Wednesday, 17 December 2014


I never imagined I'd ever own a Tarantella, made by the high-end Walsall leather manufacturer, founded by a local woman and employing a mostly all-female workforce.  I've lusted over their pieces in the town's Leather Museum and, despite dealing in vintage clothing since the 1970s, even June from Second To None has yet to come across a piece.

Luckily for me our mates, Gordon & Tina of Babouskha, recently found this unworn suede suit on their travels and, after using it on display at the Xmas Retro Fair on Saturday, I made it mine.

Other than the post I wrote HERE, there's very little information available about the Tarantella factory. After their groovy leather and suede fashion they changed direction and specialised in glove manufacture. If you own a pair of vintage St Michael or Halfords leather gloves then there's a good chance they came from Walsall.

Tarantella skirt suit worn with Jersey Masters nylon dagger collar blouse (clearance rail at a vintage fair), 1960s snakeskin and stainless steel choker (car boot sale), River Island stack heel boots (Salvation Army) and orange tights from Poundland.
My green suit is labelled as a UK size 14 to fit a 34" bust and a 26" waist. I bought a modern Miss Selfridge maxi dress from a chazza yesterday which is a UK size 6 and fits perfectly, talk about vanity sizing.  Just goes to show that you should never pay any attention to sizing labels in vintage or contemporary clothes, they're all crazy.

Those vintage Trueform boots last worn HERE would have looked good with this outfit but I sold them on Sunday!

Working at the Leather Museum on Saturday obviously had an influence on me. Here's my other purchase, a fab 1960s Suede & Leathercraft suede mini. Alone it's going to be great for festivals with one of my vintage chokers and some beaten up tan boots.

Bit nippy for bare legs today though, so I stuck a vintage ribbed polo neck (the only jumper I own) underneath along with two pairs of 1970s yellow tights Lyndsey found for me at a car boot sale.

Vintage suede mini worn with yellow polo neck, Bertie leather boots (both car booted) and a suede shoulder bag from Queen Helga)
Right, better get my arse in gear. There's a mountain of clobber from a mega two days of charity shopping to wash and put away and my roots desperately need touching up before it gets too dark to see the grey bits.

See you soon!

Monday, 15 December 2014

Touch The Leather

When we were given the opportunity to help Black Country Echoes and the Leather Museum organise a retro-inspired Xmas fair a few weeks ago I jumped at the chance. Back in the 1990s Walsall was described as hip, cool and happening by The Guardian and I'm determined that our town regains that reputation if it kills me.

Despite Trip Advisor rating the Leather Museum as Walsall's number one tourist attraction, it never ceases to amaze me that so many of our townsfolk have never visited. I'm passionate about our industrial heritage and, with the added attraction of the Fox Collection, an archive of locally made leather and suede fashion hidden away for over forty years, it was the perfect opportunity to both raise the museum's profile and celebrate Black Country ingenuity. 

Jon's Vintage Suitcase Boomboxes

We decided to focus on local indie businesses, makers and creators, hoping to not only raise the town's profile but to offer people an alternative to the mass produced goods available on our high street.  

Hetty's Heavenly Treats is a local tea room and outdoor caterer. The girls ran a gingerbread icing workshop and offered some pre-packed treats.

Sharon & Jodie of Vintage Duos run very successful vintage & craft fairs around the Black Country. They helped to save the day by coming to our rescue after a local creative cooperative cancelled with days to go. Their paper craft, framed retro prints and vegan bath products proved very popular.

Liz of Izzybird Bags brought a range of her amazing creations, bags, cards, accessories and even honey from her hives.

Jolene's stunning designer jewellery is instantly recognisable and on most Walsall women's wish lists. 

 Lyndsey from Boomerang Retro brought colour and vintage cool (and enjoyed the free bar!)

Second to None (represented by June's lovely husband, Dave) had a rail of groovy leather and suede clothing. I snaffled this 1960s mini dress.

Mark from Rustic Woodcraft drew in the passers by with his ace creations, ably assisted by Katie, his gorgeous partner.

 Artist Jain McCay's work is incredible and happily lots of customers agreed. She was another of our eleventh-hour saviours and we were delighted that she got such a great reception.

Gordon from the wonderful world of Babouskha was born in Walsall (even though he lives in Stourbridge now). A man saw him modelling this Bavarian jacket and bought it immediately. The green suede suit went home with me!

 Duccio are one of Walsall's leading leather goods manufacturers. Kanye West is a fan.

The museum organised a peg doll workshop for the kids. The little boy told me his was going to be a Ninja Turtle, his sister favoured a more traditional fairy.

The Curio Shop has been trading in Walsall for over 45 years. They brought along a selection of their eclectic stock.

Black Country Echoes offered a strategically positioned free bar, set amongst the exhibits. What could be better than sipping cranberry vodka whilst drooling over Walsall-made designer handbags?

