Stories

Scottish Fisherman Knits

By Jason Edwards

Scottish Fisherman Knits

Whilst we've been blessed with a spot of sunshine over the last few days, there's still a nip in the air and I wouldn't be surprised if we saw more snow before spring has sprung. At the same time, my inbox has been flooded with the latest spring summer offerings, but frankly I'm not quite ready to leave my jumpers, scarves and coats behind! The high street may be racing ahead but here in slow fashion land we love a jumper slung over a dress or jeans both at this time of year and for months to come. 

My Gansey jumper, thoughtfully knitted in Scotland and based on the patterns traditionally used by fishermen for their cable knits, comes in indigo navy and grey mix, colours that embrace all seasons. I love the twisted tweed yarn which shows flecks of other tones within the colour mix. Here's Karen, one of our lovely customers, wearing the Gansey jumper around the streets of Shoreditch.

Justine x

 

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Christmas with Mina Holland

By Justine Tabak

Christmas with Mina Holland

Two weeks ago we introduced you to Mina Holland, deputy editor at Guardian Feast magazine, writer, author and eater, as she showed us around her beautiful home and wrote a special guest blog for us. To get into the festive spirit, she’s written a follow up piece which shares a favourite recipe of hers with us for the Christmas table. Without further ado, back to Mina ...

Sprouts are vital on the Christmas table. I'm happy with them in any form as long as they aren't plain boiled – such a missed opportunity when these particular mini cabbages are such sponges for flavour, and a seasonal treat. In previous years, I've variously roasted sprouts with sriracha or made a crumble with an anchovy-laced roux. But, this year, I'm applying the flavours from one of my staple roast lunch sides – Savoy cabbage with caraway seeds and butter, originally published in my book, Mamma: Reflections On The Food That Makes Us (Orion, 2017). Not only is it really easy and fabulously good (I've long held that caraway seeds are under-appreciated), but it doesn't require the oven at Christmas Day rush hour. Happy Christmas to you all!

Brussels sprouts with caraway seed and butter

Serves 4-6, as a side

50g salted butter, plus extra, to serve
1 white or yellow onion, finely chopped
2 tsp caraway seeds
1kg Brussels sprouts, trimmed, peeled and halved
Salt and black pepper
Lemon juice (optional), to serve

Melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan over a low to medium heat. Add the onion and caraway seeds and gently cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Raise the heat slightly, add the sprouts and sweat them in the spiced butter for about five to seven minutes, or until they start to take on a golden colour, becoming a little crisp at the edges. 

Add 200ml of water, cover, raise the heat slightly and cook for five minutes before checking, stirring and, if necessary, covering again, depending on how cooked you like your sprouts. I like them to hold their shape but yield easily to the bite. Season with salt and black pepper – a generous pinch and grind should do it, and serve immediately with an extra knob of butter and a squeeze of lemon, if you like.

Many thanks to the lovely Mina, we can't wait to try this dish out over the festive period. I hope you've enjoyed this two part series getting to know Mina as much as we have, and are starting to get into the Christmas spirit and hopefully a little rest too. 

Love 

Justine x

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At home with Mina Holland

By Justine Tabak

At home with Mina Holland

On a slightly chilly October morning, we met Mina Holland, deputy editor at Guardian Feast magazine, writer, author and eater, in South London. With dog Ernie in tow and freshly brewed coffee aplenty she chose her favourite pieces from our Autumn collection whilst showing us around her beautiful home. Mina has been a huge supporter of the brand for quite a while now, having discovered us back when we stocked at 99 Essex Road, and was thrilled to model and write a guest blog for us.
Enough from us and leaving it to the professional, introducing Mina ...

"It seems ironic now, but costume drama first brought me to Justine Tabak. It was the winter of 2017 and I was enraptured by the BBC’s adaption of Howard’s End. I loved the high-necked shirts in plush silks worn with rustling, long waisted skirts by Hayley Atwell as she channelled 1910. Then a friend told me about Justine’s clothes, about her line of printed silks and Irish linens; a ‘cursory’ visit to her website gave me a seductive glimpse of empire line dresses bringing all sorts of Jane Austen fantasies to life.

I say it’s ironic because ‘costume drama’ suggests qualities that Justine’s clothes don’t have – heavy, itchy, lavish, outdated, overblown, maybe even a little pretentious … But what I loved instantly was how timeless and practical her designs are. For instance, the Petticoat Lane dress, with its classic elegance that’s conducive to modern living: from work to home, cooking to dog walks, parties to hangovers and perhaps, one day, to pregnancy – any time you want good lines and generous fabric to do the work for you. Which, for me, is most of the time.

