Bernard Leach the Father of British studio pottery
It was at the beginning of the reign of Queen Victoria that the Staffordshire potters first produced their characteristic portrait pottery. The young Queen and her family inspired enough pottery models to suggest an important collection in themselves. Pictured right: c1840s Staffordshire figures of Queen Victoria and Albert on horseback. Image from Richard Gardner Antiques. (Richard Gardner Antiques have an excellent selection of Staffordshire Pottery – click to visit) It is clear that these pieces originated in diverse factories although it is proving difficult to pinpoint the whereabouts of manufacture. There are no trademarks to guide us, nor are there old catalogues nor appropriate advertisements extant. A collector will recognise affinities in manufacture and can group the figures accordingly, but only two or three factories have been traced with any certainty. However, we hope to show that perhaps a more important way of classifying the portrait figures is to group them chronologically and by profession. Many of the pieces which we can attribute to the 1840’s show a porcelainous character. They tend to be smaller and more highly coloured than the later ones and are sometimes made in the round. In fact, it is not until a decade later that we consistently find the characteristic flat-back earthenware. The 1850’s were the halcyon days for the potter and his customers, and Crimean time pottery is Victorian Staffordshire pottery at its finest. The Queen comes first in time and importance in the royal list. A model labelled “Victoria,” in the possession of Mr. R. Shockledge, in which she holds orb and sceptre, might well have been made at the time of her coronation. Very soon, and romantically, appear portraits of Prince Albert as well. Both the Queen and her husband occur in numerous forms : standing, sitting, enthroned and also mounted on horseback. Frequently, these pieces were not labelled, but where they are named the inscription is usually ” Queen ” and ” Albert ” or, very rarely, ” Queen Victoria ” and Prince Albert.” We do not know of any piece entitled “Prince Consort ” and if any were made at the time of his death they needed no label. A large model of the Queen, made about 1870 and paired with the Prince of Wales, has the inscription ” Queen of England.” This model was used again, with a fuller inscription, both at her Jubilee in 1887 and her Diamond Jubilee ten years later. The figure became progressively debased in form. As the children arrived the potters became busier than ever. Charming pieces show the Queen seated, both with Prince Albert and alone, holding the infant Princess Royal in her arms. A tiny crown appears on the child’s long clothes. The pieces portraying the royal parents and children mount up like the photographs in a family album. Over and over again the little Princess Royal and Prince of Wales appear, separately with their toys and also playing together in their pony carriage or in one of their fancy boats. Pairs show them riding their goats and their ponies. It was some time before we could recognise these royal children apart and then we realized, of course, that although he too wears a skirt the little Prince always bestrides his steed whilst his royal sister rides side-saddle. From one factory comes a delightful series of the Queen and her husband at play with their children, even teaching them to ride. The royal residences are represented in this portrait cavalcade by Balmoral and Windsor Castle. As the children grow older the Prince of Wales becomes the favourite and there are figures showing him at every stage. Sometimes he is paired with his younger brother, Prince Alfred the sailor. A fine piece, which must have been made about the time of their betrothal in 1858, shows the Princess Royal and Prince Frederick William of Prussia together; and a handsome equestrian pair was made on their marriage. Then come numerous groups and pairs entitled ” Prince and Princess : ” the Prince of Wales and his bride to be, Princess Alexandra. There is a rare and very fine pair, presumably dating from their marriage in the early seventies, of Prince Alfred the first Duke of Edinburgh and the Czar’s only daughter. Most of the sons and daughters of the Queen, and their wives and husbands, are known to have been portrayed. Nor were the heads of foreign royal houses forgotten. At the time we started our collection we found just one figure of a living member of the royal family: Queen Mary shown as ” Princess May,” at the time of her betrothal to the Duke of Clarence of whom a figure also was made. The lively market for royal figures did not exclude numerous other persons from the potters’ lists. Popular politicians were in demand and it is not surprising demand and it is not surprising that numerous figures were made of Peel and Cobden, probably in 1846 at the time of the repeal of the Corn Laws. In fact, a standing