Monday, 9 March 2015

If The Coat Fits....


So, there we were at Stockport, working our pitch in the usual understated manner when one of our regular customers presented me with a carrier bag, This is for you, he said, it belonged to my late mother, my wife never wears it and we felt you were the only person to do it justice.


...and this is what was in it. A fake snow leopard swing coat by Martin Blau of London. 


Obviously I was overwhelmed by their thoughtfulness and generosity but, on further reflection, I'm rendered speechless by how incredibly cool Phil's Mum was. Can you imagine the attention this coat got in dreary, post-war Britain?

Don McCullin : Sleeping With Ghosts

The vast majority of vintage crowd look at the 1950s with rose-tinted glasses, thinking it was all cup cakes, cherry-printed dresses, stilettos and Elvis when, in reality, it was shit.

Don McCullin : Sleeping With Ghosts

A peek at the incredible work of my favourite photographer, Don McCullin shows the UK in an entirely different light. Poverty and deprivation were the order of the day .

Don McCullin : Sleeping With Ghosts

The thought of a working class woman strutting the streets of Manchester in a coat like mine blows my mind.

Don McCullin : Sleeping With Ghosts

I don't think Phil's mum was your conventional woman, chained to the kitchen sink, feeding her family Spam fritters, content to make do and conform to the Fifties' ideal of a perfect housewife.

Don McCullin : Sleeping With Ghosts

Imagine an ordinary Northern wife saving up her housekeeping and splashing out on a London-made coat, one which simulated the pelt of an animal she'd probably never even seen a photograph of. I can just hear the neighbours gossiping, Would you look at her, who does she think she is? 


I think Phil's Mum dreamed big, she wanted more. I can see her clattering around the cobbled back streets of the North in high heels, enveloped in a cloud of Chanel No 5 and dreaming of better things. Not for her a once-a-week night out at the local, a half-pint of stout and a few shillings from her husband's wages to treat herself.

1950s Martin Blau coat worn with dress made from a vintage curtain (last seen HERE), 1980s suede boots and peacock feather necklace 
Phil's mum was a bad ass years years before her time. She didn't give a f*ck what her neighbours thought, whether her clothing was age or class appropriate or if the family had to live on bread and dripping for the week as long as she looked good.


Do I do the coat justice? I'd like to think so. Hopefully Phil's Mum would approve of her beloved coat's new owner, a woman who, all too often, overhears Who the feck does she think she is? Someone not content to compromise with the life expected of me (marriage, a career, a wardrobe from Marks & Spencer, a fortnight in the Canaries), who forever dreams of bigger, better and more glamorous things....

Linking to Patti & the gang for Visible Monday.



78 comments:

  1. That coat is absolutely fantastic , you really do do it justice YOU look fabulous how kind of him to give it you , He knew you would treasure it xxx

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  2. Awsome!
    phils mum would shorely aprove and be proud that you makes it justice !
    xxx

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  3. Oh, yes! You definitely do it justice! And I'm swooning over that dress and those suede boots! Fab! :)

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  4. Fabulous!! I'm sure she'd approve - especially teaming it with purple boots and tights! x

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  5. for sure you do that coat justice!!!!!
    it´s a fab item made for a fabulous women - one after another. if someone can fill out the footprints of phil´s mom then you! gorgeous color combo!!!!!
    xxxxxxxx
    p.s.: have to check don mccullin´s work - very interesting.

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  6. You spoke my heart here.
    You WEAR that coat.

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  7. Ooh, I love it when you're extra feisty! Yep, you do the coat justice alright, and I reckon you and Phil's mum would have got along pretty well, don't you? It's a wonderful piece of clothing, a generous and appropriate gift, and these photos of you are fantastic.

    My mum talks about the post-war years as very tough - rationing continued for some years, and it was a time of great austerity for many. And I think many individuals and families (and communities) were devastated and traumatised, and that damage didn't heal overnight. Those photos by Don McCullin are a very powerful depiction of how grim post-war Britain was, aren't they?
    So no, it isn't an era I would have liked to live through, and I agree that buying that coat was a real "fuck you" gesture to expectations and the general circumstances of the time.
    I'd have been soooo tempted to call this post "Fur coat, no knickers" - I love that expression! And I bloody love you! xxx

