Category Archives: Accessories

Where to find vintage accessories

I’m an earring girl – and I’m not alone. Earrings are big business and no wonder, given their power to transform a person or outfit in seconds.

Have you had a mid-life piercing?

Women aged 16 to 60 are opting for multiple piercings to give themselves an edge, largely thanks to American jeweller and piercer Maria Tash who I wish had been around when I was in my teens. I had a navel piercing and a Helix (piercing on the outer, upper part of the ear, bloody painful) when I was sixteen and had about 5 ugly steel rings with balls on, to choose from. Had Maria Tash already hit the UK I would have been saving all the money from my part-time job at Richards Stores for a teeny weeny emerald and diamond drop or a platinum hoop.

Multiple piercings. Photo courtesy of Maria Tash

High street versus luxury earring brands

Nowadays, I tend to go for a bolder earring – if they brush my shoulder, so much the better. Price-wise, I am just as happy adorning my ears with giant plastic faces from H&M (£9.99) as I am with my Hermès lacquered buffalo horn earrings (£390) or antique diamond drops from Annina Vogel (add a nought to the end of the Hermès price tag) that put the finishing touch to everything from jeans to black tie.

Hermes horn earrings. The most wearable style ever.

New favourite earrings. £9.99 at H&M.

The best costume jewellery in London

I especially love vintage costume jewellery because of its originality and provenance. I’m not talking about precious antique jewels here (typically 100 years old or more) but rather the bold, colourful and often more affordable styles that were produced decades later.

If you do too, make a beeline to Alfie’s Antique Market in London’s Church Street.

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Linda Bee and me at her shop inside Alfie’s Antiques Market.

It’s an over-used description but Linda Bee‘s pink emporium is a chest of pure treasure, from earrings and handbags to powder compacts and ‘cat related items’. She’s a treasure, too – warm and friendly with a brilliant eye, so if you’re uncertain about what suits you I highly recommend leaving it to her to select something wonderfully appropriate and flattering. She tells me I need to wear bold colours, not pastels. She’s right.

Vintage red perspex earrings at Linda Bee.

The stylist’s secret

You’ll be there a wee while as she has many a story to tell about the things she has collected and sold over the years, to rock stars and stylists alike. Kate Moss is a fan and has appeared in Vogue wearing her pieces on several occasions.

Kate Moss wearing Linda Bee vintage accessories, Vogue 2011. Photographed by Mario Testino

Vogue Italia cover. Linda Bee vintage earrings.

Thanks to Linda, I am now the proud owner of one such piece (a hat, that appeared in a previous Vogue publication) for which I paid less than £100. Even if someone else happens to be wearing the same (new) dress to my friend’s wedding, I can safely assume they won’t be wearing it with the hat.

If you needed any more proof of how effective the right accessories can be, here’s Helen Hunt at the Academy Awards in 2013, wearing $700,000 of Martin Katz jewellery – and an H&M dress. It’s surely the greatest example of hi-low dressing ever seen.

Vintage accessories for every occasion

Whether it’s for a night at the Oscars or the bingo, or an interesting gift for someone special (hint), you’ll find something great at Linda Bee. I’ll leave you in her capable hands.

 

You’re so cool…you’re so cool

Amélie Pichard‘s shoes are like little works of art. Not in a detailed, Manolo Blahnik kind of way, nor in a technically brilliant Tabitha Simmons way, but in the way they just seem so – well – unlikely. It’s like the moment when you look at what someone’s wearing, then look down, and lo and behold the shoe is a complete surprise.

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Campaign image courtesy of Amélie Pichard

The opposite of a safe, practical, go-with-everything shoe, Amélie Pichard‘s shoes are cinematic, almost circus-like. They have character. They are like Patricia Arquette in True Romance or Michelle Pfeiffer in Scarface. Badass, gorgeous and bonkers.

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Fur brogue. Image courtesy of Amélie Pichard

You can find her shoes at Dover Street MarketColette and 10CorsoComo (plus others). I stumbled upon this pair of lilac mesh and navy blue patent shoes with ‘just the right height’ heels at Garrett Leight optical in Los Angeles.