figure of Peel has an additional figure of Peel has an additional inscription ” Repeal of the Corn Law.” A seated figure of Cobden shows him with sheaf of corn and orator’s scroll and there is a splendid equestrian figure of Sir Robert Peel made at the time of his death in 1850. A still rarer figure of Peel has his name inscribed on the pillar and an unusual circular base. Pictured right: Staffordshire Pottery figure of Richard Cobden MP (1804-1865). Full-length Staffordshire figure of Richard Cobden, standing, bare-headed. Right hand on his hip, left holding a paper against his leg; a pedestal behind it. (1804-52) M.P. 1841-65. He and John Bright were the principal agitators for the repeal of the Corn Laws. Image part of the National Trust Inventory Number 709134. Visit https://www.nationaltrustimages.org.uk/ for more details. There are at least eleven different models of the national hero, Wellington. They show him first as a soldier, then as an elder statesmen […]
Most people recognise pieces of Szeiler – even if they don’t know what they are. A contradiction in terms? Maybe, but any visit to an antiques centre or collectables fair will result in the sighting of several of these charming pieces nestling quietly amongst brighter ceramic figures, waiting for their subtle appeal to be noticed. And once you’ve noticed, you’re hooked! Many people must have fallen for one of these attractive sculptures without even reading the backstamp, and only later seen the oval Szeiler logo. A typical Szeiler piece will be a small animal, such as a cat, dog or donkey, modelled in a slightly stylised pose with smooth contours which entice you to touch, and probably it will be decorated in light beige, white, or the palest of blue. Joseph Szeiler was born in Hungary in 1924. Though his original ambition was to become a veterinary surgeon, he was forced to give up his studies at Budapest University because the country was in such turmoil. After fleeing to Austria, he arrived in Britain in 1948, and worked at various potteries in the Midlands, including Wade Heath, where he was employed as a caster. Joseph obviously enjoyed the work because he decided to study ceramics and learn all he could about modelling, until finally he was skilled enough to have his own business. He went to work for an esteemed freelance modeller, C S Lancaster of Burslem, who taught him the various processes involved, including mould making and casting. Joseph also attended evening classes at Burslem School of Art. By 1951 he was in business, working from a small rented room in Hanley, but as he had no kiln he had to carry the heavy boxes of greenware for a mile to the local tile factory which fired the pieces for him. He modelled small creatures, decorating and glazing them himself, and his love of animals is evident in his work. Four years later he had earned enough money to open his own factory at Burslem where he produced not only animals, but also tableware, vases and other small pieces, and employed six people, including two of his fellow countrymen. One of Joseph’s most popular lines was the sad-eyed dog. These melancholy sitting spaniels with ultra-large heads came in a variety of sizes, and are still favourites with today’s collectors, who attempt to get the full range – more difficult than it sounds, as new sizes are still being discovered. It seems that much of the ware hasn’t been fully researched or listed, and though collectors are doing their best by noting everything they find, unknown pieces are still coming to light. Many of the creatures have a ‘cartoon-type’ sweet appearance, such as the spaniels mentioned earlier, and a range of cats (actually referred to as Bighead cats in an early Szeiler catalogue), which came in various colours such as tabby, grey, black or Siamese, and stood two-and-a-half inches tall. A ‘Nightie’ cat was a Bighead standing, wearing a long nightdress, and a Puffy cat was plump and round, and decorated with coloured spots! Another charming model featured a kitten with a drum, demonstrating to perfection Szeiler’s classic beige/ white/blue colouring. Bears included a range of adorable chunky cubs, about four inches tall, sitting upright with their forepaws casually resting on their hindpaws. Another played peek-a-boo by peeping cheekily through his legs. Donkeys must have been in demand, too, judging by the variety produced by the company. Many of them had ultra-long ears, vulnerable to breakage so always check before you buy to make sure they haven’t been repaired. As with the dogs, donkeys can be found in many sizes in both sitting and standing poses. Donkeys pulling carts were also made, once again showing off that attractive colour scheme. The enormous variety of creatures produced by the factory included foxes, zebras, pigs, deer, goats, chimpanzees, kingfishers, penguins and lambs. Giraffes were particularly attractive with caricature type faces and the distinctive beige and blue