How to shop art now

Kissing Couple silver brooch ©Modern Decorative

The moment we’re experiencing is quite rightly making us pause for thought, what should we be buying if we feel we can spend money right now? No matter what the pandemic has done for your personal budget for life’s decorative things, I think we all want our purchases to be more purposeful. Cue art and objects that add to our lives on the daily.

I recently discovered Modern Decorative, a unique online gallery that sells undiscovered art and antiques. With handy extra eyes from his father, Gary Jackson, who was in the antique business for years before becoming a painter, the founder Joe spots underrated and underpriced pieces for his thoughtful collection. Unlike my usual knack for eyeing the exact items that sit way outside of my price range, the silver kissing couple brooch above and 1970s etching below are both around the one hundred pounds mark. The etching is signed, but Joe and his father Gary take the philosophy that the best signature is the painting itself.

“Behind every painting, there’s a soul, a person who loves to paint, a life story that will influence the work no matter how abstract that influence is.”

Gary Jackson, Modern Decorative

Etching with Nude Figures and Abstract Design ©Modern Decorative

For me buying art is a distinctive way to identify a moment in time, like when I moved into the first home of my own and soon bought a piece of urban art that matched my first big salvage purchase, plus encapsulated my emotions during that period. Sometimes you’re looking for something for a particular space and other times the right piece just finds you.

When buying art and decorative pieces to dress your home, I think it’s important to only go for what you really really, let’s throw another really in there, love. It’s good to ask yourself how much do I love it? Sometimes you know instantly and at a market, it’s tempting and sometimes necessary to act on immediate impulse, but the benefit of shopping online gives you the chance to scroll, and see a piece in the place you intend for it to live. Just take a look at Modern Decorative’s Instagram if you have any doubt that a photograph can capture the mood and texture of a painting.

Detail by Gustavo Carbó Berthold ©Modern Decorative & Detail of Abstract above ©Modern Decorative

The secondary art market suits an increasing appetite amongst young, highly visual art appreciators that can discover and own originals at a good value. There is not currently much demand for 19th-century art, but it can look unexpectedly exquisite in a modern setting. If you want to reject the fashion for 20th-century modern pieces then something like this watercolour could put you ahead of style’s pendulum swing.

Detail of watercolour of woman ©Modern Decorative

I enjoyed virtually escaping through their feed of natural landscapes and one particular sunny still life with flowers, which is as close as I am getting to the Mediterranean for a while. Before the pandemic, Joe luckily expanded from London to a studio space in Barcelona, which in normal times gives him a perfect position to source works between Spain and France.

Detail of still life ©Modern Decorative

From a market stall in my hood on Portobello Road, Gary and his twin brother Paul used to deal in antiques together, and Joe would help out from an early age. Paul now specialises in twentieth-century Scandinavian design from Stockholm with his business Jackson Design AB. The twins’ other brother Simon started restoring in their dad’s garage before winning a scholarship to West Dean, where he met his wife, and now Simon and Frauke restore and sell antique and Mid-mod furniture in Bath. From sleek to classic to delightfully unusual, the eye is strong in this family.

No dates are in the diary yet, but if you are eager to exercise your eyes in the real world then check the website to see Modern Decorative at fairs in the future.

©Photographs courtesy of Modern Decorative

ethazon

Wearing accessories from my new carbon conscious label ethazon

When Beck and I first came together to create ethazon we desired an eco fashion place for people to dress for the world they want. Fast forward two years and we have seen a flurry of fashion trying to clean up its act, which is great for the movement, but with sustainability suddenly the word of the moment it is even harder to separate the green from the washing, so our founding mission is potentially more apt now than ever.

ethazon is about taste and transparency. We’re building an eco fashion place for people to dress deliberately from carefully selected designers and makers. We’re still working on our website, but we’ve launched a private Instagram so that followers get the first look at our recrafted accessories and thrifte vintage, whilst bigger collaborations with designers in eco fashion and dealers in reclaimed interiors are on the horizon. 

If like us you’re emerging from lockdown conscious of the world in distress and are seeking a new look or a new outlook then join us. Follow @ethazon for our secret carbon conscious collection of things to dress yourself and your home. 

