Stories

I love Liberty

By Justine Tabak

I love Liberty

Yesterday, on the greyest of February afternoons, I took a 'colourful' and welcome trip to Liberty HQ to see their new range of prints and fabrics. As delightful as ever, the Liberty collection holds a special place in my heart, my Mum made all my dresses as a child, sewn up in remnants bought on exciting trips to London and the Liberty store in Regent Street. My Mum would run up three versions of the same dress for me and my two sisters, green floral for the eldest, red for the middle and almost always blue for me! She was a whizz on the sewing machine and used to mix all the florals in all manner of patchworks sometimes making a matching outfit for my teddy! So from the heart, I really do love a Liberty print. 

What really impresses me, and what people don't necessarily know, is that Liberty have been working really hard behind the scenes to make their fabrics as kind as possible. Tana lawn cotton, a firm favourite of ours, is made using Oeko-Tex cotton in conjunction with the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI). You can find more information on both of these certifications online, but in short this means that their cotton production is more ethical from farm, to the environment and all the way to the customer. Better farming practises used, dyes are non-polluting, and fabrics are tested rigorously to ensure they are kind and responsible at every stage. 

And creatively, Liberty are unique, allowing their large creative team of 20 designers to work thoughtfully over months, hand-painting designs like artists rather than the quick digital methods of the High Street, a 'Slow Design' process that reflects the ethos of my brand. Archive prints and classics we wore and loved as children sit amongst these new designs, and each season they buy meterage tightly and with consideration, keeping prints exclusive, much like our shorter runs that prevent waste.

Our Riding House dress, is a classic Liberty floral with a cool retro feel to it, I named the design 'Arlington' after one of my favourite London squares. This dress also comes in our ever popular 'Camomile' print (more coming  very soon to those waiting!) 

The 'Meadow' floral for our new Camden Passage dress, evokes romantic prairie styles of the Seventies. 

As for how I'll be wearing Liberty florals now, I love layering a jumper over my dresses, tights and chunky boots. My Skye jumper is roomy enough to wear sleeves underneath and adds a pop of richer colour for these transitional months. In super soft mid weight lambswool, this jumper can be worn all year round. Available in leaf green, rose red, haze blue and sunflower yellow. 

Have a wonderful weekend! 

Justine x

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To my Valentine

By Justine Tabak

To my Valentine

If for me your love is true, send to me a bow of blue ... 

Back before the days of dating websites and dating apps, Victorian society used these intricate and delightful cards to attract the attention of strangers or extend gentle flirtations to their 'beaus'. Popular in the late 19th century, a man would cheekily slip a calling card to a woman he fancied as a way to sidestep rigid social rules of the day, where the convention was for women to be accompanied by chaperones. In America, elaborate 'escort cards' with coded symbols were slightly more risqué, with a 'not married' man 'out for a good time'! Typically, on this side of the pond, more reserved Brits would aim to acquaint with beautiful floral illustrations and sweet rhyming puns. 

Take a meander through, and have yourself a lovely Valentines, whether spent with your beau, friends, family or your sweetest self...

Justine x

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Spring is in the air

By Justine Tabak

Spring is in the air

Are you sensing the first light of Spring? It seems that the days really are starting to brighten and with all the garden bulbs emerging everywhere it really does feel like winter is finally abating. 

To celebrate, I'm thrilled to share my first Look Book of the season.

This season we've decided to split the collection into three chapters, introducing new summery styles as the days get warmer (well we hope!) Chapter one, 'Spring', has launched and is available to buy now. 

Favourite styles have been reinvented, colour palettes refreshed, and new fabrics discovered. Signature dresses, prints charming and joyful knits. We've used environmentally kind, locally sourced fabrics and worked with the loyal makers that have grown with us from the start. We hope you find something you love, now and forever. 

Enjoy Spring! 

Justine x

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Little Women

By Justine Tabak

Little Women

I love Louisa May Alcott's 'Little Women'; in fact, my middle name Louisa was adopted in homage to her, being one of my mother's favourite books. With the newest remake hitting the big screen for the new year, I'm surprised how contemporary and relevant the classic story and characters still are. It's a tale of laughter and love, the beauty of kindness, woven throughout with many messages on feminism and the value of choice, and above all else a celebration of sisterhood. 

We've had some fun here picking some of our favourite costume looks from the film and pairing them with our more wearable, everyday versions from this current season and collections past. 

Whether you're an Amy, Meg, Beth or Jo...... 

Justine x

Sprinting towards the sea in florals ... our well-loved original limited edition Victoria dress in rose deadstock cord.

Jo's signature red, as bold and fiery as her nature! Go for the Victoria dress in scarlet cord for comfy yet cool style.

Like us, the March sisters love a tartan check. The Galway dress in black watch linen keeps you warm in the cold and cool in the heat, so wear right through to summer (and perfect for Burns night).