colouring. Horses, too, were popular and were featured in several poses including grazing, standing, lying and rearing on their hind legs. As well as the sad-eyed character spaniels, numerous realistic models of dogs were made such as corgis, poodles and collies. The catalogue also lists ‘Tubby dog’ and ‘Podgy dog’! A popular piece in the 1960s was a scared mouse inside a brandy glass, with an inquisitive cat attempting to climb inside, and one wonders how many homes still contain those Szeiler-made cat and mice. Some of the animal ranges were fancifully decorated with a floral design, and these could form a super collection on their own. Floral elephants, cows, pigs and, perhaps nicest of all, yawning hippos, would bring a smile to any ceramics display. The Nationality Series was an intriguing range featuring a collection of dogs dressed to resemble various countries. Each little dog was mounted on a base bearing its name written in script, and was modelled with great humour. George was an English bulldog wielding a cricket bat, Ping a Chinese pekinese with a conical straw hat, Gwen a Welsh corgi in traditional tall black hat, Jock a kilted Highland terrier and Pierre, a beretwearing French poodle clutching a baguette. Studio Szeiler also produced an enormous range of tiny white oval vases, edged in gold, each bearing a transfer print. These vases must have been sold in every souvenir shop across the country, judging from the huge amount around today – and they were still being produced in the late 1970s, as they could be obtained commemorating the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. Though lacking the charm of the skilfully moulded animals, they would form an inexpensive collection, and, as with the figures, look best when they are grouped. They measure three inches in height (though some are slightly taller), and would only have held a very tiny posy. The tremendous range of subjects included dogs, cats, owls, butterflies, flowers and birds – it seems that any transfer available was used for these […]
If you are a fan of the works of William de Morgan, then a visit to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford should be on your itinerary. The De Morgan Foundation has on semi-permanent loan, since 2017, a fine collection of William de Morgan works. The display includes tiles, dishes, and vases, and works from different periods and factories. Below are some images from the collection. William de Morgan Related Ashmolean Museum, Oxford – https://www.ashmolean.org/ De Morgan Collection – https://www.demorgan.org.uk/ William De Morgan – the Arts & Crafts Pioneer William De Morgan Price Guide
Ida Rentoul Outhwaite Her Fairies and Postcards Ida Rentoul Outhwaite (1888 – 1960) was an Australian illustrator of children’s books and most noted for her work depicting fairies. Born on 9th June 1888 in Carlton, Victoria to Rev. Dr. John Laurence Rentoul and Annie Isobel. She married Arthur Grenbry Outhwaite on 8th December 1909 and thereafter was generally known as Ida Rentoul Outhwaite. Her works can be signed in a number of formats including I.S.R. and at some point changed this to I.R.O. She also occasionally used I.S.R.O. and full spellings rather than abbreviations. Her first illustration was published by New Idea magazine in 1904 when she was just 15 years of age – it accompanied a story, entitled The Fairies of Fern Gully, written by her older sister, Anne Rattray Rentoul. In the years that followed, the sisters collaborated on a number of stories. Following her marriage to Grenbry Outhwaite in 1909, she also collaborated with her husband – most notably for The Enchanted Forest (1921), The Little Fairy Sister (1923) and Fairyland (1926). In a number of cases, her children – Robert, Anne, Wendy and William – served as models for her illustrations. Outhwaite worked predominantly with pen and ink, and watercolour. Her work was very popular in her native Australia combining a love for fairies and native wildlife including koalas, kookaburras and kangaroos. Her work was made even popular in the UK when Queen Mary wife of George V by sending postcards to her friends in the 1920s. Her illustrations were exhibited throughout Australia, as well as in London and Paris between 1907 and 1933. She died in Caulfield, Victoria, Australia. There are normally 150-250 Ida Outhwaite postcards on ebay click on link to view – Ida Outhwaite on ebay. Values of Outhwaite postcards in very good condition vary from £10-£50 each. Ida Rentoul Outhwaite Postcard Price Guide