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  8. I love it! I definitely think it's gone to right lady and Phil's mum would be pleased, I reckon. You're an inspiration on how to be individual. I think my 2 years of relocations have knocked my individual sense of identity out of me a bit, only now with things getting more settled do I feel as if I'm getting back to me! You are most definitely YOU! Wonderful xx

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  9. Feck me, that's a hell of a coat! How absolutely wonderful of them to think of you; I'm fairly sure you will treasure it, despite the era. I love your "story" and think it's very apt and likely on the money!
    I read a lot, so I do know that the 50's weren't a dream. My Mother was a housewife chafing at the confines of that era, and a husband who wouldn't let her wear pants.
    Love Helga XXX

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  10. Absolutely stunning! What a beautiful coat and your not so bad yerself! What a fab gift and if anyone can rock it , it's you.
    Yup, my gran had no great fondness for the Fifties. She said it was tough and dreary and many people had bugger all.
    All the frilliness and rock n'roll was not the reality for many after the war.
    My mum said it was shit growing up in the Fifties. There was still rationing, Spam with everything, chronic sexism and no money. She much preferred the Seventies.
    I love the idea of women dreaming big and breaking the mould. That coat is a symbol I think!
    Loves ya.
    xxxxx

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  11. Yes you do this coat and its history justice, Vix. I used to (long ago) think the 50's were a wonderful time in the US - until I learned about lynchings, the subjugation of women, and pervasive poverty. These pictures really moved me. Thanks for sharing with Visible Monday, xo.

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  12. You definitely do this coat justice, it looks amazing on you. I agree Phil's mum must have been an very cool woman to own such a coat!

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  13. How wonderful ! and the coat is fabulous it suits you so well Vix , best wishes and have a good week xxx

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  14. Just had a giggle to myself imagining you in the Canaries. This coat is amazing isn't it, a real Viv Nicholson coat if ever I saw one. You look absolutely wonderful in it, I can't think of any other person who could pull it off with such panache. Such powerful images of post war Britain, I hadn't heard of McCullin's work before, so I'm off to investigate. Loving the colours of the curtain couture together with the boots and tights btw. xx

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  15. And you wear it so very well, Vix.

    My brother-in-law was a child in the 1950's and he can't bear to hear mention of that decade as he says it was such a terrible time to live through.

    Some of Don McCullin's wonderful photos look to me to be even more recent that the Fifties - maybe 1960's or even 1970's. Sadly, I suspect if you looked closely there are still people living in such shite conditions even today.

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  16. You wear it well! Phil's mum must have been a daring girl, the coat is beautiful.

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  17. I absolutely agree with you. I can sense that the woman who wore this coat had done it with gusto...and that she was a fabulous lady way ahead of her time.

    The snow leopard print...at that time? That's something really remarkable.

    You do this wonderful coat right! You wear it perfectly!

    You know it is this kind of stories that draw me to vintage clothes. I see them as our link with the past...a way to transfer past into future.

    It has happened to me a few times that somebody gave me their treasured item of clothing (in most cases not fitting them anymore) and said---I give it to you because I know you will wear it and treasure it! Isn't it like people are entrusting us with something when they do that?

    http://modaodaradosti.blogspot.com/

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  18. Those photos were devastating. It is a good thing you are there looking mighty righteous and fine in contrast to those bleak images.

    You've done wonderful justice to that coat. How wonderful that they thought of you. It is stunning with your hair. I might add the bright teal with the (I flippin' LOVE it) necklace are gorgeous too.

    The third last shot looks like it could have come right out of a magazine. GORGEOUS!!!

    bisous
    Suzanne

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  19. That is an amazing coat Vix and suits you perfectly. How very kind of them.

    But i must say I was blown away by those photos. How little we think about just how bleak things have been through out the years.

    X x

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  20. How thoughtful of him to donate it to you!

    I'm so glad it's gone to a loving home. Who the eff does she think she is?

    Someone who looks bloody fabulous in that coat. raar!

    www.mancunianvintage.com

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  21. WHy don't I own a curtain dress like that!??!?!! I
    HOW nice is that that they thought of you! I love your imagining of Phil's Mum!
    And yes, we think of 50's, non-rationing Americawhen we think of America, not poor uk!x

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  22. Oh what a wonderful gift! You definitely do do it justice. It's SO much better to be a woman that ignites the response 'who the feck does she think she is'! I really love Don McCullin's work too, I've not actually ever seen that series of pictures- they are truly amazing and certainly lift the rose-tinted glasses. All in all a wonderfully inspiring post! XX

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  23. What a fabulous, thoughtful gift which looks wonderful on you and I'm sure will be much treasured . Phil's mum, I'm sure, would approve of her much loved coat's new caretaker xx

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  24. We are laughing our heads of here ..... What a fab story you have made from mum's coat. She would have loved it and you look fantastic in it.
    We will be chuckling for days now.
    Love Lynn & Phil xx

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  25. Blimey, I'm a bit speechless by how amazing the coat is and the story behind it.

