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Hello and welcome. More to the point, thanks for visiting my blog! I’m particularly impressed and grateful that you’ve chosen to visit this page too…in all honesty, it’s rare for me to peruse ‘about’ sections online. I’m more of a scrolling through pretty pictures and absorbing punchy articles kind of girl. So, you must be keen! And, therefore, deserve to be rewarded with information.

I’m Gemma Redmond. Based in North West England, I was born in the early eighties.

In recent years, I have been inspired by a number of my favourite characters in the field of style to put ‘pen to paper’ or rather ‘finger to keyboard’ and compile my own blog. “Not another one!” I hear you cry! Indeed, I’m pretty certain you’re thinking “does the world really need another fashion blog?” And perhaps, you are right. My father has told me that “in the 60s everyone was in a band.” A generalisation that may be, but it does seem that this decade will provide me in later years with the conversational phrase “in the twenty-tens everyone was writing a blog.” However, I am not one to let accusations of ‘jumping on the bandwagon’ put me off my endeavours. In the future, I would like to think that I’d tried. Plus, I am not technologically savvy enough to be the first to find the next new way of communicating my thoughts to the masses.

I am also hoping to offer content that is original – via my unique approach I aim to convince readers that there is room in cyberspace for me and my opinions.

Here’s my manifesto:

Through this blog, I will show how a piece of vintage costume jewellery can contribute to the uniqueness of a look. It’s a fact that the parts of an outfit I receive the most complements on are those which are vintage. (Not that I keep some form of tally chart, but, if  I did, it would prove this statement correct!) Their originality and evocation of nostalgia, particularly when combined with the contemporary or on-trend, can have such impact. The juxtaposition of time periods can be truly eye-catching and can draw people’s attention to one’s style. It’s my intention in this blog to illustrate that vintage costume jewellery can not only be image enhancing, but can be worn with all looks, everyday; whether formal or casual; for an event or for no reason in particular than just playing with fashion!

(Above: Some examples of jewellery from ‘Gemma Redmond Vintage’.)

I’m an avid collector of vintage costume jewellery, owning pieces from as early was the late 1800s, and this enthusiasm is something that has evolved out of my three key interests.

Number One: The Past. I’ve always enjoyed finding out more about the events and generations that came before us. At the University of Manchester, I gained my degree in History in 2005. It is, therefore, only natural, I suppose, that I should be moved by ‘old’  as opposed to ‘new’ jewellery. The styles and materials are so often representative of the ideals and circumstances at the time the pieces were made.

Number Two: Art and Design. I’ve always enjoyed experiencing the endless interpretations of and for the world around us that creatives can provide. My fascination has been satisfied by hours spent in galleries encountered on my travels and by my purse (Chanel, of course!), making proud investment and pleasure purchases, such as a white leather Conran ‘Glove’ chair. It is, therefore, only natural, I suppose, that I am constantly in awe of the range of designs available within the field of vintage costume jewellery. From the intricate and delicate to the large-scale and outlandish, there is something to suit every taste and I am always impressed that the melting pot of creative ideas has never been exhausted.

Number Three: The Fashion Industry. I’ve always enjoyed shopping. No, seriously, I have. But, let’s try to inject some intellect here! I’ve always loved examining, wearing and combining stylish things, hearing about how they were made, the designers who made them and the people who they made them for. I guess this is why I’ve selected the phrase ‘fashion industry’ instead of ‘fashion’. Clothes and accessories have forever been more than a necessity to me. They have the power to transform how you are feeling and how others perceive you and, for me, that is something akin to magic. For as long as I can remember, I’ve immersed myself in this world that has such special powers – it’s not just about admiring something beautiful, it’s the story behind it and how it makes the wearer feel. My passion has been indulged lifelong, thanks to two generous (and patient!) parents. A birthday or Christmas has never been without a coveted garment and travel anywhere has always been enhanced by a visit to a designer boutique or two! (Despite being an excellent way to examine local life, I have often thought of clothes on rails, bags on shelves, as being like works of art in a gallery – only you can touch them! Really, boutique hopping can be classed as cultural tourism!) As I have become a ‘woman of independent means’, so my yearly fashion intake has doubled (possibly tripled!). I believe that my wardrobe now (with three decades under my belt) successfully expresses ‘me’. It is, therefore, only natural, I suppose, that I should want to gather a collection of accessories that perfectly complement my ‘tools of expression’. I have never failed to find a piece of vintage costume jewellery that does not feature the perfect hue to match a jacket; have the right detail to complement a pattern or the correct material to tone in with a texture.

