Thursday, 10 September 2009

Be my guest

Hey Raisin readers I have some exciting news. Lucy Land is my very first guest blogger. Lucy edits West London Living magazine, where this feature originally appeared. She recently spoke to Claire Read of Poppy Valentine boutique where old fabrics are upcycled in fashiontastic endeavours...

WLL: What sparked your love of vintage?

CR: I’m from northern England (near Newcastle) and love the ’60s kitchen sink dramas, such as Saturday night Sunday morning and Poor Cow. The style names for my collections are a tribute to the actresses of that era. The Tushingham bag, for example, is named after Rita Tushingham who starred in A Taste of Honey. I love the clothes in those dramas and I’ve also collected fabrics since I was 13.

WLL: Tell us a bit about your background…

CR: I studied fashion at Newcastle. After five years of working in fashion, I began teaching textiles at Holland Park School. I missed the creative side of my work, so started doing studio sales and the business grew from there.

WLL: How did the name Poppy Valentine come about?

CR: Originally I was going to go into business with my sister-in-law, but she decided to continue teaching. Her son is called Valentine and my daughter is called Poppy.

WLL: What’s your favourite era for fashion?

CR: I love the early ’50s when design exploded with new prints, especially Lucien Day’s atomic print and the work of Mary White. There was so much inspiration in interiors and art after the Festival of Britain, such as Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. I also love the ’60s. Fashion was pretty staid until then: that was when girls stopped dressing like their mothers.

WLL: Who are your style icons?

CR: Audrey Hepburn, of course, and both Jean Shrimpton and Mary Quant really moved fashion on.

WLL: What do you like to wear?

CR: A nice Poppy Valentine-print frock.

WLL: What’s your most embarrassing fashion disaster?

CR: A corkscrew poodle perm in the late ’80s.

WLL: What would you save from a fire?

CR: After my family, my Lucien Day cushion – sad, I know.

WLL: How ethical is your business?

CR: All of the vintage range products are made in London and we recycle both vintage fabrics for the outside of the bags and plain dead stock fabrics for linings. We use every last bit of fabric, for purses and cosmetic bags. We try to use vegetable tan leather where possible and use a hybrid vehicle to deliver locally.

WLL: What’s your current bestseller?

CR: The Twiggy shift dress with white collar.

WLL: What are you working on now?

CR: Leather and metallic clutches for Christmas; developing the Twiggy dress in ’60s brocade fabrics; and putting together make-up bags for John Lewis.

Find Poppy Valentine at: Unit 16 Portobello Green Arcade, 281 Portobello Road W10 5TZ, 0208 9641350, open Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5.30pm

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