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A Letter From Isabel

June is historically wedding season, dating back to Roman times and the marriage of Jupiter and Juno. The month of June coincided with good weather, the arrival of new crops for a wedding festival and a rest for festivities before the hard work of harvest time and when most people who worked on the land had time for a celebration. Romantically, there was also an abundance of fresh flowers for the ceremony and celebrations. 


But Covid has changed all this and many wedding celebrations are sadly having to be postponed... and with the powerful planet Venus retrograde this month... in all honesty, it is better to delay, young lovers.

Trying to cheer ourselves up and not to allow Covid to spoil everything, Connolly’s new exhibition is opening next week and it's all about something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.

Old friends have given new pieces for our summer show... based around blue and white. We celebrate summer with Carolyn Quatermaines’ beautiful cyanotypes, Alba Hodsolls spare, delicate, blue ink artwork, and those magical organic ceramic sculptures from Lucille Lewin. And then there is our new friend, Frank Akinsete, with his incredible eye for vintage pieces and cloths. Frank, The king of vintage style and the colour indigo in particular combining sustainable beauty in the old and with his creative talent and giving these vintage pieces new life.


Frank Akinsete is a freelance style consultant for both individuals and corporate clients and a guest lecturer in styling at various Universities around the country and ran a Portobello Market Boutique on Fridays and Saturdays until the world as we knew it, stopped in March. 

"As I was growing up, I always had an interest in second-hand clothing. I loved rummaging in junk shops and going to jumble sales. I lived on Kings Road in the Seventies and grew up with Punk and D.I.Y. fashion. ‘My Recyclamania movement in the 90s, set up the world’s first ever vintage concession within a department store, ‘Souled Out’  in Topshop’s flagship store on Oxford Street, London. 
When I ran ‘Souled Out’ we used to find items and deconstruct then upcycle them. This was often experimental, but the results were spectacular.

I love dyeing items and giving them a second life, a skill I’ve accrued throughout the varied aspects of my work. This work includes fifteen years of work styling editorial shoots for print media, creating images for bands and styling pop videos for a range of artists in the music industry."

"I love dyeing items and giving them a second life"

"As an Ambassador for Extinction Rebellion’s global environmental movement with the stated aim of using nonviolent civil disobedience to compel government action to avoid tipping points in the climate system, biodiversity loss, and the risk of social and ecological collapse, I try to raise awareness of the harmful environmental effects the fashion industry poses to the environment.

During lockdown I have had the time to dye and upcycle on my patio on sunny days inspired by the various shades of blue of the sky and its impact on my mood. I treated some of my clothes with indigos, navy,  and sometimes the sun and in time I had a selection of blue pieces. 

A month ago, I popped over to my friend Carolyn Quartermaine’s cyanoacrylate studio to deliver some vintage clothing. On arrival she exclaimed “You Look Amazing can I take some Photos of You!”. I was dressed in my shades of blue. She sent them to Isabel Ettedgui who loved my look. I’ve curated a selection of vintage items and treated the pieces for the rail at ‘Connolly’ in conjunction with Carolyn Quartermaine’s blue paintings for the Connolly summer exhibition. My curated selection is called “Rocky” after my Blue Burmese Tom Cat.

"During lockdown I have had the time to dye and upcycle on my patio on sunny days inspired by the various shades of blue of the sky and its impact on my mood."

I’m currently working on a new Vintage Fair at The Columbia. Vintage at The Columbia will launch on 9th August 2020 and will be the first socially distanced Vintage clothing fair in London. The Columbia is a beautiful building full of character and charm, spread over five Victorian townhouses and overlooking Kensington Gardens. Our aim is to connect lovers of vintage safely, working out the “New Norm” for indoor fairs following lockdown. All guidelines on social distancing will be followed. The building is perfectly designed for social distancing with its various entrances and exits allowing us to adopt a one-way system for attendees to browse and shop. Vintage at The Columbia will be a monthly recurring event, bringing back confidence in indoor markets. Tickets will go on sale soon via The Columbia's new website which is launching in the coming weeks. Until then, follow @thecolumbialondon and @souledoutathouseofprovenance on Instagram for updates."

The Connolly summer exhibition runs from 2nd July until 2nd September 2020 at 4 Clifford St, London.