Becky wearing one our recrafted bags made of sixties towelling with reclaimed judo belt handles @ethazon
Me wearing thrifte vintage accessories from our upcoming edit @ethazon

© Photographs ethazon

Hot Hot Hot! Reclaimed Woman

How will fashion become fashionable again after lockdown? We are waiting to see if the expected shift to more conscious shopping will be accelerated following the reflection time that beings, brands and businesses have had to take in the bigger picture. Categories like locally made, vegan or organic are certainly popping up more frequently on shopping platforms, like the newly launched PARO STORE. But its most compelling component is that you can tell the founders, Ruth and Zoe chose the brands because they personally want to shop from them. The progressive offering ranges from clothes and jewellery to independent magazines that shine fresh light on heavy issues like climate change.

PARO STORE edit, from the top:

Organic ribbed cotton Anai Bodysuit II by Aniela Parys

Hot hot hot! magazine Issue 3

Candy Person shorts and cardi by ULLAC oy

Recycled silver and oyster shell earrings by Mia Larsson

© Photographs courtesy of PARO STORE

wfh aka Wild From Home

Week three wfh and I am ready to be wild from home. The highlight of my weekend was singing Nirvana’s Teen Spirit whilst dancing around the lounge with my husband. “You call that wild? You need to get out more” I hear you say. Yes, I do. And one day I will. We all will. But until then I’m making my own conditioner with organic dried marshmallow root.

Stay safe, stay at home and stay wild.

Organic denim Day or Night unisex jacket Nok Nok

Mid-century Diamanté Fold Up Glasses Retro Spectacle

Organic dried marshmallow root Natural Spa Supplies

Mid-century teak chair with zebra print upholstery The Architectural Forum

Party dressing with ideas from Ardingly

I won’t try to dress-up the fact that this is consumption season and this week sets the spending scene with a bombardment of Black Friday offers.  Whether you are wrapping up your 2019 projects, buying gifts, or figuring out how to dress yourself and your home for Christmas, It is hard not to get caught in the seasonal rush.  

A clue that the current commerce cycle is a game that both producers and consumers are losing came with findings that Black Friday sales offer few real deals according to the consumer group Which?.  But shopping doesn’t have to be a dupe, and Christmas offers an opportunity to spend better, buy secondhand or support businesses that are making a difference.  

The tradition of making a list and checking it twice is a good habit if you are looking to be more conscious this Christmas.  You might think fairs aren’t a place to shop from a list, and it’s true that the magic they behold often comes from the crazy, unusual, beautiful things you could never have imagined, but it is still possible to check off a list and here is how Ardingly Antiques & Collectors Fair ticked my boxes. 

1. Salvage ancient crafts and antiques that bring an aged glow. The stands are a great way to get festive decor ideas to set the scene.  

2. Rediscover the joy and excitement of children. Regular exhibitor, Linda North Antiques never fails to bring the magic with a rich, tactile display that could melt the heart of  the Grinch.

3. Get memorable gifts. Happy gifting guaranteed when you present your loved ones with a story to keep.  

4. And finally, a gift to self. Mine was a pair of day to evening shoes [pictured at the top] that will be perfect for the party season and still give me joy come January. I found these seventies shoes by Shellys, the British brand that used to stomp the streets of London’s Carnaby Street.  

This was the last Ardingly of the year, but you better not cry, you better not pout because the next IACF Fair is Alexandra Palace Antiques & Collectors Fair and it’s coming to town this Sunday 1st December 2019. 

© Photographs Reclaimed Woman

Clean cleaning with Norfolk Natural Living

“You’re going to open a cleaning shop?!” questioned Bella Middleton’s mum when she came up with the idea to create eco-friendly cleaning products.  Now a fully fledged member of the Norfolk Natural Living team, Bella’s mum works in their shop in Holt, which has maintained one of Norfolk’s unique high streets.

Clean, like green is currently trending, but Bella delved into cleaning’s past to develop her natural formulas.  We’re hearing more stories about the murky supply chains behind some products driving the clean living scene, so it is reassuring to know that Bella sources ingredients from skilled British artisans – from local lavender fields to English beeswax. Everything is mixed, bottled and labelled by hand in (as the brand name suggests) Norfolk and each ingredient is fully traceable.  