Emerging from the Dark Ages, scholars concerned themselves with matters of magic, issues of theology and creative – if nonsensical – arguments such as the Flat Earth Theory. Pictured right: W&R Carlton Ware 3″ NEW MIKADO 2814; 4 3/4″ CHRYSANTHEMUM 2930; 6″ PARROT 3018 vases Among those who queried the absurd, Thomas Aquinas is thought to have been the first to ask that fabulous, unanswerable question, How many angels can dance on the point of a very fine needle, without jostling one another?” Perplexing himself with such paranormal nitpicking must have been disappointing, for it appears that the number of angels has never been ratified. Perhaps he should have gone out more? But just as medieval mystics exercised their brainpower on these metaphysical musings, similar unfathomable mysteries still abound in the 21st Century and cannot be dismissed. For instance, fervent Carlton Ware collectors may reflect upon spatial complexities, not to mention the impracticable infinite, in asking, “How many pieces of china can Carlton Ware enthusiasts stuff into their cabinets before a collection reaches critical mass?” Contemplating this conundrum is indicated if one is confronted by the incredible shrinking domain combined with an ever-expanding Carlton Ware display. Drastic solutions may therefore be considered: stop collecting altogether and live in minimalist bliss; or buying a stately home – none of which is possible at this time. Other options are taking up philately instead; or pruning ruthlessly and with great sorrow. Nevertheless, a more pleasant – albeit somewhat temporary – measure is to think small and buy petite, pint-sized, even miniscule pieces; and consequently live happily for a lot longer. Fascination for miniatures has featured in the art of many civilisations throughout the ages. Over the centuries Far Eastern and Asian cultures produced quantities of fine, intricately carved figurines and minute, bejewelled curiosities; these delicate trinkets are collected worldwide today for their beauty and fine craftsmanship. One example is the Japanese netske (or netsuke), a small toggle that was used to counterbalance the container (or inro) worn suspended from a sash by men to store items of everyday use, in the absence of pockets. The netske became an item of high fashion, skillfully wrought from ivory or wood into teeny animals, birds and sea creatures, portraits of dancers and demons or droll cameos of characters from everyday urban life. These superbly crafted netske are avidly sought after by collectors and continue to be worn by the Japanese on ceremonial occasions. Diminutive and decorative works of art, including mini-portraits painted on porcelain, were produced, admired and sought after throughout European high society for hundreds of years; however the Victorians, who obsessed over just about everything, took the art of the miniature to new heights. Divine, yet useless knick-knacks, for example the ubiquitous cameo, exquisite little sewing kits or tiny booklets bound in gold and studded with precious stones – enclosing nothing more than pages of ephemera such as weather forecasts and phases of the moon (a classic combination of the sublime and ridiculous) – were all the rage. From its inception in 1890, the Carlton Ware works naturally produced something for everyone: from the gloriously huge – Derek and Jane’s magnificent 25″ jardinière and stand (first showcased in CW3’s quarterly magazine The Carlton Comet issue 5), to the tiniest – this rare, BROWN LUSTRINE handled pot which stands a mere 1½” high, shown here with a 2½” BLACKBERRY butter pat dish and a 1½” Clarice Cliff Autumn Crocus quatri-footed dish. Souvenir ware was manufactured for ease of transportation, and was therefore characteristically of minimal dimensions. This area of collecting is a category of its own and was the subject of an article in Newsletter # 22. Many potteries produced tiny replicas of their larger wares, some perhaps as tradesmen’s samples. These small pieces demonstrate how their patterns were reduced accordingly, while others depict only a portion of the overall design. W&R 3″ spill vases Back row: Carlton Ware MIKADO 2881; MAUVE LUSTRINE; MIKADO 2881 Middle row: PARROT 3027; Cubist Butterfly 3190 Front row: Moonlight Cameo 2946 Crown Devon’s Sylvan and Royal George Lustrine were first introduced at the 1924 British Empire Exhibition at Wembley. The sailing dinghy on this tiny blue Lustrine snuff box represents only a small element of the overall seascape depicting a majestic galleon in full sail. The elegant and enduring Crown Devon Royal George pattern commemorates an historic and mighty 18th century 100 gun warship of the same name. Crown Devon snuff boxes Left: pale blue Lustrine Royal George; Right: Rouge Sylvan Lustrine Butterflies (2½” diameter x 1¼” high) Daisy Makeig Jones for Wedgwood Flying Humming Bird mottled blue and orange lustre bowls (front: 2½” diameter x ¾” high; back: 1½” diameter x 1″ high) The stunning Sylvan Lustrine and its sister design Rural Lustrine also enjoyed continuing popularity over many decades. The wonderful Sylvan butterflies, hand-enamelled in brilliant colours on mottled blue or ruby lustre ground, were wreathed by lavishly gilded ivy leaves and, on larger pieces, fluttered past gold “pointillist” style tree trunks. Crown Devon Lustrine Royal George & Sylvan Lustrine