Thursday, 11 September 2014

Lady Crimplene

Nylon, polyester, dralon, velour, viscose and crimplene. Whatever happened to manmade fibres? Not that I have any nostalgic attachment to those jumpers that used to make sparks fly off the end of your nose, and your hair stand on end, when taking them off. But the names hark back to that mythical rose-tinted 'midcentury' world that many of us grew up in; in houses, furnished in G-Plan and Ercol, with avocado bathroom suites, Rediffusion TV, Tretchikoffs on the wall, and formica everywhere. Helen Desai, otherwise known as Lady Crimplene, has recreated this world at her 1930s semi on Patterson Road, just behind the former cinema. Helen and husband Steve, have lived on this friendly street since 1996, but the collecting of all things vintage goes back even further. A Dansette record player, a set of flying ducks and a boat shaped cocktail bar were among the first things she bought, and the collection keeps growing. Much is found locally at the shops on Church Road, but friends are forever contributing items too. However, it was in the wardrobe that collecting almost got out of hand, so much so that in 2010, Helen launched a vintage clothing boutique from her spare bedroom. The name, Lady Crimplene, goes back to her DJ days while at fashion college in Epsom. It was the perfect name for her venture, and comes with it's own cartoon logo image drawn by a friend, long ago. Currently the 'shop' only opens a few times a year, although you may have also caught her earlier this summer at the Overground Festival's 'Vintage up the Palace'. All has to be fitted round the day job, which for Helen, is Art Editor on You Magazine, while husband Steve is a Painter & Decorator. The long term goal however is to run the clothing business full-time, and make the home pay its way as a location for film-makers and photographers. And film is close to Helen's heart, overlooked as her home is by the brooding hulk of the former Rialto Cinema. She, like the rest of us would love to be able to walk around the corner to a local picture house. In the meantime, she has jokingly discussed with neighbours, the possibility of using the huge flank wall of the cinema building as a giant outdoor projection screen.
With autumn upon us, Helen is getting excited about Halloween. Pumpkins and other decorations will no doubt start making an appearance on Patterson Road shortly. But more importantly there are a couple of opportunities lined up, to rummage through the Crimplene wardrobe. At Christmas, Helen will be taking part in the vintage pop-up, upstairs at the Sparrowhawk Pub. But before that, on October 10th, is Penelope's Vintage Pitstop, an event in aid of MacMillan Cancer Support, being held at Goodliffe Hall on Highland Road.




























Lady Crimplene





Lady Crimplene

You might also like Belle Coco & No.9 Crystal Palace Parade

These images originally appeared in Heart Home Magazine.

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