Monday, 18 July 2011

Bertie's Beauties



With the Harry Potter era coming to its momentous finale as the very last film is released (which was better than I had anticipated – I thoroughly enjoyed seeing it yesterday), there has been the inevitable round of memories, reminiscing and ‘Favourite bits of the series’ in the media. One detail that struck me, alongside the great service JK Rowling performed by encouraging a whole generation to read (who will be her successor? We need someone else to fill that gap – and in my opinion, it never will, and never can, be Stephanie Meyer), was the mention of platform 9 ¾ at Kings Cross station. A portal that leads to a fantastical world is something every eleven year old would kill to enter. Of course, she was not the first to put this idea into play – read the utterly magical ‘The Secret of Platform 13’ by Eva Ibbotson (one of my all-time favourite childhood authors, alongside Margaret Mahy), which was published three years prior to the Philosopher’s Stone.

We may not have Hogsmeade or broomsticks (although the ongoing News of the World scandal suggests there might be a few Voldemorts and bumbling authorities around), but there is a place I sometimes visit that bears more than a passing resemblance to that mythical train platform (and even better, it is accessible by train too!)

Whenever we get the chance, my mum and I take a special day trip to the gorgeous Bertie’s Vintage of Craven Arms. Plenty of time needs to be set aside for these excursions, because the minute one steps into the shop, off the perfectly ordinary market town Street, it is quite difficult to extricate oneself again. Like the King’s Cross platform, this shop is completely unexpected.
Escaping from the drizzle (which seems to be a pastime for us British), and being confronted with a room where a vintage mannequin greets you like the figurehead of a ship, before your eyes pick out a small changing room with magnificent gold curtains to hide your modesty, and several period glass cabinets housing forties’ snakeskin shoes and feather fans, can only be described as extraordinary. Who needs the Triwizard tournament when one can instead marvel at stacked hatboxes (and name spot – Elsa Schiaparelli anyone?), and savour the look of the elegant black hands that emerge from one gold and black wall-papered surface – the fingers nonchalantly bearing forties and fifties handbags. In the same way that Mary Poppins led her charges into a chalked picture on the paving, so this place makes one feel as though a running leap has been taken into a particularly chic kodachrome photo.




And how best to describe the feel of gently riffling through the two racks of exquisitely chosen vintage garments? I think the owner, Robert, described it best – it is “bespoke shopping” – a couture-made experience. Like the clothes, with their pin-tucked details and bias cuts, the hours spent perusing can only be thought of as ‘tailor made’. Thirties striped Katharine Hepburne-esque hand-knit sweaters can be spotted among floral fifties day dresses and the occasional breathtaking evening gown.

I currently own three items from Bertie’s (although I have my eye on a fourth) – two I carefully saved up for myself, and the other was a birthday present. The first, a two piece suit, can be seen in all its wide-collared glory here. The others are yet to grace the web-pages of this blog, but that will soon change – as I can’t wait to share my new sixties (quite Prada-ish) blue and white mini-dress with a pleated skirt.

On the back of these much anticipated sporadic visits, and the fact that Robert has now seen my blog, he recently offered a very exciting proposition. How would I like to style some of his precious dresses to demonstrate how they might be worn?
Even before he finished the sentence, I was already nodding eagerly and casting my eye around the room, like a fisherman preparing his line for a catch. Four pieces were borne away (I was terrified about anything happening to them – especially as some of the loaned items were from his personal collection, rather than stock for the shop), and have now been returned once more. The photos above are the first set of ‘styled’ looks, based around a rather delectable forties lace dress, that I had considered buying. Instead, I settled for borrowing it and dressing it in three ways – the first, a classic interpretation, complete with my late paternal granddad’s straw panama and my paternal grandma’s belt (she wore it to the Czech equivalent of Girl Guides), finished off with my beloved high heeled Carvela brogues.


 
The second two ‘looks’ were put together with the idea of ‘similarities and differences’ at the back of my mind – ergo the two sets of shirt and shorts with a hat, but presented in contrasting colour shades.

The green silk shirt was from a charity shop, along with the khaki shorts. The hat is vintage.
The pink shirt is also second hand, as are the plum coloured shorts. Likewise, the hat is vintage – even the origins match up! Shoes as before, and all jewellery and accessories are vintage, or family owned.

If you ever get the chance to visit Craven Arms (located very near Ludlow – home to the nationally known food festival), then I can’t recommend Bertie’s highly enough. There are details on his website, and the shop is rooted right in the middle of the aptly named ‘vintage quarter’ – the display window facing off the oh-so magnificent ‘Land of Lost Content’. An extraordinary museum, that houses every household item one could think of, dating back to over a hundred years. Where else would you find a whole room stuffed with vintage cameras, living alongside Beatles’ memorabilia and WW11 uniforms, all under one roof? Stella, who created the museum, is an amazing lifetime collector, and is instantly recognisable by her incredible vintage (and often bright) clothing and beautiful smile.
It is well worth a ‘day out’ to discover the delights of these two places, standing out in the town like peacocks compared to pigeons – it is accessible easily by train on the (I think) Manchester to Swansea line, and takes only one change from London. (Although, you do have to cross a busy main road and go past a cavernous supermarket before you can find it.)

