Inspired Vintage

Don't you love those moments where you see your child embrace influences that inspired you as a child? Little connections that bring you back to that sense of limitless imagination long forgotten; the ability to suspend disbelief. 

So overjoyed was I when model Jade Parfitt sent me pictures of her little girl Tabitha exploring their local woodland on a fairy hunt in her vintage seventies dress teamed with wellies, that it inspired me to write about my own long running association between vintage floral fabric prints and Flower Fairy illustrations. 

Tabitha in a vintage Seventies dress with cape shoulders, with spacey silver wellies. The joy of a vintage dress shouldn’t be saved for best as far as we are concerned.

I love sharing beautiful illustrations from the Flower Fairy books on my Instagram page and have discovered that I'm not the only one who finds these images so evocative. Cicely Mary Barker is a name I always remember, but I never knew until now that she couldn't to go to school as a child because of her epilepsy. 

Instead she was home-schooled and was able to spend most of her time drawing and painting. The incredible intricacy of her botanical drawing and her observations of local nursery school children combine to make the iconic images that captured my imagination so well. Like Thelma who's four, I was so convinced that no one one could dispel the idea that fairies really did exist.

 

 

As we all began to venture out for daily walks during lockdown summer months, strange and newly quiet skies allowed the sounds of nature to embrace our senses, resonating in layers like never before, like mythical spirits connecting us with other worldly elements. Spotting plants and trees, we could rest for a moment, look up a Flower Fairy poem and pause to discover the name of a tree we'd normally pass by; time slowed down for so many of us.

In October with a spring in my step having like so many of us parents, joyfully resigning my home-schooling role, I began volunteering for our local museum trust garden at Reveley Lodge, a Grade II listed Victorian house located in Bushey Heath, near my home.

Some of the perks, aside from just having some (distanced) adult human contact, were being able to go home with pruning offcuts. With Thelma, I would  transform them into little head crowns , and she would identify what flower fairy she was. 

Finding treasures in nature with a crown of Amaranthus (left), winter headdress of Hawthorn (right). The flowers in the crown below were the last blooms from the garden at the end of November. Salvia plants have been placed in the greenhouse to survive the winter and I saved some Persicaria cuttings from the wheelbarrow before they went into the compost pile! 

With a Wolf and Mabel wedding collection that I am slowly curating for launch in Spring 2021, I was so grateful that Jade also allowed me to share a picture from her idyllic wedding ceremony in Devon last year. This picture really struck a chord with me particularly for the way that her little bridesmaids were dressed. Her daughters in white dresses with white Converse high tops. I hope that it inspires people to enjoy dressing their children beautifully in a more relaxed way.


I began compiling a collection of vintage clothing at the start of April this year that was so exquisite it formed a perfect wedding edit, yet at at that moment when lockdown began it couldn’t have felt less timely. 

As we fell uncontrollably into forced isolation and days of figuring out how to find balance between home learning, fun, and sanity, I was aware there were many young couples who sadly had to cancel the most anticipated day of their lives.

My own grandparents, Minnie and Harry, began their wedding on September 3rd 1939, only for war to be declared that very day. Aside from their vows, a lot of their day fell short, but they survived, were married 70 years, and made an amazing family.

I think we can still find joy and romance in the beautiful craft of garments that capture an era when time moved more slowly, and attention to detail was key.

There’s a lot we can draw from that now, and as this crazy year draws to a close, we all look forward with hope to a year ahead of renewed freedom, and hopefully lots of weddings! 

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