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The Time of My Life

Last month, I carried a watermelon. Well, I didn’t really – I picked one up at one point. Those things are far too heavy to lug all the way from north Surrey to East London! But plenty of people did actually carry watermelons: real ones, papier-maché, bags, hats and entire costumes. It was Future Cinema‘s Dirty Dancing and, as always, it was immersive cinema on an astonishing scale.

After getting inside, we were in huge part of Hackney Downs park, cordoned off and turned into a recreation of Kellerman’s Resort. The Staff Quarters, Johnny’s cabin, the grand ballroom, bandstands, pitches for sports and, of course, a large area in front of a giant screen.

Photo by my pal/Jeni’s fella Hanson Leatherby

There was so much to see and do. I went with the beauties Jeni and Bethan and we messed about in beach huts, ate tasty food and drank Kellerman’s cocktails while the sun slowly went down. It was lovely.

Jeans: American Apparel

We all went as Penny in one of the earlier scenes, where she’s wearing a cute gypsy top and some high waisted trousers. We couldn’t quite face the 80s does 60s hair though!

In this photo you can marvel at the difference in colour between my arm and my midriff 😉

As with all Future Cinema adventures, there were roaming actors playing all the parts throughout the evening. After we settled in to watch, there were a few more surprises. There was Baby’s sister singing Hula Hana and the terrible ‘stand-up comedian’.

During the movie, key scenes were also played out in real life….

The arrival
The scene at Johnny’s chalet
And of course… the lift! This is a second lift, I didn’t manage to capture the first! 
Thank you as ever to Future Cinema for having me, it was truly delightful. Nobody puts The Vintage Mafia in a corner! 

Fleur xx

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Pyjamas and Pin Curls!

A couple of weeks ago, I went along to the always-fab What Katie Did shop in West London’s Portobello Road for a special evening event. It was, as the title of this post suggests, all about pyjamas, namely WKD’s loungewear range; and pincurls. Specifically, a class in how to do the latter!

The class began with vintage hair expert Amy Saunders teaching guests how to do the perfect pincurl. I took photos of the lovely Lisa, who is really already an expert, doing hers.

The secret is all in sectioning off the same amount of hair and ensuring you roll in the same direction for each rown, and not twisting the hair at all. After that, it is simply practice, practice, practice. You need strong arms in the beginning… and a huge amount of kirby grips!

Amy then brushed out one she did earlier, on the very beautiful Sophia who works at WKD. Amy, along with other vintage ladies of my acquaintance, is a huge advocate of the Tangle Teezer brush, one gadget I have never tried but probably should now!

It did look might fab, I must say.

I always enjoy a visit to the What Katie Did boutique as there is so much lovely stuff to browse through and look at. And lovely ladies to look at as well!

The awesome Katie and Aimee looking elegant in their loungewear! 
What Katie Did have literally just launched their A/W ’13 collection, the party for which I also attended, last night. Look at the beautiful things! 
Photo by Tigz Rice
I think I might need some new lingerie…. 

Fleur xx

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New Fleur!

No, I haven’t reinvented myself… but my little collaboration with Heyday has produced a brand new design! We actually have quite a few new frocks coming out very, very soon. This is merely the first!

The Cabbage Roses Fleur dress is a bit of an upgrade on the simple cotton housedresses that we have done so far. This one is more of a glamorous party animal!

The top is made from a teal cotton mix that really resists creasing, and the skirt is a gorgeous mid-century textured rayon, covered with big sketchy roses in pastel and deep pink, with pale aqua leaves that match the top perfectly.

Check out my amazing Van Roe Stratton compact – this Art Deco design doesn’t seem to be available at the moment but they have some lovely ones in.

We shot these a while back and while this sample dress doesn’t have the trademark rounded Fleur dress pockets, the main run of frocks do. Here’s one of our other colourways as an example…

There are only a few of these super limited edition Cabbage Roses Fleurs – less than 10! Go go go!

