Let’s get physical

©Simon Wharton Antiques

As the leaves start to fall, it’s time to feel again with a plethora of physical decorative antiques fairs in the diary. 

The last eighteen months have been challenging, but thanks to an unwavering business drive, digital community (and sales!) the architectural salvage and decorative antiques industries will emerge stronger. Bath Decorative Antiques Fair will be an opportunity to see familiar faces, and new faces with more and more people on the lookout for personality pieces. If you are new to the antiques fair scene then Bath is a great one as it is both fiercely stylish and friendly. 

©Simon Wharton Antiques

Bath Decorative Antiques Fair has a special buzz about it, as returning exhibitor, Simon Wharton Antiques describes it, and the holiday atmosphere that charms anyone exhibiting or visiting the event. Here, Simon Wharton and Geraint Jones, co-founder of Greencore Design which is showing at Bath Decorative for the first time, share reasons to get excited for the next instalment. 

“Digital saved me during Covid,” says Simon, with antiques at a hand’s reach as people shopped from smartphones on their sofas, but “there’s no substitution for meeting people in the flesh.” People are excited to be handling things face to face again, and nothing awakens our senses like feeling the character and hearing the stories from the people that discovered these one-off pieces. Anecdotes include unforgettable fireplace rescue missions, where Simon recalls one particularly hilarious time, with the benefit of hindsight. “We had to let it down a ladder from the window” he describes, having survived being at the bottom as two guys with a combined age of 160 lowered the ropes on a fireplace travelling towards him. 

©Simon Wharton Antiques

Moving magnificent chimneypieces goes with the territory, as Simon’s signature is architectural antiques, stone fireplaces, and boy does he know how to dress them – with decorative and garden delights that complete his collection. The setting of Bath Decorative lends itself to some serious stand decoration, so even just walking around will give you ideas and good connections. I’ll never forget seeing one of Simon’s displays at Bath for the first time. 

Despite the changes that Brexit brought about, nothing has changed business like the pandemic. Simon saw his best August for fireplaces yet, and there is an increasing demand from customers in the countryside in France, as people everywhere opt for a life outside of the city. As well as a strong customer base both sides of the channel, they continue to come from as far as Australia and America. If a desire for eco-friendly design is partly driving your visit to Bath Decorative then you might be interested to know that even Simon’s heaviest antiques could be shipped to America and still save more energy than the embodied carbon cost of making a new fireplace. We know because me and Salvo have been doing tonnes of work on carbon and reclamation this year.

Antique French oak table ©Greencore Design

The attraction to antiques and the urge to design with tactile treasures is also influencing restoration trends with interior designers and other customers seeking unrestored or a lighter touch and less polish. But as Geraint of Greencore Design explains, that doesn’t equal less attention to detail. “Each piece is ‘house ready’ whether it be an old industrial piece or a high end designer piece, we pride ourselves on each item being clean, sound and ready to enjoy. ‘Patina’ does not equal dirt and ‘character’ does not equal a wobbly leg or a broken drawer.”

If you are looking for quality, craftsmanship and a design mash-up that mixes an 18th-century country house piece with a sixties leather chair then you’ll enjoy seeing Greencore Design’s first showing at Bath.

Mid-century modern armchairs by Pieff of Worcester ©Greencore Design
Primitive farmhouse bench seat ©Greencore Design

The company has been trading since 2005, having had a career in architectural cast iron and restoration work on historic buildings, they were initially involved in architectural salvage. “The one great thing in this business is that you never quite know where you will be next,” says Geraint, who rebranded and launched Greencore Design in 2019 with a focus on decorative antiques and vintage furniture. 

Constantly striving to achieve the “right look and feel”, Greencore Design always has some Welsh staples. Geraint explains Wales has it all, from large manor houses to farmhouses, to industrial, which explains why so many of us are falling for Welsh antiques.

“A lot of traditional Welsh furniture has a simplicity and naivety to it which makes them versatile. Very often made from local wood, especially oak so it lasts forever. Interior designers have really embraced antique and vintage furniture and increasingly using new and old alongside each other, which is great to see, both from design viewpoint and the environment.”