Butterflies snuff boxes (2½” diameter x 1¼” high) Created for Wedgwood in 1917 by the celebrated artist, Daisy Makeig Jones, Flying Humming Birds formed part of the Ordinary Lustre series, which preceded her fêted Fairyland Lustre ware. Numbers Z5088 and Z5294 were allocated to the Flying Humming Birds patterns which, with their own exclusive border of Flying Geese, became a highly successful range. Wedgwood Flying Humming Bird bowls pattern Z5294 with Flying Geese exterior border Children’s or dolls’ tea sets were produced over the years but few survive, having been sacrificed whilst fulfilling the purpose for which they were intended. For this reason, an entire vintage children’s tea or coffee set is a rarity and, to remain intact, must have been carefully replaced in its box once the well-intentioned benefactor had departed; or stored reverentially in a cabinet, safe from the clumsy attentions of its young and rightful owner. This delightful Carlton Ware children’s tea set […]
‘Fairyland’ may not exist but the idea of an idyllic place inhabited by fairies, goblins and elves certainly is one that appeals to most children and even some adults. While Wedgwood Fairyland lustre ware may not be as unattainable, it is an unusual design and is sought after by collectors all over the world. Pictured right: A Wedgwood Fairyland lustre vase – decorated with the ‘Candlemas’ pattern, of gently tapering ovoid form, richly gilt and painted in colours with vertical bands of climbing elves and panels of fairies in a fantastical landscape, printed factory mark and painted number ‘Z5157/A’, 20cm high. Manufactured by the Wedgwood factory from 1915 to 1929 after original designs by Daisy Makeig-Jones (1881-1945), the ‘Fairyland’ line proved to be popular in the United States as well as in the UK. Credited with helping improve Wedgwood’s struggling profits, Makeig-Jones’ novel designs were far more than ‘pretty patterns’. Daisy Makeig-Jones prided herself on creating stories and hidden worlds with fantastical themes, using rich jewel-like colours and imaginative details. With expressive titles such as ‘Fairy Gondola’, ‘Butterfly Women’ and ‘Leap-frogging Elves’, her work appealed to the public possibly as they offered a form of escapism during the difficult post-war years. Wedgwood stopped the ‘Fairyland’ lustre ware line in 1929 due to an apparent lack of interest. Today the enthusiasm for Makeig-Jones’ work is as strong as it ever was, possibly even more so than when the designs were first introduced in the 1920s. Interest in the artist’s work has been further enhanced by various Art Deco exhibitions featuring examples of her work including one at the Victoria and Albert Museum, in September, 1990; an exhibition of ‘Wedgwood Fairyland and Other Lustres’ at the Long Beach Museum of Art, in September, 2001; and an exhibition comprising solely of her work from the Collection of Maurice Kawashima at the San Diego Museum of Art in 2005. Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre Price Guide A selection of realised prices form auction houses and auctions Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre For Sale Wedgwood Related Wedgwood Collecting Feature NOTICE – This site is not affiliated with Wedgwood TM. The purpose of these pages is to provide information to collectors of Wedgwood.
The Adventures of Tintin (Les Aventures de Tintin) is a series of classic comic books created by Belgian artist Georges Rémi (1907–1983), who wrote under the pen name of Hergé. The series is one of the most popular European comics of the 20th century, with translations published in more than 80 languages and more than 350 million copies of the books sold to date. With the recent The Adventure of Tintin film we take a look at Tintin Books & Tintin Collectibles. Pictured right: Tintin Book – Tintin in the Land of the Soviets (in the original French, Les Aventures de Tintin, reporter du “Petit Vingtième”, au pays des Soviets) is the first title in the comic book series The Adventures of Tintin, written and drawn by Belgian cartoonist Hergé (1907-1983). Originally serialised in the Belgian children’s newspaper supplement Le Petit Vingtième between 10 January 1929 and 8 May 1930, it was subsequently published in book form in 1930. Designed to be a work of anti-Marxist and anti-socialist propaganda for children, it was commissioned by Hergé’s boss, the Abbé Norbert Wallez, who ran the right wing Roman Catholic weekly Le XXe Siècle in which Le Petit Vingtième was published. The series first appeared in French in Le Petit Vingtième, a children’s supplement to the Belgian newspaper Le XXe Siècle on 10 January 1929. The success of the series saw the serialised strips collected into a series of twenty-four albums, spun into a successful Tintin magazine, and adapted for film, radio, television and theatre. Pictured left: Tintin Collectible Tintin Holding the Unicorn figurine from the Steven Spielberg adaptation of Tintin