Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Is it a Gucci Jackie or a Bouvier?

There are actually 2 bags named after Jackie/Bouvier/Kennedy/Onassis. At first glance they look similar but they are actually 2 different bag models.

1. The Bouvier, or G1097 was created in 1958 and is a flattish shoulder bag with a snap-hook lock closure


2. The Jackie, or G1244 created in 1961 with a wider leather base and a piston lock

There were other modifications to these basic models above featuring slightly different locks etc over the years.

Jackie Bouvier/Kennedy/Onassis carried both models of the bag in many variations

Many Hermes lovers confuse Jackie O's bags with the Hermes Trim (just discontinued). She may have owned Trims which look similar to the Jackie but she certainly carried her namesake bags that became part of her everyday chic style.

Tom Ford re-launched the Jackie in 1999 but there have also been Bouviers during mid-2000s.

Frida Giannini brought out the softer New Jackie with a detachable longer shoulder strap and tassels in 2009 in 2 sizes, the Large version is now a little smaller than the massive Large version of '09

The original version of the Jackie was launched again AW '11 with a single adjustable strap but only Med size

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Christmas gifts for the those that make a difference to my mundane existence

It seems everyday I am disappointed by poor standards of work or general grumpiness of people (often me included). It's just so nice to find good service, workmanship and friendliness just when I least expect it.

I can't do anything about those who hate the world on a day to day basis but this is the season I like to go round like the goody-2-shoes I make out I am and deliver chocs and cards to all those that have gone out of their way to make my life easier and brighter

If you've been conscientious and/or good for no apparent reason all year its goody pay-back time, expect something delicious your way soon X

Sunday, 3 July 2011

LuXe-factor: choosing new, vintage or antique jewellery

Gone are the rule books about dressing and all the namby-pamby 'blue and green should not be seen' and matching one's blusher and lipstick and so on, and thank goodness for that. Self-expression reigns and we are all own our stylists, and our only consideration is for personal preference, fashion and our mood. There comes a time though, usually when spending a wheelbarrow load of money on one thing, when we want more than to reflect a micro-trend, fleeting mood or daily statement of personal expression. A time perhaps when we want to buy for investment, for the longterm or even for life. Contemplating buying an expensive piece of jewellery is just such a moment. Many people know exactly what they like and what suits them, great, good for them but for the others the choosing is a mine field. Knowing what suits you can be a great place to start.

The colour of the metal and/or stone is the most important consideration when choosing jewelly. Jewellery is supposed to adorn and enhance, make the wearer feel more attractive and powerful. Knowing eye and hair colour as though written on a passport description is not enough. Eyes - green and hair - brown is not enough. What sort of green? With amber flecks or blue flecks, grey-green or emerald green? What sort of brown, mouse-brown, with red or golden undertones, cocoa brown or darkest brown? That's the key, colours are like perfumes, there is a general colour but there are also undertones and overtones.

So here are some rules to follow, completely disregard or consider.

Time to talk METAL

Conventional wisdom 

The palest pink-undertone skin tone (that look best in  ice cream colours) look best in platinum jewellery whilst dramatic pink-undertone colouring, that looks best with jewel tone or monotone colours (sapphire, emerald, black and white) should choose white-gold or silver. Yellow based skin that looks good in autumnal muted colours are the most natural match for high carat yellow gold and those who look good in bright fresh in-between colours like bright clear turquoise look good with paler yellow tones (I wont say lower carat) or rose gold.

There is even a more general rule: silver and and rose-gold look good on everyone, platinum looks best on pink or blue - undertone skin and yellow gold on 'golden' people. I think this rule goes along the lines of what ever colour someone literally glows should be the colour that compliments their skin.

Try on the same ring or bangle that comes in a choice of different gold and see which one (or two) suits you more - usually people are drawn to the one that makes them look more healthy (enhances their natural colour).

