When Jian Wei and I went to Lisbon in the summer, we were determined to visit Sintra after reading Ashley’s blog post documenting her adventures there. Often lauded as a ‘Disneyland for adults’, Sintra is the mystical mountaintop home of Portugal’s former royal family and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With its many castles and stately homes, dripping labyrinthine caves and spiral staircases leading to crenelated parapets, Sintra is quite unlike anywhere I have been before and a truly fairytale experience. Be sure to pack a cardigan, as it can be quite chilly up in the rolling fog, and comfortable walking shoes.
I wore the skirt I had finished sewing that morning in our Air B’n’B apartment. Desperate to finish it in time for our holiday, I had almost thrown the sewing machine out of the window when it refused to cooperate with my overly ambitious deadline and so packed a needle and thread to finish off the job upon arrival. I made it out of Liberty London Tana Lawn cotton, in a limited edition SS14 paisley print called Oxton, using this online tutorial. I am quite pleased with the result and am looking forward to attempting pyjama bottoms next.
Psst. Can anyone explain how I managed to retain this ghostly pallor after spending a week in sun-drenched Portugal?
I was lucky enough to enjoy afternoon tea, in the Gallery at Sketch, for my birthday treat.
Currently exhibiting a dining room orchestrated by designer India Mahdhavi and Glasgow-based artist David Shrigley, Sketch offers an immersive environment in which to enjoy contemporary art alongside Earl Grey, scones and jam. The decor is reminiscent of a 1930s cruise liner, complete with salmon pink velvet banquette seating, a domed glass ceiling and a deco-style zig-zag tessellated floor made from ninety-six different shades of marble. Lining the walls are more than two hundred framed drawings by David Shigley – the largest group of his works ever exhibited.
The atmosphere inside the Gallery is playful yet elegant; champagne is poured with exaggerated flair by a waiter wheeling a rather comical cart and patrons clink glasses beneath the dry witticisms of Shrigley’s ever present drawings. The art is not limited to the walls and the table also serves as a platform for the presentation of new work by Shrigley and Master Chef, Pierre Gagnaire. Featuring bespoke bone china tableware by British heritage potteries Caverswall, the tea at Sketch is poured from a wonky teapot emblazoned ‘ghosts’ and milk from an optimistic jug promising ‘dreams’. I don’t necessarily ‘geddit’ but it’s all good fun and thought-provoking too; what better themes to ponder whilst sampling a pot of every tea on the menu?
The traditional miniature sandwiches and cakes are rendered in exquisite detail. The tower of treats includes a Bourdaloue pear and nougatine tart, lemon éclair, poppy Chantilly choux, green tea macaroon, exotic cheese cake, Cassis meringue and Malabar marshmallows, alongside savoury finger sandwiches boasting smoked salmon and Jacob’s cream, cucumber and ricotta, a comté croque monsieur, quail egg and caviar. (A vegetarian version is also available). This is followed by warm scones – served with clotted cream and a selection of jams – accompanied by unlimited pots of a variety of teas.
I loved every moment of my time at Sketch. The attention to detail and impeccable service made this feel a truly special way to celebrate my birthday and I thoroughly enjoyed soaking up every drop of the gorgeously kitsch and sumptuous interior. I really couldn’t recommend it more and cannot wait to go again! Who wants to join me?
A couple of weeks ago, Jian Wei and I went to visit the home that John Keats and Fanny Brawne shared in Hampstead. As fans of the film Bright Star, one of the most heart-wrenchingly depressing and exquisitely beautiful films ever made, it was lovely to visit the London home of the Romantic poet and to explore the house in which the tragic sweethearts had met. (I am not sure quite how historically accurate the film is but it is certainly enchanting.)
I wore a 1950s silk blouse I recently discovered in a charity shop for £1 (score!) along with an old favourite vintage skirt you have probably seen many times on this blog. The vintage wicker and leather bag is another great charity shop find and it holds a camera and picnic ingredients, with room to spare, whilst preventing the contents from being squashed. An absolute steal at £5.50 considering its generous size. The belt is American Apparel, the necklace Alex Monroe and the shoes are Ferragamo. Ther cardigan, featured later, is from Orla Kiely.
The weather couldn’t make up its mind and careered between blazing sunshine, showers and thundery grey skies. However, it didn’t stop us from enjoying some of the final blooms of the summer, or from a bracing walk across the Heath, where we spotted Ricky Gervais out jogging. Or rather, Jian Wei did, whilst I was trying to disentangle myself from a bramble bush that had clawed onto my cardigan.