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Mesh & patent shoe from SS14 collection. Image copyright Penelope Meredith

It’s the shoe that was featured in the spring-summer 2014 campaign, which I loved. Not since Guy Bourdin shot the legendary ad campaigns for Charles Jourdan have I seen a shoe brand publish campaigns with so much personality – as much about the image and the story as the shoe.

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SS14 Campaign. Image courtesy of Amélie Pichard

So with all that in mind, I’ll sign off with the words of Alabama Whitman ringing in my head – “you’re so cool…you’re so cool…you’re so cool…”

Amélie Pichard
21 rue de Lappe
75011 Paris
France

www.ameliepichard.com

Get kinky for Halloween

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Skull Harness. Image courtesy of Fleet Ilya

I have a spooky feeling that Fleet Ilya‘s Skull Harness is not just for Halloween. Yes, this gothic contraption is designed to be worn (those holes are for boobs, I’m guessing) which isn’t so surprising when you discover that Fleet Ilya is the home of ‘luxury bondage’. But even if the restraint look is a bit much for you, read on.

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Fleet Ilya Cuff Clutch. Image courtesy of wheretoget.it

As well as having carved a niche for themselves in harnesses, collars and cuffs, Fleet Ilya‘s range of beautifully crafted leather accessories extends to elegant belts and edgy clutch bags (my favourite being the Cuff Clutch).

What I love about this brand is its exclusivity (thus far). The word exclusivity usually means – in fashion terms – stratospherically expensive, but with clutches and belts from around £400 they are well-priced for such craftsmanship and less recognisable than brands like Alaïa and Alexander McQueen.

This is the magic that happens when a St Martins graphic design graduate and a traditional saddle-maker come together. And I am a huge fan.

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Image courtesy of Fleet Ilya

www.fleetilya.com

This old thing

scarves

Image courtesy of Faliero Sarti

I hope that Monica Sarti wouldn’t be upset with me for the title of this post. But for me, the intrinsic beauty of a Faliero Sarti scarf lies not only in its sumptuous yarn and beautiful design but in the fact that it instantly looks – and feels – like something you’ve had forever.

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Images courtesy of Faliero Sarti

They’re a totally indulgent purchase. I remember my first – a rich, petrol blue silk/cashmere mix with raw edges that I bought in Milan some years ago. It cost more than I could afford, looks like a rag but is gorgeous and comes everywhere with me. The second has only been with me for a few hours but already I am attached.

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Photograph by Catherine Naylor-Leyland

These pieces don’t scream fashion and they don’t scream money. There are no logos and no recognisable prints (unless you count the current Mickey Mouse collaboration with Disney).

Scarves are great – you can wear them with nothing else (ask the girls at Liberty to show you how) or throw them on last to bring life to your look and warmth to your neck. What’s not to love?

www.falierosarti.com

Salute to Solange

I first found out about Solange Azagury-Partridge 10 years ago, when my friend Whitney Bromberg-Hawkings suggested I go to her for my engagement ring. I had been searching in vain for something sparkly and original and Whitney’s pairing was right (unsurprisingly – the lady has impeccable taste). I went to the exquisite little jewel box of a shop in Westbourne Grove and have since been the proud owner of a Solange Azagury-Partridge Muz ring in red gold with diamonds, which is about as far from a traditional solitaire as you can get. I adore it.

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Image courtesy of Solange Azagury-Partridge

Since then, one of us has gone up in the world. Solange has a new home at 5 Carlos Place in Mayfair – an imposing, psychedelic boutique with Celine, Roland Mouret, Goyard and the Connaught Hotel for neighbours. The place has the same magical feel as her first boutique but on a much bigger scale – and still manages to retain its sense of intimacy. How does she do it?

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Lapis Lazuli colourblock ring in 18ct gold and El Dorado gypsy bangle in 18ct gold

Of course, it helps that she has innate style and an eye for a gem. But for me, the beauty of Solange’s designs comes down to authenticity. She designs from the heart. It is pure expression, without recourse to trends or consumer pressure. It’s a courageous stance to take and this courage permeates her pieces, which have grace as well as grit.

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Gold & diamond fringe ring by Solange Azagury-Partridge

So do her fans. I bumped into Sharleen Spiteri and Bay Garnett at the launch of her new Chromance collection earlier today. Such is the essence of her customer – modern, original, ballsy.

Personally, I’m dreaming of a Solange Christmas.

www.solange.co.uk