Antique Welsh blanket ©Greencore Design

Green to the core, Geraint shows me how they incorporated elements of reclaimed stone into their new build. This got me excited as a sign of where our built environments could expand on what the antiques industry is doing so brilliantly in breaking down the barriers of what eras should sit with what. 

Rules certainly went out of the window in Geraint’s recent rescue of a pair of aesthetic hall lanterns. 

Lanterns before restoration ©Greencore Design

“They were in a sorry state but working with Jolene Farmer Studio, we managed to bring them back to life. The glass proved tricky, I was keen to use some 19th-century glass we had in stock, previously salvaged from a Welsh Church dating to 1860. The glass was a large single pane with a beautiful cross pattern, and the restoration work required us to precisely cut the glazed panel into smaller pieces to fit the faceted lantern sides. Enlisting the expertise of Jolene Farmer we set about finding someone to cut the glass, Jolene had tried all her contacts in London but they all refused on the ground that they could not guarantee that the glass could be cut due to the age and complexity of the glass. In the end, we found someone in Dorset, who worked on old churches and was confident in cutting the glass. The skill and effort that goes into the restoration cannot be underestimated, the cost is also high but it’s an important part of the industry and is essential to save pieces from being lost forever.”

Welsh Church glass cut by Jamie Clark for the restoration ©Greencore Design
Lanterns after restoration ©Greencore Design

See Simon Wharton Antiques and Greencore Design at Bath Decorative Antiques Fair. Here are the details you need to know: 

Bath Decorative Antiques Fair
Date: 22-24 October 2021. Open 11am – 5pm
TRADE PREVIEW Thursday 21 October. Open 12noon – 5pm
Venue: The Pavilion, North Parade Road, Bath, BA2 4EU

Get your tickets here

Something borrowed

Earth Day seems appropriate to talk about something borrowed. The trousers covering my tush and blouse on my back [leased from Laura Ironside] and of course the earth are all borrowed. Fashion is just one piece of the sustainable development pie, but today also marks the start of Fashion Revolution Week when our shared question #WhoMadeMyClothes is heard the loudest.  What I like about the few times I’ve rented my clothes is the respect you give them. Perhaps we should be treating everything in our wardrobes like they’re borrowed because what they could be is resources for tomorrow. 

I am wearing the Knight drape top and Hero high-waisted trousers, which can be leased from Laura Ironside. My vintage Easter bonnet is by Kokin, the milliner that made hats for the ’90s classic Clueless that I found at Heavens Bazaar, an awesome shop in Bath for vintage and pre-loved designer pieces.

I got my fairy Earth Day earrings yonks ago from Snoopers Paradise in Brighton. If your eyes are on the next bank holidays then Bath and Brighton are worth a visit.

© Photographs Reclaimed Woman

“we could be the ones to change it all” – Sustainable steps at London Fashion Week

Paolo Carzana, the boy behind this quote and the collection below titled The Boy You Stole was one emerging talent presented in the season that put sustainability top of mind at LFW.  

The British Fashion Council’s announcement that London Fashion Week would be entirely fur-free was just one step, but caring for animals can quickly lead to more environmental awareness if fashion graduate Paolo Carzana’s vegan journey is anything to go by.  At first Paolo went vegan becasue of caring for animals, but now he does it for the environment too and works with planet-friendly fabrics like Pinatex. There is a myriad of aspects in the production of both real leather and leather alternatives that can cause harm to animals, people and the environment, but Pinatex (a textile made from reclaimed pineapple leaves that would otherwise be wasted) arguably ticks multiple sustainability choices at once.  

Beneath the vegan fabrics and vegetable dyes, Paolo’s graduate collection (pictured below) was also a comment that the government controls us like puppets with models swamped by clothes and freaky figures that shadowed over them on the catwalk.

Multiple tabs with Celine reviews from Paris Fashion Week were shadowing over this post as I tried to focus on writing about my delights from LFW… Hedi Slimane just showed his first collection – after stepping into Phoebe Philo’s furry sandals – as Artistic Director of the French fashion house Celine.  I allowed myself to digress because it turns out Hedi Slimane and the next designer that caught my eye in London both count Lady Gaga among their fans…

Cassandra Verity Green manipulated plastic waste to create bags that explore early existence with the digital world to comment on today’s excess and create future artefacts in handbags designed to be treasured.

