There I found some delightful English shops (who knew?), including one that imported tins of English food (lots of Cadbury in the window) and a terrific boutique that offered only English designers.
Called Any Old Iron, a riff on both King Arthur's sword (see the Anthony Burgess novel of the same title) as well as Harry Champion's version of the British music hall song, this shop deals with the kind of iron that accompanies a board and wrinkly garment.
But I wasn't on a browsing lark; what brought me into the shop (a few times, in fact) was Nadia Wilcock's Union Jack dress for Reign that was displayed in the window.
|Irresistible. From Any Old Iron's Flickr via Twitter|
There were two in the shop, one on the rail with smaller flags and one with larger Union Jacks, above, which I spied from outside. The fabric had a thin but somewhat canvas-sy feel; the mood, historic, as the traditionally stark whites of the flag were more of a tea-dyed colour.
|The fabric of this dress was buried in dirt to give it its earthy, medieval feel.|
It looked like something Queen Guinevere could have worn if she wanted to grab that sword herself from the stone, or better yet, if she wanted to start a rock band.
The piece de resistance for me was the train. The train!! It added romance and swish to a gown already pulsing with character.
I see that both dresses were featured in Any Old Iron's 10-minute style challenge, with videos posted on Facebook.
Here are two stills from one:
|Stills from Any Old Iron's Facebook page|
And a still from the other:
|Still from Any Old Iron's Facebook Page|
My own style is more classic, more Hitchcock heroine than that of these two 10-minute-style challengers, but I think that the dress and I would make a good pair because of that juxtaposition.
I hadn't heard of Nadia Wilcock before visiting the shop, but have learned that she is a 2008 graduate of Northampton University and she showed her designs at London's Graduate Fashion Week. Her show was inspired by tartans with a punk feel, kind of an updated Westwood aesthetic (video and images below):
Watch for the fit-like-a-glove high-waisted tartan pants. The Union Jack gown is the finale in this small, smart collection.
Did I try on the dress? I was certainly in the shop enough times.
I think it's my own Perfectionist quirk here--did you read the recent NYT article on Perfectionist home decorators/architects/creative directors (all men, by the way)? They were so committed to Perfection that they could not bear to outfit their homes with anything but the most Perfect, uncluttered furniture: no couch for one man, only chairs; no light fixture for another, only a bulb.
My Perfectionist version is: if there are only two dresses, what if they don't fit? So I tried on the Perfect Union Jack dress in my mind and loved it even more. There it fit Perfectly.
Model Lily Cole doesn't have this quirk, as she tried on one during January and brought it home to London. Would that I could fit in her suitcase.
|Lily Cole, from Any Old Iron's Facebook page|
I concede: if my tale were Perfect; it would end with me wearing the dress in triumph. But at least I have a couch. And light fixtures. They're just waiting for me to flag down that dress.