I had a very wonderful and relaxing holiday, which I will talk about in another post.

54 comments:

Carol said...

I can't wait to see an outfit post of your new purchase, it sounds rather fabulous. I have only just discovered but I am thoroughly enjoying it.

Caz x
www.mystylisms.blogspot.com

Leanne and Jenna said...

I feel like the conclusion of the Harry Potter series symbolized the end of my childhood. The books and movies completely captured my imagination. I've never felt such a powerful connection to fiction.
These looks are all beautiful. What a great opportunity to style such great pieces!
- Jenna

Closet Fashionista said...

Wow love love love all these looks! You did such a great job! :D
and yes...it is so sad that Potter has come to an end, but we'll always have our memories! :D
http://www.closet-fashionista.com

The Fancy Teacup said...

I adore how you styled the lace jacket and interchanged it with the green and the pink hues. Such an extraordinary usage of color.

♥, Jamie
www.TheFancyTeacup.com

hulotte said...

You have got a REAL imaginative talent about clothes... great!

Elizabeth @rosalilium said...

I am so envious of your wardrobe. These are really fascinating pieces you have put together. The lace dress is just lovely.

Natalie Suarez said...

super cute! that dress is amazing! xx

natalieoffduty.blogspot.com

Jessica said...

All of these combinations are great, I love the last one with the cute pink shades in :)

http://chicgeekblogger.blogspot.com/

Please take a minute to look at my vintage boutique;

http://bitsforboffins.bigcartel.com/

http://iouproject.com/tsh/jessica-karen/

Penny Dreadful said...

This is such a good idea Roz - I often can't wear 30s or 40s things because I am too much of a chubber, but I love the idea of wearing the dress unbuttoned as a loose coat. Inspired! x

Talar said...

This is absolutely gorgeous! I totally love it!

daisychain said...

you look utterly, utterly incredible.

Pearl Westwood said...

It does sound like a very magical shop, it is such a shame little shops like that are disappearing, being replaced by soulless mega stores.

Vix said...

Welcome back, Roz, I'm glad you had a lovely holiday.
I can't imagine a better model for Bertie's exquisite collection of vintage. We're not too far away, it sounds like magical shop to visit. x

Caitlin Rose said...

ok I'm freaking out about the last look! but all of them are beautiful! you look like someone from a Jean-Pierre Jeunet film, and that's always a good thing!

I'm so excited to see the last Harry Potter. You're right, it's the end of an era!

San said...

I think the third look works best, however I LOOOOOOVE the second hat. It is truly amazing how you put these looks together. Sooo amazing.
And hmmm, I took a look at Berties page and goodness me, I could buy nearly every item on the page. You are a lucky girl to be abled to go with your mom there and browse.

Have a great new week.

awishisarainbow said...

You have definitely made me want to take a trip to Craven Arms...it's not too far from me! You are so lucky to be able to style those pieces!

the nyanzi report said...

there are certain phenomena that cannot be replaced for example michael jackson, harry potter to mention but a few.

i love the pictures. great styling and photography as usual.

styleeast said...

Oh this lace jacket is just divine, it's what I'd call a dream item, one that when you see it in the shop your heart actually skips a beat!

I went to see Harry Potter yesterday too - by myself, and I cried. No shame! xx

Esme Eva said...

I'm glad you found the holiday very wonderful and relaxing.

Esme Eva said...

nice post! xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Meena Dhuga said...

sounds like a magical shop! would love to visit it! i love the second outfit- especially the shirt and skirt, as well as the bag! :)

http://pinklemonsorbet.blogspot.com/

Meena xxxx

Roxanne Rosensteel said...

First of all, this place sounds curiously wonderful, further affirming that all English people are slightly magical. Secondly, that lace dress makes me swoon. I love it, especially on you. Congrats on the styling too!

OrigamiGirl said...

I want those last 2 hats SO MUCH! I have a hat addiction seriously and they are beautiful. I have been looking all around for a summer vintage hat and you may have just steered me away from my boater obsession for now with that gorgeous pink hat!

Inspring photos.

Polka Princess said...

Aaah! Eva Ibbotson is one of my fav authors too....& I completely agree on the fact that Stephanie Meyer is NOT what us Potter fans can seek solace in, now that the Hogwarts door is closed to us forever....

I think I'm in love. With that lace dress! It's just so pretty & versatile......love all the ways you've styled it in....and can think of some more too! :)

Shervin Nassi said...

You are doing some amazing stuff over here!! great job!
hope you follow me back at www.shervinsworld.com only if you like

♥Run With Fashion♥ said...

Loooooove your outfits both!!
But I have to say I love the 2nd look more, I love how the pinkish plum colors go with the
biege color of the lace! SO LOVELY!
I looove your photography, so beautiful ♥

oh and I also looove your shoes and bag! ♥
-ELiza

Pull Your Socks Up! said...