High-street Jewellers rules:

a) fashion - don't buy into the latest trend unless you know you really love it, dated resale jewellery loses monetary value no matter how much it cost at first and fashion jewellery revivals usually take at least 20 years.

b) popular - like fashion, what is popular changes, same pitfalls as above plus if and when you get tired of yours, that's everyone will be wanting to get rid of theirs so not great at resale.

c) what is classic usually follows convention and what is accepted to be 'good taste'. White diamonds don't have to be set in white gold or platinum, pink stones don't have to be surrounded with rose gold but classic doesn't usually go out of fashion and if it does it's soon back in. On the other hand, unusual designs or combinations of colours are scarcer and therefore harder to find which could push up re-sale value in the long run.

Premium Brand Jewellery 

a) look for styles that are iconic to the brand, you will be paying for the name and these will usually hold more of their value if you ever need or want to re-sell (just saying)

b) 'entry level' pieces are usually pretty reasonable (relatively of course). If you are looking for a gift for someone else these are a good option as sometimes it is just as much about the wrapping (just saying)

c) If it's for you ,consider carefully and visit the store often, the theatre of shopping at this level is half the fun and lots of the price and at  these prices mistakes are catastrophic. If  it's for someone else and doesn't have to be a surprise, share the experience, as the memory of choosing and purchasing is often as important as the piece itself. 

d) personalise with engraving or initialized the box, the service usually costs less at the time of purchase. 

e) once bought take it back to the same store/brand to have it sized, repaired or engraved not trust any-ol'   person who gives you the best quote for many obvious reasons but also because the original jeweller will not touch the item once someone else has worked on it. 

f) if you can wait (and it could be a l-o-n-g wait) for the perfect piece at a better price, don't mind losing the luxe-factor surrounding or crave a little excitement, auctions are a great place to 'shop'. Word of warning prices are not guaranteed to devalue from full retail, plus, you will pay an extra 15-30% buyer's premium and may not get the usual accompanying box/pouch/authenticity guarantee of a certificate and I doubt you will get the original receipt.  Final warning, you better know your stuff as you can't change your mind or back out of a deal. Auction houses will use terms like 'yellow metal' meaning they can't be held to account if it doesn't turn out to be gold etc so read carefully, ask for a condition report and be careful not to assume. Some auction houses also charge for the use of credit cards in payment.

Remodel or Bespoke

a) if you already have the raw materials and the imagination you can remodel or design your perfect piece. No  guarantees how perfect the jewellery will be to your 'vision' but it will probably be closer to anything anyone else could design if it's not already out there.  Ask to see work they have done already, agree on a  time-frame, the quality of the materials or extra materials to be used and be very firm about your final budget. Write everything agreed down and make a copy for the jeweller . The downside is you can't return the item for exchange or refund. Usually you will have to pay up-front for something you can only hope will turn out as expected.. 

Right then everybody, let's head off for research ;)

Next time stones, design and size

Friday, 24 June 2011

Hunting for vintage bargains is not what it used to be

When I was a teen, so called thrifting is what my friends and I did every time we met, like a 'place' to hang out. Endless days were spent at markets and charity shops in the same way other girls marched up and down Oxford Street in London. Things have changed and not all for the good. Vintage or pre-loved may be the new posh names for second-hand goods but developments in the practice of hunting out the odd fabulous find at a bargain price are lees than classy, especially when it comes to being charitable. .

First we have the bargain hunters whose sole aim seems to be to buy at a penny and sell for pound on an on-line auction. Triumphant stories abound, celebrating a win over some unfortunate volunteer by buying a possible 'Picasso' for 50 pence. Extra squeals of delight as the hunter recounts extra percentage off for lying to the octogenarian help that it came out of the bargain basket. It's good to know that these precious things have a second life and continue to be enjoyed after their original owner no longer can or wants to, but not just to make a quick buck on-line.

