Mathmos Lava Lamps - Made In Britain

Source - Mathmos
I'm sure it's the same whichever country you're from, but as a Brit, for me there's nothing quite like knowing something is made in the UK. In 2013 it's not often that a product has managed to stay true to it's 'Made in Britain' heritage, but remarkably since their invention in the early 1960s Mathmos Lava Lamps are STILL made in Dorset.

If you ever needed proof that good ideas come from trips to the pub then -
 A) Clearly you have never been to the pub with me  B) You've never  known about the invention of the Lava Lamp..........

Source - Mathmos
The inventor of the Lava Lamp Edward Craven Walker, sounds like quite a man........ he was an accountant, flew helicopters, was a World War Two pilot and owned a naturist camp in Dorset!

It was an egg timer Edward saw whilst sitting in a Dorset pub that sparked the idea for this design classic. After experimenting with many different formula's, the first Lava Lamp to hit the market was the Astro in 1963.

The name of the business was changed to Mathmos in 1992, which is taken from the cult film Barbarella and isn't it just amazing how many names and references that film has given popular culture? I really must watch it again soon. Matmos is the lake of lava beneath the city of Sogo by the way.

I remember Lava Lamps being popular in the nineties and indeed I had one. Isn't it remarkable that an egg timer in a pub sparked a design at all, never mind the fact that it's gone on to be a total design classic that you can enjoy regardless of whether you are in to the minimalistic look or a vintage die-hard, plus everything in between?

Mathmos kindly sent me a lamp, and originally we thought this could go on my G Plan dressing table (which I picked up for a fiver, doesn't really fit that well in the new house as it takes up a lot of room, but I love it!) but instead it's taken pride of place in the lounge, we've got quite a sixties feel going on in this room, it's not as kitsch as I want it. Yet....

I know they say that fish are relaxing and I'm sure they are very nice, but a Lava Lamp is less maintenance and watching one warm up and then bubble away is quite captivating, I'm already thinking I'm going to get a another one for a different part of the room.

To celebrate fifty years of the Lava Lamp a new Heritage range has been launched which is well worth a look, and if like me you just love seeing how things are made, then take a look at this video (which by the way has excellent music!)

*written in collaboration with Mathmos
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A Gin Session with The King of Soho

A few weeks ago I was invited to the launch of a new gin. I adore gin. If follow me on Twitter this is probably not news to you........ unfortunately I couldn't attend, but the lovely folks behind the launch sent me a bottle instead, because it was obviously very important that I tasted it. A task I took incredibly seriously I can assure you.....

Now I've tasted many different gins over the years, this in no way makes me an expert but it does mean that I know what I like and I loved this. Sometimes nothing hits the spot in the way that a good G&T does. I like mine served as a double (surprise!) a good serving of tonic,with just a small amount of ice. I like to drink from the glass rather than a straw, and no-one looks good trying to drink whilst deflecting mini icebergs with one's tongue, so I prefer the ice to be at a minimum.  Lemon or lime madam? Always lime if there's a choice, in the summer a slice of cucumber is a delicious alternative.

Apart from the fact that it tastes good, it's packaged amazingly too, and if you want your cocktail shelf to look pretty, or you just fancy being served from an uber stylish bottle then this is your gin! 

The bottle design brief:

'.....to design a bottle which embodied the characteristics that make Soho special, a design that would capture the spirit of Soho; the brand essence being creativity, hedonism and non-conformity.

Hedonism, non-conformity? But this is just a gin right? Ah, but it's a gin with an interesting and somewhat colourful back story.......... The gin was created by Howard Raymond as a tribute to his father Paul. Paul? Paul Raymond. THE Paul Raymond, the man responsible for opening the first strip club in the UK. He owned several theatres that were playgrounds for the rich and famous and went on to buy up a fair bit of Soho property. He was a big character in the 60s and 70s and was responsible for changing the porn industry at a time when it was all still under the counter and behind closed doors.

Steve Coogan played Paul Raymond in the film 'The Look of Love' - which is worth a watch. Some great fashions and home decor. I cried my eyes out though. So if you are going to watch it, perhaps go easy on the gin.........

It's not the cheapest gin on the market but the bottle is pretty enough to keep, and it comes with a cork! So you get a happy little 'pop' when ever you open it. Pop over to The King of Soho website for a browse around, you can buy online and there's a handy list of gin cocktails. I'm drawn to the Gin Genie, however having once managed to set fire to my dress, it's probably a choice that will have my husband reaching for the ice bucket....... 

Source: King of Soho
*written in collaboration with The King of Soho
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Missy Vintage Styles : Review of the Diva Waver

Another product review of a Diva range supplied by Salons Direct, so far we've looked at the Straighteners and the 32mm tong, and now it's a look at the waver. To create waves I'd usually use a tong, although since reviewing the straighteners I'm finding myself reaching for those more and more.  