(Above: Some style highlights from my childhood – a dress hand embroidered by my Oma; my clogs; mustard hues,a coin necklace and a fluorescent headband; my Minnie Mouse sweatshirt; my favourite denim button-down dress; doing some cultural tourism at the Christian Dior boutique wearing DKNY with Prada sandals and backpack.)

My parents and I on our Transatlantic Crossing to New York

(Above: My patient parents and I.)

So….what’s my reason for making these statements about the things I love? Well, I believe that my interest in the past, art and design and the fashion industry and my experiences within these fields give me qualification to talk to you about vintage costume jewellery and applying it to your style.

But, to make something else clear, vintage costume jewellery is more than just a hobby for me. It is my livelihood. And this is a fact that makes me qualified to advise on vintage costume jewellery too! In August 2014, I made the life changing decision to leave my job as a Primary School Teacher and pursue my passion by establishing my own online vintage costume jewellery store. Perhaps not uniquely, but rather pleasantly, this is therefore a blog that readers can shop from. As well as viewing how the  jewellery can be worn with various looks, you have the opportunity to buy the pieces on my website.

My last day at work!

(Above: My last day as a teacher!)

We’re fast approaching the end of this ‘about’ section but, before we bring things to a close, I feel I should explain further my ‘dramatic’ career change statement of the previous paragraph and allow you to peer a little deeper into the depths of my identity. Here we go:

My transition from teacher to business woman was catalysed by a tragic life event. An event that left me, not only with the desperate need to immerse myself in pursuits that provide me with escapism and joy in order feel some element of positivity, but with the realisation that my future happiness was down to me alone and I would have to ‘step out of my comfort zone’ in order to achieve it.  In 2011, I became a widow when my husband, Ian, was killed in an accident on our honeymoon. My life was changed forever. I was presented with the daunting situation of being independent again and the challenge of not being overcome.

I did wonder about making reference to Ian in this blog. Indeed, some have suggested to me that it might not be a good idea because it’s too sad and unsettling. I’m guessing that it’s made many of you stop in your tracks and think back to whether you recall it being mentioned in the news or perhaps it’s made you reflect on your own situations of loss. Whatever the impact may be…I’m sorry. But I feel that it is important to relay some of mine and Ian’s story, as it is pertinent to why I’m blogging…and selling.

Whilst I enjoyed making a difference as a teacher and the daily entertainment that only children can provide, I realised that the occupation was not enough to fill the gaping void that Ian had left in his wake. Almost three years after he passed away, the pain I felt for Ian loosing his life began to transform itself into feelings of sadness for what was to become of me. One life had already been destroyed by this accident and I was not prepared to let it claim another. My ‘old’ routines and ideals felt unconstructive without someone sharing my life with me. I had to ‘move forward’ into a ‘new normality’ with ‘renewed purpose’ (good therapy quotes!) and the solution could be to follow a dream and submerge myself in my go-to tonic of fashion. As a young woman, without any dependants, I was in a situation where I could pursue my own ambitions. This pursuit of my passion would also, I thought, be an appropriate way of honouring Ian’s memory. He knew about my suppressed hankerings to be Britain’s best dressed shopkeeper and writer of an online journal about Britain’s most stylish wedding (ours, of course), so he would often suggest I just ‘go for it’ and set up a blog/online business. I’m doubtless (after our nine years together) that I knew him well enough to know that he would be proud of the life I am attempting to cultivate now. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had many moments where curling up in a corner has seemed preferable to grabbing my Balenciaga Town and walking out of the door, but those occasions are becoming less and less frequent. I think I’m doing alright, even if I do say so myself!

Wedding

(Above: Ian and I on our wedding day.)

My belief that my career change would have a positive impact upon my personal well being has (so far!) been proven correct. Every day has provided a new encounter and I feel like I’m being proactive about ‘moving on’ by doing something different. I’m enjoying being ‘my own boss’ and having freedom with my creative ideas. In the pursuit of a successful retail business and blogging career, I have completed courses on ‘Establishing your own Fashion Business’ at Central St Martins’ and ‘Fashion Blogging’ and ‘Fashion Journalism’ at the London College of Fashion. Not only has my new learning been fun, it’s also affirmed that I’m following the right path, whilst developing my knowledge at the same time.

After the revelations of my recent paragraphs, I guess you might say that the purpose of this blog is two-fold. On the one hand, it’s here on your device to provide the fashionista inside all of us with style musings that particularly pertain to vintage costume jewellery. On the other hand, it’s here to show that there can be life after tragedy and, even if the pleasures come from the material, whatever makes you smile after whatever hardship you have encountered is unequivocally acceptable.

Whatever your reason for reading and whatever you take from my posts, I hope you enjoy this blog.

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Happy browsing!

Gemma x