I was delighted to meet up with Ebru Avcioglu of www.divorceandwellbeing.co.uk and when she asked me to write a blog post about how fashion affects people wellbeing for her website here’s a link to my thoughts… http://www.divorceandwellbeing.com/blog-article/give-yourself-permission.html

More to come…

Valentina camera

Valentina Rosselli aka Valentina is the creation of Milanese comic artist Guido Crepax who launched the comic strip series in 1965 and concluded it in 1996.

Valentina shh

Valentina was born on 25th December 1942 in Milan Italy – she has a passport! And curiously she matured and grew older in the strip as if she was a real person (as if she was Guido Crepax alter ego or girlfriend ? ) .

Valentina Passport

Valentina is a photojournalist, always seen with her Hasselblad camera, she has problems like real people (she suffered from anorexia when she was very young) and famously based her appearance on Louise Brooks – one of my favourite American actresses from the 1920’s also famous for her bobbed hairstyle and for being Iconically representative of the Flapper movement – in Pandora’s Box – her Iconic silent movie.

Louise BrooksLouise Brooks 2

Valentina is a cult erotic comic strip which is very cinematic in its style and typical of the spirit of the 1960’s, with a sophisticated style of drawing and heavy reference to psychedelia throughout – Valentina often drifts from reality into a dream, confusing and mixing them together. There are a multitudes of references to history, art and sex, especially bisexuality (like Louise Brooks) masturbation and sadomasochism, in fact Valentina is mostly shown in her sinuous sensual naked body and often in her fetish outfits.

Valentina is certainly a glorious “trip”, a style icon and a frutto proibito. Viva Valentina!

 

 

Valentina Volume 1Valentina

 

 

 

Diabolik and Eva Kant

Created in 1962 by Angela & Giuliana Giussani this antihero pocket size comic noir has been and still is one of the most iconic in Italy. I am still, every time I go back to Italy, having to buy as many copies as I can find in the edicola!!!

Diabolik & Eva Kant

Diabolik and Eva Kant, the main characters, are the most captivating and sexy couple in the criminal underworld of comics to date – extremely adventurous and highly intelligent, they are the most high tech and scientific thieves and assassins (they steal only from other criminals)   par excellence. They have a sophisticated education and  knowledge, especially about art and various precious objects and jewellery , they are great pilots and weapon master , they can transform themselves into whoever by wearing human face  masks and imitating the selected victim, they are athletic  and able to fight at the highest level, they can use  Morse code and are  multilingual ….this is  just to mention some of their skills and their utter geniality!

Diabolik mask

Diabolik and Eva Kant

Diabolik

But of course, the fact that both Diabolik and Eva Kant are also extremely attractive, does not go unnoticed!! Diabolik  wears a black  and  super sexy skintight body suit that leaves only his eyes and eyebrows (very distinctive) on show and displays very unmistakably his masculine athletic muscular body , he drives a 1961 black E-Type Jaguar , has green eyes and dark hair and he’s a very attentive and passionate lover to Eva – what’s not to love????? Eva Kant is exquisitely beautiful, of slender frame , agile, has cat shaped green eyes and thick long blond hair which she mostly wears in a bun .Her trademark look is a trench coat and black cat suit ( so Parisienne!!) she is classy, chic and aloof, she is an heroine and a beauty Icon, and as Franca Sozzani, Vogue Italia, once said in her blog “ most sophisticated heroine of our times” – oh yeah!!!

Isabella Rossellini in Pucci  by Steven Meisel for Vogue Italia 1990

Interestingly, Italian Fashion didn’t actually take over worldwide until after WWII, with many of the Roman noblewomen – four princesses, three countesses and two marchionesses – designing and making exclusive garments for the upper classes – interesting how it was women then who were the centre of fashion design ( Italy & France especially) as opposed to the current time which is mostly male dominated…mmmhhh?! The era paved the way to what then became the most hedonistic and glamourous period – remember 1960’s La Dolce Vita? – in Italian Fashion and Cultural History to date.

Anita Ekberg 1960 Fontana di Trevi La Dolce Vita Federico Fellini

Anita Ekberg 1960 Fontana di Trevi La Dolce Vita Federico Fellini

The post war period was also key as being the beginning of the Italian creativity, style and flair explosion as we know it today. The grand designers like Valentino, Roberto Cappucci , Emilio Pucci, Missoni, the Fendi Sisters, Princess Irene Galitzine, the Sorelle Fontana, Roberta di Camerino, to name just a few , helped create , cement and sell Italian High Fashion and glamour to the European high classes at the time and especially to the wealthy Americans – who were strong war allies – I always remember my mother mentioning how great and helpful the Americans were during end of WWII to the Italian people.

Claudie Lange  1965 on the beach Federico Fellini Giulietta degli Spiriti -Juliet of the Spirits

Claudie Lange 1965 on the beach Federico Fellini Giulietta degli Spiriti -Juliet of the Spirits

With Rome been at the centre of grand decadence, it attracted the most creative people from other Italian cities such as Milan, Venice, Bologna , Florence who went there to be part of the glamourous glitterati scene ranging from Filmmakers to Artists. Rome was and still is the quintessential city of beauty with its history, art and great architecture to be found quite literally in every corner – did I mention that I LOVE Rome???? Lol!!

