

    Going Solo

    This post was featured on IFB Project no.3
    on July 6, 2011

    IFB Project 3 involves finding an item that represents independence - usually from one's wardrobe - then sharing it to the world.

    Well my entry is a little bit bigger than the items in my wardrobe. My strong suspicion is that the rest will have clothes, shoes and accessories featured here. So I'm just going to go slightly off mark.

    As some of you already know, I've featured this bicycle on my facebook page previously. This is my little ride to the ipermercato, to Saturday markets and to the end of the north beach to check out little swells in our one and only surfspot in this side of the Adriatic.

    Around here, driving a car for short distances, and on teeny-weeny roads are not optimal. Thus, a bicycle is the transport of choice - the get-away vehicle - for most of the residents here.

    These wheels are made for riding

    To all my friends in the USA, I hope you all had a fantastic Independence Day.

    Image from Cake America


    Lovely Blog Award

    Thanks so much to the lovely Shannon of Shannon.Sometimes for handing me the One Lovely Blog Award. As with the Stylish Blogger Award, I have to let you know 7 facts about me.

    1. I take two sugars in my hot drinks (except hot cocoa)
    2. I'm usually in my PJs after a long day at work
    3. I love RomComs and every other slapstick movie
    4. My favourite photographic effect is Cross Process
    5. The longest time I've slept for was 20 hours after working 7 nights in a row
    6. My favourite French red is Rasteau
    7. I dream of playing at the National Sudoku Championships in London. Maybe one day.

    Thanks my lovelies for reading.

    Here are 7 more lovely blogs that are worth reading (in random order).
    Hope you like them as much I as do.


    Joy xx

    1. 40s Modern Hepcat
    2. 55th Street
    3. Cherryrediana
    4. Giasaysthat
    5. Miss Pepper Vintage
    6. The Citizens' Closet
    7. Carrie Hamm

    Have a great week, everyone!


    Friday, 1 July 2011

    10 Things I like about the 1980s

    This post is part of Links à la Mode: The IFB Weekly Roundup   
    and I'm grateful to V of Grit and Glamour for including me.

    I got an email from a friend who asked if I'm continuing my series of 'Ten things I like..' As you may have noticed, I have been distracted with other things. But it’s time to continue.

    Before the vintage purists among you flinch and wail "Oooo no. Eighties!", this is my take on this decade of madness. I'm proud to say I grew up in the '80s and I have many fond memories of them. The words 'tacky', 'bad music', 'bad hair', and 'bad clothes' are usually associated with the 1980s, and with perfect justification. But it was a decade of tumultuous change, and the world would be a big, boring place had we not had it.

    So I hope you'll give me a chance.

    Image from
    1. Rubik's Cube
    Hands up those who grew up in the '80s without handling one? I didn't think so.

    Originally created by Ernő Rubik in the early '70s to teach his students in Budapest the concept of 3D objects, it was finally introduced in February 1980 at toy fairs in London, Paris, Nuremberg, and New York.
    I never completed the puzzle, but always gave it a good go. One day I peeled off the stickers, interchanged them and convinced my older brothers that I've done it. I felt a little guilty, later.

    This has got to be my favourite '80s icon. It's also the best-selling toy in the world according to some reports. The good news is, you can now watch online tutorials showing how to solve the puzzle. Yay!

    Image from Omis.m
    2. MTV
    August 1, 1981 was a phenomenal day. MTV aired its first show and the era of musical videography began. The idea that you could watch your favourite artists sing for you all day long was mind-blowing. It also created a new media role – that of the VJ, who linked the videos with dialogue.
    I particularly liked Thriller by Michael Jackson. To me it was kinda like a horror film, but one in which the characters were singing and dancing. Hey, nothing's cheesy when you're a child.
    I come from a musical family. We used to have MTV playing in the front room and soaking up the bands' visual aesthetic and of course fashion trends, blissfully unaware of their powerful influence on young people.

