Merchant And Mills Haberdashery
The very nature of something becoming a definite trend means that inevitably it will be milked dry, over exposed and suddenly seem old hat and passe. It is a miracle then that the resurgence of traditional pastimes – crafts, baking, gardening, sewing – continues to capture the imaginations of the great British public and as of yet, hasn’t fallen out of favour.
In a back lash to the digital and internet age we live in, combined with the country going through a hefty recession, making one’s own clothes and growing your own veg is a hearty, honest and nostalgic response. So, as the Mackintosh and Microsoft’s continue to dominate, it may just be that this lifestyle trend is here to stay, and as far as I am concerned, that’s good news.
Not only does it appeal to my old fashioned sensibilities, it has also seen industry strike up in Great Britain once more, which can be no bad thing. One such company that has formed, catering to all those handiwork Henrys who are yearning for a hobby that doesn’t rely on a WiFi connection, is Merchant and Mills Haberdashery.
Founded by Carolyn Denham and Roderick Field, Merchant and Mills was established in 2010 with the intention of ‘elevating sewing to its proper place in the creative world, respecting the craftsmanship it entails’. The stark, utilitarian packaging sets out to oppose the current face of haberdashery, a world full of twee florals and naff vintage rip offs and to also appeal to the no nonsense nature of the home crafter.
Of course, filling your time without the lure of the world wide web is right up D4L’s street, but saying goodbye to civilization as we know it is going a little too far. After all, you will need just enough signal to read this blog and purchase a haberdasher’s treasure trove from Merchant and Mills…. then connectivity can happily disappear…. for a couple of hours.
Thank you to www.merchantandmills.com for the images used.
Jawbone Jambox and BigJambox
Now I am on tour with The Rocky Horror Show (click (here) for more info)), life has become all about convenience. How to get from A to B with minimal amounts of luggage and stress. I refuse to lighten the load by minimizing the number of clothes that make it into my suitcase, so it’s lucky for me that technology is ever decreasing in size, weight and complexity. Music to the ears of touring technophobe with a vast wardrobe.
The Jambox, a wireless speaker from Jawbone for all your digital music needs, was first introduced to me by a touring veteran, who knew a thing or two about fitting a square peg in a round hole with a little careful packing. A design classic in the making, the Jambox has clean lines, comes in bold colour options and is incredibly easy to set up and use. The Jambox now also comes in a larger size (suitable for home entertainment systems), so that should space allow, you can own both father and baby Jambox bear. They make the perfect present and are available from a host of UK stockists or online at www.jawbone.com.
Thank you to www.jawbone.com for the images used.
Horrockses Fashions Bed Linen
Available from www.horrocksesfashions.co.uk
For vintage enthusiasts, Horrockses Fashions is a label most will be familiar with. Established in 1946 as a subsidiary of Horrockses Crewdson & Company Limited, as part of an initiative to establish ‘high-class specialities and branded lines’, the company concentrated on the production of quality women’s day and evening wear, beach clothes and housecoats, adding children’s wear to the list in 1949/50.
During their time in production the label became best known for their cotton summer dresses and with the brand’s current revival, patterns have been released so that nimble fingers can recreate these graceful frocks once more. However, the brand’s comeback hasn’t focused on their heritage of womenswear but rather, taken a new avenue, supplying bed linen.
Some of their most iconic designs have been adapted into full sets of bed linen with matching throws and cushions. Due to the company’s history and the collection’s delicate, simple feel, they perfectly suit the vintage home and will no doubt see Horrockses flourish once more.
The two sets that stole my heart are named Alice and Martha. Alice has a reserved, feminine elegance whilst Martha adds some punch with its cheery demeanor. Below are pictures of both collections, along with images of the original summer dresses that inspired the individual sets.
Thank you to www.blog.horrocksesfashions.co.uk/history/ and www.horrocksesfashions.co.uk for the images used.
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Radio Days Vintage
87 Lower Marsh
London SE1 7AB
When I die, if given the choice of whether to enter the pearly gates or stay put and do a little light haunting, I may just choose the latter. It will all depend on whether my maker allows me to stay put somewhere that I’ve loved rather than loathed in my living years. Can you imagine being the resident spook of the M&Ms megastore in Leicester Square for example? That place would bring the inner poltergeist out of anyone – dead or alive.
Being a proud Londoner for more than 13 years, I’ve always championed this fair city and done my best to wring it dry of everything it has to offer. Thus, I’ve developed a stomping ground of restaurants, shops and cafes that are regular haunts of the living, breathing kind.
The above paragraphs are from a past D4L post about one of my favourite eateries (‘Princi’, posted December 2011). Well, in the spirit of talking stomping grounds, I have to tell you about Radio Days, to which a very well worn path is trodden by my size 8 Grensons.