See Bella’s ‘how to clean silk’ guide

Respect for materials runs in the family, from her sister with roots in ethical fashion design to her granny, who was a costume designer.  Bella still has many vintage pieces from her grandmother’s collection and evidently loves vintage as much as I do, but also gets excited by the cleaning challenges presented by vintage garments and different old fabrics: “I’m constantly on a journey” says Bella.

Family was also a driving force behind the conception of Norfolk Natural Living.  Having children made Bella think even more about the clothes we pass through generations and so wanted to create an heirloom-worthy garment and home care brand, designed to care.

Me and Norfolk Natural Living handling a 1940s silk

Of course the cleaning collection is not just for special pieces, as whether vintage or new, the biggest environmental impact of everything we wear is most likely to come from how we care for it and wash it.  The better we look after things, the more sustainable the contents of our homes and wardrobes and that means washing things less often, cue Norfolk Natural Living’s handy range of refreshers, like one dedicated to denim.

There’s a lot to take in with the sustainability seashore of choices that impact things in different ways, so Bella’s aim was to keep things simple with products that are naturally potent, not preachy, look good and to provide proper instructions on how to use them. 

Combining modern scientific research and age-old techniques, the first creation was scented vinegar.  However, if you’re after fish and chip scents then you might like to head to Holt for Eric’s sustainable MSC-certified fish instead, because Bella’s all-purpose vinegar cleaner is scented with natural essential oils.

“I wanted to create a product that does all the things it’s supposed to do and do it really well, but also in a way that’s desirable.” [Which I can vouch for because after using the scented vinegar for the first time my husband walked into our bathroom and said how great it smelled; and before you think our household is stuck in the era of my vintage silks, we each have our cleaning domains – his is the kitchen and mine is the bathroom]

Projects in the works for Bella include renovating her kitchen and looking for a second shop in Holt, so that they can also hold workshops. Recently mulling over the purchase of an antique kitchen table marked with children’s names, Bella and I agree that there is a happy balance between clean and not too clean, and that sometimes signs of life are what makes things. She wants to give people confidence to take care of things in a natural way:

“Clothes can change your attitude and it’s good to know that they’ll last so you can wear them and enjoy them without worrying…let them live.”

Shop Norfolk Natural Living

© Photographs courtesy of Norfolk Natural Living & Reclaimed Woman

Fashion statements from Manchester and a sustainable British summer

Reclaimed materials at Alberts Schloss in Manchester © Insitu Architectural Salvage

The Manchester-based fast fashion retailer, Missguided recently made headlines for the wrong reasons with a £1 bikini. Depending on which side of the sun lounger you woke up on, you will either be disappointed you missed the bargain or angry, alongside MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) that just had proposals like a 1p fashion tax to raise millions for better clothing recycling rejected.  

Despite the success of rapid fashion, trends are also moving towards investment purchases like well-being, live music and food experiences that will feed our souls. Insitu Architectural Salvage shared a few projects, including Manchester’s independent bar and gig venue Jimmy’s, who is now opening a site in Liverpool Docks and the neighbourhood Neapolitan pizzeria, Rudy’s who also has a new site in Liverpool. 

Reclaimed lighting from Insitu Architectural Salvage © Rudy’s

Sustainability is influencing a number of industries, from construction to fashion and food. However, it is not simply about an environmental angle, as restaurants fashioned with truly reclaimed maple strip flooring, seating and lighting build a story and bring authenticity to your scene. 

Salvaged furniture designed to be used outside can add a natural transition from the home to the garden and folding designs are also great for small outdoor spaces like mine. I bought the school bench [pictured above on the left] from Insitu a few years ago – perfect for city living.

Here are some of my picks of sustainable British fashion alongside furniture from Insitu. Now we just need some swimwear weather that is not missguided.

ECONYL® regenerated yarn swimsuit AURIA x Ashley Williams

Dhalia headband printed using water-based inks that are non-toxic War & Drobe

Reclaimed café chair [part of a set] Insitu Architectural Salvage

Hurler 2 organic cotton sneakers Good News

The Madonna and Child pendant in salvaged sterling silver  Lylies

British leather wash bag Padfield

Ardingly wants to bring you flowers

Ardingly Antiques & Collectors Fair showed its mettle (albeit disguised as petals )this week, as a major fair that continues to attract a strong following of dealers, designers and private buyers.  It could have been the sunny start and morning light hitting the showground, but the architectural and decorative antiques looked especially pretty, like the first daffs in March.