    What a treat to see some McCullin photos too. The documentary that was made about him a few years ago was one of the best (and most harrowing) things I saw at the cinema that year.

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  26. awesome! Love the whole outfit and those photos are heart breaking.

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  27. Fantastic post Vix, bravo. Thank you for sharing those McCullin pics - they were an eye-opener.

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  28. Love your stories. You really need to write a novel. I envy your contentment.

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  29. Wow, that coat was made for you - it rocks! Beautiful and so thoughtful - your fans were right, you are the only one who could do it justice.

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  30. That was a fabulous gift and so obviously perfect for you! It makes me want to temporarily believe in an afterlife just so I can imagine Phil's mum looking down from heaven and approving. Though I also want to believe in ghosts so she can pop in for a drink and a visit with you. xoxo

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  31. Tokens of immortality take odd forms. This garment shall evermore be known among your followers, Vix, as "Phil's Mum's coat." And so shall that warrior woman live on as you've described her to us, fighting the soul-shattering blight of her historic period with a bravura display of beauty. You wear it well!

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  32. Sitting here in my faux leopard dressing gown (that I have worn as a coat)at midday, i salute you and Phil's mum, and Phil for recognising greatness when he sees it!
    You have designed your life perfectly to suit you.
    And I do love that peacock necklace! xo Jazzy Jack

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  33. I love this so much! That coat is fabulous and the story is even better. I know she's thrilled. I feel fortunate to have been gifted with many pieces of china, crystal, and silver belonging to friends and clients' mothers, grandmas that sat unused in their homes. They tell me that they know I'll use it and their mom/grandma would love to know it's being loved and used. I always make sure to send them a photo or even just a text when I'm using their things, which I think always makes them feel good!

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  34. Yay to Phil's wild mum and your fabulous new coat. I have coat jealousy. Totally Cruella DeVille (whatever problems Cruella had, style was not one of them).

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  35. You definitely do the coat justice, I can think of no one else! What a nice little homage to Phils mom. She would be proud. ;-)

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  36. I loved that you shared these photos from McCullin. And, wow, what a marvellous coat, Phil's mum must have been a stylish one -- it definitely suits you! x

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  37. Well you certainly do the coat justice … I think Phil's Mum would be absolutely chuffed to see you in it looking so fabulous.
    Those Don McCullin photos are amazing … a real snapshot of real life … no matter how non picture perfect it was.
    xx

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  38. Phil and his wife are so right, you rock the coat dear. You are doing it absolute justice. It tells you that woman was one in a million. Love your boots too.xo

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  39. aahh this post has a brought a tear to my eye this morning. No the 50's certainly wasn't glamorous for the ordinary women a film star yes. Phil's mum would be so pleased to see you wearing her coat with the class and style you certainly give it, you look gorgeous and your pale pink lips and dark hair make for a stunning contrast, Enjoy and I hope you will continue to wear and enjoy it for many more years to come, dee xx

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  40. Heh, I love that coat, and your customer is right, it really does suit you very well. I like your analysis of Phil's mum too. Of course, if the 1950s hadn't been so crappy, we'd never have had the Swinging 60s as a reaction against it...

    Coincidentally, we've just interviewed Don McCullin at work - he's doing a lot of landscape work nowadays, partly in response to his earlier work. Fascinating, driven man.

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  41. Lovely coat but thanks for featuring those photos, really powerful. I do have an appreciation for 50s fashion but I have always felt it was a bit disingenuous to pretend they were a great time, when they were hard for most, especially women. Loved what you said about the shock of seeing that coat in a drab environment, I remember when I watched the film Vera Drake (set in 1950), I was so struck by how drab all the colours were throughout the film. They did a great job of evoking some of the grim-ness which is so far removed from contemporary life. Thanks for a great post xx

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  42. What a wonderful gift, what a fabulous coat! And how wonderfully you described the story of its previous owner.