The other development in charity shops is the so called designer, vintage or boutique rail. Where once there was a mutual gratification of both the charity and often poor people doing well out of the trade of decent clobber, one has to be fairly rich or have a degree in fashion history to an find overlooked sartorial gem. Over priced and usually the worst examples of any era, the shop treats their precious stock as though it was Dame Shirley's own wardrobe when in reality their rail usually comprises of 90% of yesterday's high street designer rip-offs. Who needs a Karen Millen Dress from 1999 at double what it cost in the sale? Not everyone values a multiple-coloured maxi dress over last year's Gap effort, why should the vintage maxi cost so much more just because some idiot pop star is wearing her stylist's-own version?

And where have the desirable labels and kooky precious things gone that should be on the bloody boutique rail? They are lifted out by keen fashion student and car booter volunteers, who devote an hour a week of their expertise in the back room during the process of supposedly sorting the 'wheat from the chaff' as a 'reward' wardrobe or new stock for next Sunday morning's cash-in-hand 'hobby'.

The problem is balance and fair play seem to have lost their way. While charities become 'smart' businesses trying to maximise their profits with their boutique rail so only affluent trendies can buy something that looks like it comes from a charity shop or grandma's closet the seasoned hunter will of course fell gleefully victorious if they find an item that 'got away' from the self-proclaimed expert.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Why do women wear make-up to do sport?

I have just returned from my weekly fairly strenuous jujistsu class. After a warm-up that that includes the odd bit off speedy running, star jumps, sit-ups, press-ups and strange slapping of the floor things we call 'break falls' I am sweating. Not glowing or perspiring like ladies in the past but sweating real beads of sweat from the roots of my hair to the tippy-tips of my toes. Looking round the room I see my classmates of both sexes are in a similar state.

After our warm-up (more accurately heat-up) we move on to graded exercises throwing and flooring our opponents in friendly combat. My grade partner just happens to be twice the size and weight of me so by the end of the syllabus work I am leaving puddles of sweat on the floor, my face is red and I have to use my jacket sleeve to wipe my eyes to stop them stinging.

For a year I was a lone women among a class full of men until happily a year ago another feisty female joined in the fun. Recently I have the pleasure to report more women joining the class. The only fly in the beauty ointment is that the new ladies can not bare to be bare faced and turn up caked in make-up. We are not talking waterproof mascara or a hint of eyeliner, I am talking full-on party make-up. Every week I come home home with a newly stained suit from ground fighting, but never mind me and the new expense of buying bottles of Vanish whitener, what about them?

What can someone be thinking when faced with a steaming dojo that they present themselves in full warpaint only to have it trickling down their necks after 5 minutes and stinging their eyes after 10. Surely, there can be fewer more bitter tastes than make-up seeping into one's mouth or no feeling less desirable than looking like a bad drag act facing a handsome gladiator as one is about to wipe what is left of one's face on his gleaming White suit during a bout of ground fighting.

What can be so montrous, so unbecoming, so scary underneath the mask that a woman would rather risk looking like a melted oil portrait and ingest grams of chemicals?

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Politically Correct Fashion: A contradiction in terms?

  Guilt: The New Word in Fashion 

Choice is what we pride ourselves on in the Western World, the only limitation on our choice is the amount of money we can afford to pay for an item. For anyone who just buys things for the logo on the front (why not just get a tatoo on your forehead and save on the dry cleaning bills?) or can't walk past a pound-shop bargain bin we have lots of tempting new ways of making you feel - so yesterday.   

Secrets of the Superbrands (first broadcast BBC Three, 9:00PM Tue, 24 May 2011 in the UK)  presented by faux stooge  Alex Riley, was a light-hearted look at luxury brands, sports brands, logos, out-sourced accessory manufacture, developing world economy, retail theatre and basically anything to do with clothes all in one episode. While some of these issues are intrinsically linked, the mish-mash of the usual headline grabbing stuff reduced any possible message to pulp. The pretence of media presenters as innocent and uneducated noble savages in the evil world of duplicitous and mind-warping commerce grows tired with every new attempt. Us fellow noble savages (the viewers) were supposed to be stunned that an American-style tee-shirt with Japanese writing originates from a British company (hold the front page) 'we' meet the self-styled anthropologist Ted Polhemus outside a jeans store (the ubiquitous doc's Doc on-location) who tells us about the origins of denim jeans cool status. Dana Thomas (always in fashion) points out that the cheaper luxe items at the bottom of the luxury market pyramid bring in the money while the uber-luxe bespoke items retain the prestige. Wow, I am stunned by all this absolutely fabulous information. Never mind fashion insider info, I learnt a great tip for making TV/film documentaries, interview really sweet, young but incredibly gullible people in the street it will make your viewers feel 'achingly cool' by comparison. 