Oh dear, I'm afraid I would have to camp outside Bertie's for about a week to go through all the amazing fabulousness you've described:). I love the two-piece suit you bought there, the black and white pics are amazing!!

Vanessa, Take only Memories said...

You look so wonderful! I can't decide which outfit is my favorite!
I really liked HP as well. I've actually been thinking about book ideas as well. Not for me to write, but in general. They are re-doing vampires all the time and wizards as well. And all that. Someone should invent something totally new!

And yes, I would kill to have some super unpractical fluffy healed slippers! :)

CALAMITY JANE said...

your outfits are always amazing Roz, the dress is o die for!
And as you said we need someone to fill in JK Rowling shoes and definitely Stephanie Meyer can´t do it! because as Stephen King said ‎"Harry Potter is about confronting fears, finding inner strength and doing what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend."
I think maybe the Hunger Games triology could be something, but it is already over as well!

Mani said...

I am in love with that outfit! You look lovely!

hugs and kisses by Mani.

adrielleroyale said...

If there is one big thing I miss in fashion of today, it is the delicate femininity of items like this lace. This is just so lovely! :)

la tienda de la telaraña said...

Your taste is fantastic!
I would love to visit that shop!
Saludos from Spain.

The Foolish Aesthete said...

I would love to stumble into Bertie's world, as one might accidentally walk through a wardrobe and end up in Narnia. Your timeless styling of that beautiful lace dress is impeccable, as always. (and the detour to your previous post on your 2 pc suit was visual heaven!) Hats off to the photographer - you and/or your mother? - too. The composition of the shot with the bales of hay keeps making me return to the image. Let's hope for another captivating author for the next generation, much like J.K. Rowling succeeded J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis generations back. All is lost if S. Meyer is the best they can produce!

Finally, welcome back!

Annebeth said...

stunning pictures per usual, and I really enjoyed the last movies as well. The last book was the best in my opinion and yes, we owe JK Rowling lots of gratitude for giving us such lovely escapism! Twilight doesn't even compare.

AvaPilar said...

It is horrible that small shops such as these are becoming more and more scarce these days. My local "curiosity shop" was recently driven out by mad developers after years of business. Oh, what are we to do? Any who, I love that dress, and you pair it brilliantly with the plum shorts.

valncami said...

love all three looks! you are so lovely.

thank you for your lovely comment on our blog!
we really appreciate it :]

come visit us again soon!
xo, Camilla & Valerie
www.abutterflybyday.com

Jazzy E (hivenn) said...

Beautifully graceful. x hivenn

the Citizen Rosebud said...

This shop is going on my list of things to do if I ever make it to England!
That dress is INCREDIBLE! And you prove to me your gift is so beyond your beauty by the artful way you style. Your medium is vintage but you push it to the limits long passed the retro or cliche. All 3 of your looks are amazing- fresh and modern twists make it more so.

Like Margaret of Penny Dreadful, I concur: INSPIRED!

Ginta said...

Outfits are so perfect! You carry them so beautifully! :)
Speaking of the fantasy genre, at the moment I'm lost in Game of Thrones world. I love it so much! And I totally agree it'd unforgivable if we'd be left with Stephanie Meyer!

Fashionistable said...

Oh Roz you look sooooo good in both of these. Beautiful as always. And what a wonderful new wardrobe to have opened up for you. Xxxx

bonita said...

~ * ♥ * ~

Amazing looks Roz ~ I love that lace dress, and boy, what a neat idea to do the two "similar but different" outfits. I really like the pink one, it's totally cute, but my favorite would have to be the classic interpretation. I am just a vintage girl at heart. : D

xox,
bonita of Depict This!
~ * ♥ * ~

Stephanie Hoff Clayton said...

would you believe i've never seen a harry potter movie? well, saw part of one but i think i fell asleep (not because of the movie; it was late).
pretty outfits, all. i am really loving these hats! and as always, your hair..beautiful. :)
-style odyssey (have given up on blogger letting me sign in!)

style point said...

love your outfit!!!

Minza. said...

You've a lovely blog. Follow me! :)
Rougeberry Fashion

london loves said...

I love your style. And your hair. And your blog! Following!
xxx

Wild Flower said...

These pictures are amazing, what great ways to restyle that dress, so inspiring!

Kaylee Nicole
xo

http://bonnielovescake.blogspot.com

Blue said...

This is a little random, but I think you look a bit like Keira Knightley in the very first picture. Very pretty.

Victoria said...

the lace cardi is amazing! and the whole timeless look is so lovely you really look like a model! x

Pearl McPride said...

love the lace, cute outfit

Strawberry Freckleface said...

Ahhh. Fantastic scenery. Great photos. You look lovely.

strawberry freckleface

YOANNE B said...

omg i love your blog. follow you now.
xoxo


http://streetitgirl.blogspot.com/

Page said...

i just have to say, your style is amazing and i really admire what you do, your writing and all your gorgeous outfits and pictures!
your are without a doubt, my favourite blogger and fashionista. :)
page

Abigail.JN said...

Gorgeous pictures, love the tones.

darcyandluella.blogspot.com

Gracie said...

oh man, i love that location, i just want to frolic in it!