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  43. Fab coat ... looks so good on you. I love Don McCullin's work. M x

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  44. I guessing the phrase all fur coat and no knickers was coined for a coat like this! You can just imagine those old dears in their pinny sucking their teeth and clucking as she went by.

    I think everyone has the American vision when it comes to the 50's and not the post war Britain reality.

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  45. Fantastic Vix! You wear it gorgeously! xxx

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  46. That is a brilliant coat! What an amazing gift. It's perfect on you. I love the picture of you against the wall - so rock star!

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  47. Hi Vix- what an amazing post and your coat is absolutely gorgeous- you look fabulous and I love the story behind it too- thanks for sharing those pictures! xx

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  48. I'm amazed. And combined with the purple boots, your hair, the wind in your hair ... Gosh!

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  49. How incredibly nice of your customer Vix. I can understand you were speechless. It is STUNNING... Big want on my side but it looks terrific on you. Your customer was right, you do the coat justice. I read your story about London in the 1950ies. But could it have been she perhaps had a bit more money than the average people? Because I have the same wonder as you about buying such a coat in those days. If the times were so hard and she had children I don't think she would have spent a lot of money on this coat. Oh well... She did and you are a Queen in it.
    Greetje

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  50. THANK YOU for sharing those photos of the 1950s post-war. I hear "OMG, I would love to go back to the 50s everything was so simple back then". Ummm, no.

    You do the coat so much justice! From one strong individual to another. LOVE IT!

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  51. Your post has me speechless with admiration for you and for Phil's Mum. Both of you are inspirational and you do this stunning coat justice beyond expectations. You give this beautiful piece a new life, and I'm sure that Phil knew that when he decided that you were the one to carry on its legacy.

    Thank you for posting Don McCullin's photos; I understand why he's your favorite photographer.

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  52. Appreciating stylish clothes of an era is great, but appreciating something behind them, the story of their previous time is so much more important. The person who owned this coat must have held it precious, it looks very cared for and it must have been a huge luxury. I love it, and it would look good in any era. Those pictures are so very sad, what a mess. Great post.

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  53. If there's one saying I dispise, it's "Who does she think she is?". I've had it said of me too and I've let it sting, while clearly you don't give a darn. There's yet another page from Vix's book to emulate.

    In this case, you and the previous owner of the fabulous coat, truly are / were people courageous enough to spice things up and to have some fun.

    I love the coat (and the kindness of the giver) and the cool mod outfit you have on underneath it! And Jon's red pants! xo

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  54. The fact that Phil chose YOU, dear Vix, to take on this beautiful coat is such a testament to what you do. Inspire. A beautiful story of the transformative power of clothing.

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  55. Of cause you do it justice, you are a woman that does dream big, but in a good way!!

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  56. Love this post. Your writing is top notch. This could turn into a lovely book.

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  57. I just love that your customer probably saw the same spark of adventure in you as there was in his Mum, and just knew you were the perfect person to give her coat another life. It is truly a beautiful coat, and would definitely stand out on the streets in the 50's. Your description of the previous owner sounds dead on and the two of you very well would have been friends if you lived in the same time period. What a touching gift!!!

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  58. Hell yes, you totally ROCK that coat! It was meant to come to you, sounds serendipitous to me.

    I actually quite like the Canaries mind, been there a few times...
    x

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  59. You definitely do the coat justice Vix, you look fantastic in it! It's like it was made for you. Phil's mum was one cool lady, and how nice of them to give it to you. x

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  60. Phil's Mum sounds like a fabulous woman! you are right about her, the coat says so much about her, the confidence she must have had to wear such an amazing coat - what a thoughtful gift, yes you did it justice, I reckon she'd be chuffed to see you wearing it! I tell you, there is no way I would want to live the 50's, I adore the clothes, but like you said, it sucked, aspirational advertising did not reflect real life (and the advertising was shocking and sexist) the stories my Mum told me were awful x x x

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  61. hurrah for Phil's mom and hurrah for you!!, I'm moved and enthusiastic, everything at the same time!!
    Love your 'reality bites' and love your appreciation of genuineness!. And love so much that you're enjoying that fabulous coat!
    Once more, moved and enthusiastic!! Fav post ever!
    besos

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  62. GET IT GIRL. You wear the shit out of that coat and I'll say, I'm a bit envious! What a great score.

    xo Ashley
    pennypickedrevival.com

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  63. Two words about you and that coat, 'Bloody Gorgeous'!!