and the Secret of the Unicorn Set during a largely realistic 20th century, the hero of the series is Tintin, a young Belgian reporter. He is aided in his adventures from the beginning by his faithful fox terrier dog Snowy (Milou in French). Pictured right: ABS Tintin Collectibles figurine showing the historic first meeting between Tintin and Captain Haddock, as featured on page 15 of The Crab with the Golden Claws. Each model is neatly presented within a Plexiglas cube, The high-quality finish of every character ensures that each tiny detail, movement and expression has been faithfully rendered to reproduce Hergé’s original drawings. Later, popular additions to the cast included the brash, cynical, grumpy and often drunk Captain Haddock, the highly intelligent but hearing-impaired Professor Calculus (Professeur Tournesol) and other supporting characters such as the incompetent detectives Thomson and Thompson, who can only be told apart by the cut of their moustaches, (Dupont et Dupond). Hergé himself features in several of the comics as a background character, as do his assistants in some instances. The comic strip series has long been admired for its clean, expressive drawings in Hergé’s signature ligne claire style. Its engaging, well-researched plots straddle a variety of genres: swashbuckling adventures with elements of fantasy, mysteries, political thrillers, and science fiction. The stories within the Tintin series always feature slapstick humour, accompanied in later albums by satire, and political and cultural commentary. Pictured right: Movie poster from the The Adventures of Tintin Secret of the Unicorn Tintin Books & Collectibles Related AbeBooks.co.uk – find more than 110 million out-of-print books worldwide. Tintin Book Titles 1. Tintin in the Land of the Soviets (1929–1930, 1930) 2. Tintin in the Congo (1930–1931, 1931, 1946) 3. Tintin in America (1931–1932, 1932, 1945) 4. Cigars of the Pharaoh (1932–1934, 1934, 1955) 5. The Blue Lotus (1934–1935, 1936, 1946) 6. The Broken Ear (1935–1937, 1937, 1943) 7. The Black Island (1937–1938, 1938, 1943, 1966) 8. King Ottokar’s Sceptre (1938–1939, 1939, 1947) 9. The Crab with the Golden Claws (1940–1941, 1941, 1943) 10. The Shooting Star (1941–1942, 1942) 11. The Secret of the Unicorn (1942–1943, 1943) 12. Red Rackham’s Treasure (1943, 1944) 13. The Seven Crystal Balls (1943–1946, 1948) 14. Prisoners of the Sun (1946–1948, 1949) 15. Land of Black Gold (1948–1950, 1950, 1971) 16. Destination Moon (1950–1953, 1953) 17. Explorers on the Moon (1950–1953, 1954) 18. The Calculus Affair (1954–1956, 1956) 19. The Red Sea Sharks (1956–1958, 1958) 20. Tintin in Tibet (1958–1959, 1960) 21. The Castafiore Emerald (1961–1962, 1963) 22. Flight 714 (1966–1967, 1968) 23. Tintin and the Picaros (1975–1976, 1976) 24. Tintin and Alph-Art (1986, 2004) Unfinished work, published posthumously
The distinctive designs of Elsa Schiaparelli can only be described as outrageous and ironic, and yet these innovative creations infused the romance of art together with the spirit of surrealism. With the ability to make fun, yet sophisticated, garments, worn by the likes of Mrs Wallis Simpson, The Duchess of Windsor, Schiaparelli’s innovative designs have inevitably secured her the title of being one of the most respected iconic fashion designers of the 20th Century. Born in Rome on 10th September 1890, to a well-to-do family, Schiaparelli originally studied philosophy. She married young, moved to New York and gave birth to her baby girl, Marisa, but unfortunately the marriage broke down when her husband left her, so together with her daughter, Schiaparelli returned to Europe and settled in Paris. With no profession and penniless, Schiaparelli wanted to become a scriptwriter but found herself working within the fashion industry. This was to mark the beginning of a long and successful career, and it became her lifelong passion. In 1928 Schiaparelli designed her first garment. A black jersey with white trompe l’oeil bow, it was noticed by a department store buyer who immediately placed a large order. It was at that point that Schiaparelli realised her life would be devoted to fashion and she opened a studio in Paris. By 1933 her designs were being compared with the work of her counterpart Coco Chanel. A great rivalry grew between the two iconic 1930s’ fashion designers and Chanel’s envy seeped through when being asked about the work of the Italian Designer. Undeterred by this, Schiaparelli opened a shop in London and then took over Madam Cheruit’s fashion house at Place Vendome in Paris, renaming it after herself. Concentrating on clothing that was ironic yet provocative, she wanted women to stand out and attract attention, which is why she began to take an interest in surrealist artists such as Salvador Dali, Man Ray and Jean Cocteau. Although she became firmly part of the Surrealism set, a special relationship was formed with Salvador Dali, as she found great