Thanks for reading and thanks again to lovely Shona for working with me on such lovely frocks… new Fleurs are always very, very exciting for me! I will post some more fun things soon.

Fleur xx

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The King’s Ginger vs the Great Stink

For today’s exciting episode of The King’s Ginger adventures, I went a little off the beaten track to the bowels of South-East London. Literally – I went to a sewage treatment works. But this wasn’t an ordinary ordure pumping facility – oh no. It was opened in April 1865 by our hero, King Edward VII. Well, OK, he was still the Prince of Wales. But how did our beloved monarch in waiting come to be involved with the opening of Crossness Pumping Station? To find out, we must first hold our noses and delve into The Great Stink.

In the early to mid-Victorian era, cities and towns in England were in a bad way. They were horribly overcrowded and sickness was rife thanks to the hideously inadequate sanitary facilities. Little or no sewerage, polluted drinking water, and general filth in the streets led to typhoid and cholera epidemics and death on an almost unprecedented level (the Black Death excepted). The problems were exacerbated by hotch-potch local authorities who had no money to invest in things like water supplies and street cleaning.

By the late 1850s, it was reaching crisis point. Well, what is was really, was that the rich started to realise that death from cholera wasn’t something that just affected poor people. The levels of filth, far from just being unpleasant, were downright dangerous for people of all classes, funnily enough. In 1858 came the Great Stink. It was summer, always a time when things in overcrowded London became a bit stinky thanks to the vastly overcrowded streets and very poor facilities. Historically, London’s citizens would get their water supply from the Thames, with specially-built waterwheels helping pump water to households. The first waterwheels were built in the 1580s, with a further one added in 1701 and, says Wikipedia, these remained in place, pumping away, until 1822. Unfortunately, in 1815, human waste started to be pumped out from the sewers into the Thames. How anyone thought it was a good idea to pump poo into the city’s main water supply to be resupplied to households, I really don’t know. But they did. Then, there were the cesspools. Two hundred thousand of these, with gallons of waste being emptied from newfangled flushing toilets. They often overflowed into the streets. The smell must have been pretty bad most of the time.

A few things in the years previous to the Great Stink helped the powers that be realise that something had to be done. First, it was the discovery of the bacteria that caused cholera – previous to that, scientists (and plebs) believed that disease was caused by miasmas – clouds of stink. And in 1854, John Snow linked cholera to water supplies after he he discovered a community in Soho were all being poisoned by the well in their square. He put two and two together when he discovered the only people not getting ill were a group of Irish navvies who only drank beer, never water. He broke the handle off the pump, which is still there too this day! The government then slowly started to overhaul the sewer systems. But then, in 1858, it was exceptionally hot. The cesspools, combined with the stench from the Thames itself, overwhelmed London.

No one could take it. Cholera and the Thames says, “Even the elite were not exempt from such an odious odour: ‘The intense heat had driven our legislators from those portions of their buildings which overlook the river. A few members, indeed, bent upon investigating the matter to its very depth, ventured into the library, but they were instantaneously driven to retreat, each man with a handkerchief to his nose.’

The managers of the House of Commons tried preventative measures like soaking curtains in chloride of lime to try and ‘filter’ the smell, and lots of companies considered evacuating to the home counties. Rain finally put a stop to the nasal assault and ended everyone’s stinky misery but luckily, this whole experience finally pushed the government to act.

Joseph Bazalgette, superstar civil engineer of the age, was hired to transform the sewer systems. He built embankments on the Thames, designed 82 miles of new brick-clad underground waterways and 1,100 miles of street sewers. Brand new pumping stations were built on the edges of town where the waste was still pumped into the Thames, albeit outside of London. Oh, Victorians. (They later built treatment works, thank goodness).

One of these pumping stations, built in 1865, was Crossness. Here it is today – on the one hand, not *that* exciting to look at, on the other, it’s a darn sight nicer than anything we build today. It was lower than the original drawings (above) and extended on the left-side much later. It is no longer in use, but it’s been partially restored as part of an ongoing project. So inside, parts of it are exactly as it would have been in April 1865, the day Albert Edward, Price of Wales, opened it.