As pretty as a picture for everyday romance. Beth would love the Riding House dress in chamomile print cotton lawn.

   

Linen pinafore dresses for Amy, beautiful worn over vintage shirts, polo necks or simply on its own in summer, the linen Holland Park dress.

Green for fresh field days, belted with a bow. Flower crowns not essential but highly recommended!

Amy loves a statement floral dress, and we think she'd approve of our romantic London Fields style, all trimmed with exquisite cotton Nottingham lace.

   

We propose a checked skirt for any and all activities, especially for getting up to mischief like the young Jo! The Canonbury skirt made in monochrome tartan Irish linen.

We loved the swaddling knits in the film, in subtle patterns and stitchery, our last few Gansey jumpers have a similar modern traditional feel to keep warm for many winters to come.

Last but not least, hailing back to the very first collection, when we saw Jo rushing through in the last few scenes of the film we couldn't help but notice the similarity to our Whitechapel jacket! Made in beautiful Moons boiled wool.

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Merry Christmas

By Justine Tabak

Merry Christmas

What a year this has been! I've been overwhelmed with the incredible support and loyalty, and we've been so excited to see the brand grow. A massive thank you from our small team, and wish you all a wonderful Christmas and happy New Year. We'll be taking a short break over the festive period to spend time with friends and family, so whilst the website will still be up and running (and the warehouse posting), if you do get in touch any queries will be picked up after the 2nd January.

Here's to another incredible year all wrapped up!

Justine x 

p.s. We loved this festive vintage wrapping paper, inspiration for next year? ...

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A Festive Afternoon with Alexandra Dudley

By Justine Tabak

A Festive Afternoon with Alexandra Dudley

On the countdown to Christmas, we took a break from our work on the spring summer collection (coming soon and I can't wait to show you...) to join the beautiful Alexandra Dudley at her home in Stoke Newington. Writer, chef and dinner party host extraordinaire, Alexandra sure knows how to prep for festivities. Trying on her pick of the collection with Christmas celebrations in mind, we spent the afternoon discussing home-made decorations, the easiest dishes to bring some freshness to a winter dinner party, Christmas day dressing, and the importance of pockets no matter the occasion ...

Alexandra chose to wear the scarlet Victoria dress in velvety needlecord, a classic Christmas day colour which is just dressed up enough. Her favourite feature, the pockets! 

                                 

A vintage table for a desk, the perfect spot to write new recipes or those Christmas cards ...

A dress for dancing around the kitchen! Wear the silk Primrose Hill dress loose, bow at the front or the back to create different silhouettes. 

In the spirit of simple and sustainable cooking, Alexandra shared a recipe with us from her book 'Land & Sea' for the perfect dinner party dish. Delicious!

Tender stem broccoli with lemon buttered brown shrimps and salsa verde

This is broccoli well and truly dressed and is one of my favourite dinner party dishes. Brown shrimps may seem a bit of an odd choice but they bring wonderful flavour. I am a bit of a traditionalist and will always use butter in this but olive oil works fine too. The salsa is punchy and marries perfectly well with the smooth lemony sauce.

 

Serves 4

 

For the salsa verde
 

2 bunches/ 1 large bunch of basil, leaves and stems

1 bunch of parsley, leaves picked(keep the stems for a soup or stock)

handful of mint leaves,

1 clove or garlic crushed or finely chopped

1 tablespoon capers

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

zest and juice of one lemon

6 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper to season

 

2 handfuls of tender stem broccoli (about 400g)

1 tablespoon Dijon good quality mustard

zest and juice of one lemon

about 75g of organic, grass fed butter (or olive oil)

90g brown shrimps

Begin by making your salsa. I like a coarse, uneven salsa. To do this finely chop your herbs and capers and add these to a bowl with your garlic, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil. Stir well and season to taste. If you are pushed for time you could also blitz everything up in a food processor.

Melt your butter in a small saucepan over a medium heat until it begins to foam a little and brown. Remove from the heat and add your mustard, lemon zest and juice whisking together with a fork. If you are using olive oil simply skip the heating process and whisk everything together in a small bowl.

Bring a medium to large sized saucepan full of water to the boil. Add a good pinch of salt and boil your broccoli for about 3 minutes until cooked but still al dente. Drain in a colander.

Pour your lemon butter sauce into the large pan, add your shrimps and cook for about one minute or just until warm. Add your broccoli back to the pan and gently toss it to coat it in the lemony shrimp sauce.

Transfer to a serving dish and spoon over the salsa verde. Any extra salsa can be served in a small bowl on the side or kept in the fridge for later. It is delicious served with fish or stirred into rice or pasta for a zingy sauce.