My highlights included Mangan Antiques’ marbeled apothecary pots circa 1870 from southern Italy, coloured to signify the herbs they originally held. A floral telephone chair also caught my fancy for its fringing detail and so did numerous painted reclaimed doors.  

@SmithsofStraford Instagram

This late Victorian stained glass panel rescued from Birmingham by Smiths of Stratford, and the ‘60s bag bursting with flowers were under the same roof at Ardingly and could arguably both be considered romantic gestures🌹. 

The next Ardingly Fair will be held on Tuesday 23rd and Wednesday 24th April 2019 at the South of England Showground near Haywards Heath (as usual).

Photographs ©Reclaimed Woman & Becky Moles


Ethical & vintage finds for sustainable shopping in the San Francisco Bay Area

Had I not already left my heart in San Francisco in 2015 when I met the man I would marry seven months later, Love Street Vintage would have stolen it.  Sustainable gems are dotted in many neighbourhoods, but High on a hill, Haight Street calls if you are after a single destination to explore vintage and pre-loved fashion.  Berkeley is a must for Ohmega Salvage if you’re into reclaimed interiors.  If time allows, I thoroughly recommend crossing the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin County for giant redwood trees and environmentally conscious communities.  I had the vegan sausage of my life at Gestalt Haus in the town of Fairfax. But enough about my love life. Here’s some ethical and vintage finds to start your own love affair with the SF Bay Area.  

Amour Vert

Marina District – 2110 Chestnut St, San Francisco, CA 94123, USA. Plus more Amour Vert stores to explore in numerous neighbourhoods in the Bay Area…

photograph courtesy of Amour Vert

Starting with green love. These sustainable staples are what you would expect to find if you raided the wardrobe of a chic French woman: classic tees, great silk blouses, a boyfriend blazer, relaxed sweaters, a slinky jumpsuit. AND then added free-spirited prints; this is after all San Francisco, where 97% of Amour Vert’s clothing is made (within just a few miles of the brand’s head office).  Natural, quality fabrics are arguably the building blocks behind both French and Californian style, which Amour Vert translates beautifully with eco-friendly materials like GOTS certified organic cotton, Mulberry silk and modal. 

 

Love Street Vintage

Haight & Ashbury neighbourhood – 1506 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA

Visit the kaleidoscopic corner of Haight and Ashbury and absorb the setting of 1967’s Summer of Love and then explore bohemian sixties and seventies fashion at Love Street Vintage.  From paper-doll-making childhood days spent cutting out Sears catalogs to setting up this dress-up heaven, the owner edits beautiful clothing for women and men alongside accessories that date back to the twenties.  Discover new jewellery made in California and antique Native American turquoise pieces.  

 

Static Vintage

Haight & Ashbury neighbourhood – 1764 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA

Caution: one may leave Static Vintage wanting to paint one’s walls a ‘90s shade of lime green.  There is a lot to look at with painted walls decorated with women’s and men’s fashion. Stock ranges from reasonably priced rare pieces to cabinets reserved for vintage Vuitton luggage, designer jewellery and bags by the likes of Gucci and Chanel.  Other accessories include lots of ties and shoes, which range from secondhand so-wrong-they’re-right to vintage Yves Saint Laurent. Rails are packed so it’s a good place if you are in the mood for a rummage. Take intermittent breaks in the brown teddybear chair. 

 

Decades of Fashion 

Haight & Ashbury neighbourhood – 1653 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA

As the name suggests, here you can shop by the decade of fashion that takes your fancy. Most pieces fall between the thirties to the eighties, but the collection spans 100 years from the 1890s.  I’ve shopped everyday attire, but it’s particularly good for party-wear.  Sadly I don’t drink champagne everyday like the late Cilla Black was said to, but on my last visit I was tempted by a pair of ‘80s champagne bottle and coupe earrings (that would be a perfect blind-date identifier). Don’t worry if you’re not reading this from the UK or you were born after 1995 and these Blind Date jokes are lost on you because if you’re into vintage then Decades of Fashion definitely won’t be.