As a kid, my wardrobe alternated between dubiously patterned tracksuits and smocked empire line dresses (I’m nothing if not eclectic, even if not by choice). The track suits are ancient history now –  while the dresses, once my mother’s and dating back to the 1950s, still exist today, waiting in her loft to kit out another generation. Clothes were once made to last, with good quality fabric sourced nearby, in small batches, usually by hand and in styles which – even if not achingly a la mode – have a kind of ageless style. Justine’s designs champion these same principles; she is one of a wave of designers supporting British fabrics and makers, and cares deeply about making clothes that last – that don’t, like so many high street things, fall apart after one season, and  which you want to wear year after year, and ultimately pass on.

Even though they’d reeled me in, I didn’t end up buying any of those Atwell-eseque silk shirts. It was the tiered dresses in linen and needlecord that got me, of which I now own a number.  You’ll often find me wearing a Petticoat Lane or, more recently, a London Fields dress; and while my wardrobe increasingly excludes other brands, I know that these are clothes that will be in there forever – whatever the season or the task at hand. I can still get excited by thinking back to Howard’s End. Perhaps it’s time to throw a costume drama party."

A huge thank you to Mina for taking the time to write and welcoming us into your lovely home. We'll be continuing Mina's story soon with one of Mina's favourite Christmassy recipes as well as some festive outfits from us, so do look out for that.

Justine x

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Archive Edwardian Mill Prints

By Jason Edwards

Archive Edwardian Mill Prints

How sweet are these small Edwardian mill prints! I've been using these simple micro prints for over two years now, but I still love them just as much as when I sourced the original tiny swatches. This Autumn I decided to use some of the lasts of the rolls to make just a few of my Shoreditch top, with its yoke and gently puffed sleeve, as 'pick and mix' pieces. Made in very limited sizes, once they're gone they're gone ... 

 

I'm offering a very special discount on my silk shirts made in my signature scissors print. With just a few last ones remaining, this offer is for my subscribers only. Please use the code 'SILK125' to purchase my Moorgate silk shirt for a very special price of £125. 

Justine x

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Corde du Roi

By Justine Tabak

Corde du Roi

Coined from the French around the late 18th Century using the translation 'cloth of the King', corduroy has been a perennial classically British fabric since being worn by King Henry 8th in 16th Century Britain. However, it has also become a classic fabric featured within my collections from the beginnings of my short history. Since I started, I've loved using corduroy, sourced from Lancashire, and tend to use soft and velvety needlecord for my dresses and skirts. This season I've introduced a new inky navy colour in two styles to sit alongside the classic vintage red and black of my Petticoat Lane and Redchurch dresses. 

 

Whilst I don't adhere to trends, corduroy does seem to be having a moment on the catwalks and high street. Corduroy, however, has far reaching roots with it's origins from 'fustian', a cotton woven textile being used and manufactured in 200 AD in Egypt. I love that it's been around for centuries!

When the cotton trade grew between the 12th and 14th centuries, the fabric was distributed throughout Europe via Italy, becoming popular with royalty and the wealthy. King Henry 8th himself was a fan, with the most expensive quality being most akin to the original true-cut pile that we recognise today as the 'wales' or cords creating the ribbed texture of its surface. Slowly the fashion for corduroy filtered through into the 18th Century, becoming known for it practicality and warmth. It became more of a practical, protective textile than a symbol of wealth, and became known by the name we call it today, corduroy. 
 

Throughout the 19th and 20th century corduroy was seen as a signifier of wealth, the 'poor man's velvet'. It lined the backs of farmers smocks and used for school uniforms. It was even used to make soldiers uniforms during WW1 and dressed the Womans Land Army. By the mid 20th century corduroy did become more fashionable, being seen as modern and sporty, and a universal favourite for rich and poor, young and old alike. In the 70's, corduroy was a fashion favourite with Biba and other new generation designers who loved the fabric's anti-establishment casual nonconformity. Maybe this is why corduroy has now become so popular again... 

Regardless of its symbolism or history, corduroy is both a strong yet romantic fabric, dressed up or down it manages to look cool whilst  comfortable. My cord is an ideal weight for dresses, lovely and warm but with a softness to gather and drape. My most popular Petticoat Lane dress still goes strong in vintage red and black, the Redchurch dress appears  vintage red and I chose to reimagine the Lavender Hill apron wrap skirt in corduroy as it perfectly embodied the feeling of 'practical yet pretty'. Cinching in at the waist with a tie creates a flattering silhouette, whilst the large front pockets are perfectly convenient. The London Fields dress become a dreamy modern take on the 70's featuring black cotton Nottingham lace. 