    Image from

    3. Colour Blocking
    It's been around since the 1930s. From Piet Mondrian's 'Composition II in Red, Blue, and Yellow', to YSL's 1960s 'Mondrian Day Dress'. In the 1980s it was present in many of the clothes we wore. But back then nobody pointed it out as a particular fashion trend. It was simply how bright clothes were put together.

    Image from
    4. Madonna
    The reigning Queen of Pop
    Whatever your take on Madonna, nobody can deny her iconic status. She burst onto the pop music scene in the early ’80s, and pretty much shaped its future.

    Before becoming a megastar she was an A student and was in a scholarship program. Did you know that? I didn't. Her voice might not be spectacular but she has a perfect pitch and can play the guitar and drums, apart from being flexible and all that. To me she’s a heroine for constantly embracing new knowledge and techniques, and surviving in the world of business. Talk about going with the flow.

    Image from
    5. Boombox
    Simply known as radio cassette player, it was great for taking around your friend's place to hang out, listen to FM radio stations, make and play cassette tapes, and even record vocal inputs. Remember the band sessions you had in your parents' garage or spare room, trying to record your own music, i.e. playing covers?

    The boombox, which also went by several names which simply couldn’t be used nowadays, appeared in the '70s but was popularised in the '80s. Breakdancing and hip-hop wouldn't be the same without it.

    Image from My Retrospace
    6. Jane Fonda Workout
    Leotards, check. Leg warmers, check. VCR, check.
    Jane Fonda and her aerobics videos pioneered the fitness craze for the baby boomers of the '80s. Nothing wrong with a bit of exercise, I say.

    Image from Wikipedia
    7. IBM PC
    As a vintage collector, I've come across some later models and I can't contain the 'geek within'. I'd run my fingers on its monitor, CPU, floppy disk portal, down to its clunky keyboard. With a prominent industrial look, I am in awe as always, as without this first 'home/office computer', there won't be advancement in the Internet, worldwide web, gaming, software development, facebook, twitter, eBay, and, let’s face it, blogging.

    Image from
    8. '80s TV
    Primetime soaps became ever more popular and detective series such as Magnum PI, Miami Vice, 21 Jump Street, and action adventure series like The A-Team shaped the imaginations of my friends and I.
    Whatever tickled your fancy, you were bound to be following a series.

    Image from
    9. Pacman
    C'mon. You've got to like this little yellow, open-mouthed button trying to gobble up dots, whilst avoiding the jelly ghosts named Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde. When Google used it as an interactive doodle to commemorate its 30th anniversary last year, I tried playing it for hours and still could never win.

    Pacman became the marker in the history of arcade gaming. Its success is due to brand awareness. The creation of Pacman merchandise helped a lot. For me, I guess it's because it was played by both boys and girls. Also, everybody likes the concept of a maze, getting rewarded a lot of points, gaining life back, and being able to run away as fast as you can from the enemy. What great fun!

    Image from Quotednews
    10. Bloodless Revolution of 1986
    With all the political unrest in the news lately, I am reminded of my first-hand experience of the first-ever peaceful revolution in human history - the 1986 Philippine revolution that saw the end of Ferdinand Marcos' regime and the creation of democracy. I wish the current troubled countries could pull off what my fellow countrymen did.

    In February 1986, two to three million people came out to call for Marcos' resignation and install the people's elected president, Corazon Aquino, who was also the country's first female president. (Time magazine awarded her the title 'Icon of Democracy').

    It's been said that this event inspired the Fall of Berlin Wall in 1989. Something like this isn't easily done and perhaps we were lucky as a nation. But there's nothing stopping anyone to emulate this little miracle.

    So, there you are my friends.
    I hope this justifies my fondness for the '80s.
    What was it like growing up in the '80s for you? Do you subscribe to the notion that the '80s was the worst decade ever? Or are you loving the cheese, bright colours and seismic changes?