Let’s have a look around Balzagette and the Metropolitan Board of Works’ masterpiece of engineering. Packed with cutting edge technology for the time, it is also absolutely stunning.

Hard hats are a requirement in Crossness. Something I didn’t consider when I
did my topknot that morning! 

Crossness was closed and abandoned in the 1950s as technology moved on and it became obsolete. Vandals and thieves took over, stealing the brass handrails and bits and it became derelict. It took until 1987 to be recognised as the marvel of Victorian craftsmanship it is. The volunteers restoring it found scraps of the original paint and have returned much of the interior to its former glory.

Remembering all the while that this is a facility used exclusively for pumping human excrement, it is astonishingly beautiful. The floors, walls and ceilings are all exquisite, even the bits that haven’t been restored yet.
And the bits that have been replaced have been done so carefully, to keep to original specifications.
This is the original entrance, before it was extended in 1897 to add four more pumps.
Crossness has four massive pumps, ‘Victoria’, ‘Prince Consort’, ‘Albert Edward’ and ‘Alexandra’. Prince Consort has been completely restored. Victoria is in the works. Sadly, Albert Edward is still looking pretty grotty, but it’s impressive nonetheless.
Check out Prince Consort in action. It’s turned on for special visitor days at Crossness, pumping nothing at all, of course. But it’s a beauty to behold. So huge (40 tonnes!) and the motion is so smooth! 
The reason our hero opened the sewer system in 1865 was because, at that time, it was a mere four years after the death of Albert, the Prince Consort. Queen Victoria was in a state of deep mourning, the same state she remained in for the rest of her life. Thus, the official tasks fell to Albert Edward.
I like to think his Future Majesty enjoyed officiating at these openings. At least I hope so, since he had to do so many of them!
The Crossness Engine Trust is only open every once in a while but it is so worth a visit. You get a very small idea of what the Great Stink must have been like as you walk through the newer sewage works to get to the main event. The café is unbelievably cute, serving egg rolls and cakes made with no frills by the volunteers. And Prince Charles, the current Prince of Wales has even been there, bringing history full circle. 
My fab dress is by Time Machine Vintage on Etsy 
Thanks as ever for reading and those Brits reading who have always wanted to try some King’s Ginger for yourselves, good news. It’s now available in all Waitrose stores! Hurrah! 
Do fan KGL on Facebook to find out about some upcoming tasting events too. That’s all for now… wishing you a very unstinky bank holiday weekend,

Fleur xx

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Can(n)on of Work

A couple of months ago, I went to a very scary casting. It was for a BBC advert, for a very, very small part. I stood in a room with a group of ‘proper’ actresses and we all had to mime firing a cannon. In front of each other. Terrifying! However… I GOT THE PART! We filmed on a sunny day on top of a hill. The view looked like this.
My tiny horse co-star looked like this! 
And here is the finished advert. Blink and you’ll miss me! I am wearing a brilliant blouse from Time Machine Vintage on Etsy. I’m sure you’ll see a better close-up of it on here soon…  

Fleur xx

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Field of Chap Dreams

I just did a double-take at the calendar because it’s now been over a month since the glorious Chap Olympiad and over 10 days since my last confession. I mean blog post. The whole of the last week was a complete write-off due to me undertaking a solid week of film extra work. I’ve been a background actor on a new Marvel film set in space – I had to sign a very strong NDA so I daren’t say any more but interested geeks should be able to find out what it is pretty easily, as well as seeing some photos of my fellow extras runnin around in central London a couple of weeks ago. It’s been fun but 4.30am starts and 15 hour days don’t make for much blog-writing enthusiasm, I can tell you.

I have lots and lots of other posts to write (scary amounts n fact, it’s all backing up), so in the meantime let me show you pictures from the Olympiad.

Photos I took of the action look identical to all the other years, so I won’t repeat myself with too many of those. Instead I will show you my outfit since really, that’s what most people want to see on this ‘ere blog, right?