I do carry a waver in my kit, the wave it gives is like a large crimp, so very different from the wave you can achieve using a tong. The Diva waver is a different design to my other waver, so I was interested to see how it would compare. No model for this review, so you have me in front of the camera instead! 

I wanted to use this along with some relaxed finger waves through the front, so I started by using the Diva straightener to create some curls just through the front section, which I then brushed out in to waves and clipped with my vintage hair clips. You can find these quite easily on Ebay, or Patrick Cameron does a version in his hair accessory range if you'd rather use shiny new ones. I use mine a lot, they may be 30s/40s but they are still going strong!

A quick phone snap of the Little Bo Peep look.....

I've been seriously impressed with all the Diva products so far, they're really easy to handle and it feels as though this was a consideration in their design. The waver heats up super quick and is very very simple to use. You can take large sections of hair, so you're actually exposing your hair to less heat too, which is music to my bleached up barnet's ears.

For the first look I tried to keep the hair in quite neat waves using a smoothing cream, and although it looks ok, I don't think this tool would be my first choice for a sleek finger wave type look, but it does produce a nice wave.

For the second look I wanted to see how the waves would react to being brushed into a more relaxed frizzy/beach wave style, and this I loved. I realise that if frizzy, big, slightly out of control hair is your idea of hell, this may be causing you stress, but personally I love hair I can touch and fluff during the evening. Debbie Harry is one of my idols. I love her 'messy hair, don't care' look of her Blondie days.

I think this is a really good buy if you want to have fun with your hair. If you're hoping this will give you those Downton Abbey style finger waves, then you're out of luck BUT unless you are requiring an era authentic look because you're on a film set, then use the styles of the past to inspire you to create your own look for the here and now. 

This look could easily be dressed with a hair band to look give it a nod to the 20s or throw on a 70s style dress and it could look very disco. Pop a hair flower behind your ear and the look will change again. That's the fun of loving vintage styles in 2013!

The Diva range is also available online for those of you  not in the hair and beauty industry

*written in collaboration with Salons Direct. A site well worth checking out if you are already in or training to be in the hair & beauty industry
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Missy Vintage Styles: Diva 32mm Tong Review

Having already reviewed the straighteners from the Diva range, Salons Direct have also asked me to see what I think of the Diva 32mm tongIt's called a tong but it has no clip/lever to hold the hair. A handy little protective glove is provided so you can use your hand to hold the hair after wrapping it around the barrel - something you'll be used to doing if you've previously used a heated wand.

 I think designing this tong without the usual clip is a huge plus, say goodbye to those kinks that you sometimes get in curls and waves. The lack of a clip also makes it very quick to use. 

Salons Direct is a website for those in the hair and beauty trade, but the Diva range of electrical appliances are available online for hair fans too. One thing I get asked a lot is what size tong people should use/buy. Well it really depends what kind of curl you want to achieve. 

The smaller the barrel the tighter the curl. A 32mm is a large barrel tong. It won't give you tight curls, this size tong will give you large loose curls and waves. Perfect for a relaxed look, but the curls may not last as long as a tighter curl might, so prepare to be generous with the hair spray. The kind of curls you can expect from a tong this size are about the same as if you'd used large heated rollers, and this is where for me, this tong comes in to its own..... 

Quite often some kind of curl to create a vintage inspired hair style is really useful, it might not be that it's a full on curly style, but you may want to create some lift at the root or you might require the hair to have a slight curl to manipulate it easily in to pin curls, victory rolls etc.

 This is where this tong becomes useful for me. Not only will it take up less space in my kit bag than a set of heated rollers (so perfect for styling on location) they heat up really quickly, the variable heat setting means it's able to cope with different types of hair and with the help of some hair pins, I can use this tong to create a hot set not unlike one I could achieve with large heated rollers. 

This tong was perfect for to create some 60s inspired hair (think Lana Del Rey) on a recent photoshoot for Wakeup Little Susie.

With the help of some back combing through the crown, I gently brushed through the curls, before using a piece of lace to dress the hair. Lace works perfectly, as unlike ribbon it's stretchy so can be pulled tight to enhance the back combing and will stay securely in place .

I'll definitely be using this as an alternative to heated rollers when I need to travel light. With regular work trips to London planned, I'll now be able to fit an extra pair of shoes in my suitcase! 

The Diva Session Instant Heat tong is available from Salons Direct (trade only) for £49.99 ex vat

Have you tried using this type of clip-less wand/tong? Did you find them easier to use than a more traditional tong?

* post written in collaboration with Salons Direct

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Songbird Watch: Nina Baker

Something a little different from vintage and fashion for this post, in case you're not already familiar I'd like to introduce you to singer/songwriter Nina Baker. Now I hold my hands up - I'm not musical, picture the scene from Bridget Jones where she is singing passionately but badly at the works Christmas party, that's probably more my standard. 