Opened in 1993, Radio Days sits on the über cool and villagey Lower Marsh Street, just five minutes from Waterloo station. The range of men’s clothing is select, but there are also plenty of fascinating, original accessories to eye up. The womenswear section is larger, with a super collection of hats, gloves and bags to complete any outfit. But the thing I especially love about this independently run store, is that an interesting selection of period homewares have been incorporated into the mix, offering a true lifestyle experience for the vintage collector.
Radio Days not only attracts people from far and wide looking for unique and quality vintage, the store also plays host to a fantastic seasonal window display, which has gained quite a cult following. Quirky and inventive, what owners Chrissie and Lee lack in Harrod’s chic, they make up for in clever themes and witty storytelling. Take a look at just a few of my favourites below.
I recently took a trip to Radio Days and couldn’t resist the below items to add to my collection of vintage clothing. If you like wearing, or collecting, preloved anything, take a trip to Lower Marsh Street and join the vintage revolution.
Images by www.oliverthornton.com/designforliving. Thank you to www.radiodaysvintage.co.uk for the extra images used.
Sheffield Botanical Gardens
A couple of weeks ago The Rocky Horror Show strutted into Sheffield to take over The Lyceum Theatre, with more fishnet, leather and lace than a swinging party at the Krankies’. To find out more about my role in the The Rocky Horror Show click (here), about our opening night click (here) and for a little more about life on tour click (here). To expel the thought of the Krankies swinging, say three Hail Marys and down a stiff drink.
As a first time visitor to the city, I cornered a cab driver and bled him of his superior knowledge of what and where to explore. My fingers my have been glowing green because the very first place he recommended was the Sheffield Botanical Gardens. As a very keen gardener, I jumped at the chance to discover the 19 acres of garden, which includes a small Grade II listed curvilinear glass pavilion, one of the earliest ever built.
From the SBG website, here is a potted telling of the garden’s long and mercurial history:
In 1833 the Sheffield Botanical and Horticultural Society was formed to promote both healthy recreation and self-education, through the development of a botanical garden. A period of fundraising followed and the land was purchased. In 1834, the Society appointed Robert Marnock, gardener of Bretton Hall, Wakefield (now the Yorkshire Sculpture Park), to design the Gardens and act as their first Curator. He laid out the Gardens in the then highly fashionable Gardenesque style, where each plant was displayed to perfection in scattered plantings. The Gardens were finally opened on the 29th and 30th June, and 4th and 5th July, 1836, when more than 12,000 people visited. The Gardens were only open to the general public on four Gala days per year; otherwise admission was limited to shareholders and annual subscribers.
In 1844, financial problems led to the failure of the first society but the Gardens were rescued with the formation of a second society (also known as the Sheffield Botanical and Horticultural Society). The conservatories were extended, a tea pavilion and the present Curator’s House were constructed within the succeeding ten years. A period of steady development and growing international renown followed for the next 30 years.
In 1897, falling income, competition from the new free city parks and residential development in the area meant that the Gardens were in danger again. Fortunately, the Sheffield Town Trust came to the rescue and saved the Gardens for the city in 1898. It was then that free admission was introduced and continues today. The Gardens thrived until World War II, when extensive damage left the Sheffield Town Trust unable to afford the repairs and restoration required.
In 1951, the Sheffield Town Trust offered the Gardens to the Sheffield City Council for a peppercorn rent. The Council instigated repairs to the domes, creating an Aviary and an Aquarium, and restored the Gardens to their former glory. However, a downturn in the economy during the 1980s meant a severe reduction in funding and once again the Gardens were on their way to dereliction.
In 1996, the Sheffield Botanical Gardens Trust was formed and, in partnership with the Sheffield Town Trust, the City Council, the Landscape Department at Sheffield University and FOBS, was successful in obtaining a Heritage Lottery grant. Eight years of committed fundraising mean that the three phases of restoration have now been completed at a cost of £6.69 million (approx) and the Gardens are once more restored to their former magnificence.
Images by www.oliverthornton.com/designforliving. Thank you to www.sbg.org.uk for the text used.
Tatsuya Akita concrete desktop set, produced by Plant and Moss
Pieces available singularly or as a set from www.urbanestore.com
Park Hill apartments available from Urban Splash, click (here)
Whilst recently visiting Sheffield on tour (click (here) for more info), I stumbled upon the brochure of one of the city’s most infamous redevelopment projects, that of the Park Hill estate. Built between 1957 and 1961, this iconic example of the brutalist movement, also known as ‘streets in the sky’, is being regenerated by Urban Splash, bringing its retro design into a contemporary focus. And there is no better time to be doing so, for the aggressive and industrial yards of exposed concrete (the building material central to designers Jack Lynn and Ivor Smith’s vision) has never been more on trend.