I hope you are liking my new collection, including those in soft needlecord, and please do explore the website.

Justine x

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Getting to know Lizzie Court

By Justine Tabak

Getting to know Lizzie Court

Whilst in the midst of my summer sale, I wanted to take a brief interlude to introduce the lovely Lizzie, make up artist and hair stylist extraordinaire. I met Lizzie on my most recent Spring shoot, and instantly felt a connection with her and her style. We've kept in touch since and she recently sent over some photos of herself wearing my navy broderie Primrose Hill dress on a recent test shoot she did in the country; I loved them so much that I just had to share them with you! I hope you enjoy getting to know Lizzie as much as I did.

Justine x

Tell us a little bit about yourself ...

I’ve been working as a makeup artist for the past 30 years, studying at Farnham Art College and then did a Theatrical makeup course. I moved to London in the 80’s but 8 years ago moved out to West Sussex and the South Downs. I commute to work, but the pay off is living in such a beautiful part of the country. In between bringing up my 18 year old son and work, I relax by playing tennis as much as I can on my days off, walking ‘Spot' my Patterdale terrier and binge watching Marvel and "The Vampire Diaries”.

What do you love about your job?

Have been blessed over the years to travel to some amazing places; Cambodia, New York, Bahamas, Miami, & Mauritus to name a few, staying in some incredible houses and hotels. Often on shoots you get access to places that you would not usually be allowed to get into. The people I work with are also talented, creative and inspirational .

How and why did you end up practising as a hair and makeup artist?

When I was at art college we used to all watch music videos on early MTV, and  being a bit of a “New Romantic” I loved "Steve Strange” and the makeup that he used to wear. I knew nothing about being a makeup artist, but found out that Phylis Cohen used to do his makeup so I started to look into it and thought - that’s what I want to do! With the help of The Enterprise allowance, a Government scheme that was run at the time, I moved to London and spent a year getting a Portfolio together.

Where would you recommend visiting this summer for a weekend away?

It has to be the South Downs, an hour out of London. The National park stretches from Winchester to Eastbourne. Stop off at pubs on the way and walk some of the most beautiful scenery. A day at Goodwood is always worth a visit as well…..I would recommend Winchester to Arundel as the first stretch...

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t take the rejection personally…..and take time out to enjoy life……..its not all about work, work ,work...

What was your favourite piece from the SS18 shoot?

It has to be the Petticoat lane dresses, so comfortable and easy to wear for work as smart enough but also individual and not stuffy….I'm hoping that you do more Tartan for the winter as I can not get enough tartan in my wardrobe.

How would you describe your style?

Casual - I love oversized smock dresses, worn with army boots or high tops. I’m all about comfort but having an individual style, with quality materials used in pieces that don’t date. Simple styles, mens tailored pieces, baggy jeans and simple tops with a little bit of Victoriana added.

 

A massive thank you to Lizzie for the photos and for letting me interview her. Unfortunately the navy broderie Primrose Hill dress she wears is sold out (one left in white), but I do have Lizzie's favourite style from the shoot in stock - the Petticoat Lane dress in Irish Linen - in various sizes and colours, and now on sale for only £195. 

Alternatively, please see below for a few extra handpicked items from my summer sale - on now till the end of August. 

I'm currently working on my Spring Summer 19 collection and considering more white dreamy broderie Primrose Hill dresses within the collection, so do watch this space ...

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Summer Strolls In Clissold Park With Indira Toscano

By Jason Edwards

Summer Strolls In Clissold Park With Indira Toscano

With the sun shining on a beautiful day in June, we met Indira Toscano in my favourite local Clissold Park. Indira worked as an intern for me in 2017, and now works at a local school in Milton Keynes where she lives with her two beautiful children. With her boundless energy and infectious smile, I caught up with her whilst she modelled some of my most summery styles... 

Tell us a little about yourself.
 
My name is Indira Toscano, I’m Mozambican living in Milton Keynes for five  years. I study at UAL and am currently working towards completing my Masters in International Fashion Production Management. I love the course as it has allowed me to grow and evolve within the fashion industry. Having taken a gap year, I took on the challenge of working with A level students at my local High School, The Hazeley Academy. I'm also a proud mother of two lovely children, my daughter Eiden aged eleven and my eight year old son, Adriano.
 
What do you love about your job?
 