BY JOHN KEATS
Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art—
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors—
No—yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever—or else swoon to death.
On September 7th, I turned twenty-six and was bestowed with the most enchanting selection of gifts from my nearest and dearest. Some I had hinted heavily at, others were complete surprises, yet all contributed towards a distinct ‘vintage beauty’ theme which works perfectly with the current selection of trinkets that clutters my dressing table. (Please excuse the dust.)
Madly by MariaLux is a niche luxury fragrance, exclusive to Liberty London, that I had been coveting every since I first locked eyes upon the gorgeous Art Deco crystal bottle. The scent is every bit as lovely as the packaging: powdered sugar followed by heady notes of tuberose and I am so happy to have found my ‘signature scent’, even if I must save it only for very special occasions.
This sweet little ceramic pot was a complete surprise from my eldest sister. It is vintage midcentury, handpainted in Italy and is from the same range as the large, slightly cracked, pink lidded jar I had found for £3 in a charity shop two years previously. I love this range, it is so pretty and stylish and epitomises the elegance of Italian design in the sixties.
My lovely colleagues surprised me with this limited edition Alexander Mann wash bag, also exclusive to Liberty London, and constructed from Liberty Art Fabric. I adore the Arts and Crafts feel of the orange tree print. My pals in the department also treated me to a Nars Velvet Matte Lip Crayon in Cruella, the ultimate vampy 1940s red.
Spending hours squinting at a computer screen means that a good quality eye cream is a must. ‘It’s Potent’ by Benefit comes in the daintiest glass jar, like something from a Victorian apothecary, and has a wonderfully rich consistency. This was a gift from my parents and younger siblings. A tiny dot of this cream goes a long way and so it should hopefully last me until my next birthday…
This unusual kitty compact mirror is carved from alabaster with a tiny brass hinge. I have never encountered anything quite like it before and so it is quite tricky to date. Does anyone have any ideas? It is so adorable and a truly special gift from my second older sister.
Finally, what is not to love about this kitsch packaging and creamy peach blush? ‘Majorette’ is a recent launch by Benefit and I was able to trial it for the first time when shopping in Norwich with my family. The colour is a pretty peachy-pink that transforms on the wearer’s cheek to match their skin tone. It is a very fresh and feminine look and the blush also smells divine.
When combined with afternoon tea at Sketch, a day trip to the Art Deco fair at Eltham Palace and a very naughty A.P.C coat purchase, I guess it is fair to say that I have been exceptionally spoilt this year! Expect additional posts to follow documenting my other birthday treats…
Jian Wei took these pictures to document an evening walk we enjoyed on our second night in Lisbon. I wore my 1950s Egyptian hieroglyph print skirt from Recultivation Vintage on Etsy. I cannot resist a novelty print from the fifties or early sixties and this particular design was just too eccentric to refuse. It has also become one of my favourite pieces in my wardrobe as, not only is unique, it is also surprisingly wearable when paired with a simple cotton t-shirt in white or grey. Judging from the label inside, it may have once been sold as a holiday souvenir to those visiting the pyramids in the middle of the century and so I enjoy imagining who once bought it and how they wore it.
On this occasion, I teamed the skirt with a t-shirt from American Apparel (I am wearing a size large, they come up surprisingly small!) and beloved Saltwater sandals from Office. (Some colours, such as gold, are now on sale.) The straw bag was stolen from Jian Wei’s mum’s attic.
I am a little late in the game, I know, but as the Mayflower Supply Co. has just launched its new summer look book, I have been reminded of how much I also adored their earlier spring shoot.
There is no escaping the fact that palm imagery is in vogue this year and, with scenes as charming as these, its easy to see why. There is something so magical about crumbling greenhouses filled with exotic specimens from distant climates and I have been enchanted by them ever since visiting Kew Gardens as a child.
The lush botanical gardens of Smith College provide the perfect backdrop to these clean and subtle summer pieces. The wild fern print leather envelope clutch is particularly covetable, as is the palm print sunglasses case. Oh, and that simple denim dress.
These lovely scenes feature vintage clothing from the Mayflower Supply Co., art direction by Liz Hull, photography by Greg Wasserstrom, styling by Emily Theobald and the look book is modelled by Ali Breslin.
Hi, my name is Dulcie and I am a recent MA English Literature graduate living in South-East London. In addition to working at Liberty of London, I also sell vintage clothing in my Etsy shop and spend most of my spare time rummaging through charity shops and car boot sales.
I love to hear from you, so get in touch! Click here to email me.