Thursday, 29 December 2011

Season of Bounty, Thanks and Chic

We received an email late on Christmas night from a lady who had us make her hubbie a jacket and this is how it ran:
"It's a TRIUMPH! Wilf has never looked 'sharper', chic'er, thrilled to bits! Thank you both so so much for a superb job,
Very best wishes from us both for a flourishing 2012."

Truth to tell, I can't think of a more satisfying present we could have had.

Which is saying something considering the week previously the posty brought a charmingly exuberant card from Joanna Lumley, our local lovely. We had invited her to our Mulled Party knowing she would be unable to attend as the curtain had lately risen on her current theatrical project, "A Lion in Winter". But we wanted her to know she was included in spirit and then Ali, Age of Reason silk scarf impressaria, suggested we gift our glamourous  neighbour one of her Russian Doll creations. La Lumley was, she wrote the next day, "thrilled to bits" with "such an unexpected and glorious early Christmas present - you are very kind and very talented". Mr Wesley sleeps with this under his pillow now.

And thanks are due from us to all the hardy souls who braved the foul tempest the night of the Mulled Party at Bedlam - all the stalwart friends who support with their custom and the customers who have rewarded us with their friendship. It warms our hearts as well as the wine.

Godders testing the Mulled Wine in the tureen kindly leant by Henri's Café round the corner

David Colton, one of our exhibited artists and the genius who found at Lidl the ropes of lights that now adorn our sign  

The party saw the debut of Karen Morrison's jewellery at the store. While we were working out its display in the afternoon, Karen was looking at  Jenifer Corker's silver work. Jenifer has recently returned to her craft after an extended break and we are very proud to be stocking her. Karen realised that as a student of silver smithery she had swept up in Jenifer's studio, and now their work is side by side in Bedlam.

Karen Morrison whose jewellery we now stock with Kate the German nanny (wearing one of Maria PK's hats)

A selection of Karen's work:

See more on the fab website that clever Karen created herself:

Maria PK had been in the day before and arranged her and Brix's hats to lovely advantage:

Karen's other half Phil used to be in the music game same time as I. Indeed yours truly signed one of his bands to Partisan Records, and all these years later we're still on talking terms! Here he is modelling the Mr Fox overcoat with its optional collar:

Other old friends from the hood included Baron von Beck, pictured here next to Ricky, the gentleman who made our summer by approaching us at the London Zoo party to ask if we were not indeed Earl of Bedlam?! Together they demonstrate that EoB can outfit any shape or size -

At that moment, Santa's sleigh crossed the sky
Helen, one of our best customers, next to Anne Barclay - whose Snow Queen skirt suit starred in our Christmas window, oneself looking all oooh Betty and Deirdre Strath Clyde who was only in my class at RADA. She bought a Homberg for hubbie James, another of our class mates, currently playing Claudius to Michael Sheen's Hamlet at the Young Vic

Max Dursely Davies whose executioner masks and t-shirts we stock (he's wearing one of his) in between his friends who were game enough to come along. The lady bought one of Jenifer's "In Memoria Futuri" dog collar belts
The following Saturday lunchtime, another old music biz pal Angela Penhaligon, the l'il gal from Kansas, brought her band  - inc. washboard - Piney Girl along to play on Bedlam's platform. They had done a live spot on Resonance FM up the road in Borough, where the DJ Alberto Umbridge greeted them in one of our suits.

Piney Girl provided musical cheer the Saturday before Christmas

They had the cutest mini-amp
So with the decorations up we had the last few clients to dress their best for Christmas. William (below) proclaimed himself so delighted that he would be back for another suit in the New Year:

Next up was Eugene who used to "mind" Johnny Rotten but now babysits his new grand-daughter Treasure. I embroidered a babygrow for her and he was kind enough to be tickled with the result. It took me a long time, I was beginning to worry she'd be graduating before it was done (I also decided to line it with silk) but "where else but Bedlam can you get the Bayeux Tapestry for twenty quid?!" as Eugene bellowed.

Now Mark's made him something grown up size, a tweed jacket with leather trimmed pockets:

And to conclude in the vein of perfectly matched gift to recipient, we bowled over to a West London Hotel to see my dear friend Nile Rodgers - He flew in from Germany where he is on tour with Seal to do more BBC telly to promote his marvellous memoir "Le Freak" such as I have mentioned on this forum before. He was brave enough to entrust us with the merch for his UK Chic shows, and we used the photo from the dust jacket. Mark used a half tone technique - "Nile on the half tone and roller skates, rollers skates!" Good Times indeed.