The sheer chaos, laughter and pandemonium…..What’s not to love! I adore my students and am so grateful for the opportunity to work with such dynamic and enterprising youth. Providing them with opportunities they wouldn’t have otherwise explored and building new relationships. Making teenagers laugh at your jokes is quite hard but being told that I have a great sense of humour is quite flattering, it helps keep my students engaged and connected. So yes, it’s not all serious work! 

As a Milton Keynes local, where would you recommend visiting this summer?
 
That’s a hard one, I would say all of Milton Keynes is just so picturesque and beautiful, especially in the summer. For activities with children you have XCAPE where you can snowboard on real snow or just fly at the IFLY.  We also have Silverstone for Formula 1 enthusiasts and a spa right next to it, Whittlebury Hall, where I love to treat myself! 
We also have traditional treasures like Caldecott, magnificent Woburn Abbey, Willen Lake and Bletchley Park Museum. For night life it’s fun at the MK Theatre or even the fastest growing LGBT club in the UK, Pink Punters!
 
What’s your favourite park and why?
 
Woburn Abbey Deer Park. Home to nine species of Deer in 3000 acres of beautiful landscape. I enjoy driving past the beautiful landscape dotted with deer grazing in the sunset. 
Do you have a favourite flower?

I love Peonies. It’s such a rich and full bodied flower and yet so delicate.
 
How would you describe your style?
 
I would say that I love clean, effortlessly relaxed, and feminine style. I am certainly not driven by trends and love that Justine is able to cater to my sense of style whilst still maintaining the sustainable ethos to her collections.

What’s your favourite look from the shoot?
 
I loved every single dress. The long flowing dresses, the pinks, the whites  and the delicate laces Justine uses on her dresses. I love that all the  dresses have practical pockets. Such a smart idea.
A massive thank you to Indira for taking part, and hopefully a light reprise from all the summer sale emails you've probably received. Whilst we are in the midst of our subscribers sale and about to launch our official summer sale online, I wanted to send out a lighter newsletter on how some of my most summery pieces can be worn.

Unfortunately, most of these styles are now either sold out or not available online currently - we've been having a play and creating a few samples before we head into Autumn. However, if you are interested in any of the dresses from this shoot please do email to get in touch. I have just two white linen Petticoat Lane dresses with lace trim available in small, two pink gingham Primrose Hill dresses in XS/S, and just one long white broderie Primrose Hill dress in M/L. First come first served!

Lots of love,
Justine x

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Grown-up Gingham

By Justine Tabak

Grown-up Gingham

It's no secret that I love gingham. Reminiscent of school dresses in summer and french cafe curtains, this perennial fabric manages to feel modern and fresh year after year. Although gingham has been firmly 'on trend' recently, I prefer to use this classic check for its lasting appeal, appearing in both my summer collections so far and I'm sure years to come. As an ode to this fresh cotton fabric, I wanted to cast a spotlight on some of my beautiful customers who have worn my new gingham Primrose Hill dress. Each wonderful woman manages to wear the dress in their own way, bringing their individual style to the look. I've been wearing mine loose for day, shown here on a recent trip to Lisbon, and then cinched in with its tie belt for summer parties. 
I hope you enjoy seeing how others wear theirs and please do keep sending me your photos!

This dress has been extremely popular this season and previously sold out, but I'm pleased to say that it's now back in stock and available on the website. I even have a pink gingham version in the pipeline so do let me know if you're interested.  

Hoping you are all enjoying the sunshine!
Justine x

Holly Ounstead, sustainable stylist extraordinaire, wears the Primrose Hill dress in her recent interview with Vilda magazine:

http://www.vildamagazine.com/2018/03/fashion-diary-ethical-fashion-stylist-holly-ounstead/

The beautiful actress Ophelia Lovibond attending the Marriott International loyalty programme launch party.

Sustainable blogger Rachael Cooney has been kind enough to post my dress several times on her instagram in dreamy settings, both hanging in her room in London and wafting through the streets of Portugal on her holiday.
One of our stockists, the Acey, have a fantastic journal where they interviewed British chef Alexandra Dudley. Here she is at my local fruit and veg shop finding the freshest ingredients. Read her interview at:

https://the-acey.com/blogs/news/interview-with-chef-alexandra-dudley
At my recent Spitalfields in Bloom pop up, Karin bought a new Primrose Hill dress and was kind enough to model with her adorable pooch. Doesn't she look great!
Here Rosie Birkett, cook, stylist and storyteller, sits surrounded by her beloved gingham.

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