Thursday, 20 March 2014

Pet Peeves with Vintage Shopping on Ebay


I used to be an avid vintage shopper, scouring markets and vintage or second hand shops for treasures.  I still love vintage but sadly, these days I'm usually never free to go shopping for it.  Most shops I'd like a good rummage around are closed by the time I finish up for the day and weekends are almost never free.  And let's face it - vintage shopping takes a lot of time.  In recent years all my clothes shopping migrated online, including for vintage.


Every so often I peruse that great, open-all-hours vintage market place on the internet for bargains - Ebay.  And I know I'm not alone judging from the bids I've lost to others and the number of watchers on items that catch my eye.  In the past I've had some great successes buying vintage on Ebay (as well as spectacular failures).  Focusing on the good I have some lovely Victorian and Edwardian pieces that were actually quite inexpensive.  This lace embellished Victorian jacket, the gold leather flapper shoes and this ivory cream opera cape made out of a piano shawl are some of my favourite Ebay buys.


I've been using Ebay lately to look for vintage furniture for the flat but the last couple of evenings attention deficit drove me to the vintage women's clothing section.  After a long spell perusing what was on offer, I have to say I felt it was harder to find quality and genuine items with reasonable start bids.  Vintage price inflation has seeped into the start prices and some irritating claims and tricks are being tried by sellers to sell their wares, not all of them qualifying as vintage.

Now I take vintage to mean clothing that was genuinely made in a particular era, and we are talking eras spanning from a time starting thirty or forty years back, clothes that have some genuine fashion history behind them.  But judging from what sometimes gets listed in the vintage clothing section I do wonder if the average Ebay vintage seller is familiar with this concept!

Some practises by sellers that kept cropping up repeatedly really did start to grate after a while and I thought they deserved calling out.  So here they are - my pet peeves when hunting for vintage items on Ebay.  Vintage sellers take note!
  • Sellers listing modern second hand clothing in the vintage section tagged as "vintage style" - please cease and desist.  You are taking up valuable screen space on my search list which could be filled with real vintage items.  I don't want something that is vintage style.  I want the real deal.  Ebay can't you set up a separate category for "vintage style" items on their own?  I swear it would be ten times the size of the real vintage section.  Anyone know how to set up an Ebay search to avoid this phrase??
  • Modern clothing posing as vintage - a secondhand item from Topshop, H&M, Karen Millen, New Look, Zara, and Miss Selfridge does not a vintage garment make. Please also read point one.
  • They may look vintage-y but unless it was manufactured in the 1970s (or 80s at a push) or earlier your "vintage" Monsoon or Laura Ashley is usually just last season's or several seasons old Monsoon or Laura Ashley.
  • Sellers using "Gatsby" or "Downtown Abbey" or whatever title of period dress movie or TV series which happens to be flavour of the month.  It does not make your garment more desirable by comparing it to the costumes in a movie or screen show with a million dollar costume budget.
  • Sellers asking four figure sums for vintage garments.  I have two not very polite words to say to you.  I can get me some runway pieces by top designers for that type of money that don't have moth holes, rips, tears, missing bits or a musty, moth balled smell and hundred year old perspiration marks.  That old adage of flaws and imperfections being part of the charm of vintage clothing begins to wear off at around the £100 mark.  Over £1000 I am more likely to think that you are a money launderer than entertain any notion of bidding on your overpriced item which you probably picked up for buttons.
  • Posting an average UK size instead of posting accurate measurements of the garment.  There is no average UK size people!  A UK 8 in one store can be a UK 6 in another and a UK 12 in yet another.  And it has probably changed since you last hit the change rooms on the high street.  I'm tired of typing in the same request for chest, waist and shoulder measurements for your garments.  Don't be so lazy and post some measurements!  Or I won't bid!
  • Getting your periods wrong.  I've seen some pretty outlandish claims as to what constitutes a 20s flapper dress, what is Victorian, what is Edwardian, the list goes on. And then there is some blatant cover your ass type banding like "50s - 70s dress" - that's a time span of three decades!  A very long time in fashion!  Please do some research and at least try to get it right or admit that you just don't know.
I'm sure there are others that will come to me as I continue my vintage search.  Do you use Ebay to shop for vintage items?  Any pet peeves you've found shopping on Ebay for vintage?

Vintage Victorian riding jacket: Ebay

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Peter Pilotto


I've not been on the fashion ball lately as work has been consuming all of my time.  I mean, I completely missed the Peter Pilotto for Target gig.  I'm usually all over my favourite designer's collaborations with the UK high street and have often been gnashing my teeth with envy over the awesome collaborations with top designers run by Target on an almost exclusive basis for our sisters on the other side of the pond.  Yes Pret-a-P in Missoni and Fort Smith Stylista in 3.1 Phillip Lim I'm talking to you.

In fact this time, by the time I got around to browsing the collection on Net-a-Porter most of it had sold out and was selling on Ebay at three times the retail price.  No matter!  To console myself I went out and bought the real thing on sale instead.


I jest.  Not about buying the dress on sale, but that it was to console myself.  I've been guilty of going overboard on these high street designer collaborations in the past to the extent that after totting up the spend I've realised that I could easily have put that money to get something from the designer's mainline collections if only I had waited patiently enough for a sale or an Outnet drop.  I've had some quiet shopping resolutions brewing in the background these last few months.  They include firstly to buy less and buy better, secondly to buy to fit my actual lifestyle and body shape now and not the one I used to have, or have in my head, and finally to avoid paying full retail unless it is a wardrobe basic.


As a result shopping on the high street has all but stopped.  That's quite a shift in gear because I was a real fan of high street fashion.  And I still am - however at s I get older it seems to be less and less of a fan of me - but more of that in another post.