From the noble savage to the reformed character. Lucy Siegle's To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World? Jumps on this year's fashion bandwagon for bashing consumer choice with her new found evangelical approach to clothes. She has discovered that buying cheap clothes has not meant value for money and will be more careful in the future. Wow. Holy revelation. Welcome to the world of thinking before doing. It's not her fault of course she is just cashing in on the seemingly limitless amount of guilt  women, gay men and young people are supposed to feel when earning/having/spending their own money and not investing it in highly respectable and lucrative products like savings and stocks/shares (yes, I am joking). Anyone would think that charity shops (goodwill stores) had just been launched in the wake of the United Kingdom's Prime Minister Cameron's Big Society big-up (why pay someone for doing their job when you can get them to volunteer for free?). Second-hand, sorry pre-loved, old, sorry, vintage clothes, the staple of cash-strapped street-cred for generations are so eco-friendly and goody-goody no self-respecting teenager wants to wear them any more. 

It can only be a matter of time before before they put a regulation traffic light system on clothing tags. 

Fashion is as ethical as the person who chooses to wear it, unless one is wearing an endangered species on one's back or a hate-symbol on one's front. Do yourself a favour and don't listen to the guilt hype. Fashion is about  expressing who you are individually and/or collectively. One should 
never feel guilty about self-expression. 

Fashion illustration from

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Best bag in the World

Gucci Bamboo Top Handle 1947-20011

Designed in 1947 in a roundish shape to emulate a horse's saddle and given a bamboo top-handle because of leather shortages after WWII,  this bag is an enduring beauty, like its many owners ;-)

Ingrid Bergman, Naples 1953

Vanessa Redgrave, 1966 

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, Doha 2009 
(a year before the current re-launch in S/S'10)


Pictures from Gucci on face book and (the medium corral leather bag is available now)

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Monthly Vintage Advice Slot - Part 2

What's it worth??*£$??

I know it may seem strange to seasoned vintage lovers but some people do not know whether they like something or not until they know how much something is worth. Never mind the amazing workmanship, the fabulous materials, the perfection of the cut. It's not that they don't care about those things, they are oblivious  - what counts is the cash, and the more it's worth the more they like it. Even if one appreciated the general all-round excellence of an item there may come a day when there is need to sell or value. 

So, if you've bought or were given what appeared to be a bargain vintage item at auction/*bay/goodwill store/charity shop you may now want to know how much is it worth.

Scarcity and popularity, a wonderful combination that applies to old as well as new but vintage things often do not have contemporary equivalents for a comparable recommend retail price and therefore harder to put a figure on, however, here are some general guidelines beyond stalking result prices at actions*.

What lowers the price  

Brand that is not current but as yet has no cult following e.g Koret
No brand name or maker's mark indicated
A good brand name but the item not from that brand's heyday e.g. Christian Dior from the 1980s
A brand that has now declined in popularity and/or produces lesser quality goods eg Suzy Smith
An unfashionable shape
Major wear
Minor wear in a few places
Missing 'bits' e.g. a shoulder strap or a key to a lock
A style that is still in current production and relatively inexpensive e.g. a high-street beaded evening bag made in the Far East
A material/design/motif that is no longer politicly correct 
A fashion brand that had ceased then obtained cult status but then the name subsequently re-launched in mainstream fashion e.g. Biba