Meet Jo, a long-time blog reader who'd made the journey over from Burton on Trent to say hello. A gorgeous, glamorous, charity shopping, Wetherspoons fan. She's definitely coming on our next girls' day out.

I'm wearing a vintage chiffon, diamante and pearl encrusted Texas-made evening dress (birthday pressie from Babouskha). Jon's in vintage/second-hand from head to toe. 

We had a wonderful day, lots of visitors and loads of positive comments. We were thrilled that so many of our friends turned out to support everyone. Here's to more Walsall events in 2015!

......Of course one fair in a weekend just wasn't enough, we worked at Moseley's groovy vintage and retro fair yesterday, too.

I'm wearing a Polly Peck maxi from Garbo Antiques £5 rail at Vintage Village, Jon's robbed the stockroom. That's gorgeous Gail in the Santa outfit and the divine Cameron in the regimental jacket.

So that's it for 2014, 32 vintage fairs and 7 festivals. Thanks to the organisers, fellow traders and all of you who turned up, bought from and supported us. India is only weeks away now!

We're off to get bladdered celebrate in Wetherspoons. See you soon.

Linking to Patti's Visible Monday.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Lurex and Leather

Being a magpie I buy on impulse, never shopping with a fixed plan, hence a wildly impractical wardrobe stuffed with clashing colours and crazy prints. Clothes can hang around unworn for ages until an item comes along which, when combined with something I already own, makes for a half decent outfit.

Take my '70s Moss Crepe & satin jacket. I spotted it in Second To None and immediately fell for its Deco-inspired 1930s tailoring. June told me that it came from a local house clearance, a sprawling Victorian villa belonging to a lady who worked as a croupier, smoked 60 fags a day and died at the grand old age of 95. With a provenance like that it just had to be mine. There's no label but it looks remarkably like vintage Ossie Clark, THIS one is currently retailing at $1,445.

It remained unworn for the best part of two months until I unpacked this lurex maxi dress Curtise sent me for my birthday and ta-dah, finally out of the wardrobe and back in the spotlight.

Nails: Barry M's Silvery Lilac

Talking of which, here's me in today's paper, promoting the Xmas Retro Fair at Walsall Leather Museum.

Back in the early 1970s a friend's parents, who own a saddlery, designed a range of leather and suede fashion which, just like Tupperware, they sold at parties to local housewives. They've kindly allowed us to borrow some of the prototypes, which have been lovingly packed away for over 40 years, and they'll be on display at the fair this Saturday. Just as well the collection will be under lock and key, I've taken a fancy to most of it. 

Vintage Moss Crepe jacket (Second To None), 1970s Richard Shops lurex maxi dress (darling Curtise), silver velvet boots (£9, Office sale), sequin beret (jumble sale), Lamani tribal choker (India), antique silver-framed bag (car boot sale)
It's a weekend of back to back fairs (Moseley on Sunday) and then that's it until 2015. Once work is out of the way I can bore you share our India plans.

See you soon!

Sunday, 7 December 2014

It's My Birthday, It's My Birthday!

It may have ended in the usual way, spent in great company, with plenty of booze, laughs and a curry, but this year certainly marked a departure from the usual celebrations, for the first time in my entire 48 years I actually went to work on my birthday.

Welcome to the ancient Shropshire town of Bridgnorth. As commutes go, this one ain't half bad.

Here's the office...and our Kinky corner,

Organiser Ellen arranged for vintage songstress Bexi Owen to serenade me! 

Meet the workers.

There's Ellen, the boss...don't be fooled, that's definitely not coffee in those cups.

A few of our cool colleagues, including the gorgeous Kaylee & Jake


Hannah, Laura & Nikki

  and me!

Gorgeous visitors included these sharp dressed men and their equally stylish partners, 

Cherry, the rescue pup, in vintage 1970s.

Supermodel friend Claire, in 1970s Welsh Tapestry, & Omari in a vintage St Michael wool duffel.

We said goodbye to some gorgeous stock including these original silver platforms.

What we wore,

Wearing: 1970s St Michael velvet blazer, skinnied-up 1970s trousers, vintage cherry red DMs, Austin Reed waistcoat, silk pocket square, 1960s Carnaby St shirt (courtesy of Curtise)
I won my maxi on eBay last week for 99p, Its a 1960s Union Made (ILGWU) psychedelic chiffon confection listed as a "pastel coloured 1980s polyester dress". Possibly the most inaccurate description ever.

Last night involved beer, Country & Western, more beer, cocktails and curry and rolling back with our mates, G'n'T, in the early hours of the morning. The age may have changed but the lifestyle is pretty much the same (C & W aside) as it has been for the last 30 years. 

I've been spoilt with the most glorious vintage clobber, tribal jewellery, dress making patterns, kitsch madness, Lush goodies and new knickers oh, and yes, there's a flight to India booked! In the meantime I've a date in 'Spoons, a newspaper photoshoot and two vintage fairs to promote, shop & prepare for. Better crack open that birthday rum and toast Krista, it's her turn today!

See you soon.