Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Somebody Else's Guy & Another Woman's Husband



Am I happy that Halloween's over! I spotted this dress on a mannequin in a themed window display in one of our regular chazzas three weeks ago, accessorised with a pointy hat, a cape made from a bin liner, a besom broom and a plastic pumpkin lantern and I fell in love. The black velvet looked plush & strokably soft and the satin bows & zipped cuffs indicated that it was a quality piece. It had to be mine! The lovely manager, who often puts stuff she thinks I'll like aside, hung a "sold" sign across it and promised I could have it once the Halloween window-dressing competition had been judged. I've been stalking it on a regular basis ever since.


This morning with the calendar turned to November and grown-up appointment out of the way, we hot-footed it into town and I handed over my cash in exchange for the witch's discarded frock. When I got it home I was bowled over to discover that it was by Parisian designer, Guy Laroche (1921 - 1989). On further investigation - thank you, Google - the dress dates from the mid-eighties, not my favourite era for fashion, but Jon reassures me that I look more Stevie Nicks than Princess Di in it. I've had to peg it at the back as it's a couple of sizes too big.


Originally a trained milliner, Guy Laroche turned his hand to dress design, becoming assistant to Jean Dessès in 1949. In 1955 he travelled to America to research new ready-to-wear manufacturing methods and a couple of years later opened a high-fashion atelier at 37 avenue Franklin Roosevelt in Paris where his collection of vibrantly-coloured clothes with plunging backs and necklines, as well as dresses in a more traditional but elegant style, won widespread approval.


Unlike the notoriously haughty Parisian designers, Guy Laroche gained a reputation for being both gracious and humble. He designed haute-couture, but practical, clothing for women, becoming the first designer to create separates for the American market.  In 1961 he moved to larger premises in an elegant townhouse at 29, rue Montaigne, Paris, where he opened a boutique and introduced his premier ready-to-wear collection.


In 1966 he launched Fidji, his first women's fragrance (of which my Grandma was fond) followed by a number of others including Drakkar Noir.

Guy Laroche with Sophia Loren in the 1960s (SOURCE)

Laroche died in 1989 at the age of 67 but the Guy Laroche label lives on, with the chief designer changing frequently, possibly the best known being Herve Ledger (of bandage dress fame) who worked for Guy Laroche between 2004 - 2007.


So that was Somebody Else's Guy (happily, mine!), now for the Husband bit....

A couple of weeks ago Headline, a UK-based publishing company, got in touch and offered me a book in return for a review and, never one to turn down a free read, I accepted. Truth be told, if I'd seen Another Woman's Husband printed on the spine of a book in a charity shop I probably wouldn't have bothered picking it up off the shelf, assuming it to be the bleatings of a wronged wife. Self pity and romantic novels are two things I can't abide. The worst book I ever read was Eat, Pray, Love - the only reason I finished it was because I was in the Keralan backwaters and there wasn't another publication available in the English language to be found for miles. Trust me, the Yellow Pages would have been preferable to Elizabeth Gilbert's navel gazing.


Anyway, that's besides the point, Gill Paul's Another Woman's Husband tells the story of two women born almost a century apart. Mary Kirk, daughter of a wealthy Connecticut family, befriends Bessiewallis Warfield (later to become Wallis Simpson, consort to the Duke of Windsor) at summer camp in 1911 and their relationship continues across the Atlantic throughout WWI, the Prohibition era, The Jazz Age and The Blitz. The other woman, Rachel, ex-punk, period clothes-wearing, classic car driving, vintage shop owner from Brighton who, on a trip to Paris with her boyfriend, ends up as a witness to Princess Diana's fatal car crash. Haunted by the accident, Rachel's life starts to unravel and, on a mission to save her business and help free her man from police custody, ends up unearthing a long-forgotten link to Wallis Simpson.

From left: Wallis & the Duke of Windsor (SOURCE), Mary Kirk with second husband, Edward Simpson (SOURCE), Wallis Simpson (SOURCE)

I really enjoyed Another Woman's Husband. Both Mary & Rachel were strong, independent characters and despite facing challenging situations, picked themselves up, dusted themselves off and got on with life, no self pity or endless wallowing and I genuinely felt affection for both women as the plot progressed. Wallis Simpson, famed for saying You can never be too rich or too thin and If you're tired of shopping you're using the wrong shops, came across as incredibly driven, calculating and ruthless and from the book I learnt of several of her favoured fashion designers who I hadn't heard of before. I read Another Woman's Husband in just two days and was a bit sad when I'd finished it. Much as I hate to admit, the ending caused me to shed a tear.

