28 February 2012

Keep Calm Ladies its only a Christian Louboutin collection

Sorry for the lack of posting last week, but the new issue of Vogue and a very tricky 1940's knitting pattern needed my full attention. I have also been oogling over the lovely clothes from Upstairs Downstairs and the hunky men in tuxedos, well what can I say I'm only human.
Over the past few years the 'Keep Calm and Carry on' slogan has been everywhere, from iPad cases to scrapbooks. It is a revived saying to help us all get through the economic crisis, supposedly. Of course companies have taken advantage of this and there are now as many derivations of the slogan as there are shoes in my room and believe me Ladies and Gentlemen that is a lot. 
You can get key rings that say 'Keep Calm and Buy Shoes' and posters that say 'Keep Calm and Drink Tea', which if you are English this has been etched on your brain since birth. When anything goes wrong in England, tea seems to always solve it, that or the Asos sale. 

Brave people have even got it tattooed on their bodies, but the cynicism in me thinks that a lot of the 'younger' generation (god I feel old) doesn't really know where it originates from and think its just a clever marketing scheme thought up by some blokes in a pub over a pint and a chip butty. Sadly there isn't any sign of a meerkat though.

Valuable: A collection of 15 original Keep Calm and Carry On Posters have been uncovered on the Antiques Roadshow and could be worth several thousand poundsSo if you have no idea where this saying comes from, I will enrich your mind with the background behind it. Now keep calm and read on. See what I did there? 
Thousands of posters with 'Keep Calm and Carry on', 'Your courage, your resourcefulness and your resolution will bring us victory' and 'Freedom is in your peril, defend it with all your might' were distributed in 1940's to help people keep calm if the Germans invaded. 

I can see why the 'Keep Calm' one is more popular then the others, you try remembering the other ones after a few beers. It was thought and feared that any minute the German's would invade Britain with their 'Operation Sea Lion' plan. But due to them being defeated in the Battle of Britain the operation was not carried out, which meant the posters were useless and binned.

This poster was one of a three image series released by the Ministry of Information in 1939But on Sunday night whilst sitting down with a hot chocolate and a purring Jasper watching the Antiques Roadshow, some original posters re-appeared. I think you are all probably more shocked about the fact that I watch the Antiques Roadshow and that I have admitted it, it did take some courage. 

A lovely women called Mrs Turnball hitched up with fifteen of the original posters, some in mint condition. 
Her father Mr Turnball was a member of the Royal Observer Corps and was issued a cluster of posters to distribute around where he lived in shop windows and bus stops. Well its better then Lurex adverts and graffiti. 

This poster was one the two others released alongside the Keep Calm and Carry On posterHowever, by the time he received him the threat of the German invasion had diminisshed, bad form Royal Mail. He kept them rolled up with a plastic band at his home and has now passed them onto his daughter. Maybe he was one of those people that says 'this will be worth something one day' and keeps it in storage on the off chance that they can get a few beers out of it and a nice holiday. For most people and I'm talking about your here Daddy Second Hand Rose, the things normally end up to only be worth about a fiver. 
However, Mr Turnball has handed his daughter the 'Monopoly'. And before you ask she doesn't have to collect £200 when she passes go. The lovely expert in his dashing tweed jacket Paul Atterbury informed her that she was 'probably sitting on the world's only stock' of the famous posters and they were worth several thousand pounds, even some of the good ones being a £1000 each. Is anyone else very tempted to hunt her down and beg her for one so they can buy some Jimmy Choo's, or is that just me? 

Mrs Turnball was told not that long ago that the posters were worthless, so it proves that you should always go on tv, have a chinwag with Fiona Bruce and get your items valued by a man in a tweed jacket. 

The second snippet of news I wanted to share with you all is that one of the true master of shoes Christian Louboutin has designed a capsule collection which contains some of the most beautiful shoes, which will make you go into a fit of hysteria, not that I have.
 He has designed the collection to celebrate the 20 successful years he has had as the king of the red sole. The collection includes twenty of his most recognisable designs that have helped secure him in the hearts of women all over the world. 