Isabella Rossellini in Pucci  by Steven Meisel for Vogue Italia 1990

Isabella Rossellini in Pucci by Steven Meisel for Vogue Italia 1990

I love romanticising about that period, looking at the photos, movies and listening to the records. Some serious class was shared with the world and a huge Italian economic fashion empire was established and developed.

Little Edie

Since going to see the play Grey Gardens in London  recently and consequently watching the 1976 documentary by the Maysles Brother’s,  I got completely obsessed with Edith Bouvier Beale aka Little Edie and her sublime fashion forward style.

Little Edie (7th November 1917) was a very beautiful socialite, model, singer and artist, Jackie Kennedy’s cousin, who’s destiny did not quite turn out as expected. After a series of life experiences not all of them brilliant, on 29th July 1952 Little Edie joined her beloved mother at Grey Gardens in the East Hamptons, where they lived in absolute poverty till her mother’s death in 1977.

 

Little Edie  Little Edie Catwalk

I thought it a very sad (tragic) story, particularity as Little Edie was a natural –both in beauty and style – and full of potential… I just felt for her, “missing out” in life and opportunity, especially by moving to Grey Garden… However, the natural Goddess that she was just came out in the most unpretentious and down to earth way in the documentary.

I just loved to watch her changing into the various “costumes for the day” and always looking incredibly stylish, elegant and glamorous…this just goes to show you that one does not have to be rich to be stylish. I also loved the fact that she turned something very personal and dramatic – she suffered from total alopecia – into the most sophisticated signature style – her head scarves, jumpers turned into head scarves fastened by a brooch and turbans.

 

 

 

Little EdieLittle Edie A visit to grey gardenLittle Edie fur

The scarf/brooch combo and fashion looks  became so  iconic that Galliano designed a show/look based on Little Edie in 2008 and later Marc Jacobs was inspired  in 2010.

Little Edie is completely inspirational, her soul and spirit intact.

 

 

 

 

 

Monica Vitti Modesty Blaise  1965

Being Italian myself it is the most natural thing to pay my respects to one of the greatest Italian actresses of all time, Monica Vitti.

When growing up in Italy, watching all the classic movies – both American and Italian – was an absolute! I think is from there that my love for fashion, glamour and fun first started…or perhaps just being Italian!! Lol!!! Anyway, apart from the ( of course) amazing leading Ladies like Sofia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida, and Anna Magnani ( to mention a few) Monica Vitti always stood out for me. I always loved her unpretentious way, her true beauty and style but also her wittiness ( Vitti – Witti get it?!? Hahah) , she was in fact most famous for her comedic roles and truly she was great actress.

 

Monica VittiMonica Vitti Monica Vitti

 

The beautiful and talented Monica ( she won numerous best actress awards & globes in Italy) started her carrier with Michelangelo Antonioni in the 1960s but turned to comedy in the 1970s. She was ,and still is, one of the best kept Italian secret…well, not anymore!!! Lol!!!

Dolce & Gabbana appreciate her secret in the Spring 2010 Campaign starring Madonna, photographed by Steven Klein – Anna Magnani and Monica Vitti were the inspiration for this campaign, Monica Vitti being Madonna’s favourite actress… only saying ;)…xxx

Harajuku Geisha

As London is sprinkled with art all around – and we love that – strolling around Shoreditch’s back streets on a winter Sunday morning can be kinda of enlightening. Shoreditch being one of the coolest areas in London made even cooler by the large amount of street art on display and seeing the street artists at work.

HARAJUKU GEISHA – Certainly one of the biggest in size, just above the Red Gallery in Rivington St EC2, Love how this Harajuku Fashion Walk style Geisha embraces both the traditional and the current fashion fun side of youth culture in Japan. Also love the comic book Manga style of the piece….
Photo by VdB

Ballerina

BALLERINA – Ballerinas being always a favourite, love the elegance, the attitude and the grace that translate from this Stencil Art piece, it’s a bit like catwalk meet stage! Love also the deconstructiveness with which the dress and headgear are pictured, like a fashion sketch …in fact, it could be just out of an Elie Saab or Alexander McQueen collection – Photo by VdB

However, what mostly captured my attention though, was the Sticker Art. Mostly placed on unused front doors, the collage of great images and colours are strongly visual and highly stylish.

