Monday 28 August 2023

You're a Fake, Baby!

Yes, it's van Jenga time again.

And this gap by the side door is to squeeze in the coolbox, our clothes and the booze. We've got this packing malarky down to an artform. 

We've got over 1,000 items squeezed in the van, this is just a tiny snippet of some of the latest stock that'll be gracing our rails at End of the Road. I've failed miserably at snapping our customers wearing their Kinky Melon purchases this festival season, I shall try and get my act together and take photographs for this, our grand finale!

In the meantime, here's some of the outfits I've been wearing this week.

These photos look tiny on my screen, click on the image to enlarge them

I made this skirt from a length of vintage fabric snaffled for £2 from one of the clearance chazzas back in June. I've taken it to every festival we've been to this summer and but hadn't worn it so out it came for a shopping trip on Friday.

I'm wearing it with a 1970s Ayesha Davar shirred cheesecloth blouse (eBay, 2020) , a pair of cowboy boots, one of my many vintage tooled leather belts and these rather lovely mustard tasselled earrings still on their original Zara card, £2 from the Midlands Air Ambulance charity shop or - as we refer to it in Walsall - the ambo.

There's some folk out there who say that if you haven't worn anything for six months then you need to get rid of it. Sod that for a game of soldiers, the last time I wore this Mexicana dress was 2018 and it ain't going anywhere! I love my clothes like some people love their children.

Created by couturier & sack dress innovator, John Cavanagh and celebrated fashion illustrator, Alfredo Bouret (the handsome devil in this photograph below by Norman Parkinson), Mexicana was said to have been home to some of the most fabulous dresses of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Born in Mexico in 1926, Alfredo Bouret's love of fashion and illustration won him a scholarship to Paris during the golden age of couture. His illustrations were in high demand and he attracted the attention of the greatest designers of the day, creating work for such luminaries as Balanciaga, Valentino, Chanel, Dior and Pierre Balmain. Bouret was widely admired for his illustrations of native Mexican costumes and, during the 1968 Summer Olympics, held in Mexico City, many people become interested in having the country's textiles referenced in their clothing. 

During this time Alfredo was working for British Vogue and was approached by John Cavanagh, who asked him to assist opening the Mexicana boutique on Lower Sloane Street which went on to delight the London set for many years.

Here's Dollyrockers model Patti Boyd wearing a Mexicana dress

Mexicana dresses are rare and commend prices in the £££s and even ££££s. Mine was £5 from a charity stall at a car boot sale in London. It was in a terrible state, covered in questionable stains with a broken zip and shredded side seams but it didn't take me long to restore it to its former glory.

I'm wearing something else that hasn't seen the light of day in years, this 1970s silver apple atomiser filled with solid Charlie perfume - still smelling exactly the same as the scent I loved as a teenager. After looking back through the blog archives I discovered that I'd bought it from a car boot sale in 2011 for 25p. Why the long absence? No idea but, when you buy stuff that's over 40 years old, there's no rush to wear it all the time, it's hardly going to go out of fashion. 

This maxi dress is neither vintage or couture but as a collector of Kuchi tribal jewellery the print couldn't have been more perfect plus it was £2....yes, two quid!!!

I had to laugh when I looked at the print with my specs on .... its fake Hermes! I've come across the scarves a gazillion times but it's the first time I've found a dress. (These vintage brass cabochon bangles were my Mum's, if you're wondering.)

The print is quite well matched-up (a real bugbear with modern clothes) and the fabric, a mix of 60% cotton, 32% polyester and 8% spandex isn't too bad at all but the white plastic buttons, which Jon described as off some granny's nursing home dress, were hideous so I replaced them with some classier looking brass buttons from my stash. We've got a £1 charity shop nearby, I often buy tatty vintage clothing just to remove the buttons and zips, it's cheaper than buying them new.

I love this dress and it got so many compliments when I was out on Sunday, even the scary hard-faced lady, who rarely cracks a smile as we browse the charity shop rails together shouted That dress is f*cking amazing!