Lots of celebrities are seen in them from Nicole Kidman to Sarah Jessica Parker and the Duchess of Cambridge is a fan. Over the past few years you constantly see the TOWIE girls strutting their stuff in them, along with the Kardashians. Louboutin has made one-off shoes especially for films, fashion shows and celebrities. Who can forget VB's huge platform six inch heels at the Royal Wedding.

My desire to own a pair, well seventy really is no secret and I have spent many hours gasping over some of his amazing designs. If you got a pair of Christian Louboutin's would you wear them though? Sadly we are not all like celebrity's and can afford to get them dirty and scraped. I wouldn't want to get a scrap of dirt on them, so would most possibly end up tip-toeing with them on. Either that or get Mr. Boyfriend to carry me everywhere. So I think if I got a pair they would mostly end up being the centre piece in my room for me to dream over, whilst having a hot chocolate and a choccy biscuit. A girl can still dream though and believe me I do.

Louboutin's are now an international brand and shops are even being opened up in India, Vietnam and Turkey. Just think while your man goes off to find some English bar to go and watch the footy you can go shoe shopping and put it down as a holiday spend, I've got it all worked out. 

This capsule collection is gorgeous and yesterday along with it being Daddy SHR's birthday a pop-up shop was opened in Selfridge's where the shoes are going to be sold, before they are avaliable in Louboutin stores from March

Each style included in this collection is rich with history, full of life and carries it with a unique story of creation and inspiration. The collection contains an array of designs, colours and styles from zips, spikes and fringes. But the cherry on top of the Louboutin cake is that the collection also contains six stunning bags which will just make you want to get the first train to Selfridges. 

Amazing drawings of the collection have also been released and a book commemorating his 20th anniversary is now available, which I'm determind to get my hands on, even though it is around £85-£55. 

You can find it here at WHSmith, just make sure you save one for me. You may think its expensive and you'd rather spend your money on biscuits, but this book isn't just any old book. It has a leather imitation cover, with glossy photos and even pop ups, including an interview with the dapper man himself.


Christian Louboutin Capsule Collection_5
However, due to Christian Louboutin being so sought after, there are many fake websites out there selling them for around £150. Some admit they are copies, but a lot reel you in with the promise of having a piece of the Louboutin world, but at a fraction of the normal price. This is the same for many designers, along with Vivienne Westwood with them selling fake jewellery and bags. Thankfully Louboutin is hot on the trail of these websites and there is a long long list of the ones that are counterfeit, which you can find here. If you are splurging on a pair the best place to get them are from the official websites and legal established ones like Matches and Net-A-Porter.

This goes for all other designers, but if you are not sure whether a website is real or not, just e-mail the official website for the designer and ask them. I'll be on Watchdog next.

Christian Louboutin has played a huge role in the history 21st century shoes and has won the hearts and feet of millions. If you're reading Mr Louboutin and on the off chance have a pair going spare, could you possibly send them to me? I'd be very grateful and if needed I will happily bribe you with cake.

Second Hand Rose

20 February 2012

Upstairs Downstairs: Full of gorgeous clothes, hunks and of course lots of stairs

Every Sunday night for the next six weeks we are all invited to snuggle down with a hot chocolate, a plate of biscuits and a cat purring on our knee and delve into the lives of the people who live at 165 Eaton Place. No there is not another lousy attempt at Big Brother, I’m talking about the latest series of Upstairs Downstairs.

Upstairs Downstairs was originally created in 1971 from an idea by Jean Marsh and Eileen Atkins who actually starred in the show, talk about girl power. For four series it was set in a large townhouse in Edwardian, First World War and in between the wars in Belgravia, London. The series focused on the trials and tribulations of the servants downstairs and their masters, The Bellamy family upstairs. It began with the household being led by Lady Marjorie Bellamy and her husband Richard who was an MP.

