The thorny question of original v reproduction.

We will always see the past through the lens of our own aesthetic; just look at the prevalence of facial hair in historical dramas these days.

I have a number of issues with reproduction but the main one is that most of it is a pale inauthentic smudgy imitation of the real thing. We will always choose pieces from the past that most appeal to our modern taste: the past is not a bad taste, frump free zone. A bit of proper research is not very difficult and it is possible to choose and recreate pieces that are true to a period and that appeal to a modern audience (Peaky Blinders I’m looking at you). Production inaccuracies like invisible zips in 1940s dress also irritate me to an irrational degree, but maybe that’s just me being a pedantic kill joy: what does it matter if people love them? As I say to my clients, nobody actually wants to look like their grandmother, but they do want an essence of it.

Bespoke Edwardian lace with square neck

As someone who has been doing some reproduction of late this is an important question, if a piece is accurate down to the last stitch is that enough? After all most of my brides aren’t a size 8… However that garment, regardless of how pretty, made of authentic vintage fabric and an original patterns didn’t see the blitz. Original dresses are accidental time machines, the tiny stitches of a long dead seamstress, confetti captured in a hem, even a wedding cake crumb capture a moment in time that a reproduction cannot even aspire to. The trick is to distill the past without destroying its essence, be faithful to the essence and just a little bit of a pedant.

Green Credentials: part 3 Make-do and Mend

Many of my clients like the green credentials of vintage clothing, the lower carbon footprint and not adding to one of the most polluting industries on the planet: It takes a mind boglingly huge volume of water to make just one t-shirt.

 

Our modern world is swamped in cheaply produced clothing. In my opinion you should not be able to buy a top for £4. Neither should top flight designers damage old stock so they can’t be resold. Not that sweat shops are anything new, they’ve just moved from the Jewish East End of London to India. In the past people had fewer clothes and knew how to care for them, they had what we would now call capsule wardrobes. Only really rich people had a large choice of clothes to wear There has been a democratisation of fashion but the instagrammers who can only wear something once have gone too far.

Why do we love Vintage, notes and queries 2 of 4

Quirky originals; cut and construction.

My husband loves vintage clothing as well but has no interest in what era they come from, he just thinks they are more interesting and better made then modern clothes. He still runs in horrid modern running kit though, cotton chafes the nipples, and plimsolls are just no good. I notice that a lot of my clients also really like tattoos, is it that vintage and ink are about a form of radical self expression? For me as a super self conscious teen I loved the way 1940s dresses were both modest and sexy. I wore mine chopped short with DM boots. I felt comfortable and right in those dresses in a way I never really did in modern late 1980s clothes.

1940s Rayon satin with love knots

Mr. AVB on the right, image by Scott Choucino www.scottchoucino.com

Why do we love Vintage? a short series

Nostalgia/born in the wrong era. 1 of 4

1940s moire striped Rayon

Anyone who says the study of the history of fashion is irrelevant because it’s just frippery girl stuff is missing the point. The clothes we wear reflect who we think we are, so what does that say about those of us who love and wear vintage?

A love of vintage fashion and a passion for history grew up in tandem for me, it wasn’t enough that I liked the frocks, I wanted to understand why they were like that, how they fit into the social fabric of time.

I’m not one of those people how goes to re-enactment weekends or dresses in vintage all the time, I don’t feel I was born in the wrong decade, I like antibiotics and indoor plumbing. Re-enactors often seem to choose times of war, although WWII seems to be more popular than WWI. Is it the attraction the poignancy and urgency of those times? I’m guessing no one actually wants a full on blitz experience, but to go to a swing dance is rather fun. The fantasy of the past as conjured by the fully-fledged reenactors is just that, nostalgia. The reality is that for almost any time in the past women couldn’t easily be professionals, it was illegal to be gay and if you were black you were staff. All very odd, but I do get it too.

 

My love of the past stems from the films of the time; my heroines as a teenager were Mynra Loy, Ginger Rogers and Kathrine Hepburn. Not to mention any films by Powell and Pressburger. None of that was a real depiction of the time either, none of my favourite films were documentaries, but I was also obsessed with the history too.

 

2018 photo shoot

Winter wedding dresses from Edwardian to 1950s

Getting round to doing a Photo Shoot always takes me ages because I am a very hands on kind of a person and there are always 110 other things that need may attention. So its been a while, sorry.

For this shoot I wanted to use my home, I like the exoticism and drama we have created and I felt i wanted to make images which where rich and dark as well as whimsical.

Photo shoots are a hugely collabrative process and for this one I asked my daughter Gemma if she would run it for me, she also took the pictures.  Katy of Honeykins Vintage provided invaluable styling advice and was just fantatic to work with.We had very generous support from What Katie Did who supplied the wonderful underwear and Irregular Choice who lent us some fabulous shoes. We had enormous fun doing it.

Gorgeous vintage kimonos and Irregular Choice shoes

Abigail’s Vintage Bridal Christmas window 2016

We are delighted to unveil our window for Christmas 2016.

Huge thanks to What Katie Did  for the loan of luxury vintage style lingerie and to Miss L Fire for simply fabulous shoes.

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Kat in late 1950s/early 1960s Jean Allen strapless dress

Kat fell in love with his dress that we then leveled to Ballerina length. It is a tricky dress to date as Jean Allen worked over quite a long period, but the styling clues lead to late 1950s or just possibly into the early 1960s. Kat sourced her bolero from The Couture Company, her hair piece from Fur Coat and No Knickers and all photography by Nick Archer Photography. Hair and make up by Lulu’s Vintage Beauty Parlour, flowers by Jim Shaw at the Reuben Shaw Garden Centre and those red shoes from Phase 8.

