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Tremains Art Deco Weekend 2015 – the Party Hits its Stride 20-21 February

A nice sloOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAw start on Friday again – everyone had various errands to run, and Iain and I wanted another look at the Antique Fair. After that, it was such a gorgeous day we decided on a wander down by the Marine Promenade. It was a dazzler of a day with clear blue skies and a crystal view all the way out to Cape Kidnappers.
Down along the Marine Promenade the traction engines and vehicles of various descriptions were already building up a head of steam for the day. We took a walk up as far as Ocean Spa and then ensconced ourselves outside the Hog’s Breath Cafe…not a very Deco sounding venue, but it is the former Napier Club and under the theme restaurant paraphernalia there are some surviving original features. We just wanted cold drinks, and sat there until we were told to make our way back or risk being late for lunch – a lovely meal at the County.

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Following that it was shoes off before dressing for dinner. Friday night and the plan was to enjoy the live music from the Soundshell and spend time with everyone outside the Masonic, alongside Holly. We went for a walk up to the Fountain, swimming through large crowds, and were impressed by their number and liveliness.

Nick in one of the most interesting outfits – 1920s court dress in white tie, including breeches. I was fascinated when he first showed me the source images for these.

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One of the things I love about the weekend is that it caters for so many different groups – the swing and ballroom dancers who come into town have a magnificent time as there are both organised events like the Hastings Black Tie ball and also live music everywhere to dance to throughout the day and late into the evening. I usually make it over for at least a single dance, but I was so caught up with what was going on around me the closest I made it was to dash over when a group of young lads erupted in a spontaneous round or two of Bollywood Dancing in the road, to the delight of everyone. Later, after the live acts had finished, a group of young local boys got up and danced an impressive Haka on stage. It was that sort of a night!

The White Tie club – Nick, Matthew, Colin and Martin

We lingered until late and the crowds had dissipated, although I was mindful that I needed to be up, dressed, and ready for action by 10.30 am on Saturday. Still, I managed to get a few hours sleep before rising in time to dress in a fairly leisurely way and have a quick breakfast out.

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I had on a fairly sober and easy to wear outfit – a black silk over dress with openwork at the sleeves and a red cloche, shoes and accessories. We arrived with plenty of time and, as always happens when you leave plenty of time to prep (but never happens when you don’t allow that time) the ITC set up was fine and the slides flicked through. The talk was held in the War Memorial Centre, which has wonderful sea views, so the guests had a lovely Devonshire Tea looking out to sea before filing into the hall for the talk.

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Afterwards we had enough time to go back and get changed for the afternoon – unfortunately having to miss the car parade, but I know from experience it can be difficult to cram too much into a Saturday morning and afternoon, and I was due to take part in the judging at the Costumes and Coiffure competition. Last year Saturday was a ragingly hot day and I spent so much time out in the sun I was very dehydrated by Saturday evening. Fearful of something similar this day, I changed into a light floral chiffon – fortunately, Charmed Deco was again at work and all weekend we had a cooling and refreshing breeze. I was very comfortable up on stage in the shade, with temperatures just right. Fellow judges were Leigh and Nerida Cortese.

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All the dancers were superb – and these chorines, moving through the crowds like a flock of exotic birds, turned many heads!                           (Photograph courtesy Martin and Leigh Gillard)

Glory Days Magazine – an absolutely excellent publication, written by and for lovers of vintage style and which covers a great diversity of aspects of vintage clothing and lifestyle – were the sponsors, and Claire and Rose were the photographers for the event. It was the first time I had the chance to see them all weekend, and with one covering the event from onstage and the other from the ground, the photographs of the contestants and dancers that resulted were superb. They’d also been running a styling salon, so there were some beautiful coiffures!
I was very pleased with the standard of entries this year, even if that meant a few tough calls as a judge. I do enjoy both judging and participating, as there is no easier way to see the entries up close. Some exquisite original and repro outfits, with Sara winning both original vintage and overall with a lovely ensemble that had an overarching 1933 World’s Fair theme – the dress, parasol and some of her accessories had connections to the event. It was striking in colour and form, very stylish, and the attention to detail (down to the pins/broaches on her lapel) was faultless. You can catch up with more great photos of the day at the Glory Days blog.

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Saturday Costumes and Coiffure competition with winner, Sara, in the middle.                                               (Photograph courtesy Leigh and Martin Gillard)

Afterwards Leigh and I adjourned to Iain’s suite in the Masonic that overlooks the Marine Parade and the vintage cars that were pulling up in front of the hotel, as well as the crowds going back and forward to the events at the Sound Shell. We had a fun filled, lively afternoon there last year with friends, and this year continued the merriment in what Iain is threatening may need to become a ticket-only event. It proved a good perch to look out for Matthew and Nick, who were given rides in a Silver Ghost Rolls Royce. I notoriously managed to wreck havoc in the suite last year with my stiff, large linen dress sweeping cheese balls off tables (and somehow managed to bring down the curtain rail – still can’t explain that!), so Iain greeted me at the door with a container full of cheese balls to welcome me in.

With the windows open in the corner suite (now dubbed the “Royal Suite” as the Queen stayed there on her visit to Napier) and the breeze blowing through, it was one of the more pleasant spots to be in Napier, with Iain acting as a warm host.

Finally we needed to prepare for the evening – we were looking forward to Saturday night, as we were attending Sara’s show at the Hawke’s Bay club. My mother had spent a lot of time stabilising the pink beaded black dress I bought at the Sydney Fair, and I had a fantastic lamé coat that wasn’t going to be too warm. We were at a table with the hosts and Sara joined us between sets (drinking sparkling wine from her miniature personal version of the Costumes and Coiffure trophy). The meals were very passable indeed, and the entertainment was superb.

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Saturday night ensemble

Sara played a selection of favourites of the era that remain appreciated to this day, works by songwriters like Irving Berlin, and also some of the fun popular music of the era. I was delighted that in addition to the classics, she had more obscure 1920-30s songs like “If your kisses won’t hold the man you love”, originally popularised by Sophie Tucker. She moved easily from passion to pathos to humour, and the audience loved it. Let it be noted that Sara always looks glamourous, and effortlessly elegant in her 1930s gowns.

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Afterwards we moved on again to Holly outside the Masonic. Leigh and Martin were already holding the fort and playing host at one of the most popular venues in town – Holly Bar. We arrived at about the same time that the members of our group who had gone to the Ukulele Beach party did, so things were a riot of laughter as they tried to pluck out a few ukulele songs they’d learned. I had to be up at 5.00 am to help Martin set up the Gatsby gazebo so I needed to slip away early – early in this case translating to 1.30 am.

The ukelele beach party-goers, who seem to have had a magnificent time.

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Saturday night party in full swing.

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