The show ran for four years and was a huge hit with audiences being shown in 70 countries, watched by a billion people and it won many awards, it was a sensation. Well all you old followers will be pleased to know that Upstairs Downstairs has returned to our screen and yes you are allowed to scream like it’s a Take That revival. In 2010 there was a Christmas special and it was so popular that it has now been turned into a series which began last night.

 It’s still set at 165 Eaton Place, but it has moved on to 1938, just before war broke out. The head of the household now is Lady Agnes Holland who is a very elegant society women with her husband Sir Hallam Holland. The series begins as the Christmas special left off with Agnes just having her premature baby Veronica. Hallam is pretty stressed due to being in Chamberlian's inner circle. Hallam calls all the household together and says to them 'Tonight this house prepares for war', if anything is going to put you off your dinner, that is.

All the way around London ARP wardens are being signed up, gas masks are being distributed due to the fear of Mustard gas being a popular weapon like in World War 1, trenches are being dug and barrage balloons all over the skies have been put up to protect cities against dive bombers. 

The first episode really gives you a sense of what life was like then and the tension and fear of another World War. It encompasses conscientious objectors, love affairs and a very cute monkey. I won't ruin it for you, but if you like period dramas or just looking at nice clothes and pretty china then this is for you. Plus we have the welcoming of Casper Landry, an American businessman who invented Alka-Seltzer to look forward to. He stays there as a guest and the women of the household fall under his spell, especially Agnes, well he is a suave sophisticated figure of yumminess.

Jean Marsh who I mentioned earlier played Rose Buck, the former parlour maid in the original series and appears in a few of the new episodes. Unfortunately Jean had a stroke so she couldn’t appear in all of them, but hard core viewers will be pleased to see her back.
New characters have been created including Lady Maud's (who was in the original series) younger sister Dr Blanche Mottershead and some more characters downstairs. Lady Persephone Towyn is a new character who is Lady Agnes’s younger sister. Percie as she is known is a fascist and has an affair with a chauffer, well who can blame her their uniform is rather yummy.

Despite the huge amount of sugar in the pantry, downstairs isn’t so sweet, with the cook Mrs Thackerey having a falling out with the butler Mr Pritchard that causes her to storm out, its like a 1930’s Eastenders down there, sadly Pat Butcher with her magnificent earrings doesn’t appear though. But there is still hints of luvvy duvvyness between maids and servants.

What is great is that Lady Pamela Holland who is Hallam's sister is now living at 165 Eaton Place. She was the family's secret and was locked up in a mental asylum due to having Down's Syndrome. The actress Sarah Gordy has Down's Syndrome in real life and its great that she has a lead role in a popular drama series, hopefully more people with difficulties will be able to star in more programmes. Its ability not disability.

So how did they recreate the 1930’s in a 21st century CCTV, IKEA clad world. Exterior shots were filmed at an elegant terrace of Georgian townhouse in Warwickshire, with parking bays and yellow lines covered up, I’m sure along with chewing gum and pizza leaflets.

The interior was built in the BBC studios with walls of the upstairs rooms hung with richly coloured wallpapers of the period and filled with beautifully polished furniture and fittings that were salvaged from real houses. You could watch this just to drool at the interiors with lots of Art Deco, magnificent chandeliers and gorgeous tea sets. There is also a walk-in silver store cupboard with real cakes and tiny sandwiches that are waiting to be served for tea, they wouldn’t be waiting for long if I was there.

Downstairs is very different with dark cramped rooms with tiny windows and iron beds and only a single clothes hook for their clothes. No room for a Justin Bieber photo here. The kitchen has a huge fireplace with stone flooring and an iron cooker. It also has a gi-normous pantry, I’ll meet you in there.

So now we get to the most important thing, the clothes. The series features totally spellbinding gowns, flowing fabrics and men in delicious suits. There are 400 outfits in the show that are either made, bought or hired. Actors even had to wear vintage underwear so the clothes fitted accurately. Make-up and hair is also gorgeous with deep red lipstick and tightly pinned curls. If you love the 30's like I do you will adore this programme and be pausing the programme many times to stare at the beautiful clothes and of course the yummy men in suits, good old Virgin Media.