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Amazing Victorian lace

Daniella wore this extraordinary Victorian lace dress that had been re-modeled in the 1930s. The elegant butterfly sleeve was set off by a bespoke silk slip from Abigail’s Vintage Bridal.

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Fabulous 50s with Abigail’s Vintage Bridal accessories

Rebecca wore this Fabulous 1950s gown with it’s portrait neckline and bracelet length sleeves with the most brilliant blue shoes. The fur and hair piece with pearls and crystals are both from Abigail’s Vintage Bridal too. We think she looked super!

Photography by Jaye at Tux And Tales Photo

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Guest Blog Post: A Country Wedding

When one of our recent brides offered to write up her own wedding I obviously jumped at the chance (especially as it has owls in it!). Maddy had a beautiful wedding and writes wonderfully as well, so I shall hand you over to her:

A Country Wedding

Last summer, I went to the wedding of two of my very good childhood friends. The dress had been kept a secret – the only thing I knew about it beforehand was that my friend had found it during a rather last-minute but successful trip to Abigail’s Vintage Bridal. When it was revealed on the day, it could have been made for her; it fit like a dream and she was obviously so comfortable in it that she was able to relax and be a serene, happy bride.
So when it came to finding my own wedding dress a few months later, Abigail was my first port of call. Originally I thought I wanted a short dress, as ours wasn’t going to be a traditional formal wedding – the ceremony was held in Norwich registry office (which moved to Norwich Castle shortly before our wedding, so ended up being a rather grand setting!), with the reception in a marquee in my parents’ rural North Norfolk garden.
In the end, though – and following a fascinating series of beautiful dresses brought to life by Abigail’s knowledge of their place in sartorial history and her ability to suggest just the right alterations – my eye was caught by a rather ethereal Edwardian lace number with the most beautiful three-dimensional flowers. It required a floor-length slip to make it decent, as the lace was sheer, and a fair bit of imagination to realise its potential but my interest was definitely piqued.
Now, cream – or ivory or champagne – makes me look a bit ill. The stunning handmade lace on this Edwardian dress was in two parts: the skirt was cotton lace, and had stayed pretty white over the intervening century; the silk lace that made up the body and arms, though, had become a ‘biscuity’ colour. Abigail did a great job of lightening this without damaging the fabric but the colour of the silk slip was also very important – I wanted something that would make the lace felt fresh and bright. We settled on a very pale duck egg greeny-blue with a peacock blue sash. Abigail also shortened and slimmed-down the sleeves, to show off the pattern in the lace, and neatened the waist, appliqueing lace onto it from the sleeve off-cuts with amazing attention to detail.

It’s worth mentioning here that, in total, I must have tried on 60 dresses in at least 5 places during the hunt for my wedding dress. I ended up being torn between two but Abigail’s dress won because of its history and ethics: it had already been loved by other ladies (rather than being manufactured in and shipped from China just for me) and would be adjusted by a craftsperson who was passionate, creative and highly skilled.
While Abigail got to work, I had to imagine the end result while I picked my shoes. I wanted something both pretty and practical (it was a British summer wedding, after all, with the risk of getting a heel stuck in the soggy lawn!) I considered getting a pair of dancing shoes, but was worried about ending up with an outfit that felt a bit like Downton Abbey fancy dress. In the end, during the hunt for shoes for my sister (my only bridesmaid), I came across some beautiful beaded Indian wedding slippers. Abigail had told me about the Edwardians’ taste for exotic fashions, so this seemed to fit well without being slavishly accurate.
They ended up being really comfortable and I’m so glad they were flat – no back ache, sore feet or towering too much over guests (at 5’9”, I’m tall enough without heels). I’ve actually worn these shoes to breaking point now, so have consigned them, full of holes, to the loft with the other wedding mementos.
My sister came with me to collect the dress, which was the first time I’d seen it in its glorious finished state. I was thrilled that it had all come together so well – and that it was so comfortable to wear. I was also grateful that my sister received instructions on how to dress me, as there were several ingenious hidden poppers and hooks and eyes to keep it all elegantly in place!
On the day itself, I got a huge number of compliments on my dress – one guest even told me it was the most beautiful wedding dress she’d ever seen (and I don’t think she was just saying it…) Our wedding was fantastic and a lot of fun. Being comfortable and confident in my dress was definitely part of that; it was a joy to wear and I treasure it. I’m already looking for an excuse to put it on again – would it be too much for Christmas?

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tables

food

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Suppliers – we were lucky enough to have very helpful and friendly suppliers, all of whom we’d recommend:
Hairdressing: Sarah at Alston & Brown (07771 822930)
Photography: Faye Amare photography (www.fayeamare.co.uk/cmwedding)
Catering:
-Weston’s of Blakeney for the fish (westonsofblakeney.co.uk/)
-Bread from Breadsource (www.bread-source.com)
-Cheese from West Country Cheese (www.westcountrycheese.co.uk)
-Meat from Papworth’s (www.papworthbutchers.co.uk)
-The wonderful Tracy Hindry for everything else
Marquee: Wedding Marquee Company (www.weddingmarqueecompany.co.uk)
Flowers: Tessa Papworth (www.facebook.com/tessa.papworth)
Crockery hire etc.: White China (www.white-china.co.uk)
Magician: Mark Daynes (www.markdaynesmagician.co.uk)
Bridesmaid dress: Bombshell (www.bombshellhq.com)
Bride’s shoes: Unze (www.unze.co.uk)