 

Alexandra's favourite St Ives jumper in duck egg blue, wonderfully soft and slouchy to cosy up any outfit. I loved the prettiness of the blue with the gleam of the bubblegum pink.

 

A big thank you to Alexandra for playing dress up with us! Her wonderful book 'Land & Sea: Secrets to simple, sustainable, sensational food' can be bought online using the link below:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Land-Sea-Secrets-sustainable-sensational/dp/1409169154

To find out more about Alexandra (from hosting regular talks at Soho House, writing for publications such as Town and Country and Table Magazine, to creating recipes for and with Abel & Cole, Grey Goose Vodka and Daylesford Organic to name a few, she's a busy woman!) visit her website here:
https://www.alexandradudley.com/

Last orders for Christmas deliveries need to be made by Thursday 19th (for standard delivery) or Friday 20th (for next day), but please do order as early as possible to avoid disappointment as it's a very busy time for all couriers.

This year we'll be signing off for Christmas from Friday 20th and reopening on Thursday 2nd January. As all who own or work for a small business will know, it's very difficult to switch off and take a break, but we all need to spend time with family and friends and recharge for what we hope to be another incredibly exciting year ahead. Our small warehouse will be open across the festive period, so please do feel free to browse and buy from the website. Any queries to our customer email will be picked up after the 2nd January. 

A joyous Christmas and Happy New Year to all! 

Justine x

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Winter Walks with Pennie Fairbairn

By Justine Tabak

Winter Walks with Pennie Fairbairn

On a crisp and slightly windy afternoon in Stoke Newington, I had the pleasure of collaborating with my good friend Jannine Newman on a short series of photos shooting the fabulous Pennie Fairbairn. With a capsule from the collection in hand, we went from my sitting room to door stoops, windy walks through the park and on to local cafe 'The Acoustic'. Jannine, photographer, founder of Under the Cloth and orchestrator of the Assembly Market, introduces us to Pennie...

 

"Pennie Fairbairn is a remarkable woman with a fabulous career behind her, hitting her sixties with incredible style and glamour.

A Stoke Newington local with a lifelong passion for style and creative dressing, she often gets stopped in the street and asked to model, which is exactly how I met her. I followed her out of a charity shop on Stoke Newington Church Street and asked if she'd do some photos with me."                  

 

"She started off in the 70’s buying and selling vintage at Camden market, going on to develop careers with people in nursing, the performing arts, lecturing and psychology. She's a woman of many talents but her love of fashion is still evident, and now in her mid 60’s her passion for interesting and creative style is finely tuned, utterly contemporary and individual. As an older woman she's now being asked to model for some interesting Japanese brands, amongst others. I love the fact that young brands are using older models because fashion should have no age limits."

 

"Justine and I discussed working together with Pennie and Justine's clothes at the last Assembly Market, and I'm so glad we followed it up because it was a really lovely afternoon and collaboration.


It was joyous to see Pennie in Justine Tabak's beautiful clothes and it was a surprise to Pennie who doesn't wear floral or long dresses, to see that she looked absolutely amazing; in the Tartan trousers and jumpers too. In fact, when we were shooting in Newington Green, people were stopping in the street to comment on how incredible she looked in 'that' red Primrose Hill dress. She made it look incredibly wearable, cool yet utterly elegant."
                         

A massive thank you to both Jannine and Pennie for taking the time to collaborate here, it was a pleasure and I hope you enjoyed the afternoon as much as I did.

All pieces Pennie wears can be bought online, with the unfortunate exception of the silk Primrose Hill dress in the longer length. However, we do have more available in the shorter length, sitting just below the knee (see below), perfect for dancing! We also have a select few in alternative colours in the longer length which we couldn't put on the website, so please do get in touch if interested.

If you'd like to see more of Jannine's beautiful photography visit her blog at https://janninenewman.com/ where she also shares her collection of 'preloved to reloved' fashion and homeware ...

Justine x

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Winter Linen

By Justine Tabak

Winter Linen

This week I wanted to share with you one of my favourite pieces from the AW collection. My Galway dress is a special version of the Mill Town shape made in beautiful Black Watch Irish linen, a cloth that has popped up through seasons past and well-loved for it's subtle yet stunning yarn-dyed weave.

I like to champion linen for all it's sustainable properties, but ultimately linen is a favourite because it's so comfortable to wear. Whilst classically worn in summer it's also perfect in winter, being both breathable and retaining warmth. It's durable, natural, anti-bacterial, easy to wash ... I could go on and on!

I've been layering mine over polo necks and under my new roll neck jumpers as the weather has crisped, and after Christmas I'll still be wearing this dress into spring for simple, understated, daytime luxury. 

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend. 

Justine x 

Ps. I'm running slightly low on sizes and won't be able to get any more linen woven this season, so please be aware that sizes may run out.

 

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