Polaire Singing

1923 recording of the French performer Polaire singing:

Polaire was the stage name for Émilie Marie Bouchaud, who had a tragic early life, some pretty racy costumes and an excessively small waist (possibly mostly due to tight corseting).

More on the whole corseting thing here.


Paris Metro 1950′s

Not much happens in this little piece of film featuring the Metro in Paris in the late 1950′s — but I like it to look at the fashions of that time and also love anything to do with train journeys (and Paris, of course).

The last time I went on the metro in Paris I got off at the wrong stop but ended up in a beautiful neighbourhood where there was a local market and also a travelling brocante in full swing. It was such a happy accident — I had one of my best days ever: one of those days which sets in the memory as special and magical.

Everything was perfect that day: sun shining, smiling people, happy families, tables groaning with giant fruits and vegetables, the scents from the flowers, countless stalls full of the weird and the wonderful, shady tree-lined squares, the entire heightened feeling of being truly alive.

I thought I’d landed in heaven that day but when I tried to find that place again on another trip I just couldn’t locate it (I wrote down the name of the area at the time but lost the notebook). I know Paris is full of places like that but it all came together so perfectly that day.

A Victorian Heatwave

During August and part of September 1906, Britain experienced a heatwave which drove a large number of the population to the beaches on the coastal resorts. These photographs were taken by Edward Linley Sambourne who — in addition to being the chief cartoonist for Punch — was also a keen amateur photographer. It seems that most of the subjects of these and some other of Sambourne’s photographs were unaware they were being photographed, as he used a concealed camera for non-studio images. This means we get to see Victorians looking a lot less formal than we’d get in a ‘posed’ situation — though the filming-without-consent aspect is slightly unsettling.

These images are from The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Library Time Machine blog, which has lots of beautiful photographs  — including this one of two Parisian women in mourning dress:

– isn’t that photograph totally wonderful? The outfits are amazing — probably the best I’ve ever seen of mourning garb being worn in an everyday situation (most photographs of people in mourning attire are very posed and formal).

But the blog is not just worth checking out for the images — there is a great amount of really fascinating information on there. I’ve spent ages on it and will go back time and time again. I wish more libraries had blogs like this one — I find most library sites to be fairly off-putting — it is almost as if they’re trying to prevent people accessing the information.I really believe that informal photographs like these ones help promote an interest in history and lessen the whole the-past-is-another-country feeling.

Also see this page of the Time Machine blog for some of Sambourne’s street photography.


Relentless Rain

Sometimes I feel like the rain will never stop — all this summer — relentless rain. I love the rain so much that it doesn’t bother me to see it and be in it — but I know if this continues for much longer we will all have problems. Gardens love it, of course, and mine is blooming and all is lush:

Even the ones tucked away in the shade are growing well:

But snails and slugs love all this abundance too and are out in force, munching on the leaves. Sometimes we put dishes of beer out for them but it hardly works and feels cruel. This next one — they love, the leaves on one side are almost gone:

Sometimes the rain stops for a couple of days and the sun blasts out. Suddenly the plants are dry so we rush out first thing in the morning with our baby watering can and give them a drink:

Then we go to an antiques fair and the heavens open and we always end up like this:

Here’s a little piece of film from the BBC — from last month — where someone tries to explain why we are having so much rain. The ‘jet stream’, I think.

Unusual Vintage Doll

I’ve just put another doll in the main shop. I’ve put it in the ‘Broken’ section, as it needs re-strung. I think it’s an early composition doll but can’t find any markings on it. It has lots of chips and I know some people restore these dolls so they look the way they did when they were made but I prefer them ‘as is’ and like to see the age on them.

I think this doll has a pretty unusual face — but I don’t find it creepy (unlike some Victorian dolls). Looks like a boy doll to me  — despite evidence to the contrary.

Victorian Bride

This Victorian bride looks beautiful — despite the rather horrible hairstyle:

Her dress and veil are lovely but her choice of jewellery surprises me. I like it — but it looks more like mourning jewellery than something that would be worn on a wedding day. The object by her right hand is possibly a prayer book or similar (it does look like a mobile phone…).


War Wedding

I came across this old piece of (silent) film of a wedding of a soldier and a nurse which took place at a camp church attached to a military hospital in the Northern Territory, Australia in 1943.

I love how they made the best of things, the happy look on all their faces and the messages they wrote on the trucks. Just a sweet piece of history.

Little Girl’s Cute Dress at the V&A Museum Shop

Just how utterly gorgeous is this little rabbit print dress from the V & A museum shop?

The fabric print is adapted from a 1950′s design by Joyce Badrocke and the dress was created exclusively for the V&A — so it’s not a dress you’re going to see around in great numbers (which makes it even more special if you’re buying it as a gift). Just adorable.

Beautiful dress for a little girl.