Park Hill was named ‘Streets in the Sky’ due to its wide, open corridors, down which milk floats could drive
…as it was
…as it is now
If you aren’t currently in the market to buy one of Urban Splash’s Park Hill apartments but love the savage beauty of poured concrete, why not get a little of the brutalist look in your own home with this concrete desktop range from Plant and Moss, available from urbanestore.com. The range includes a desk lamp, tape dispenser and pen stand.
Japanese designer Tatsuya Akita wanted to keep the designs simple, functional and practical. A wooden ring appears in all of the designs to give a feeling of cohesiveness. Plant & Moss decided to produce Akita’s work after discovering him at New Designers 2011, where he was exhibiting work from his final year at Northumbria University.
If you either want to embrace the brutalist movement of the 50′s and 60′s with a nod from Tatsuya Akita, or are looking for sublimely designed, quality products to enhance your office space, this stunning desktop set is a very good place to start.
Thank you to plantandmoss.com for the images used
April 27, 2013
Castle Howard, York, North Yorkshire YO60 7DA
A couple of weeks ago The Rocky Horror Show strutted into York to take over The Grand Opera House, with more fishnet, leather and lace than a swinging party at the Krankies’. To find out more about my role in the The Rocky Horror Show click (here), about our opening night click (here) and for a little more about life on tour click (here). To expel the thought of the Krankies swinging, say three Hail Marys and down a stiff drink.
Whilst taking up our temporary residence in this beautiful, historic city, I took a trip 15 miles north east to the magnificent Castle Howard. As a die hard Brideshead Revisited fan, I was excited to see where both the Granada TV series and the 2008 motion picture were filmed. But visiting any of the UK’s grand country houses is also a great chance to get some interiors ideas. Even though most would be on too large a scale to directly lift, they do offer the opportunity to see colour palettes working successfully, antiques in their formal setting, what fabrics compliment the design and how and why the space generally works. For example Castle Howard boasts a breathtaking turquoise room that has the whole D4L team desperate to pick up a brush and coat everything in a thick coat of aquamarine paint.
Although building work began c. 1699, the construction of Castle Howard took more than one hundred years before the house could be said to have been finally completed, and spanned the lifetimes of three Earls and numerous architects and craftsmen.
In the summer of 1699 the 3rd Earl of Carlisle approached the dramatist John Vanbrugh to furnish him with designs for his new house. Between 1699 and 1702 the design for the house evolved through a series of prototypes before its final form was arrived at. The idea of two projecting wings had always featured in the proposals, but incredibly the idea of the huge crowning dome was not included until quite late, after building work had actually begun.
Built from east to west the mansion took shape in just under ten years. The East Wing was constructed in 1701-03; the eastern wing of the Garden Front in 1701-06; the Central Block, including the dome, in 1703-06; and the western wing of the Garden Front in 1707-09.
Carlisle’s new home was surmounted with a dramatic masonry dome, the first of its kind to crown a private residence in the England. Carlisle’s building project had quickly became the talk of fashionable society and by 1725 when an engraving of the house appeared in the third volume of Vitruvius Britannicus most of the exterior structure was complete and its interiors opulently finished. But the Vitruvius view represents a building that was unfinished at this date and which was never completed in this manner. The House lacked a West Wing and was to do so for another quarter of a century. One of the reasons for this was that from roughly 1715 onwards Carlisle had diverted much of his energy and income away from the house and into landscaping the surrounding terrain.
Vanbrugh, although involved in the landscaping, was nevertheless anxious that the house should receive its symmetrical West Wing. His pleas were ignored and the house remained lopsided. At the time of his death in 1726, the house was still incomplete, as it still was when the 3rd Earl died in 1738. Little could both men have guessed that when the house came to be completed by Carlisle’s son-in-law, Sir Thomas Robinson, Vanbrugh’s flamboyant baroque design would be anchored to a sober Palladian (west) wing.
At the death of the 4th Earl in 1758 the (west) wing was only partially finished and lacked a roof and first floor. By 1777 the wing was roofed but unfinished inside, owing to the strict regimen of the trustees of the young 5th Earl who refused to allow any money to finish the interiors. Although some of the bedrooms were completed and in use at the end of the century, the Long Gallery and projected new Dining Room beyond remained unfinished, until decorated in 1801-11 by Charles Heathcote Tatham.