Here is a photo by me. I can’t remember who took it for me!

Look at that awesome dress. Isn’t it awesome? It’s the La Bonita by Miss Bamboo and not only is it indeed awesome, it’s also pretty darn bargainous at only £59.99 of your English pounds. And it wasn’t only me that wore one!

The Vintage Mafia were planning to wear the Heyday PinaFleur as seen in my last post but, due to it’s marginal shortness, we had to find a last-minute alternative. La Bonita was perfect and the lovely Miss Bamboo rushed them to us after we bought them a few days before the event. Sterling customer service Miss B!

Bethan is, as you may or may not know, the events manager for the Chap. So she was on duty all day, organising the crap out of everything perfectly. We had some duties as a threesome though, namely scoring the Well Dressage round. Here we are in more photos by Hanson. 

Some of us were more generous than others
Bribery with lollipops is how Edward Marlowe received ‘all the points’ for his round
Jeni was used as a prop – as captured by The Vintage News
Jeni and I also took part as Diners in a round of Breadbasketball, which I took very seriously. 
Photo by Stephanie Wolff
Photo by Sin Bozkurt
…and we were interviewd by Vintage News, where our in-jokes made poor Sadie crack up a bit.
I also took part in a cockney walkabout in tribute to the late Chap writer Nathaniel Slipper.
I shall leave you for now with this final stunning photo of Jeni and I sharing a moment at the Breadbasketball table. This is probably the most accurate representation of my face on a typical day. Lovely.
Back with a report on What Katie Did’s new loungewear, my King’s Ginger August adventure, a book review and probably more that I have forgotten.
Have a good day, readers! 

Fleur xx

Ps. if you like Swedish Hasbeens and discounts and you haven’t visited the Vintage Mafia blog in a while, now is a good time to subscribe. We have some mega discounts lined up. Keep an eye on the VM Twitter, too!

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Introducing… the PinaFleur!

Exciting news! Long-term readers will know that I have my own dress – it’s a recreation of my favourite wrap dresses of the 1940s and 1950s and is part of a collaboration with Heyday Clothing. It’s cleverly titled the Fleur Dress.

But there’s a new addition to the range, which has been in the works for a while and I am so pleased to be able to announce now… the PinaFleur!

The pattern was taken from a 1940s pinafore dress in my own collection and slightly tweaked to make a better fit. The bust ruffles on my original went all the way to the waist which is a style that doesn’t work so well for very petite or very busty ladies. So, it’s been adapted to finish at just below the bust. The PinaFleur has been made up in a cute turquoise-y green gingham with a gingham ric rac trim around the shoulder ruffles and the pockets. It fastens up the back with eleven buttons and has a self-tie to cinch the waist in as much, or as little as you like!

Why am I not modelling it, you might well ask? Well, unfortunately, as can sometimes be the way with these things, the first run of these dresses have come out a little short. It means that on me, at 5’10, they hit an inch or so above the knee and I just cannot pull off that length (things need to be mid-thigh or below knee!). They hit Heyday designer Shona, who is 5’3, just on the knee. SO, it’s a lucky deal for those of you who are petite pinafore fans because you can buy one for a steal! This first run of shorter dresses is only £60 – there is a longer one on its way that will hit at just below knee on me, so upper/mid-calf on shorter ladies but it will be more expensive.

So, calling all ladies of petite stature… be the proud owner of the first ever Heyday PinaFleur dress now at a bargain price!

And taller ones, stand by for more info soon.

Here’s a bonus picture of me in my original – taken in September last year, just after I faceplanted the pavement when running. Pinafore ruffles are very good for disguising grazed shoulders.

Hope you’re all having a lovely day!

Fleur xx

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Summer colours

Good Monday, good people.

Last week (or the week before, I am losing track), I posted a new King’s Ginger piece from a very beautiful garden. I only like to post a couple of me in KGL posts as obviously, the focus is meant to be on the lovely drink and not my face. But since the setting was so very picturesque and my dress so very worthy of a whole post of its own, here it is. Lots of pictures of a magnificent dress in a magnificent garden.

