party season trousers Morv London
rare card c.1910 from dealer Val Jackson-Harris at The Ephemera Society Winter Fair
Fashion Revolution fanzine #001:Money Fashion Power pages of poetry, illustration, photography, graphic design and editorials that explore the hidden stories behind our clothes
green rose earrings by Gung Ho from Ethical Collection
nothing more, nothing less t-shirt by Prabal Gurung from YOOXYGEN
lip crayon in shade Keen by Axiology from Content Beauty
sample vial of Edition Perfume She Came to Stay inspired by the novel written by Simone de Beauvoir in 1943. A unique stocking filler or just an excuse to top-up the shopping basket and enjoy the holiday discounts on Content Beauty when you spend £30+ (ends 29th Nov 2017)
candy skull leggings by Yoga Democracy from Rêve En Vert
antique jewellery box LASSCO
face care kit Natural Spa Supplies featuring British Hemp Oil Soft Soap, Rhassoul Clay, fragrant Organic Rose water and Virgin Cold Pressed Organic Argan Oil
I recently discovered that my nickname at university was the swan. Okay so I have a long neck, but my friend suggested that it was more likely to do with my perfect hair. Rest assured, I also dislike the woman with the “perfect hair” my friend described, as perfectionists never see perfect in themselves. Nor am I a fan of people referring to themselves as perfectionists, but before I hit the back bar on this whole paragraph, I’ll get to the point. Renovating my flat with reclaimed materials gave way to a total mind shift. From perfection seeker to imperfection appreciator. When you buy new, the shine often fades with the first scratch or signs or wear. However, buying reclaimed pieces and reusing old materials freed me to be less precious, knowing that loving signs of use would only add to their characterful beauty.
Born from Zen Buddhism, wabi-sabi cannot be bought. Your appreciation might start with a single chipped vase you have had forever. Rather than discarding it, the Japanese philosophy encourages you to accept things as they are. Wabi-sabi is the wonky, handmade, home-grown and weathered with age. A u-turn from the mass-produced, single-use society, it teaches us to be content and cherish what we have.
I am not pretending to have found zen, I still fuss with my hair for about fifteen minutes every morning. But through reuse and renovating my home with natural materials, I am making a more genuine environment that will continue to get better with age.
Difficult to translate into words, I am still working at my definition of a wabi-sabi way of life. However, I think I am close when I appreciate the imperfect pattern of white ceramic tiles at the back of my wardrobe (that was once the kitchen). Rather than sending the tiles to landfill, they live with my clothes and accessories as an accepted part of my home’s history.
Reclaimed doors and sanitary ware at V&V Reclamation / my irregular wardrobe tiles
©Photographs Reclaimed Woman
Run, don’t walk through the gates of Goldfinger’s Haggerston School when the Midcentury East show returns to the London Borough of Hackney on 15 October 2017 – for pieces like this psychedelic film poster from exhibitor Orson & Welles will be in high demand.
It has been longer than I care to note since this time of year yielded a timetable and new school books, but there is still something about the autumn air that brings a blank page ready for new adventures.
Seasons dominated by an increasing desire for midcentury design can be traced to the tastes of Petra Curtis and Lucy Ryder Richardson, the duo behind Midcentury Modern®. Modern Shows, including Midcentury East is the expansion of Showhome, a one-off event set in Lucy’s sixties house with a mix of pieces they both loved. Fifteen years later and the pair have achieved multiple gold stars for their design shows, sourcing for clients like Saatchi & Saatchi and The Modern Marketplace, their directory of the best C20 dealers and C21 designers. “We did it organically and are really proud of the way we tackled every step without getting into any debt and managed to be there to pick up our kids from school” says Lucy, with the brightest gold star feeling for working mums.
The first thing Lucy tells me is that her and Petra still love their jobs. Perhaps immersing oneself in the post-war period, where people appreciated the little things, a time when designers created within constraints and built things to last is a good way to find fulfilment? I interviewed Lucy for answers, news about their next show and advice on making a modern business.
Artemide Alistro Morsetto desk lamp from exhibitor Punk the Clock
Is the eco-friendly side of antiques in that their environmental cost has already been paid an important consideration for antique dealers to attract new customers?
I don’t think it is as important as turning a deal or they would all be driving electric vans. Our dealers love quality and heritage and are very proud of the pieces they bring to the show. They are all concerned with the authenticity of the piece and longevity of product use with the fact that these pieces from the midcentury were not created to self destruct to encourage more sales like so much modern landfill. The eco side of it is very important to me, Petra and our customers. We keep paper to a minimum and print on both sides of everything. We never over-print show maps. We are more likely to under print as we hate waste.
You have created a strong loyal following for your shows and marketplace. How do you stay front of mind?