I did a post about W.E with 30's clothes available on the high street so have a look here. That post was about how to incorporate the 30's into your daily outfits with flared skirts and long hems.

If you missed the first episode last night you can watch it here. You can also watch the old series on Youtube here. So cuddle up with a cup of tea and a plate of biscuits and revel in all the clothes, jewellery and hunky men. Believe me its a real treat, I'd even say its good enough to step away from the Asos Sale for an hour, now that is saying something.

Second Hand Rose

15 February 2012

Valentine's Day: Full of rose petals and corny cards

Unless you've been hiding away with a packet of Maltesers avoiding the day or been hanging out with Lance Armstrong on the moon, you will know that yesterday was the big day, no Christmas hasn't come around again and nor does Asos have a 90% sale on, I'm talking about Valentine's Day. February the 14th can fill people with dread and make them go and buy a Bridget Jones boxset and a box of Fox's biscuits to cry into. Or it can fill you with happiness of celebrating your oh so perfect relationship with your boyfriend and being excited about what you will receive from him and wonder whether all that leaving magazine pages open and sticking pictures of your favourite perfume on the fridge have paid off.
For men it fills them with panic when they realize at 4pm on February the 13th that tomorrow is the big day and they haven't even gota card. The next step involves a hurried trip down Oxford Street to get their girl the perfect present, or at least something that will not make their girl want to break up with them, a hoover is just out of the question, regardless whether it has turbo power or not.

So when did this mix of emotions and rushing to the shops to get anything better then a toaster start? It can be taken back to Ancient Rome when between the 13th-15th February people celebrated the pagan fertility festival called Lupercalia, which was a celebration of love. It is believed that young men would strip naked and use goat or dog skin whips to hit the bottoms of young women in order to improve their fertility, sounds like the Ancient Rome's version of bondage. How whipping a girl would improve her popping a kid out ability I do not know.
In 496 AD Pope Gelasius turned Lupercalia into a Christian feast day and set the date as the 14th, maybe a football match was on the other days or something or a good episode of Eastenders was on. The pope made the feast day in honour of St Valentine, a Roman martyr who lived in the 3rd Century, this is the man that Valentine's Day is meant to honour, although I doubt anyone has honoured him on this day for about 300 years, jewellery and chocolate are just so much more appealing.

The wedding party pooper
It is not known for sure whether the Pope was honouring the 3rd century priest, or two other martyred bishops with the same name that were too associated with the 14th February, so as Mummy Second Hand Rose says, it is a small world. It's believed that he was honouring the priest who was executed by Emperor Claudius II for conducting illegitimate wedding ceremonies for soldiers. The Emperor had prohibited young men getting married, because he felt they were more attached to their families and would not make good soldiers. I can't really see a soldier going into battle with a rusk in one pocket and washing up gloves in the other, can you?

He believed that marriage made the men weak, us women may gradually take our man's masculinity away by getting them to do the hoovering, cook a meal and heaven forbid do the ironing once in a while, but it certainly doesn't make them weak.

The Romans weren't too fond on the ban of marriage, but they didn't need to worry because in stepped Valentine with his cupid bow, I don't think he was wearing just a loin cloth though. He saw the upset that the ban caused between couples and when they wanted to marry, Valentine joined them in the sacrament of matrimony, marriage basically. Valentine married many happy couples but eventually Claudius found out about him and chucked him in prison. He refused to agree with the ban on marriage or believe in Roman gods, so the emperor had his head chopped off on the 14th February 270 AD, how very romantic.

We have a group of loved up Romans to thanks for celebrating the 14th February which became the day for all lovers and Valentine became it's Patron Saint. They began the card craze by sending handwritten greetings of affection, known as Valentines to the women that they admired. Nowadays you'd be lucky enough to get a scrap of paper with 'U up 4 it luv?' scribbled on it. This is when the day became known as St. Valentines Day, let the drowning your sorrows in your third bottle of wine or getting a toaster from your man begin.

