A Treasure Trove of Vintage Vogues | At Home with Penny Calder
The first thing we noticed about your expansive collection is that it largely consists of British Vogue editions - what captivates you the most about UK version of Vogue, in particular?
Just a tiny section of Penny's enormous British Vogue collection.
The archive consists of every issue of British Vogue from 1950 onwards (and a few pre 1950), plus the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties issues of Harpers & Queen and Tatler magazine.
It was about 8 years ago that I started actually building the archive seriously and it was completed in November last year, with the final issue - May 1966.
A baby-faced Christy Turlington graces the October 1986 cover of British Vogue. Get her look with our vintage Balenciaga Earrings here, or for a statement drop-style like the in-mag editorial to the right, try these stunners, by 1980s Christian Lacroix. Both sourced from Paris. Pictured to the far right, a full Chanel look.
The first of my choices is not an editorial feature but the cover of British Vogue November 1965 – which features my favourite model of the Sixties Jean Shrimpton and my favourite jewellery designer Andrew Grima - one of a handful of British designers who revolutionised jewellery in the 1960’s. He didn’t learn his trade at art school and didn’t work at the bench, he considered that being a pure designer was an advantage as his ideas were never confined by technical ability, only by imagination.
A favourite cover of Penny's, featuring a young Jean Shrimpton donning a cocktail ring to end all cocktail rings, by Andrew Grima
On my most recent visit to London in November 2019, I visited Francesca and her mother Jojo and was lucky enough to see the Grima collections – pieces that literally took my breath away, that I was able to try on, that I recognised from the pages of Vogue...it was such a privilege and an afternoon I will never forget.
The necklace was shot by Willie Christie, a leading fashion photographer, on Cromer Sands in Norfolk which was the location that stood in for beaches all over the world! (More about WIllie later!)
A stunning vintage Chanel campaign we uncovered whilst perusing Penny's collection
Which issue in the collection is the most precious to you?
The British Vogue Peace and Reconciliation Issue, October 1945 (pictured above).
The art director James de Holden-Stone came up with this moving image of a blue sky, clear of the military aircraft that symbolised war.
This is of course “ The Green Jelly Cover “ February 1977 (pictured above).
We struck up an Insta friendship and met for the first time in London in early 2015. Since then we’ve become very real friends and our catch ups at Maison Assouline in Piccadilly are an absolute highlight of every trip to London. I can even boast of having my photo taken by a Vogue photographer now!
The infamous November 1988 American Vogue issue, Anna Wintour's debut cover - at the time it caused quite the scandal for being so 'casual', with Israeli model Michaela Bercu wearing denim jeans and a cropoed, embellished jacket by Christian Lacroix. Inside featured an editorial on the inimitable couture designer, one of our favourites from the 80s. Click to shop our Romeo earrings by Lacroix, here.
Encens, Penny's favourite magazine of the modern era.
Seeing themes in design develop throughout the issues over the years, if you had to pick your three favourite couture designers - those who you feel have truly held their own as time has passed - who would you pick and why?
At Dior and his own label - Gianfranco epitomises couture for me. Elegant, structured, fabulous materials and an unerring sense of real style not fantasy.
“Less is More” “Less is Muir” - Minimalist, refined, understated, she called herself a dressmaker not a designer, and considered that fashion was not art but industry and, as such, had an important contribution to make to the country.
My go to label since they were established in 2006 – timeless designs, exceptional fabrics, monochrome themes. I am genuinely able to wear a ten year old piece with one from this season, the quality will still be there in the older piece. Visiting the store in London is like going into my wardrobe only, but 1000 times bigger, of course.
Nothing surprises me there (which for me is good) – the pieces reflect just what I’m looking for - a black cashmere jumper or a white shirt that others will say looks just like the other 20 of each I have, except of course I know it doesn’t!
And, for those who are as fiendish as us when it comes to vintage jewels (and we assume you might be, if you are reading this), Penny has just started a secondary instagram page, @manchettechic, which is completely dedicated to vintage cuff bracelets - Could you get any more niche? We think not! And for that, we thank you, Penny!
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