When given a percussion instrument at school, I would manage to ding that triangle out of time, despite counting myself in.... and I'm about to confess something which if the above didn't convince you I'm not musical, this might. When I wrote the word 'percussion' I actually wrote 'precussion' which is what I thought was actually the right word! Oh dear. Well I've learnt something today.... 

Nina getting voluminous hair by me.... 
So, you've guessed this isn't a review that you might expect from an edgy music blog, but here's why I like Nina Baker's debut album 'Quite Frankly'.

 I was first introduced to Nina's music via Twitter by her boyfriend. I didn't know him either but he tweeted me about a nearby gig, which I couldn't actually attend but I thought I'd use my good pal google to find out who this Nina Baker he spoke of was, and I liked what I heard so I started to follow Nina on Twitter, and several months on and a couple of styling sessions later, I've followed Nina's adventures as she works her cheeks off to get her music 'out there' and finally complete her first album, dedicated to her granddad - the late Frank.

To me there's a hint of Tori Amos to her voice, she sounds very current but at the same time like an old soul. The album has turned out to be a real mix that evokes different emotions. Game You Play is becoming one of those songs I keep hitting repeat on (does anyone else do this? I once worked an eight hour shift and only listened to one song, which was Rhianna, Only girl in the World. Eight hours, back to back, I don't know if that's a skill or a disorder??) 

I can see a fun music video is just waiting to happen for this track (Nina's not Rhianna's) Picture show girl Nina on stage mocking the fool as he sits in the audience... well that's the imagery it conjures up to me and my vivid imagination anyway. Speaking of imagery the track Clown made me think of  Ophelia by Millais, I'm blatantly obsessed with seeing Nina in some sort of flower crown .........(*see disclaimer)

Little Fibs has really clever lyrics, the music makes you smile but the words make you laugh - this has got to be a single surely?! 

 I think it takes real balls to write your emotions down and then share them with the world, but that's what she does. She's not just singing this stuff, she's writing and producing it too. Impressive yes? 

Go check her out

*Disclaimer, Nina sent me a free copy of the album which I've reviewed for this post. However, considering I once freaked her out a little with a giant hair crown, I think that's pretty generous ;) 

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The Fabulous Miss K Dress Collection

Since starting this blog almost 3 years ago, I've been lucky enough to meet some amazing people, one of which is Karen of The Fabulous Miss K. With more than 20 years experience in the fashion industry Karen has spent the last year or so making her life time ambition come true with her very own dress range.

Inspired by her late mother Barbara, Karen has created the start of what will become a capsule wardrobe of classic pieces of clothing, based on vintage designs. During Norwich Fashion Week 2013 we were given a look at the prototypes of Karen's first collection, and Karen asked me to style hair and makeup for the girls that modelled her dresses in the Vintage Show. A few months later than planned, some of those dresses are now available to buy. 

Photograph: Joe Black
Model: Demi
Hair: Missy Vintage
Makeup: By Demi
Photograph: Joe Black
Model: Grace
Hair/makeup: Missy Vintage
Insisting these dresses were made in the UK, Karen has spent months trying to find the right manufacturer that would appreciate and do justice to the attention to detail she wants her designs to have, from the side zips and the covered buttons to turn ups on the sleeve. 

Whilst admitting she's found the delays frustrating, Karen also feels that getting these dresses available to buy quicker by sending the manufacturing over seas was something she wasn't prepared to do. Having these dresses made in the UK was a very important part in creating her collection. 

Another frustration on the journey from design to sale occurred whilst working on promoting her collection the Barrellhouse Stomp event in August, where two of the sample dresses were stolen. (one of which was the red dress in the first picture) Sadly despite being reported to the police the dresses were never returned. But if you do happen to know the whereabouts of these samples their return would still be appreciated. They can be returned anonymously to her office : Fabulous Miss K, Olives, Elm Hill, Norwich NR3 1HG

Photograph: Joe Black
Model: Annie (Sandra Reynolds Model Agency)
Hair/makeup: Flamingo Amy
But finally the first pieces of the Fabulous Miss K collection are here! I think my personal favourite is the Barbara dress, I just love a dress with pockets and the bottle green colour is just so lovely for these darker days, although forties in style, I think these are essentially good classic pieces. I can see that I could wear the green Barbara dress with a faux fur stole and forties inspired hair one day but make it more seventies looking with tan knee high boots and a floppy hat the next. 

I recently attended a soiree held to showcase the arrival of the much awaited dresses, and they really are gorgeous. Depending on your budget £135 may feel a lot, but they'll make a beautiful addition to your wardrobe. If you're after the perfect bridesmaid dress that can be worn time and time again - this could be it? 

I worked with Karen again yesterday on a shoot for these dresses styling hair and makeup for model Nakita, I can't wait to see what photographer Joe Black comes up with this time, but whilst we wait for his images, here's a sneaky peek behind the scenes.......

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