The question on many lips right now is what did Hedi’s Celine give us to treasure? See the collection on NOW Fashion to decide for yourself.

He rebelled against the current move towards inclusiveness and cast very young, mainly white models, yet opened up the new menswear line to women with sizes that will cater to their bodies too. It is impossible to ignore Hedi’s power to make big changes with a CV that notes transforming the image of male sex appeal through skinny tailoring at Dior Homme almost 20 years ago to the recent shift in Saint Laurent.  But right now, with such a deviation from feminist design it is hard to appreciate the change at Celine as it feels like a step backward.  

On a positive note –  here are some other favourites under London Fashion Week’s Positive Fashion initiative that are definitely pushing the path for change forward. 

Paradise Row 

E.L.V Denim

Davy J 

Wires  

Last fashion week I was doing my Six Items Challenge for Labour Behind the Label so this time I was free to step out in anything. Above, wearing a vintage Bay Trading dress and vintage Daks jacket, ’80s Persol glasses from Spex in the City, boots from my days working at Gucci & bag by Muuñ.

©Photographs Reclaimed Woman

 

 

Designing a happy wardrobe

I didn’t see myself squeezing into another capsule challenge so soon – having spent 6 of the coldest weeks in just 6 items of clothes for Labour Behind the Label at the start of the year – but this was too good to resist… 10 items, 10 days, easy right? Ah, but this time the count includes shoes. And this challenge calls for the most out there, fun, fashiony pieces, hence the name #GlamCapsule to show that our wildest eco-glitter filled dream where fashion and sustainability hold hands and skip into the sunset can be a reality. 

Designed to prove that sustainable fashion doesn’t just do neutrals, the Glam Capsule is the brainchild of fellow Ethical Writers & CreativesElizabeth L. Cline and Benita Robledo.

I’ve never been a capsule wardrobe kinda woman because a career in fashion has given me A LOT of clothes, but I am eager to make my wardrobe sustainable and one way of doing that is by giving more life to the things I already own. 

So at the start of #zerowasteweek, here’s to reuse and designing happy wardrobes by wearing all the beautiful things we usually save for best. Wear, don’t waste and put your clothes and accessories somewhere you can see them [like in this ex museum display cabinet below].

And if you reaaaallly want something happy and new [or new for you], here’s some reclaimed and ethical ideas to get those fashion juices flowing…

Slip dress made from upcycled vintage silks We-Resonate

Jacket made from surplus furniture fabric Noumenon

Rose gold plated recycled silver Millie Hoops Gung Ho x Chalk Designs      [£5 from every purchase goes to Friends of the Earth]

Vegan snake Lulu boots Beyond Skin

Reclaimed Museum display cabinet Retrouvius

Above, I am wearing an ’80s dress from Revivals 42 St Peter’s St, Canterbury, UK, Paul Andrew shoes, ’60s bag from Wolf & Gypsy Vintage and sunglasses from Klasik

©Photographs Reclaimed Woman & courtesy of the brands featured

 

 

Guilt Tripping

Having recently calculated that the renovation of my flat is 4x more sustainable than one planet living, I could be feeling smug, but with two flights in the pipeline next month I am less carbon footprint proud.  Let me explain…

One Planet Living is a framework created by Bioregional to help people understand their environmental impacts and enable us to do something about it. They calculated that we’re currently consuming resources and polluting the planet at a level of 40% higher than the earth can sustain.  

During my Grand Designs Live talk on sustainable interiors, presenter Kevin McCloud surprised the audience stating that “if everyone consumed as much as the average North American, we would need five planets to support us.”  

I glared at my American husband – oblivious – sweetly snapping my 45 minutes of fame, but I need not have been so quick to judge as the average western European consumes a similarly shocking amount, and even though my renovation was good, I am guilt tripping before we’ve even left London. 

