Last Tuesday night, I found myself footloose and fancy free. Sure aren’t I always, you ask? Anyway I was stuck betwixt footie and beer, England v Ukraine, and a lovely Vintage Tea Dance. A girl and her whims… As it happens I rocked up to The Grand Social just in time for Rooney’s wicked header, so Euro 2012 fix sorted, I wafted upstairs where the main action was. Oooh, what a treat I was in for!
The beer garden / terrace had been transformed into a mini market, with second hand clothes, accessories and a pop up beauty parlour. And a barbie on the go – burger and beer only five euro! I had a giggle with a pretty young thing having a bouffant make over from Hair Through the Ages – suits you Sir! Then to Kate Betts Hats, where the lovely Kate offered a box of her creations for me to try on.
Inside, the vaulted room had been transformed into an Alice in Wonderland delight with circus bunting and candy stripes enveloping a floor of round tables and a bright satin draped stage. Tea and homemade cakes were on hand, each confection numbered and ready to be judged as well as enjoyed, like little butter icing jewels. It really was charming as dressed up boys and girls waltzed away with abandon.
The Dolly Mixture Cabaret turned up the entertainment with a brilliantly silly stage show. Our foxy maestro Kat, fabulous in fishnets and tails, introduced us to The Protectors, a quirky drama act whose childlike simplicity was a tonic to the big bad world outside. Next up was marvelous storyteller, Paul Timoney, who had us enthralled with a highly energetic rendition his urban tale of “Mr Faraway Fox”.
I munched on a pink sprinkles cupcake as Paul read us some of his original poems, and showed us his drawings. Very talented guy! It was time for a bit more singing and dancing as a band of beautiful flappers took the stage for a rousing performance, followed by the honey voiced pirate Bepo. He serenaded us on guitar with his unique songs, while the best dressed lady and gentleman were chosen.
My cheeks were a-glow by the end of the night with fun of it all – an interactive finale story by Paul Timoney brought the house down. The Grand Social is an excellent venue for showcasing such events, with folk seeking out an alternative pub experience nowadays. Rumours reach me that the Ha’penny Flea Market is no more, but in a city crackling with creativity something will surely rise from it’s ashes.
The Grand Social, 35 Lower Liffey Street, Dublin 1 / www.the grandsocial.ie
There’s something about the Sugar Club that evokes old school glamour. Going back to it’s cinematic roots, it was the perfect venue to host Film Fatale’s “North By Northwest” screening on Saturday night. The event was a dress up affair, beginning with the Hitchcock classic, followed by a live set from Jaime Nanci and The Blue Boys, finishing with DJs the Andrews Sisters’ Brothers.
Channeling the Mad Men theme, I slipped into a slinky LBD, killer heels and topped off my retro look with a Kate Betts pill box hat. And a feather boa for some OTT glam – why not? The Sugar Club was packed with gorgeous guys and dolls all working different vibes, from Teddy Boy to Va Va Voom. Special house cocktails added extra sophistication to the occasion.
Spiced gin cocktail in hand, I asked a handsome usher if the popcorn was complimentary. As I paid for my snack he winked and said “Fabulous hat”. Ooh sir… North By Northwest is one of Hitch’s best loved films, a clever thriller featuring the suave Cary Grant and an ice cool Eva Marie Saint. The movie is widely regarded as a huge influence on subsequent spy romps.
Everything from the suspense and the innuendo to the fashion and the interiors are a joy to watch. Seamless Hitchcock. And it’s funny too, in that innocent way that a 1950′s production can be. However, the film was made on the cusp of the 1960′s and reflects changing times in the US. Even Cary Grant’s grey suit was revolutionary in it’s tailoring. Debonair indeed.
Apres movie we enjoyed the sounds of Jaime Nanci and The Blue Boys, four piece jazz ensemble who play contemporary as well as vintage tunes. They warmed up the dance floor for the Andrews Sisters’ Brothers, who kept the house a rockin’ and a rollin’ until 3am. I was very impressed by some of the jives my gang were pulling off. Those crazy cats.
Film Fatale organiser Fernanda told me that the night had been a great success. She thinks people just like the fun of it all, something a bit different to your average Saturday night. As we were celebrating a birthday, my mates were in the party mood and suggested a nightcap in Leggs. But, your Girl Friday was done. I flagged the nearest cab and got outta Dodge.
The Sugar Club, 8 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2 / flimfataleevents.blogspot.com
Having met the lovely Kate Betts and tried on some of her gorgeous hats last summer, I was delighted to bump into her again. A walk through the leafy SoCoDu hamlet of Monkstown saw me stumble upon Kate’s beautiful creations. Lulu French Vintage Boutique was the location – I’d been pressing my nose against window for a while, so finally inside I was like a kid in a candy shop!
The pretty salon is run by Veronique Piales, who sources her vintage treasures in Paris. It’s a very special place, with rows of couture pieces and handmade originals punctuated by silk scarves, chic handbags and delicious shoes. Kate’s hats are dotted around and it’s so much fun to match her hats to the lovely clothes. You could leave with a whole new look!
Kate’s a girl after my own heart – we chatted about the colours we could contrast, the way we can wear our hair and the joy of hats. Of which Kate is course an expert. She got into the millinery business after winning a hat making competition. Noting the great personal style of the judge, Kate took her prize as a sign and started producing her own head wear.
Creating one off pieces and bespoke orders, Kate has the hand for wonderful confections that are as well built as they are whimsical. When I bought her black and pink pillbox hat I knew it a unique piece as well as a hat for life. I also invested in one of her bows, pink with a small veil, it’s perfect for dressing up an outfit.
Kate’s background is in print making, having studied fine art, but she told me that her hat making is an outlet for her love of textiles. She is inspired by her materials – felt, silk, straw – and by the wearable styles of the 1930′s and 40′s. When everyday head wear, like a saucy little beret, were in vogue Kate smiled.
Originally from Newcastle in the North of England, Kate arrived in Dublin almost fifteen years ago and liked it so much she stayed. She told me that the attraction is being in a city where you can easily do anything – dancing, shopping, cycling. All while wearing a hat we agree! Whether it’s a quirky find or a for chic occasion Kate Betts is your lady.
www.katebetts.eu / Lulu French Vintage, 93 Monkstown Road, Co. Dublin