With a huge dollop of passion and by telling stories. Our Inside Modernism blog insidemodernism.co.uk shows you our inner workings as a business and Destination Modernism destinationmodernism.com shows you the kinds of places we, and a few midmod fans, love going to. We are on Instagram and Twitter almost daily and Facebook about twice a week and try to make a You Tube video when we can. We really enjoy meeting the families of all the C20th designers whether it is at the shows or through interviewing them – we enjoy feeling immersed in that world as a kind of escape from this one.
Illum Wikkelso chair from exhibitor Twentieth Century Antiques
Responsibilities follow you even further when you have your own company and it becomes harder to define work time and you time, because the business is you time too. What advice would you give someone just starting their own business?
Make time for social media. It is essential to any creative company these days with Instagram Facebook and You Tube being the main ones. Have people sign a mailing list and build up a following. Send an email out once a month. Give them something for free. Dont just ask them to give you money. We give them blog posts about destinations, find archive footage to share on Facebook, that kind of thing and when we can afford it we have the occasional party or launch.
What is the first thing you do when you get a moment for you?
I meditate and spend time with my two children Molly and Bert and friends and family whenever I can. I love dancing to soul music when the kids are busy. Modcast and Soul Affair on Facebook are great groups to join if you want to get in with that scene. Petra has three kids and two are studying in Eindhoven and Berlin so she likes visiting them. We both still love a good antiques fair and the Barbican and South Bank are always favourite spots for a mooch about in London. You don’t see brutalism much better than that.
If you’re planning to pay a visit to Midcentury East, here are Lucy’s tips.
Bring your ping pong bats and balls for you or the kids as there are ping pong tables out the back by the catering vans.
Don’t worry about bringing a car as most dealers deliver at the end of the day and if they are booked-up we have a delivery man on-site.
Visit the Geffrye Museum, Hackney City Farm (if with kids) or head to the market on Columbia Road and haggle for the last flowers and plants at rock bottom prices at 3pm.
Between you and me, hush hush, Lucy and Petra have been asked to produce a show at Hepworth Wakefield gallery next year and Lucy is onto writing her second book after the success of 100 Midcentury Chairs and their stories.
The result of relentless research, tracking down the families of design greats for the real facts- you can sit comfortably with this chair book to pass the time until October’s Midcentury East.
15 October 2017
Erno Goldfinger’s Haggerston School, Weymouth Terrace, London, E2 8LS
9am early entry for trade and collectors is £15
10am-4pm is £10 or check out advance ticket deals here
©Photographs courtesy of Modern Shows
Whether you’re into antiques or not, Tallboy Interiors takes a new approach to old interiors that can inspire us all for the cosy season ahead.
On his 18th birthday, Matt Dixon of Tallboy Interiors was given £1000 from his parents to spend as he wanted. Instead of blowing it, he decided to invest the money in various antique pieces and thus his addiction and business was born.
Red or dead
No, I am not referring to the controversial Brit shoe brand, but a desire for darker interiors, a new take on tapestry and rich reds. Once upon a time wearing different tones of red, mismatching scarlet with crimson, gave the impression you got dressed in the dark. Matt describes his style as “mismatched but works. I like to try different pieces, patterns, colours, ages. Nothing needs to match for it to work necessarily.” Now is the time to embrace mismatched. Enjoy ebonised antique wood, dark interiors, and dress yourself and your home in red.
This tapestry and velvet covered table sits on the edge between elegant and artsy. Pom Poms are trending big time, but antique pom pom tassels will retain crafty charm.
An awareness for more thoughtful purchasing has produced an abundance of green living trends, from eco friendly antiques and natural materials to literally green coloured interiors. Merging our environments by bringing the outside in and inside out is increasingly popular. These Mid-20th-Century Willy Guhl planters are statement greenery that can work inside and out.
Relaxed rose, terracotta, cinnamon, rust. All great shades and even better in velvet, both grand, intimate and above all, cosy.
©Photographs courtesy of Tallboy Interiors
Lulled into a false sense of ceramic security by the fact my mum had a Belfast sink in her back garden (don’t most mums?!), I was expecting a kitchen sink to be one of the easiest things to source. I would have taken my mum’s, but she is saving it for her own renovation and I decided to go for something much smaller. Sure, I could have bought new, but having come this far, I was adamant it had to be old and kept searching. I finally found a bargain Armitage Shanks (Butler) sink by calling local salvage yards on the SalvoWEB Directory. If like me, you are interested in a reclaimed sink and don’t know your Belfast from your Butler, here is a quick lesson I could have done with earlier…
Traditionally used by butlers, the name ‘Belfast’ distinguishes Butler sinks originally made and used in Belfast as they have a built-in overflow due to the fact that fresh water was readily available in Belfast in the late 18th Century. Whereas in London, ‘Butler’ sinks were designed without an overflow so as not to waste any of the fresh water, which had to be gathered from deep wells. So now you know.