What adds to the price

Heritage brands that are current or have cult following e.g. Chanel or Lucille de Paris 
Brands name is clearly visible and typical of the make e.g. a Gucci Jackie or Britt
A good brand name made within the era of the maker's heyday e.g. Dior from the late 1940s-50s
A brand that has a great and continuous reputation for quality and desirability e.g. Hermes
An fashionable shape or colour
As new or very minor wear
No damage or missing 'bits' and no alterations
Clean and well maintained
A style that suggests a fashionable item of much greater value e.g. a no-name bag in the style of an Hermes Kelly  
A material/design/motif that is interesting and unusual
An item that is the original of a popular copies e.g. an Hermes Kelly bag
Made of highly prized materials

*Where further explanation is not self-explanatory not variable, the above uses leather-goods and bag makers as examples except in the case of couture/RTW fashion houses Christian Dior and Biba 

Monday, 4 April 2011

Liz Taylor, Paul Newman and a Gucci Flora Bamboo Top-handle, 1958

The most beautiful woman and man in the film-world 
with the world's most iconic handbag 

From the film set of the Cat on the Hot Tin Roof * (credit Rue Des Archives) 
*Taylor's husband Michael Tod died in a aeroplane crash during the making of the film, the studio gave her a couple of weeks off to mourn and then forced her back to work.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

The Passing of an Era

Elizabeth Taylor

Yesterday Elizabeth Taylor died. After a life packed with as much drama as any Hollywood film her legacy lives on in her work from childhood star to screen legend. Was she the last of her kind? A glimmering, shimmering beauty who could radiate ethereal grace or animal wildness with equal aplomb, always something going on behind those violet eyes and double layer of black lashes that gave away the real narrative of a plot whatever else the character did or said.   One wonders whether there can ever be such an on-screen presence in the future? Certainly there seems a lack of of that 'X factor' in the handful of female contemporary stars that look like the typical 'girl next door' type apart from the exception of Angelina Jolie who although model-beautiful has about as much screen presence as a plank of wood. Pretty girl after pretty girl is dressed up in period or contemporary costume, taking turns to act (usually pretty-well) before their real role starts as sales-people and clothes horses. These 'girls' do a fine job but where have all the awe-inspiring women gone when one had to look into their eyes to know what was really going on?

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Quick Response for Typical Quotes

The Queen of Sheba's throwaway line

 "I work really hard so I deserve my megabuck car/house/handbag/diamond" 

I've heard this line too many times now and it's turning into a  fashionable mantra. It's OK when a real-life friend is talking to me, justifying this or that new 'naughty-but-nice' purchase, but what kind of lame guilt-ridden excuse is it when a stranger, unsolicited, says it while waving their latest and most ostentatious item in my face?

I can understand someone who earns lots of money wanting to spend it, it's theirs to do what they like with but when did how hard someone works equate with how much they make, who can afford to not work hard these days just to make ends meet? Better the rich spend their money rather than it sitting in a bank. I wouldn't think better of someone who just locked their money away, I would rather they spread it around a little. I can admire a luxury object from a distance without thinking dark and dangerous thoughts about the owner. I just wonder why someone needs to justify what they do with their money? Do they want me to absolve them of their faux guilt? They would have to pay me first.

Unless they're doing a bluff of course and sit around the house all day eating chocolates, drinking champagne and watching old black and white movies from their chaise lounge like me ;)

Fashion Flux: Influence Upwards and Downwards

Part I
Nineteenth Century 

Looking back through the decades, even the centuries,  there have been some crazy cool fashions as well as some just plain crazy but where does fashion generate from?  Gradual evolutions of certain styles that one can see develop from one year to the next but also marked revolutions which seemed to tear away everything, almost all at once that was thought mandatory in the preceding years. Of course, there have always been marked contrasts of what different sets of people wore contemporaneously,  at one time enforced by law, but there were also general style directions and shared desires in sartorial statements.  Regardless of the differences of the fashionable set in their uncomfortable finery or everyday folk in practical gear there was also  a shared silhouette or strong image that dates those clothes to a period of history, despite the class of who wore it. The influence of the so called 'upper classes' on the rank and file is well founded but the inversion of the influence was remarkable but not as exceptional as one might expect.

