Vintage Vogue: Part 1

One of my best friends is getting married next weekend and the wedding will have a vintage feel, so I’ve dug out my archive of vintage fashion photography to inspire me while I am choosing my outfit (obviously I will not be wearing a swimsuit – I just love these images… I think the recent sunshine prompted this little collection!). I’ve collected hundreds of beautiful fashion images because the photography is incredible – the stylised forms, colours and textures that come together to create an iconic image are so inspiring. These images from 1950s’ Vogue evoke the spirit of the era and are as appealing now as they were then.

Loretta Lux

Heavily influenced by the techniques and compositions of Old Masters, Loretta Lux’s photographs of children are eerily beautiful, totally surreal and strangely perfect. Her method is probably closer to painting than photography, resulting in her producing only five to seven new works a year on average – a lot less than you would expect from a photographer rather than a painter. She imposes photographs of children onto painted backdrops and digitally enhances the images so that the colours are a perfect blend of subtle and vivid shades, resulting in striking and quite unforgettable works of art.

Faberge Easter eggs

My Easter egg is more likely to be made from chocolate than pure gold, but hey, I do love chocolate. While most are content with the chocolate or hand painted variety, Tsar Alexander III of Russia wanted to give his wife the ultimate Easter gift in 1885. This golden egg was the first of fifty two bejewelled eggs made by master craftsman Peter Faberge for Alexander. The Empress was so pleased (well, you would be) that Alexander commissioned one for her every Easter from then onwards and his son Nicholas continued the family tradition.

Each egg contained a little surprise. This first egg is one of my favourites of those that survived for its simplicity and beauty. The egg is made from gold, which has been coated in opaque white enamel to make it look like real egg shell. The two halves open to reveal a matte gold yolk at the centre, containing a gold hen with ruby eyes. But that’s not all… the hen also opened to reveal a tiny replica of the Imperial crown and a ruby pendant. Quite extraordinary craftsmanship and creativity.

If your egg is more likely to be made of chocolate than gold, then don’t worry, there’s always next year.

Enjoy your weekend x

Liberty Open Call – Britain’s Next Big Thing

I really enjoyed watching Britain’s Next Big Thing on BBC2 last night. Fronted by Theo Paphitis, it could have ended up as a Dragon’s Den for designers, but instead the programme highlighted the difficulties designers face getting their products into top stores and showcased how much fabulous design talent we have in Britain. Admittedly there were also some cringe-worthy and comedy moments such as the middle aged man in a glittering jock strap, the stuffed lamb in a box and the necklace consisting of various bits of junk welded together, but this was entertainment after all.

Liberty, a retail mecca for any design lover, invited anyone (literally anyone) with a great product to come and sell their idea in a five minute pitch to the discerning buying team at the London store. More than 600 people queued from dawn to present their ideas to the Liberty team and the result was a fascinating insight into the buying department of one of the most respected design stores in the world. Ed Burstell, Liberty’s Head of Buying, made compulsive viewing with his combination of acid wit, commercial savvy, impeccable taste and fabulous personal style. I was pleased to see David Nicholls, who was my editor at the Telegraph Magazine, as one of the judges alongside the Liberty staff, as his impeccable taste and eye for design are well respected in the design industry. David also champions British design in his weekly column ‘Made in Britain’ and has curated an exhibition at Liberty, so is well qualified to pass judgment on the interiors products that made it through those imposing Arts and Craft doors.

These are some of the designers whose beautiful products made it into the Liberty store…

Ayshire carpenter Thomas Hopkins-Gibson had only been producing ceramics for a year when he brought his designs along to the Liberty Open Call. He had lost his job a few years previously and decided to retrain, completing an art degree at the age of forty. His turned wooden bowls and ceramics inspired by drift wood, are breathtakingly beautiful.

Richard Weston cut an eccentric figure as a professor of architecture who had discovered he could digitally reproduce amazing images of ammonite and natural minerals on silk.  The result was beautiful organic shapes with vivid swirls of colour, perfectly suited to large silk scarves and therefore perfect for Liberty.

Charlotte Sale’s stunning hand crafted glass bowls were a hit with the Liberty team. Her dynamic creations are visually arresting and are sure to become collectable pieces of art.

Last week saw the return of Liberty’s Open Call and you can see how it went here via YouTube:

A further date for this year has been added and you can pitch your product to the Liberty buyers on 20th August 2011. Best of luck!

Wendy Legro

I’ve just discovered Wendy Legro, a recent graduate from the Eindhoven Design Academy. Wendy’s work reflects a keen interest in natural forms and textures and it is this organic quality that I love about her work. Shown here is the Orchid, a web of orchid shaped forms that could be used as a screen or decorative textile. The second image is of her beautiful hot water bottle cover – not an item often associated with stunning design, but in this case one of the most aesthetically pleasing and useful home accessories I’ve seen in a long time. Legro designed it so that the form fits the natural curves of the human body and the bottle cover is made from felt, which spreads heat gradually.