From the outside, the unbalanced appearance of the house provoked a mixed response from visitors, many of whom perceived the discrepancy, one of whom, in 1778, imagined the two separate wings to ‘stand staring at each other, as much as to say, What business have you here?’. In his unpublished Reminiscences the 5th Earl remembered how the family found it difficult to comprehend their father’s decision to build a new wing ‘not correspondent to the other, or to the centre part of the House’.
Thus today the final appearance of the House bears little resemblance to the idealised view in Vitruvius Britannicus: two identical wings are replaced by two wings that do not match; the house has a spectacularly assymetrical appearance as Vanbrugh’s baroque progression is challenged by Palladian afterthought.
Tragically further change was to occur in the middle of the 20th century when, on the morning of 9 November 1940, fire broke out in the South-East Wing and swept through the house into the Great Hall, destroying the dome and nearly twenty rooms. For the next few years much of Castle Howard was open to the skies, its once splendid rooms gutted shells. In 1960-62 the dome was rebuilt and redecorated, and in 1981, in conjunction with Granada Television and the filming of Brideshead Revisited, the Garden Hall was rebuilt. As time and money permit, the gradual task of restoring the fire-damaged sections continues. In the early 1980s a New Library was built; in 1994-95 the Central Block was re-roofed.
When you visit Castle Howard you are struck by how much love, time and money is still being given over to the estate. A grand house from the past, looking to the future.
Images by www.oliverthornton.co/designforliving. Thank you to www.castlehoward.co.uk for the text used.
April 24, 2013
Get the Gatsby Look – Available from:
As the release of Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby gets ever closer to hitting the silver screen, retailers are coming up with options for anyone suffering from an unhealthy bout of Gatsby fever. With the only known cure to this terrifying disease being a gluttonous helping of all things deco, D4L first covered how to get the Gatsby look in your home (click (here) to find out more) and now, how to create the look in your wardrobe.
For our female readers, D4L covered the fantastic Dorothea’s Closet Vintage back in November 2011, an independent vintage store based in Des Moines, Iowa (global shipping fees apply via their online boutique) where you can get your hands on 20′s and 30′s originals (click (here) to visit Dorothea’s Closet Vintage online).
For our male readership however, finding originals is very much harder. Pre 1960, men generally tended to buy a great bespoke suit and wear it to it’s tatty death, then buy a new one and repeat the pattern. Women on the other hand would collect a few gowns and by either taking good care of them, or not wearing them to a raggedy end, they still exist in circulation today. Of course, as a generalisation, one might say this is still the case today, but with less of a focus on bespoke tailoring and many more ‘off the rail’ options, men can afford to have more than just one suit hanging in the wardrobe.
However chaps, if you are happy just to capture the essence of Gatsby, there are options available and this summer, these looks will be bang on trend. Waistcoats, two tone brogues and palettes of pastel shades and creams will be everywhere, from the high street to designer brands. Die hard vintage collectors may be anti these modern takes on the period’s style but surely won’t be able to resist the odd piece to compliment their originals?
Below are some ideas on how to create the look for yourself, which includes pieces from the Brooks Brothers Gatsby Collection and Hackett’s SS13 collection. Pop open the champagne, get something jazzy playing on the gramophone and start working on curing that delicious Gatsby Fever today.
Hackett SS13 three piece linen suit, click (here)
Brooks Brothers burgundy stripe regatta blazer, click (here)
Brooks Brothers white and brown spectator wingtip
Harris Tweed travelling jacket for John Lewis, click (here)
Brooks Brothers pink stripe linen blazer, click (here)
Brooks Brothers navy and white boater, click (here)
Silver tipped Art Deco (original) cane from www.antiquecanes.co.uk, click (here)
Thank you for the images used.
April 18, 2013
« old Posts
‘Design for Living Collates’ is my selection of what I think to be the best of the best, passing through D4L HQ this week
Wire locker unit available from Uniche
click (here) to be taken directly to the wire unit available from Uniche
Crystal Bulb Lamp by Lee Broom available from Caravan
Click (here) to be taken directly to Lee Broom’s lamps available from Caravan
1940′s metal trolley – storage for toys, blankets and much more – From Little Paris
Click (here) to buy the 1940′s metal trolley
Enamel cookware available from The French House
Click (here) to purchase enamel cookware from The French House
Garden supports available from Shardland and Lewis
Buy these iron obelisks from Shardland and Lewis by clicking (here)
Pineapple Wall Sconce created for Caravan
Click (here) to be taken directly to the Caravan pineapple wall sconce
Brown electrical sockets/switches and Bakelite ceiling rose/dolly switch all available from The Period House Shop
For Brown sockets and switches click (here)
For Bakelite products click (here)
Thank you for the images used