Leon in our screen print room preparing the screen

Horton Jupiter, DJ, happy fan and first person to buy the Chic shirt!
We explained to Nile it was an old skool punk rock style run of tees, with the odd splodge and splat making them MORE covetable, a bit like the way you pay more for a potato with nodules these organic days. So as a token of gratitude for giving us the gig we inducted him into the Bedlam Motorcycle Club - but he's going to have to practice a bit harder before we let him join the band, Earl & the Bedlamites (OK, OK, he can sit in, calm down). A-ha, check this out for Seeing Double Delight:
(I've had the comfortable pleasure of staying in the Madonna Room).

Whoa! Getting the double down low on freaky Chic

So from our opening message of "never looked sharper or chic'er" to Mr Chic himself, we have dressed them all and had a ball. In case Nile forgets his dance steps we gave him a vintage copy (think it's safe to say it is out of print) of a disco manual, which he got to cribbing straight away in time for his breakfast TV interview:

And with a few days to go before they go back in the attic, here's a bunch of Bedlam baubles from us with all our best xoxox

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Reclaim the economy! Shop local with us this Thursday

I meant to exhort those of you kind enough to read the blog to vote for Bedlam in the Daily Telegraph's poll of "Best Independent Shops in Britain" but voting closed at midnight last night. We moved house last week and are without domestic internet for another ten days, and you may recall my Blackberry was stolen a month or so back. At the shop we have a fragile hop-on Openzone internet. All of which combined to make "keeping up" with the blog even harder than normal. It was Megan, for whom we made a Barclays Bank boardroom appropriate dress and jacket, who Tweeted the first campaigning on our behalf. I noted it with a degree of pleasure not unduly hectic. But then something switched in my brain and turned all X-Factor competitive. Our hustings was Facebook, where most of Bedlam's activity is recorded. If you dally on that forum, our page is here:

Still, we garnered a little clump of local endorsement - if exit polls are to be believed (check your favourite political stats on ) One of my old school / band mates, Jeremy Deller, (together we changed the course of music in the "Avant Gardners"), when pressed on his vote confessed to having been stumped by the online form. "How did he ever win a Nobel prize if he couldn't manage that?!" queried Mr Wesley incredulous. Well that would be because he won a Turner Prize for which literacy is not required. I noted with some incredulity myself recently that on the Haywood Gallery's forthcoming schedule is young Deller's "Mid-Career Retrospective". MID-CAREER?! Who's half way through already??!! Feels like we just got started.

But for those who did manage, on Thursday night we shall stay open until 10pm in gratitude of the support and to warm our community's cockles with mulled wine (and in the hope that sufficiently fuzzy people might do a little seasonal shopping). As one of my friends in LA, and a fellow independent store owner (the boutique ME and Blue in Venice Beach, CA), posted recently, if you really want to occupy Wall Street and unseat the bankers (not wishing to lose Megan her job of course), shop local and pay cash! We are still on the hunt for some sort of electric samovar to keep the wine warm, not having a kitchen at the shop. If you have such a thing spare and handy please do alert us via the normal channels. What has arrived, the day after ordering no less, is a box of joy from the best supplier of stylishly antique adornments, Cox & Cox, full of traditional games, decorations and masks. Mr Wesley tried them all on and we agreed it was just plain creepy when he fixed Audrey Hepburn to his face. He was ecstatic with Ziggy Stardust and the illusion of high hair  (if you want to know what to buy him for Christmas, you wouldn't go far wrong with a toupée). Charlie Chaplin was the perfect fit with bowler hat and bushy brows.

"Cheap red wine from us will be cunningly disguised with spices and genuinely delicious panettone is to be generously provided by Mimi's Deli"

I voted myself in the Daily Telegraph poll and having nominated Earl of Bedlam in the menswear, babies and ladies categories that left a couple free for other local businesses:

Kennington Book Shop on the Kennington Road (for books); the redoubtable Blissetts hardware store on the Brixton Road (in the "Interiors" category); Marianna who works in the basement of the chiropodist on the Kennington Road (next to the book shop) for best Beauty / Salon treatment - her massage is the best I have had ever anywhere in the world; and Mimi's Deli on the corner of the Brixton / Prima Roads, across from the churchyard where the Saturday Farmers' Market is held. Mimi is going to provide some of her world class panettone on Thursday! Strangely I can't remember who I put as best wine supplier - of all things you'd think I'd recall, but it's just a blur, as I fear is our invitation above, but maybe it will sharpen up when I post in a moment. Oh! I remember, I nominated Gerry's on Old Compton Street for liquor - they are about the only place in London where you can find Mr Wesley's favourite Provencal pastis, Henri Bardouin. My first port of call was Fortnum & Mason's and what a fine and generous establishment that is to be sure, for the gentleman server called up Gerry's to ascertain they had it in stock to ensure I would not walk further in vain. That's the kinda service I'm talkin' about. We shall strive to emulate.

Hope to see you Thursday!