This is the stunning Del Rio dress by Trashy Diva but which came from Miss Bamboo here in the UK. The amazing Miss Bamboo carries all sorts of US and UK-made goodies and will be the subject of another outfit post and a full spotlight post very soon as I need to show you all the fab things she does. In the meantime, do have a browse on her site!

It has the most amazing detailing as you can see – embroidery on the shoulders and all around the waist. The yellow rayon is perfectly drapey.
I’ve teamed it with matching accessories, of course. 
Bangles – most bakelite (only the blue one that isn’t)!
Swedish Hasbeens sandals! 
Sunnies! Mine cost a whopping £3.99 from H&M. Quite 30s-ish in shape!
I was so overexcited with the joys of summer that I couldn’t resist a twirl – the skirt flows rather nicely! 

That’s quite enough vanity for one day, but do check out the Del Rio on Miss Bamboo. I am also in love with many of the new Trashy Diva styles… if anyone wants to buy me one of everything, please holler 😉

Fleur xx

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Chasing chevrons

I’m getting to that point where my wardrobe is so stuffed with dresses that I am forgetting what I have in it. A couple of weeks ago, the lovely ladies at Gudrun Sjoden, knowing my penchant for all things Swedish at the moment, gave me this cute a-line skirt as a Midsommar present (as you can perhaps see from the flower crown). It’s made from a light jersey fabric and will be perfect for casual wear in the autumn 🙂

But its chevron design reminded me that I have a vintage dress I probably haven’t worn in two years that I completely forgot I even had. It’s a lovely 1940s number with bodice pleats and chevrons in the skirt. I’m digging this bad gyal out right away! The moral of this story is to not have a tiny wardrobe stuffed to bursting with things – you forget you have awesome dresses hiding away in there!

Photo taken by Hannah Asprey at one of our last Vintage Mafia Sale and Socials at the Love Shake in Shoreditch. Fab place, fab friends. Good times!

Fleur xx

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Meet some meat

I like food. I am a bit of a food nerd and follow lots of trendy foodie type people on Twitter, look longingly at photos of the latest hip food openings but decide not to go until the hype dies down as they never take bookings and queuing is rubbish. And eventually go, maybe. Sometimes not. I am a rubbish food nerd, basically.

But, as anyone who follows me on Instagram knows, I do greatly enjoy taking photos of food and so when we got a new food client at the PR agency and I was tasked with the social media side of things, I wasted no time in EATING ALL… er, I mean photographing all the food they do.

Joe’s Southern Kitchen and Bar is, as the name suggests, a Southern style food joint. It’s in Covent Garden, so not so much hipster central but actual central. The food is really, really nice and I would know since I have tried every single thing on the menu! I’m actually quite proud of the photos I took so I thought I’d show some of them off and tell you all to pop along to Joe’s if you’re in the hood and fancy some Southern-style BBQ meats.

My personal favourite – Artichoke & Spinach (& cheese) dip. SO GOOD.
Or southern-fried wings with tabasco honey…
Or corn and rice balls with Monterey Jack…
Soft-shell crab and tempura…
And for mains… 
Big Apple Hot Dogs Huge Pole! 
Side of spicy Mac n Cheese… 
Beef Shortrib… 
Longhorn beef burger of dreams… 
Watermelon salad with goat’s cheese… 
And the piece de resistance… BEER CAN CHICKEN! With bum-shaped potatoes. Look at it posing. It knows how juicy and good it tastes.
The desserts are good too. Here’s pecan pie and a sundae! 
The cocktails are pretty photogenic as well, though I didn’t try nearly as many.
The Bloody Mary comes with a side of toast! Genius. 
Hope you have enjoyed my culinary daguerrotypes and now feel suitable hungry. I do seriously recommend Joe’s as a hassle-free place to go and eat, where you can book and never queue outside like a big foodie loser. 
Have a look at the full menu on the Joe’s site and the rest of my photos on Flickr

Fleur xx