The winsome early nineteenth century when everyone appeared dressed as rural peasants (including the peasants) in looser fitting clothes, muslins, humble floral poplins and fleurs d'Indiennes for fear of being taken for an aristocrat and marched off to a guillotine (Révolution Française 1789-99). The multitude of depictions of the many times pregnant Queen of England with her hunter-gatherer Prince Regent in the mid-nineteenth century popularised and re-trenched notions of  female passivity and male responsibility. This is evident in the predilection for enormous round hoops century under ladies skirts and increasing amounts of fancy detail on outer garments that contrasted strongly with the ever-more sombre male attire from the same period. Notably couples were often pictured in what ever medium her sitting and him standing protectively by her side or behind. The fashion for frippery escalated to it's full fruition into an era that was named the Belle Epoque for its ethereal beauty only be swept away by the Great War which just about wiped all life as previously known to be replaced by the frantic dance of the 1920s.

to be continued...

Monday, 21 March 2011

Monthly Vintage Advice Slot - Part 1

 Monogram Vs Stealth
More GG and LV per $£E

I know there are all sorts of classy stealth-wealth vintage fans reading, who probably already know the beauty of a bag is in the finest materials and the best Florentine/Parisienne craftsmanship money can buy but a lot of people of both genders love their GGs or LVs covering their bags.

For Gucci 
This means that original GG fabricGG Plus (coated-canvas) Guccisima leather (GG stamped leather) and large GG hardware logos command more money at on-line auctions even though the popular canvas models usually costed less on average than their plain leather counterparts new . So, if you want a fabulous bargain look out for a all-leather bag with less Gs on the outside.  Likewise, if you are a would-be seller of a beautiful vintage leather Gucci bag, perhaps you would do better at a high-ranking auction house like Christies (owned by Gucci group) rather than auctions aimed at the mass-market.

For Louis Vuittons
The same holds true if you want a quality Louis Vuitton. A beautiful Epi leather bag is often overlooked in favour of the original monogram canvas/vachetta  leather-trim version of the same model. So quality lovers, look for that rare and colourful Epi or classic Nomade leather item, much more £ for £ or $ for $, your cash, card  or paypal will go further in proportion to the original price paid and leave the monograms to those that cannot do without their fix of their mono-drug. Bare in mind that the reverse is true if you decide to re-sell your LV at a future date.

Ride that News Wave

Have you ever wondered why some news gets exposure day after day and some just disappears almost without trace? It's not because news is more fickle than fashion it's because of vested interests and need for sensational action. On United Kingdom's news channels Japan's earthquake hardly seems to create a tremor any more except the odd  update of the ever growing list of thought dead in the wake of the tragedy whilst Libya is never off the agenda.

Nothing gets the United Kingdom's press so excited as a new war or revolution, hundreds of willing participants to impart human interest stories and  plenty of mileage in the unpredictable sport, sorry war, of words and rockets. The BBC relish this hot-topic and have excitedly added it to their  never ending stream of Middle Eastern comment in what is an obsession about the region and surrounding area (you thought thought British mandate ended in 1948?) as usual lapping-up every skirmish with pronounced glee. While the Japanese go about putting their everyday lives together out of the rubble left behind after the earthquake, tsunami and potential nuclear disaster the rest of the world can fool themselves that they are witness to or about to witness the overthrow of despotic dictators.

I am glad for the people in the Middle-Eastern and North African countries, that through their strength and solidarity have overcome insurmountable odds and have optimism for their future but the Western media has made the revolutions look quick, painless and easy. In 1979 there was similar obsessive media coverage at the overthrow of the Shar of Iran, pictures of crowds of happy faces as the up-rising triumphed into revolution. Will the same amount of resources still be there when the fighting has ceased and the crowds have diminished and new dictators spring-up to take the place of those recently deposed and everyone picks up the pieces of their lives or buries their dead or suffers in silence as the Western world has moved on to something more exciting?