Born some time in the late 60's and in some strange way kind of hung on to that glorious freewheeling style. It was a time of flower power when things and people seemed pretty easy going. Simple times and 'cool man' fashions.
Some may say that my style hasn't evolved much since then, but vintage and retro I say with fist proudly punching the air is here to stay! History repeats itself and style never grows old it just kind of keeps on going.
'Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn" Orson Welles
I can clearly remember the abundant leather jackets I bought from Western International Market in West London in the 80's. The cool 'box jacket' and 'rebellious biker jacket' chosen depending on whether I was trying to impress or acting out my wannabe rebel without a clue, both of which rarely did impress!
But leather was cool! No matter how many floors I had to sweep or cars I had to wash, it was worth it when I counted the coins in exchange for a stylish leather jacket.
One tragic day in the late 80's I was proudly wearing my latest sheepskin leather jacket when disaster struck! Getting in to some teenage blokish skirmishing my only days old jacket was grabbed and ripped. It was devastating, I was devastated! The closest thing to almost fashion that I had bought had been ripped to shreds.
"To me, clothing is a form of self-expression - there are hints about who you are in what you wear." Marc Jacobs
It and I were in tatters. However being an opportunist I headed to a local tailor who re-attached it with some thick rope like stitching and created a battle scar that any Viking would be proud of. And a new style was born. My battle scarred leather jacket being held together with thick rope like stitching became a statement. Though only a temporary one as the rest of it soon fell apart aswell!
During the 90's I was working and could afford good quality leather jackets so sadly not much to tell there! They lasted! I wore them and wore them more. In the snow and the rain. if I was particularly rebellious in the sun! They kept me dry, they kept me warm and took me to a new adventure!
"Fashions fade, style is eternal" Yves Saint Laurent
I got this amazing job working for Thomson Holidays in Greece. My first assignment was on the beautiful island of Crete, in the town of Rethymnon.
This has a totally absorbing old town. Narrow streets, open shops and markets, restaurants which you will never see anywhere else. A table with four odd chairs. Veterans of the island spending hours eating, drinking and playing cards. Arguing about politics and producing thick plumes of smoke from their filter-less cigarettes.
Eat in one these restaurants, where you see the freshest meat and salads and you will never want to eat anywhere else!
Rethymnon old town also has an abundance of hand crafted leather shops. Being a huge fan of the smell of leather, I would suspiciously walk around and hang around these wonderful shops for rather longer than I really should!
Leather wallet, leather satchels, leather briefcases and shoulder bags in a huge choice of designs. It was leather Nirvana and I was at home! Visitors to the island returned home with gifts of leather bags and wallets following tradition that was timeless.
One especially memorable and wonderfully eccentric shop keeper with a mustache the size of a police dog, I will always remember. A marketing genius with anecdotes about England, Germany or France depending on where his next customer came from. And her knew before they even spoke!
"Whoever said that money can’t buy happiness, simply didn’t know where to go shopping" Bo Derek
Late in the 90's I bought my first apartment and furnished it with a huge leather settee taking pride of place. Our office secretary 'Sharon' at the time took delight in publicly announcing that my 'leather gear had arrived' when the shop had called.
There was then something cool about being the original source of some red hot office banter. Then the dilemma of whether to work the gossip that kind of made me more interesting or shatter the illusion and admit it was a settee!
We still have a leather settee in our more sensible family friendly house. It's a battered faded scratched and scarred vintage leather settee and it's a part of us. Kind of like me in several ways!
"Don’t be into trends. Don’t make fashion own you, but you decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way you live" Gianni Versace
More recently I decided that leather style was still where it was at and I wanted to be part of it. Remembering the original leather bags in Rethymnon, it became time to start again. It took a couple of years and a lot of searching, encounters with some rather unpleasant people before I landed!
I eventually located a lovely workshop in India with some of the nicest people have ever known and some of the most beautiful leather bags I have ever seen. It all came together, love at first sight!
Very clearly and obviously handmade in a workshop, with all the imperfections that make each one as unique as the person wearing it. Scars in the leather, wobbles in the stitching, creases and lines that you just will not want to change!
What's more, as it gets older, the leather softens, a plethora of new scars and lines arrive and it just gets better and better with age.
When I read the reviews of people who love this, I totally understand why and feel so blessed that I have found the people and place that enables me to work in this wonderful business.
"Fashion should be a form of escapism, and not a form of imprisonment" Alexander McQueen
Thanks Marie Claire for these great quotes. Read more here