Veruschka

VERUSCHKA – Absolutely love this sticker of Countess of Lehndorff-Steinort aka Veruschka , simply one of the most acclaimed models of the 1960’s. Check on her camouflage /Oxidation Art photos where she escape human appearance. Certainly always one of my style icons! Photo by VdB

All you need

MARIA FELIX – How extraordinary to find this gorgeous image of Maria Felix– one of the most famous, beautiful and super glam Mexican actresses of the 1940’s – by super cool street artist Voxx Romana – Photo by VdB

Queen of Hearts

QUEEN OF HEARTS – Gloriously, fashionably exquisite in this Renaissance style red ensemble – luuuuve the jewellery and of course the setting! Photo by VdB

Kill Bill

KILL BILL – Could this be just a super cute Uma Thurman as The Bride in Kill Bill – or Bruce Lee if you’re into your kung fu vintage movies like I am ? Photo by VdB

Louis Vuitton

LV – Couldn’t be more uber stylish, this striking fashion picture in black and white of a 1970’s style model wearing monogram Louis Vuitton logo and funky platform boots, Art by Endless , so good! – You can see more of Endless art in the streets of Soho London , including HRH Queen Elizabeth II. Photo by VdB

Dresses by Tae gon KIM

Dresses by Tae gon KIM – Photo by Van der Brit

 

One of the many exciting things about living in London is the array of events, shows and exhibitions on offer, but only some of them have the word “spectacular” written all over. Take the Lumiere Art Lighting Festival for example, on show in King’s Cross and The West End just a few days ago. What an amazingly beautifully sensorial and spiritual show that was! Especially the installations around the West End, which were by far my favourites…Westminster Abbey being the ultimate end to our tour.
Despite the very cold weather, the amount of people that attended the show was unbelievable, sometimes we forget how crowded London really can be, nevertheless, as most of the installations were up high in the sky and because of the huge scale of most of them, each installation was clearly visible and just enchanting.
This journey of discovery, the display of a multitude of vibrant colours, the lighting effects, the variety of characters, shapes and forms was like going through a real life fable, a bit like Alice in Wonderland if you like… Off to Chiswick House next for the Magical Lantern Festival – 3rd Feb till 6th March – what a wonderful way to welcome in Chinese New Year 2016, the year of the Monkey!

1.8 London by Janet Echelman, Studio Echelman

1.8 London by Janet Echelman, Studio Echelman – Photo by VdB

 

Lumineoles by Porte par le vent

Lumineoles by Porte par le vent – Photo by VdB

Garden of Light by TILT

Garden of Light by TILT – Photo by VdB

The Light of the Spirit by Patricia Warrener

The Light of the Spirit by Patricia Warrener – Photo by VdB

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When so many festive gifts get forgotten and discarded in the frenzy of buying the latest thing, beautiful vintage objects come into their very own.

With every high street increasingly looking like a carbon copy of the next and each shop churning out the same stock, it’s super difficult to come up with unique presents that say ‘I’ve bought a special gift just for you’ rather than ‘I’ve bought a special gift that’s remarkably similar to everyone else’s’.

Naturally, with a vintage pressie, you no longer have that problem. The chances of anyone else selecting that 1980s plastic amber colour clip-on earrings? Fat chance. The odds of two Askew London bracelets under the tree? Non-existent. Another 1950s French beaded handmade handbag? Not even St Nicholas himself could find one.

With this in mind, we’ve selected some exquisite items that will brighten up any Christmas stocking or ribboned box this year:

1) Amazing hairpins

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Vintage pair of hair pins made of rhinestones and celluloid: how fantastic would these be to unwrap on Christmas morning?

2) Divine perfume atomiser

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Vintage perfume atomiser in citrine colour glass: so beautiful it may be an actual shame to fill it with scent.

3) Brilliant belt

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Vintage emerald green velvet belt with a pair of enamelled flowers as buckles: team this with trousers to revamp a favourite look.

4) Ringing the changes

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Vintage costume cocktail rings: strike a decadent pose at Christmas lunch this year.

So, a very Merry Vintage Christmas from the Van der Brit team. We’re open every Friday and Saturday right up until Christmas for all your incredibly special gift ideas. And, incidentally, at the time of writing, all items mentioned in this article are available from Roberta online or at her little place in Portobello Road and market, Notting Hill, London.

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About half way along Notting Hill’s famous Portobello Road, nestled inside the Admiral Vernon Antiques Gallery, lies one of the iconic market’s treasures. The Van der Brit shop may be little in size but within it you’ll find an Aladdin’s cave of vintage chic personally selected with passion, fun and more than a keen eye by founder and owner Roberta Dimola.

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Portobello Road has been a centre of international renown for vintage since the 1950s.

On any weekend, you’ll find beautiful items such as 1940’s heavy velvet curtains, turn-of-the-century heels or 70’s cut glass lights. Roberta’s display cases twinkle with sumptuous pieces and quirky objets d’art.

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Choose Notting Hill Gate Tube as your easiest route to Roberta’s Portobello Road shop on Saturday.

On a Saturday, the traditional market day, escape the crowds and allow Roberta to help you choose a gift with a vintage twist, an exquisite accessory for your night out or a household item to express your individuality.

‘Being on the Portobello Road is about way more than just selling,’ says Roberta. ‘We’re connected to a wonderful community of vintage devotees who find retro the essence of cool. It’s about making that connection between past and present by choosing those pieces that complement your life. For me, vintage is as special as the person who owns or wears it. And that kind of individuality never goes out of style.’

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On Saturdays, Portobello Road heaves with tourists and vintage bargain seekers.

If you’re thinking of making a trip to Portobello to see Roberta, mention this article for a 10% Christmas discount. She’s at Unit 42 & 43, 141 Portobello Road, Notting Hill, London W11 2DY every Saturday between 8:30am  and 4:30pm.