Another Woman's Husband is published by Headline and will be available in the UK from 2nd November, 2017 priced at £7.99. Much as I avoid mentioning the C word until at least the third week in December, it would make a fab present for any friends into reading, vintage clothes and history (and isn't that most of us?)

WEARING: Guy Laroche velvet midi dress (£2.99), Original suede platform boots (£6.99), Black wool felt hat (£2.99) All charity shopped,1960s elbow length nylon gloves (50p, car boot sale, 2009) and choker (handmade by me)
 It's Wednesday. That means The Apprentice fuelled by Lidl white rum and diet cola - bring it on!

See you soon.


66 comments:

  1. That dress is utterly gorgeous. You can tell just from the photos that's it's a really good quality velvet. Younger me would've worn it till it fell to bits. And it really suits you - you can pull off black beautifully, though it seems weird to see you out of your usual colours.

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    1. Thanks, Mim! It would make a splendid dress for a goth! xxx

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  2. Oh wow, that dress is divine! I just want to give you a cwtch so that I can stroke the velvet. You're very on-trend in it too, though I know that doesn't interest you one jot. Sounds like an interesting read that book, I do love a bit of historical fiction, especially with sassy characters. xx

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    1. You'd be very welcome to give me a cwtch (I love that word!)
      Happy to pass that book on if you fancy. Email me! xxx

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  3. Breathtaking dress-you really do find wonderful clothes. I've never been able to afford Laroche other than the perfumes, but I've admired the clothes in the glossies over the years. Black velvet is going to go with everything.

    I'm looking forward to the day when I can read for enjoyment again. Might be a while.

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    1. There's some stunning clothes with the Laroche label. I'm intrigued as to how it ended up in such a deprived area, if only clothes could talk! xxx

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  4. Well howdy do! I never knew Guy Laroche made clothes- I only knew him as a famed perfumer.
    You look beautiful in that black velvet & the boots look brilliant with it too!
    Sounds like an interesting read, I'll have to get that on my Kindle.\xox

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    1. Clothes first, then the fragrances. Wouldn't mind finding some Drakkar Noir in a chazza, I went out with a few men who wore it back in the day, delicious smell! xxx

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  5. What a score! You can spot 'em from a mile away.

    Love how you've paired it with the vibrant purple.

    Velvet is perfect for this time of the year, although I do tend to wear it all year round.

    The book sounds good. I'm terrible. Seems the only place I ever manage to read is when we are on a beach somewhere.

    Suzanne

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    1. I love velvet, too. I pack mine away for the Summer - it goes some way to compensating for the Autumn and Winter unpacking my velvet gear.
      I read in bed every night. xxx

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  6. That outfit is my favorite ever of your outfits , I love velvet and it suits you too , I will have to drop a hint about the book to out nic lol xxx

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  7. I love velvet and that dress is fabulous, definitely no where near Lady Di, more Victorian than anything. Very classy.

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    1. Phew! Lady Di was never a fashion icon of mine! xxx

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  8. Eat Pray Love is one of the shit-est films I've ever seen so no surprises there! You look stunning in that dress! What a find! xxx

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    1. crap movie. She learns it's ok to eat a pizza?

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    2. I can't imagine how crap the film would have been - the book was truly awful. There was an interview with Elizabeth Gilbert in The guardian just before the film was released - she came across as wet and pathetic as her literary character. xxx

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    3. Gah! The pizza eating bit, I can feel all the anger I felt when I read that book resurfacing. If ever there was a person in need of a good shaking! xxx

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  9. cant believe the price of that awesome dress!!!!
    thank you for rescue it from being trashed at helloween!!! lovely look with the purple!
    we have the same taste in books - no *Self pity and romantic novels* for me too..... but this book sounds intriguing.
    can i have my rum with calories loaded cola please?
    xxxxx

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    1. I'll happily swap the sugar free for the full fat cola if you want to join me for a drink, Beate!
      Another reason not to care for Halloween, beautiful dresses being abused in the name of fun! xxx

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  10. What a find, you look amazing! I'd say it's giving off more Victorian vibes than 80s, it looks very classy and is obviously a very high quality velvet (unlike that hideous shiny crushed velvet that fills the shops this time of year). Love how you've paired it with the bright purple.