Life and love requires us to travel sometimes.  Now that I’m cohabiting with my Californian husband I’ve been flying a lot less, but last year’s London summer lacked sun so we were inspired to book Seville, which will be followed by a business trip to Israel.  At least my husband is travelling to Jerusalem to advance the message about human rights in the digital realm – so his conscience is cleaner than mine.

This post doesn’t tie itself into a sustainably packaged, non air cargo delivered answer, I just wanted to acknowledge where I am.  There are of course ways I’ll reduce my environmental impact whilst travelling by walking lots, opting for locally purified water in recyclable glass bottles and ditching familiar flavours for restaurants with locally sourced ingredients.  What a sacrifice.  I’ll also be able to do the wild thing and actually wear my summer clothes, which Londoners rarely get to do. 

Until we sign-up to a life in nothing but bamboo Birdsong knickers, increasing the average number of times we wear things is the most direct way to increase value and reduce waste in our wardrobes.

And of course, the weather in London has been lovely lately.

Wearing eco-hot Jumpsuit by COSSAC worn with a Pachacuti hat from Ethical Collection, Abacá bag from Tidy Street general store [with Noumenon vegan pouch inside] and rope sandals by Nomadic State of Mind

Above, Birdsong bamboo knickers in collaboration with Clio Peppiatt

Californian album artwork The Grateful Dead

©Photographs Reclaimed Woman

 

 

Six Items Challenge : Little White Dress

It seems appropriate to end my Six Items Challenge for Labour Behind the Label in the little white dress I started in.  I wore my white Reformation dress to celebrate our two year wedding anniversary and it got me thinking…

I have too many clothes and although I am on a mission to make my wardrobe more sustainable, I still face fashion urges to buy something new.   Even if it is beautiful and ethically made in organic cotton, I still need to learn that less is more.  What I am saying is that I am not holier than thou.  Weirdly though, the one time that arguably justifies a shopping trip (one’s wedding) I actually wore a dress I had owned for years.

It wasn’t from a previous marriage (not mine anyway) or a sample sale where all sorts of this is too good to resist scenarios run through your mind – strangely it was a student loan purchase for my photography degree.  Nine years later, wise enough to recognise love at first sight kind of craziness and the value of a 1960s Courreges hanging in my wardrobe, I couldn’t get married in anything else.

One of my takeaways from the challenge is to think of buying clothes like choosing a life partner.  Find out what they’re made of and ask yourself if you’re excited by the prospect of being seen with them years down the line.

©Photographs Reclaimed Woman

 

 

Seeking Victorian house with sustainable luxury label VIMPELOVA

Having spent a few days working away in Brighton – the town where I grew up – talk turned to where I might ultimately set-up home if my husband and I decide we have out-grown our little garden flat barely made for two.

Back home in London, I dropped-off my luggage to travel east to see the new collection by sustainable luxury label VIMPELOVA.  The event took place in a Victorian family home where designer, Veronika Vimpelova lives and works.  Mentally setting-up home and filling my wardrobe with Veronika’s chic pieces made of organic linen, organic cotton and peace silk, the period setting perfectly complimented traditional pleating and cording techniques.

I haven’t contemplated a crop-top for years, but VIMPELOVA nails them with sophisticated examples like this made of peace silk.

It’s surprising what shopping in a relaxed environment can do for your confidence.  I bought this crop-top in traditional  hand-block printed, hand-dyed Czech Indigo (Veronika is originally from the Czech Republic).

This piece is from Veronika’s first collection, which is available to shop on online.  You can also rent some pieces from Wear the Walk.

The new VIMPELOVA collection, which includes pieces for women and men is available to preview and pre-order from your own home now.

If you’re curious to know more, pay a visit to @vimpelova to hear about future events.

VIMPELOVA

©Photographs Reclaimed Woman

 

 

Six Items Challenge : Two weeks in

Two weeks into six weeks wearing the same six items of clothes, I am tongue twisting and definitely compensating with shoes.

On a side note, these 1940s pigeon holes make perfect shoe storage   (complete with drawn-on letters, this piece was reclaimed from the post room at Kings Cross Station).

©Photographs Reclaimed Woman