inspiration from his work, and it was Dali in 1937, who came up with the idea for the outrageous “Shoe” hat. This inspired Schiaparelli to create many more flamboyant hats including the “Lamb Chop” which was worn by Daisy Fellowes, the Singer sewing machine heiress. Another collaboration between Schiaparelli and Dali was for the famous “Lobster” dress worn by the Duchess of Windsor, Mrs Simpson. As with all of Schiaparelli’s designs this dress was made for fun and had the element of amusement by featuring a large red lobster. Although her career in the fashion industry began predominantly with designing clothing ranges, as with any designer of this time, Schiaparelli started to look to other areas within the fashion industry, one such being, costume jewellery. She believed that jewellery was an art form within itself and as with her clothing created quirky and unusual pieces. Very different to the designs of her contemporary counterparts, the launch of the “Shocking Pink” collection in 1936 again showed Schiaparelli instilling her own injection of surrealism. This vibrant colour was something completely different as women still tended to wear the “little black dress” and her collection of jewellery along with cosmetic ranges was worlds apart from the otherwise contemporary designs of this time. Launched in a blast of advertising campaigns the “Shocking Pink” collection was quite obviously surrealism lead, with an advertisement depicting a typical surrealism image indicating that Schiaparelli always wore her heart on her sleeve. The “Shocking Pink” jewellery ranges included a “Lava Rock Necklace” with shocking pink lava stones which today would cost between £400-£500. Aside from the jewellery, another of Schiaparelli’s most collected areas has to be her innovative perfume bottles. She created many scents with the first being “Shocking” which was launched in 1936. The bottle was designed in the form of a female torso, which had been inspired by the hourglass shape of Mae West, a 1930s film star, for whom Schiaparelli designed clothes. These bottles are now highly sought after and range in price from £250 upwards. Another scent, “Zut”, released in the 1940s has a bottle shaped as a woman’s legs with a skirt around the ankle. Looking at these early innovative 1930s’ designs, it is quite obvious where today’s designer, Jean Paul Gaultier, gains inspiration for his highly collected scent bottles shaped like male and female torsos. In 1940 Schiaparelli fled from the Nazi Occupation in France and took refuge from World War II in New York. She refused to design any clothes until France was liberated and only returned to Paris in 1945, once the war was over, to re-open her fashion boutique. However, since the end of the war her avant-garde creations were no longer popular and so she returned to New York to set up her first Readyto- Wear boutique. By 1954 she decided it was time to close down her boutique in Paris and so held her final fashion show and then ceased production. She returned to live in New York in order to concentrate on her costume jewellery designs. During the 1950s Schiaparelli designed some gorgeous abstract pieces of jewellery using colourful glass and stones. These today are much easier to find than her earlier 1930s’ pieces and are all marked with her signature – although as with any top designer there are fakes on the market, so only buy from reputable dealers. Prices range from £400 for a paste bracelet to £1,000 for a set consisting of earrings, bracelet and pin made from lava rock stones, faux pearls and cabochons. Combining art with fashion Schiaparelli was once quoted as saying “Dress designing is, to me not a profession but an art.” This passion for mixing the two loves of her life is visible in everything that she designed from the clothing and hats to the innovative perfume bottles and costume jewellery. She succeeded where no other fashion designer has – by allowing women to expand their […]
January 1940 – Britain was at war with Germany. War had actually been declared in September of the previous year, but it was during the 1940s that the effects were to hit home, changing many people’s lives forever. Food rationing began on January 8th, with meat, sugar and butter the first foods to be affected, but as the war took hold more and more shortages became apparent. 