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    1. How awful is the velvet used in modern clothes? It almost squeaks when you touch it! xxx

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  11. Guy Laroche, no less! And Jon is definitely right: it is quite a bit Stevie Nicks! And I'm sure it suits you much better than the witch in the window, too. I'm glad Halloween is out of the way for another year, by the way. Another Woman's Husband looks like an interesting read, which I'll be looking out for. And I would have passed it by when reading the title too. Started Eat, Pray, Love as it was on the shelves in our Welsh cottage, but I put it aside after only a couple of pages. xxx

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    1. I wish I could have put that book eat, Pray, Love back on the shelf! Life's too short for bad books. hooray for Ereaders, never again will I run out of things to read when I'm on my travels. xxx

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  12. Vix, you look fabulous. That amazing velvet dress might be 80's but the design is quite hard to place. It is very elegant considering some of the crimes against fashion from that decade. What a brilliant find. You look waaaaaay better than Stevie Nicks. I would have not even glanced at this book but it sounds like a good read. Thank you for the review. I will keep a look out for it. Xx

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    1. Thanks, Kelly! There were some good clothes made in the 1980s but I suppose we never saw any of them as they were well out of our price range. At least it hasn't got shoulder pads! xxx

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  13. That book sounds much better than the last one you reviewed!
    I thought that frock had an 80's vibe going on, bows were huge back then, remember Fergie's wedding dress? Vintage Guy Laroche no less, for £2.99....wtf! Herve Leger died just recently aged only 60. Fidji was on my mum's dressing table too. Those gloves are a brilliant match with your boots. xx

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    1. I don't remember Fergie's wedding dress, I've successfully avoided every royal wedding bar Princess Anne's (too young to argue about watching it!)
      I remember reading that Herve Ledger had died, so young! xxx

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  14. What a gorgeous dress. A bit romantic goth and I get the Stevie Nicks allusion, it's quite Bella Donna.
    I would have been so disappointed to see the sold sign, I'd have wanted it myself!
    Your positive book review reminds me I shouldn't judge a book by it's cover.
    Enjoy your white rum and apprentice night xxx

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    1. Romantic goth? Forget Mills & Boon that's the kind of romance I can tolerate! xxx

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  15. I love this dress on you! It looks great paired with the blue boots and gloves, I would never have thought to put them together. The price is amazing, the same price you paid for the hat!!

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    1. Thanks, Jan! Do those boots & gloves look blue to you? They're brilliant purple in real life! xxx

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  16. Oh, you look amazing and oh so elegant. It's a truly wonderful dress and I love it. If and when you tire of it, 42 is my size - a 16, I believe; I'd be happy to take it off your hands for an agreed amount of dosh!

    I think the boots (and matching gloves) are fantastic with it and the hat is perfect.

    Between the title of that book and the cover I, too, would have passed that book by. It just goes to show you should never judge a book by its cover!

    I picked up 'Rivers of London' by Ben Aaronovitch years ago and finally got round to reading it about four months ago. It's about magic amongst other things; something I would normally run a mile from. I gave it to my brother to read, who I knew would love it - he did. He proceeded to buy the next three in the series from youknowhere and I've just finished the fourth. I'm so into the series I'm off for books 5 and 6 from the library tomorrow!

    xxxx

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    1. I'll keep you in mind, Vronnie!
      Magic isn't something I'd go for either. I couldn't get on with Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell but absolutely loved the TV adaptation. I'll keep my eyes peeled for Rivers of London, now. xxx

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  17. Is the Apprentice back on?!?! This is when I wish I had i-player/tv license- although last year, someone kindly put it on Youtube so I live in hope that I will get to watch it!!!
    That dress is lovely! What sumptuous-looking material! I am glad you snagged it!
    The book sounds interesting- I like the idea of it. So glad I wasn't the only one who thought Eat Pray Love was stupid! I was told I would love it because of the Bali part but really, it just annoyed me!x

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    1. I was excited by the premise of Eat, Pray, Love having spent time in Bali, Italy and, of course, India but it was all about her and her self pity - arghhhh!!
      The Apprentice is worth the licence fee alone, I love it. Peaky Blinders is back in a fortnight too - I can hardly contain myself! xxx

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  18. wow, big score on that French dress. It looks awesome on you, even though I know you don't wear that much black.

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    1. Thank you! I was surprised how the dress looked when I put it on! xxx

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  19. STUNNING !!!. That black velvet is to die for and what a contrast with the boots and gloves. That has to be my favourite of all time.