Check out these links for salvaged sinks
©Photographs Reclaimed Woman
Aside from the fact I love a bit of Radio 4’s Dessert Island Discs (where presenter Kirsty Young asks famous guests to pick eight records to take if they were to be stranded on a dessert island), Stella McCartney’s Dessert Island Discs seemed a good excuse to define sustainable fashion in eight dresses.
The local dress
It’s not always the case that made on your doorstep is more ethical, but shopping in local boutiques makes it easier to enquire about the designers and makers.
Stella McCartney – “I’ve also thought it takes a lot to buy something made well, that is mindful in design and manufacture. You have to make those decisions based on who you are and have them bring something else to your life, make your life better, but not make your life not your life.”
The ethical dress
Eco-friendly designers and eco-collections support fair wages and working conditions, use eco-friendly fabrics and are mindful of animal rights, energy, water use and toxic pesticides. Look for certifications like Fairtrade and GOTS aka Global Organic Textile Standard and self-enforced codes, which you will find on the brand’s website. They will be easy to find if they advocate transparency.
Stella’s Winter 2017 campaign explores waste & overconsumption
The charity shop dress
A great way to shop guilt free. I’ve been shopping in charity shops since I was a teenager when my mum did a stint volunteering at an alzheimer’s charity shop, so it comes naturally to me. They are often the most local option for clothes and occupy what could otherwise be empty shops on your high street. Most of us are guilty of buying something we never get around to wearing. What’s one woman’s afterthought is another’s treasure, and these untouched gems regularly end up in charity shops. Dresses with the tags still on, designer and homemade dresses, I’ve discovered them all in charity shops.
The vintage dress
The antithesis of fast fashion, true vintage appreciates value with time. Vintage is an overused term, too often used to describe pre-worn clothing from any era, but real vintage is at least 10, more likely 20 years old. My personal favourite form of sustainable fashion, vintage shopping comes with an appreciation for an item’s unique journey.
Kirsty Young – “If you go out and about and see somebody wearing a jacket or a pair of trousers that you designed 10 years ago, do you think that’s a triumph then if she is still wearing them 10 years later?”
Stella McCartney – “Yes, Definitely…and actually it was funny, there was was somebody I saw in the street, only yesterday that had a bag of mine that was about 10 years old and she looked at me and I looked at her and I thought, this is awkward and I was really chuffed. For me it’s a real achievement.”
The make do mended dress
We live in a disposable era. Cheap fashion discourages the need to develop basic mending skills. I’ve read many articles telling people to save the planet by learning to make their own clothes. If you have that skill, creative urge, and time, amazing. If not, get to know a good tailor who cannot only extend the life of the clothes in your wardrobe by mending and altering them, but also help when you find one-of-a-kind wonders in charity shops or vintage shops that need tailoring to your size.
Stella McCartney – “I’m not interested in landfill, I’m interested in reuse and continuous design, I think staying power in every sense of the word is really important.”
The leased dress
Online rent-a-dress options have been growing, which is good news for party dresses that get worn once and then left for landfill. Imagine – one dress provides multiple women with happiness! That’s now a sustainable business plan for sites like Chic by Choice, Dream Wardrobe and Girl Meets Dress. I have yet to try it, but I suspect it will become increasingly popular as emerging brands like Laura Ironside (above) slow down the fashion cycle and lease their collections.
The swapped dress
You’ve heard of the phrase, go shopping in your wardrobe? Well, how about shopping in your friend’s wardrobe? Obviously ask first.
The Stella McCartney dress
Saving up for an expensive dress, even if it’s the dress of the season like this Spring 2011 Stella dress, is slow fashion because I’m still enjoying it today. When you genuinely invest in clothes, you reduce the amount of clothes you need to shop for.
Stella McCartney – “I definitely understand the idea of being yourself and not trying too hard through what you’re wearing.”
Kirsty Young – “That seems like a contradiction to say not trying too hard from what you are wearing because surely buying expensive clothes is about trying hard.”
Stella – “No, I think you have to wear the clothes, not let the clothes wear you. It’s really important for you to take control of your wardrobe.”
©Photographs Reclaimed Woman and courtesy of Stella McCartney & Laura Ironside
Carla Colour Lind recycled sunglasses from Ethical Collection
Amour jute tote The Jacksons
Reclaimed linen top Thoreau
Vintage gold Ferragamo leather jeans from 1st dibs
Sculptures by Suki Chan from Edward Haes
Trainers LA Sportiva