As you can see, I'm in my Lottas. My foot is back to normal - although I'm doing some strengthening exercises (thanks, Amanda & Vicki) and wearing my foot support for my daily workouts. To keep up the designer vibe I'm wearing Gucci sunglasses (from a Greek supermarket) and my vintage Medusa belt buckle for some pseudo Versace vibes!

New-to-me additions to my wardrobe include another Marion Donaldson piece (with the 1970s-era purple and gold label), a gloriously off-the-shoulder, feather trimmed seersucker maxi dress in a superb shade of zesty orange. It needs taking up a few inches which I'll tackle once we're back from End of the Road. 

This handmade psychedelic 1960s maxi dress with frog fasteners and a side split fits like a glove and makes me feel like a slinky Bond villain or something from a Trechikoff print. I've packed it ready to wear at the weekend.  

Although its modern, this leather bag, made in Italy by Sofia Cardoni, has got that 1970s slouchy look I love. Google tells me that it originally retailed at  €317 - I paid £3. 

I'm off to pack my sequins & horned headdress for the final time this Summer. 

See you in September! 

Thursday 24 August 2023

Beautiful Days!

Just after 8am last Tuesday we headed down to Devon for the Beautiful Days festival. The journey took just under three hours and, after accreditation, one of the marshalls walked us down to our pitch but, after a number of phone calls to site manager, John, turned out not to be in last year's spot but on the hill overlooking the main stage. To say we were excited would be an understatement. We had no idea what trade would be like but we'd have the best view in the house.

Setting up on a steep hill with only one and a half pairs of feet between us proved to be a bit of a challenge so, by 6pm, we cracked open a can and decided to finish setting up the following day. As you can see by Jon's hi-viz, health and safety regs were strictly adhered to.

The sunset was glorious.

On Wednesday we continued with the set up whilst listening to the Lionesses beat Australia on 5Live. 

That's our inflatable awning, now in its third year.

Finally ready for the festival to open on Thursday afternoon, we had a wander round the site and caught up with some of our trader pals.

 We'd never met any of our trading neighbours before but, after a couple of days of living next to each other we were soon firm friends. Nav, from the stall to our right, was a Nepalese ex-sherpa and took as long to get up the hill from the toilets as we did.

The music didn't start until Friday so Thursday was a chilled out day, mostly spent chatting to people we'd met last year (plus a fair few sales).

After a few warm and dry days, Friday started off windy with a distinct chill in the air and, by late afternoon, turned into rain of biblical proportions. Jon dug his jeans out whilst I wore a sequined polo neck (and horns, of course!)

There were some great acts on the main stage on Friday. Mash-up band Elvana, who cover Nirvana songs in an Elvis style blew us away. Check them out HERE.

The crowd got bigger and bigger and bigger and, by mid-afternoon, access to the stall was nigh-on impossible. Did we care? No, not a jot, we were too busy dancing. The epic Gentleman's Dub Club was followed by the legend that is Johnny f*cking Marr. I stripped down to my sequined bra and danced in the rain to There Is A Light That Never Goes Out and Bigmouth Strikes Again. Yes, I danced! My foot had finally healed.

Friday night headliners were Suede. The rain had defeated much of the crowd who'd retreating back to the campsite but , for those of us left behind, we were treated to one hell of a show with Brett Anderson stage-diving and giving it his all. 

Saturday morning got off to a strange start when Jon, leaving me sleeping while he visited the portaloos, came back to discover a robin had flown into the van and was sitting on my foot. Later we trawled the internet to see if there was meaning behind the weirdness, discovering that, in popular folklore, a robin entering a house through a door is thought to signify imminent death. With no mention of it entering your live-in vehicle through an awning, we're hoping that we've escaped the grim reaper. 

Despite the previous day's rain the site was mud-free and the sun made a welcome reappearance.Trade was phenomenal despite the internet crashing and the on-site ATMS running out of cash. Cost of living crisis? What cost of living crisis?