When perusing the Peter Pilotto for Target collection I felt similarly alienated.  Not that it was a bad collection per se, some of it looked really very cute, it just felt very young in a way that made it hopelessly irrelevant for my lifestyle let alone body shape.  In fact this collection looked like the perfect wardrobe for a whippet thin university student who lives in warm climes near the beach and goes out partying every weekend.  It would have been my dream wardrobe when I was twenty.  Now (sadly) I have little use for crop tops, printed shorts, skirts with short hemlines, voluminous skater skirts, casual sweatshirts, beach wear or strapless cocktail dresses.


I do love print though and although it is what Peter Pilotto do best, an added plus is that the cuts of their dresses are also very flattering, something I wasn't sure would translate into a high street collection as easy as prints.  I picked this one out of the winter sale rack for its turtle neck, angel sleeves and knee length hemline which gives the dress a definite grown up feel while the print stops it feeling stuffy.

Their last winter collection was inspired by Spain which may be why it resonated with me so much.  The print on this dress reminded me of the heady visual and sensory overload of climbing Gaudi's unfinished Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.  I remember walking in circles for hours up and down winding staircases, along the way catching glimpses of stained glass windows, towering stone spires, columns and sculptures all in lurid contrasting colours.  I remember it as a crazy, zany piece of architecture that somehow has a divine logic - and I think the print here captures that sense of madness with a method to it.


I wore the dress with this black frock coat and boots to afternoon tea a couple of weeks back with a very interesting and delightful lady who is an academic in fashion media and who I met through the blog.  She interviewed me for a book she is writing about blogging.  We talked about the contrast between work wear and what we wear on the blog and she asked me if would wear such a dress like this to work.  I told her I wouldn't as suits in corporate colours is the order of the day at my office and I would worry it would be too zany.  But since we had that chat I have been constantly thinking - well why the hell not?  And as I had to go straight to the theatre tonight from work I did just that - wore the dress to work - so thank you Agnes for the motivation!  Guess what?  Nobody seemed to bat an eyelid - but I do wonder what they were all secretly thinking...

Joining Patti and the ladies over at Not Yet Dead Style for Visible Monday.

Dress: Peter Pilotto; Wrapover cardigan: All Saints; Coat: Sportmax; Mongolian scarf: Topshop; Boots: Moschino;  Earrings: Christmas gift

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Homenaje: Two Videos and a Funeral

Paco de Lucia: Source: Euronews

The legendary flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia died this week.   I am still trying to digest this.  Still in a quiet state of disbelief and shock as are many flamenco friends.  To anyone who loves flamenco, Paco de Lucia, despite his age, seemed immortal.

To put his death in context, think of the rippling effect globally of the death of a figure held up and admired as being truly great in their field elsewhere.  Think of what the death of John Lennon meant to popular music, or that of Alexander McQueen to fashion, and of how they were publicly mourned afterwards.  As one friend said: flamenco was changed for ever while Paco was alive - it has changed for ever now he is gone.

His funeral was today. I expect every flamenco artist worth his or her salt in Spain would have been there to pay their respects.  Some incredible photos of the funeral coming out on the web, this one of Vicente Amigo, another of my favourite guitarists, as one of the coffin bearers.

Source: DeFlamenco via facebook
Paco de Lucia was considered one of flamenco's greatest ambassadors, the one who took it out of Andalusia and to the world, and also out of it's own comfort zone.  He pioneered the fusion of flamenco with other musical forms like jazz and classical, opening flamenco to a much wider audience as a result.

Recently I got to try my own fusion of flamenco with another art form, that's if you choose to see fashion as part of the creative arts, which I certainly do.  The passing away of Paco de Lucia made me reflect back on that with a fresh perspective.  I often baulk at mixing flamenco with other things but I think Paco would have probably approved of such fusion.  A young fashion designer took Andalucia and the story of Bizet's Carmen as the inspiration for a fashion collection and had a vision of having a flamenco dancer perform during his fashion show.  As a result I was able to play a small part in bringing flamenco to a new audience, or at least provided some cultural context to the inspiration behind a designer's vision to people whose primary interest is fashion.  And it certainly took me out of my comfort zone as a dancer.

I am very often surrounded by people who think artistic and creative endeavors are a complete waste of time and see no value in them.  Yet creatives, in any field, are so important.  Creatives have the vision and openness of mind to cross boundaries and draw inspiration from new sources, crystallising their ideas through their skills into new and beautiful works of art for the enjoyment of all, works of art that transport us elsewhere, open our minds and make us see the world just that little bit differently afterwards.  In this way art can unite people.  When a great creative leaves us, all of us are a little poorer for it.

Many of the comments from my last post asked to see a video of my flamenco performance at London Fashion Week.  I did actually put one on the last post but probably people didn't realise it was there.  At any rate there is a new one posted below that was taken at the actual show with some snippets of me in full flight between clips of backstage antics and the catwalk show.  If you are interested in seeing the full dance during our rehearsal I've also reposted the livestreaming video here - you'll have to forward 16 minutes in to see it.  I'm dancing a dance called Siguiriyas.  I found a good description of Siguiriyas here:
"Slow, majestic and tragic, Siguiriyas is the most jondo of cante jondo forms. Its lyrics focus on tragedy, inconsolable sorrow, and pain."
We didn't have a singer (for the record, performing without a singer is bloody difficult), but I think the sentiment is still there.  Fitting I think for my personal homenaje for Paco de Lucia.

Éthologie - London Fashion Show 2014 from The Editor on Vimeo.

Video streaming by Ustream

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