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    1. Thanks, Sally! I'm so glad that I wasn't the only one to hate eat, Pray, Love - so many people are utterly obsessed by it. xxx

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  20. It's safe to say that this fabulous dress does not, in any way, make you look like Diana. What a great find, I'm glad it got to go home with you, and not be snapped up by someone for next years halloween costume, what a waste that would be for a dress with a rich history.
    xx

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    1. Thanks, Hazel! I'm appalled that it could have been worn by some kid for a fancy dress party, that's cruelty to dresses! xxx

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  21. as a huge fan of velvet and of 80's fashion, I'm totally in love with your dress!, totally cool and also very You!, there's not anything ladyDi related in your outfit!, there's some 80's coolness vibe, and you rock it matching your gloves with boots, and wearing a fabulous hat!
    And I've taken notes on this book too. It looks like something I could enjoy actually!.
    besos

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    1. Thank you so much!! The Eighties wasn't all bad (although I thought so at the time!) xxx

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  22. Oh my goodness that is some lovely velvet & bows right there!!!! Eat, Pray, Love is almost as atrocious as the live, love, laugh shit everywhere----ugggghhhhhhh

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  23. What a lovely frock! And you really made it your own with these cool boots, gloves and choker! Isn't it great that there are so many different authors around, so each of us can find what we like? <3

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    1. Thank you!!!
      Oh it certainly is - one man's meat is another man's poison and all that! xxx

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  24. Oh this dress! It's an absolute beauty! It looks so soft. And with those boots, they were destined for each other.

    I haven't read this book, or the other one you mentioned, I have no idea what it's about! I love to read, but don't have a clue about what's currently the big thing to read, it puts me off to be honest.

    I'll not expect you to read my novel after reading this post ;)

    xxx

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    1. Thanks, Melanie. It really is a wonderful thing to wear.
      I only know what the big thing to read is by the frequency it turns up on charity shop shelves. I'm ashamed to say that the only part of The Guardian review I read is the crossword. xxx

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  25. That dress is truly wonderful - amazing how these gems end up in a charity shop window complete with pointy hat!

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    1. Thank you!! Do you think I should have asked them to throw in the pointy hat and the bin liner cape, too?! xxx

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  26. Gorgeous dress, I'd have been checking on it regularly too!

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    1. Thank you! I started dreaming about that dress accidentally being sold, not sure why, most people here don't know their Guy Laroche from their gGge at Asda! xxx

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  27. For someone not keen on black, you look pretty damn good in it! Quite like the sound of that book, I've always been interested in the Edward & Wallis story. xx

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    1. Thank you!!! I'm slowly coming back round to black! xxx

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  28. Oh how much do I love velvet, that 80's dress looks stunning on you and a decade out, you've given it a complete 70's vibe. I admire your ability to read fiction, I just can't sit still for long enough, and those perfume names, what a blast from the past! xxx

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    1. Thanks, Claire!! I had to de-eighties it - definitely no stilettoes!
      I always read at bedtime, unless I'm drunk! xxx

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  29. your velvet dress is spectacular, goes well with the boots too, what a find! The book sounds worth a read, I won't buy it but will keep an eye out for it via my library). We love watching the Apprentice here, can't believe they have been all over London like ants with no route plan!!! we were getting so angry with them and yelling out our advice (i.e. every hairdresser in North London will have a Spurs scarf hanging over a mirror) There's a few ladies there that could end up in a full on cat fight methinks.

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    1. Thanks, Betty!
      With those shopping challenges I always say that you need a leader with a strong knowledge of London - my haggling skills would be fine but I'd be clueless as to the areas to visit. I certainly didn't know about hairdressers having Spurs scarves hanging above their salon mirrors.
      Those girls! xxx

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  30. Perfect with blue!!! Any average girl would think it should go with red. Electric blue and black is one of my favorite color combinations -- added to the velvet texture of the dress and the suede of the boots. You have me drooling!

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    1. Thanks, Alex. Red and black is a step too 1980s for me! xxx

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  32. No treasure gets past your keen eye! What a gorgeous, rich-looking dress, and Guy Laroche no less! The bows on the front keep it from being too much of a serious "little black dress", and the purple accessories add a fun pop of colour. It is strange seeing your wearing black though.

    Thanks for the info about Laroche, and for the book review. It sounds like something I might enjoy.

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  33. That book sounds great, will keep an eye out for it! Love the dress too xx

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