Category Archives: London

Vintage Blues at St Werburghs Farm

Blue vintage dress | Ship-Shape and Bristol Fashion

Despite living in Bristol for eight years, St Werburghs City Farm is somewhere I’ve only ever jogged past when running through the neighbourhood  That’s a massive error on my part as there are so many adorable animals there, which I found out when Mr Ship-Shape and I went for a wander with our cameras on Saturday.

The farm backs on to a set of allotments and is a really relaxing space to visit, except for when you see a duck being sexually harassed by three other ducks, which I did. Then it can become quite stressful, as you shout at the male duck to stop standing on a very disgruntled looking female duck, “that is not the way to get her to like you!” I digress…

Ducks aside, the farm is charming addition to the already laidback St Werburghs, and I thought it would be a great place to road-test the new lomography film I bought a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, as it was still rather cold, most of the animals were tucked up in their pens so I’ll have to wait until the roll is developed to see if I managed to capture any pigs or rabbits on film.

The blue dress is a vintage number I found at a market near Brick Lane on my recent trip to London, and was a bargain at £5! The bird necklace is from The Cutworks, a new Bristol-based brand that have a soft spot for, as it’s run by the lovely S from Beautiful Plumage. The necklace reminds me of the plump little birds in Snow White and I love wearing it against the busy backdrop of the royal blue dress. It also comes in white and black, too, so take a look at the Facebook page to see the whole collection.

Dress – Vintage market, London / Necklace – c/o The Cutworks / Belt – vintage / Cable knit cardigan – Tesco / Ankle boots – Primark

St Weburghs City Farm graffiti | Ship-Shape and Bristol FashionThe Cutworks bird necklace | Ship-Shape and Bristol FashionSt Werburghs | Ship-Shape and Bristol FashionVintage blue dress and Diana F+ | Ship-Shape and Bristol Fashion

Tim Walker: Story Teller exhibition at Somerset House

Mechanical dolls by Tim Walker and Rhea Thierstein | Ship-Shape and Bristol FashionPhotography by Tim Walker. Image courtesy of Rhea Thierstein

‘I don’t want to sound mystical but sometimes when you take a picture something takes over and leads you’ – Tim Walker

One of the highlights of my trip to London on Saturday, and the main reason for going, was to see the Tim Walker: Story Teller exhibition at Somerset House.

For anyone unfamiliar with his work, Tim Walker is a British fashion photographer who creates and shoots scenes worthy of fairytales, truly putting the story into ‘fashion story’ – typically used to define various fashion editorials in magazines. After graduating with a degree in Photography from Exeter University in 1994, Walker assisted the American fashion photographer Richard Avedon before moving up the ranks to become a legendary fashion photographer in his own right. His work has appeared in Harper’s Bazaar, British Vogue and W Magazine.

The first time I remember seeing a photograph by Walker was in a 2008 copy of Vogue. It was a Tim Burton-inspired shoot (which features in the exhibition) set in the corn fields of Kings Seeds, Colchester. I was blown away by the models (which included Burton and his muse, Helena Bonham Carter), the make-up, the clothes, the sets and the poses.

After that moment I began searching out Walker’s work, oggling manor houses filled with multicoloured balloons and shots of models in gowns with 12 foot long trains, draped off regal-looking stairwells and ladders.

Tim Walker and Rhea Thierstein for Vanity Fair | Ship-Shape and Bristol FashionPhotography by Tim Walker. Image courtesy of Rhea Thierstein

Story Teller pulls together some of Walker’s most exquisite fashion stories, along with portraits of British icons such as Vivienne Westwood, the cast of Monty Python and the late Italian fashion writer, Anna Piaggi.

Larger photos have been displayed on the walls of the East Wing gallery, while smaller ones have been purposefully propped up in white-washed creates, as if they had travelled from far and wide (on cargo ships and steam trains) to reach the venue. As well as the stunning photographs, all in simple white frames, there were also props from each shoot on display.

These props, ranging from an insect orchestra to a giant doll complete with gingham dress and curls, were of particular interest as some were made by a friend and former colleague of mine, the insanly talented Rhea Thierstein. Rhea has designed props, sets and costumes for Mulberry, LOVE magazine and Cath Kidston, and it’s props like hers that are intrinsic in bringing Walker’s photographs to life, making his shoots so imaginative and inviting to look at, and adding to the fantasy world that each frame creates.

This exhibition is on until Sunday and is an absolute must-see for photography and fashion fans alike. If you’re based in London then you may already have seen it but if not then what are you waiting for!? Walker’s images are incredible and the exhibition offers the brieft opportunity to step inside those pages of Vogue and see the dream-maker behind the lens.

Have you been to see Story Teller yet?

Tim Walker: Story Teller is free and running until 27th January at Somerset House. For more details on the exhibition, visit the Somerset House website. Thanks to Rhea for letting me use these images.

Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950 at V&A

Ballgowns at Harrods reflection

The word ‘ballgown’ conjures up many different notions of style. It makes me think of animated Disney princesses, Audrey Hepburn as Sabrina, Grace Kelly’s poise captured in black and white photos, and lavish charity events in grand, sweeping ballrooms. Regardless of your interpretation, the latest exhibition at the V&A will no doubt tap in to your own princess fantasies.

Housed in the newly renovated Fashion wing of the V&A, Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950, showcases a collection exquisite dresses, dating from the 1950s to the modern day, and includes designers such as Vivienne Westwood, Elizabeth Emmanuel (on half of the design team that made Princess Diana’s epic wedding dress) and Bellville Sassoon.

The exhibition is split over two levels. Downstairs the gowns are grouped vaguely according to colour, ranging from cinched waists and endless layers of silk organza, to oversized bows and neat rows of hand-sewn pearls. Short films are projected onto one wall which show adverts and documentaries of fashion houses from the 50s and 60s unveiling new collections in grand country mansions, displayed on models with pristine make-up and permeant smiles.

Victor Stiebel dress on display at the V&A's Ballgowns exhibition
A Victor Stiebel dress on display at the V&A’s Ballgowns exhibition

A modern, sweeping double entrance staircase in crisp white leads visitors to the upper level, where the museum has chosen to showcase a more modern take on these fairytale gowns. White wooden imitation chandeliers hang from the ceiling and ballroom dancing steps have been painted onto the white floor. Giant, peralescent balls form large-scale pearl necklaces, draped around each of the three stands, which house half a dozen dresses each.

Photographs of ballgowns from the V&A’s permanent collection are projected onto each of the four alcoves of the dome ceiling. It’s up here that young British designers take centre stage, with creations from Jonathan Saunders, Alexander McQueen, and Nicolas Oakenwell. These gowns are far more modern, and aren’t necessarily how I would picture a ballgown, but they demonstrate how the dresses featured on the ground floor have influenced current designers.

I fell in love with a 1950s design by Victor Stiebel, above, made from silk tafita and organza. The simplicity of the faded teal gown over the striped underskirt is, to me, sublime – simple and understated, but beautiful all the same.

Marcel Fromenti drawing from the V&A archives

Marcel Fromenti drawing from the V&A archives

There was a strict no photography (or even drawing) policy at the exhibition, but fortunately Harrods have also collaborated with the V&A to showcase their own collection of gowns, which is where the photos (top and below) in this post were taken. While in London it felt like the whole city had Ballgowns fever – even Miss Selfridge on Oxford Street had filled their shop with decadently dresses mannequins.

Ballgowns window display at Harrods

Ballgowns window display at Harrods

I thought the exhibition was wonderful, with a brilliant mix of old and new (such as a Gareth Pugh mirrorball dress) and it opened my eyes to a whole wealth of designers I’d never heard of before. While there (on a Thursday afternoon) the exhibtion was swarming with women of all ages and I think it (and the rest of the V&A) would be a great destination to take your mum or grandma. There is also a programme of free events and talks running alongside the exhibition, which sounds incredible – definitely worth coming back to London for!

Have you been to see Ballgowns yet? What did you think of it and was there a stand-out dress you loved?

Tickets: £10, concessions available. This exhibition runs until January 2013 so there’s no excuse not to see it! For more information and a list of events and lectures, visit the V&A website.

Did someone say Jubilee?

Love them or loath them, you can’t really diss the royal family for giving us a day off every time one of them gets married or celebrates an anniversary. Not that I’d know, as I’m currently en route to France, but while I was in London this week I took a few snaps of some Diamond Jubilee decorations and celebrations from around the city…

Paul Smith for Harrods

A commission of the Imperial State Crown by Paul Smith for Harrods

Union Jack Carnaby St

A sparkling suspended Union Jack on Carnaby Street

Union Jack Carn St

A shot from the back. I love the way it shimmers like a giant patriotic mirrorball

V&A Jubilee poster

A large scale print hanging in the V&A shop, based on a scarf by Laura Berens

What a difference a day makes…

…twenty four little hours. That’s all it takes for a heatwave to turn into a blustery, cold and downright miserable day. After a deliciously hot journey to London last week, I awoke the next morning to a rather murky looking south east London that made a mockery of my red Zara skater skirt and mustard yellow Primark vest.

Fast forward a few days and it’s all jumpers and boots in a bid to shrug off the cold weather. I’ve been living in my Mango chinos and nautical stripy knit jumper from Primark this week but I’m already on the look out for The Winter Coat. This year The Coat could be a trench, a tailored wool number or a brightly coloured 60s pea coat. So long as it keeps me warm I’ll be happy but for now, as I can’t let go of our belated British summer I thought I would post some pictures of London at sunset, instead of heavy winter coats. Enjoy!

The National Gallery, London

The National Gallery, London

Trafalgar Square at sunset

Trafalgar Square at sunset

The London Eye

The view across the river: The London Eye

Big Ben!

Big Ben!