I found a couple more Asbeau fans.

Nine-year old Ember (cool name!) hung out with us for most of the weekend. Her mum & dad kept popping in to make sure she wasn't being a pest - far from it, she was amazing and her knowledge and passion for mythology (Greek, Norse & Egyptian) put mine to shame. 

One of the traders was so happy with his vintage corduroy jacket that he offered us pizzas on the house. They were exceptional - no wonder the queues for his pitch are so long.

Stand-out performances on the main stage were Gaye Bikers on Acid (who popped into our stall twice over the weekend), Reef and Primal Scream. The crowd was so huge we ended up emptying the rails outside the stall and wrapping them in hazard tape. It was madness out there!

Trapped within the stall, the party came to us. I met blonde Katie last year. I'm not sure which planet Michelle came from, she was one of the strangest women we've ever met (but in a nice way!)

Once the crowd had thinned out we rolled down the shop front and went for a wander, chatting to a few mates and catching some of the Rock Orchestra's amazing performance over on the Big Top stage. We quite fancied Gok Wan's late night DJ set but knew we'd struggle to get up the next morning so did the grown-up thing and went back to the van instead.

Beautiful Days always has a Sunday dress-up theme and this year, for the festival's 20 year anniversary it was Out of this World. Jon was the Space Cowboy. I wasn't the only one liking the look of those silver leggings on him - Shaun from the stall two doors down reckoned they were the best pair of legs he'd seen all week. 

I was Medusa - in case you were wondering.  A good excuse to wear some of my snake jewellery and to drag this 1970s Bernshaw peek-a-boo maxi dress out of hibernation. 

We loved the costume choices of long-time mates, Daron & Jo (aka Old's Cool Traders). Jo's never sewn anything in her life before. How impressive is that Tardis dress? They joined us in listening to the agony that was the World Cup final. 

Normally I wander off on a Sunday to take festival photos but, once again, it was jam packed outside our stall. Fortunately a few people squeezed in including this fabulous female astronaut and her captive alien.

How this couple didn't win best costume I'll never know. Her Medusa knocked my outfit into a cocked hat! She bought the vintage fishscale sequin dress from our stall on Thursday. She made the headdress herself. Husband Des (Yondu from Guardians of the Galaxy) runs a biker festival near us in the Midlands, he's asked us to trade there next year. 

Nikki from Rocket Records (in the photo below) was our trading neighbour at Beautiful Days last year. Her 1960s chiffon maxi was a Kinky Melon purchase. Jan, in the middle, bought a 1980s neon orange tiger print tunic on Friday and spent most of the weekend wearing it (and being useless, I never took a photo).

Ember popped in again - her dad painted her face, I think he needs his own festival stall.

Here's the amazing Kathryn from Asbeau, who made my horned headdress along with lovely husband, Rob (they're also our neighbours at Glasto).

Snapped by a pro!

Sunday's headliners included DreadzoneGaz Coombes and Public Service Broadcasting but the act that blew us away was Welsh reggae/heavy metal band Skindred who were drafted in at the last minute to replace The Proclaimers. Lead singer Benji Webbe popped into our shop before taking to the stage and was an absolute sweetheart (why on earth didn't we take a photo?) Performing to a capacity crowd of around 17,500 festival goers he yelled I see you Kinky Melons and we screamed ourselves hoarse with excitement. 


Don't know 'em? Their latest album entered the UK charts at number 2. Check them out HERE and crank up the sound!

As always, The Levellers, the band behind Beautiful Days, closed the festival.

And of course, we had the best view in the field but, being the lovely people we are, we shared it with a few friends we'd made over the weekend. 

Julia rocked the hell out of this 1980s metallic Frank Usher jacket.

On Monday morning we got up at 7am. It took six and a half hours to breakdown the stall and another five to drive from Devon to Walsall.... three days on and we're still half-dead. Hopefully we'll have rediscovered our festival mojo in time for End of the Road, we'll be trading there this time next week!

 See you soon.