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  64. Although from a 'dysfunctional' background as we would say today, I remember my grandma making all our dresses in the 50s and they were always colourful. I also remember my mother buying a pair of yellow shoes.

    There was a lot of poverty like these photos, but in the very working class town where I lived, in the North East Midlands, life was not so gritty. There was poverty but we hadn't suffered bombing during the war.

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  65. What a wonderful post! Never seen pictures like this from GB, so it's a lesson. An eye opener for the era. My mom never talked about it. Different country and communism. What's never changing? People's attitude to others, who dare to look different. I'm inspired by your courage Vix and am so glad that you are true to yourself. The story of this coat reminds me of the play by Gogol under "The Coat". He lost his job and friends because everybody was so jealous of him. This coat is very lucky, having you as it's owner!

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  66. What a generous gift. So true about the 1950s those photos are harrowing and make me realise how blessed I am.
    I can remember in 1976 when I was first married we moved into a flat and I had to call on a neighbour. When he opened the door I was horrified that his wife was trying to cook a meal on a paraffin heater. There appeared to be nothing else in the flat. I can still remember that smell. A relative of mine always says 'never look up always look down' as there is always someone worse off than yourself. It makes you appreciate what we now have.

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  67. A coat and blog post to be proud of, Vix. I'm sure Phil's mum would be happy to know that its been passed to another strong woman, who's happy and confident in her own skin.

    Glad that you also added some 1950s reality too in your post as many people get too wrapped up in the 'pretty pretty' aspect of the 1950s without realising/caring about how grim they were for many people.
    xx

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  68. what a great coat. your friend's mum would be so happy to find you wearing this coat ...
    thank yu so much for sharing those pictures, i will search for more photographs of Don McCullin.

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  69. There's just something about you in this coat that speaks about kismet, and my fancy that special garments have a specifically fated future. It was meant for his mom, and it was meant to come to you. Excellent, fabulous and fantastic.
    What a beauty you are anyway, but this coat just adds to it. Great event.
    Thanks for the photos, too. They remind me of our depression era photos by Dorothea Lange. A reminder of the resiliency of the human spirit ... particularly the women and children who often suffered the worst from poverty.
    As always, a visit to your blog is a pleasure.

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  70. the 9th picture down is beautiful--you look great!

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  71. i reckon the two of you could have been good friends actually! renegade women in a quite little town traipsing around in your bright colours and patterns! And I really love that you brought out these photos too. Post war Britain was horrid - post war America may have been wonderful, but the dreariness and poverty eventually led to the wonder and innovation of the 60s! There would have been no swinging Britain without its preceeding dark years

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  72. Absolutely fantastic story, such a generous, sincerely kind, thoughtful gesture. Yes, you did an amazing job presenting this amazing fur coat! The photos you use and your writing create a very strong, emotional post. I think we all do the best we can. I'm with you on creating the life for yourself of which you dream - not following the steps generations before us created. But such changes in mentality don't happen en masse - they are always intricately carved by a few individuals, like yourself, so others can decide for themselves what way of life to choose. Surprisingly large number of women actually are quite comfortable being submissive. xxx

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  73. I am very sure Phil's mom would approve!

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  74. That is a sweet story, Vix. What an honor to be given such a gift from someone who knew you would appreciate it. And you surely did it well.

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  75. This is so lovely, that they wanted you to have The Coat. You look just dazzling in it, like some exotic beautiful creature bringing colour to the black and white. I bet Phil's mum would be thrilled. Cor, yes. We still had rationing until what, 1954? And no money to rebuild all that war damage, easy to forget. I've seen those photos before. I think in some areas those conditions prevailed until well into the 60s and maybe later. I know we didn't get central heating until the mid 70s and we weren't the poorest. Understated, that's you and Jon all over! ;) xxxxx

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  76. Incredible post - the juxtaposition of the '50s photos and the luxuriousness of the coat is amazing. So glad I found your blog.

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  77. LOVE this post. I think people often wear those rose tinted specs when looking back and obviously few women had those Ideal Home sparkly kitchens which are in my opinion, just exquisite, we were still in rationing for half of the fifties for goodness sake.

    Anyway, you certainly do the coat justice and I love Jon's outfit xxx

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