 

Wasteland 

Haight & Ashbury neighbourhood – 1660 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA

There’s nothing like a good window display to make you appreciate the pleasure that is unique to visiting a shop built with bricks instead of clicks.  In fact the whole store front of Wasteland’s San Francisco location is worthy of a minute or two before you dive past Art Deco tiles to discover pre-loved fashion peppered with vintage.  Expect high-end and contemporary designers, and when I last visited there was practically a cabinet dedicated to collectable Prada accessories.  Of course stock changes quickly, but men’s clothes and accessories always maintain a healthy share of the space.

 

Eden & Eden

North Beach neighbourhood – 560 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA

Not everything in Eden & Eden is sustainable, but the store and staff exhibit such respect for both new and vintage that it is truly a place to shop forever pieces. Eden & Eden’s vintage clothes and jewellery is so well-edited that it could even convert people that don’t usually do vintage. They also exhibit in A Current Affair, an event for premier vintage retailers and private dealers that comes to the Bay twice a year.

 

Seedstore 

Inner Richmond neighbourhood – 212 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA

Step inside Seedstore and you feel a flowering spectrum of the sustainable fashion scene – ranging from local labels with collections made in California to independent brands from around the globe that nurture traditional in-country techniques. A pop-up of ‘80s and ‘90s vintage by WRN FRSH, a local SF label that also sells their own non-binary cut and sewn collection made of recycled denim sits well in this store of mainly new wardrobe staples for women and men and gifty goods. 

 

Gravel & Gold 

Mission District – 3266 21st St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA

Let’s just say they had me at the doormat welcome message.

Gravel & Gold is home to an independent, woman-owned design collective and is mainly stocked with things the women make themselves including clothing, accessories and gifts featuring their handmade prints.  Joyfully crafted items for your own home dome include stained glass shaka signs and unusual sculptures and ceramics. Expect a multi-sensory experience with warm, cruelty-free Californian scents from the likes of Fiele Fragrances.

 

Reformation 

Mission District – 914 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA. One of Ref’s two locations in SF.

It is increasingly rare to find a brand that you can’t get on home ground, so if you’re not based in San Francisco, New York or LA, Reformation calls for some revelling. Tech-savvy stores invite shoppers to add items to the fitting room from a monitor, but as a Brit usually restricted to viewing Reformation’s sexy strand of sustainable from behind a screen, I preferred to cruise the gallery-like display.  Save your upper-arm workout for another time because unlike stores with jam-packed rails, Reformation dresses theirs with just one of each item.  Then you can test sizes across bottoms, dresses and tops ready for future screen-shopping.

 

Ohmega Salvage 

Berkeley – 2400 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702, USA 

Exploring Ohmega Salvage is a happy excursion to inspire interestingly dressed interiors. This place is a staple of community for reuse with unusual objects that fit a need and tell a story.  It’s a given that you will eye-up salvage bigger than your suitcase could carry; which in my case was a trough sink circa 1960, but there are smaller shoppable items too (like the glass pendant light shades pictured).   It’s also fun to look at different architectural elements and furniture that you don’t find back home.  

 

Mystic Rose 

Fairfax in Marin County – 9 Bolinas Rd, Fairfax, CA 94930, USA

Mystic Rose is a new jewel to the treasure town that is Fairfax.  Stepping inside is like entering a fortune tellers cabin with vintage clothes and ‘90s iridescent Moschino boots waiting to tell you about the life you could have if you choose them. This store has trinkets galore, gifts and great American vintage accessories for women and men.  I saw mostly one-offs on my visit, apart from this trolley out front holding deadstock handbags from the seventies. It’s well worth crossing the Golden Gate Bridge for a taste of intentional living here. 

©Photographs Reclaimed Woman

 

 

Seasonal vegging & voguing

This edit sums up my mood for the month ahead. It’s that time of year when your pinkie ring should give you super powers and you can cloak your face and your body in pillows [when not showing off that you’re capable of dancing in white whilst eating cranberry canapés].

Repurposed men’s cuff link Super Hero ring Pushkie 

Hero high-waisted trousers & Aegis drape top  Laura Ironside
[also available at The Maiyet Collective Concept Store in London. See Maiyet Collective for their next event]

Cushions & quilts Mother of Pearl 

Eye Pillow by Blasta Henriet from The Keep Boutique

Vintage floral jacket from Lime Green Bow

Eko collection BomBom bag made from decommissioned seatbelts From Belo

Dancing Queen socks Birdsong London

Monica trousers 31 Chapel Lane

©Photographs courtesy of the brands featured