1940 saw people restricted to 4oz bacon, 2 oz butter, 2 oz tea, a shilling’s worth of meat (a pork chop and a couple of sausages), 8 oz sugar, 2 oz jam and 1 oz of cheese. People were encouraged to ‘Dig For Victory’ by transforming their flower gardens into vegetable patches, and recipes appeared which used non-rationed products in so-called appetising dishes. Women were urged to ‘Make Do And Mend’ by unravelling woollens and re-knitting them, cutting-down adult garments for youngsters and transforming pillowcases and sheets into underwear. Parachute silk was sometimes obtainable, and in 1941 a Utility Mark, which looked like a pie with a slice taken out of it, appeared on products to indicate they passed government regulations regarding quality and restrictions. No unnecessary trims and embroidery were permitted, even on baby clothing. As items such as stockings became unavailable, young women resorted to staining their legs with gravy browning and getting a friend to draw a seam line down the back with an eyebrow pencil. They prayed that not only would the friend have a steady hand, they would not get caught in the rain. The British faced grim times – huddling in an air-raid shelter while bombs rained down was no joke – while London Underground stations were also pressed into service with many people spending their nights there, safe if uncomfortable. However, it wasn’t all gloom and doom, and a great cameraderie developed, especially amongst Londoners who bore much of the brunt of the onslaught. The younger people, especially, deemed it a great adventure, and would think nothing of racing along the streets while shrapnel rained down, dodging from one doorway to another. My mother and aunts seemed to be out dancing every night, partying with the soldiers on leave – perhaps a release from the horrors they witnessed and uncertainty they faced. No-one ever knew if their brother or boyfriend was going to be the next soldier killed, or if their family would be eradicated by a direct hit from a bomb on the house. In 1944 the terrifying Doodlebugs droned overhead; when the buzzing stopped, there was fifteen seconds to escape before they exploded. Many premises were taken over for munitions work, including doll factories such as Pedigree and Palitoy, and young women would be employed to make aircraft parts or guns; all women under sixty were required to undertake some form of war work. Sometimes, their skin turned yellow with the chemicals they came in contact with, and they were encouraged to use make-up to form a barrier on the skin. Headscarves became fashionable – they were a necessity in the factories to pro tect hair from machinery – as did wedge-heeled shoes with cork soles; leather was scarce, but the cork proved durable. Skirts were worn shorter as fabric was rationed, but hair was often kept long with plenty of curls, as women strove to retain their femininity. Thousands of ‘Land Girls’ worked on farms, and for the first time wore trousers, a freedom which women were reluctant to relinquish after the War. Of course, countless women joined the services and worked alongside their male counterparts in the war zones. Although Britons had to adapt to a more frugal way of life, they were still able to visit the cinema or theatre, and music played a vital part in keeping up morale. Dance halls throbbed to swing music; the American Glenn Miller band was a huge hit with numbers such as ‘In The Mood’, and a crazy dance called the Jitterbug literally swept girls off their feet. Forties’s films and shows included Oklahoma, Casablanca, Bambi, Dumbo, Pinocchio, Easter Parade, The Red Shoes and Brief Encounter. ‘Gone With the Wind’, released the year before, won eight Academy Awards in 1940. Radio programmes such as ‘ITMA’ and ‘Music While You Work’ kept the people in Britain entertained, while in Russia, Prokofiev’s stunning new ballet, ‘Romeo and Juliet’, was premiered. As so many factories had been requisitioned, dolls were not particularly easy to find, and those which were available tended to be of composition or pottery, often cheaply made and with homely faces. Nevertheless, these were the dolls which comforted children through the air-raids, and went with them when they were evacuated. Dolls were also made from cloth, or knitted from old garments, while Norah Wellings made mascot dolls, donating a percentage of the proceeds to servicemen’s organisations. After the War, plastics began to be used by toy companies, and by the late 1940s were becoming increasingly popular. Pioneering developments were made at this time by companies such as Palitoy, Rosebud, Roddy and Pedigree, while Mormit produced a innovative soft plastic doll with detachable limbs for easy drying. Although composition dolls were still manufactured, it was obvious that plastics was the medium which people wanted; these new dolls were lightweight, washable, virtually unbreakable, warmer to hold, and pretty, as the modelling was finer. Other developments included ‘Beauty Skin’, a kapok-filled rubbery plastic patented by Pedigree. After the war, people became a little resentful when goods and clothing were exported rather than being sold ‘off ration’. Christian Dior introduced his ‘New Look, with longer skirts, as there was now no need to conserve fabric, but in Britain, clothes and fabric were still rationed, and would be till the end of the decade. Britain in the late 1940s was feeling a bit jaded, and something new was needed. It came in the 1950s, with a new queen, a futuristic exhibition and a phenomenon known as a ‘teenager’.