But when did the lavish 'I'll spend a months rent' gift giving start? By the 18th century gift giving and exchanging hand-made cards on Valentine's Day had become common in England. Hand-made cards were decorated with lace and ribbons and featured cupids and hearts, no rude jokes or innunendos in sight.
history of valentines day - featureIn 1797 'The Young Man's Valentine Writer' was published, it containted rhymes and messages for men to put in cards to their valentine's, no more awkward message and non-rhyming poems.

This tradition spread to the American colonies and in 1840 cards began to be commercially produced in the U.S. Early cards manufactured in factories were black and white pictures painted by workers. The first cards that were sold were created by Esther Howland in 1847 that were made with real lace, paper lace and ribbons, no hedgehogs kissing or meerkats smooching to be seen. By the end of the 1800's cards began being manufactured by machines and a card company called Norcross became one of the first companies to manufacture Valentine's cards, so we have them to thank for the pop up heart cards and out of tune 'I love youuuu' singing cards.

By the 1900's Valentine's Day got a lot of attention and was publicised a lot in magazines with articles on 'cupid's holiday'. As you can imagine talking to the opposite sex or jumping on them and telling them how much you want their babies was not really socially acceptable then, even if they did look like David Beckham. So when the 14th of February came around it was acceptable for both men and women to tell each other how they felt or at least look at each other for more them 5 seconds.
Children also sent Valentine's along with adults. Store bought cards were expensive, so out came the PVA and sticky tape and men and women exchanged handmade cards, that I'm sure took them at least two hours to make. Have you ever tried to cut the perfect heart out? Total nightmare. Women's cards were very decorative with lace and ribbons. Men's cards were simpler containing a poem, I can't really see a man beautifully sticking lace and ribbon on a card, can you? Poetry was very popular then and love letters often contained long poems.

I have half a heart
And you have the other
Let's make a whole one
By putting them together.
File:Esther Howland 1850.jpg

Early 1900's
I have some Kleenex or a sick bucket on hand if anyone needs one. Here is a selection of Valentine's cards through the years.
Early 1900's








Oh how times have changed...

In the 1900's men gave small gifts to their ladies, mainly flowers of chocolates in heart shaped boxes. Then ladies were happy enough with that, but now some except a Prada bag and a Tiffany necklace, give your man a break ladies, at least he remembered. 
Valentine's day is over-commercialised now with adverts for it starting on the 1st January and every product has a Valentine's twist. What with a set of Valentine's Rubber Ducks, Valentine's toilet paper and Valentine's Lego sets and instructions on how to make hearts, roses and teddy bears holding hearts out of lego. I wouldn't mind those presents actually.

But in the 1900's people organised Valentine's Day parties, where unmarried people could mingle and meet over a sausage roll and a pineapple hedgehog. Rooms were decorated with red paper hearts strung on ribbon or golden cords. Evergreen or southern moss was used as decorations to blend in with the red. There were lots of crepe paper rope in red and white, decorating doorways, pictures and chandeliers. A family friend would dress up like Cupid and games were played. Not those sort of games and no car keys on tables were involved.

Now we don't go so extreme to hold parties or pull the short straw and dress up in a loin cloth with a bow, but the tradition of celebrating your love with your partner is still going strong, either that or crying over a pack of Minstrels or even watching a horror film, whatever takes your fancy.
For future reference if you're single on Valentine's don't use too many Kleenex or spend all day looking like a Panda, you can always buy the Dream Man Arm Pillow to cuddle up to without having to deal with the snoring and duvet hogging and have a few giggles over the Cookie Sutra with your girly friends.

So I hope you all had a lovely Valentine's Day whether you are single or not, but remember sending Valentine's cards to yourself from your cat really isn't cool, not that I ever have.

Second Hand Rose