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Friday, 1 July 2011

Style - Forest Elf... Biba, Pastoral Patterns and Nature

Yvonne McKeown goes down to the woods to meet Em

Who and what is Forest Elf?

orest Elf:
Forest Elf is me! It’s a nickname I have had and thought it would be a great and unique name to use for my textiles and vintage business. I started off making home accessories like cushions. I love bold colourful prints and putting different ones, including vintage fabric together. I will be soon selling vintage clothing and my own line of vintage style clothing.

H: You love strong textile patterns like Ossie Clark – was he an influence from the start?

FE: He is definitely one of many influences yes. I am very much inspired by bold ’60s and ’70s prints. I also love art deco and nouveau which were also influences in the ’60s.

H: Who is your all time ’60s fashion icon? Why?

FE: That’s a hard one. I don’t really have one. I would say my two favourite designers were Barbara Hulanicki and Ossie Clark. There were so many beautiful and well dressed women in the ’60s. Jean Shrimpton and Brigitte Bardot being two of my favourite.

H: How has ’60s fashion influenced your boutique?

FE: Boutiques are very much a ’60s thing – it’s where it started. The late ’60s was all about colour, psychedelia and flower power. I would say I am a hippy at heart and am hugely into nature – my other passion being wildlife photography.

H: When did you discover you had a talent for textiles and an eye for a vintage wonder?

FE: I started collecting vintage clothing about 10 years ago. Mainly ’60s stuff. I got involved in the ’60s scene and loved it! I felt it was where I really belonged and would say I was born at the wrong time. Since I was a little girl I loved dressing up and loved going to fancy dress parties and making my own outfits. I was such a perfectionist as a child and had to colour coordinate everything I wore.

H: What is the concept of your new Boutique? How was it born?

FE: I have always wanted a boutique. I never thought I’d get one though with a lot being online now and thought it was so sad that so many lovely little independent shops were disappearing. It’s a dream come true to be having one. I live in a very unique and quirky place and am lucky for this shop space to have come up. It means I can expand and do what I love most and that’s vintage clothing. The boutique will be my workshop too. I want it to be the sort of place someone can come in and hang out if they wanted too. Make them a cupa tea and chat.

H: You're a breast cancer survivor, how did overcoming that give you the determination and motivation to follow your dreams and start Forest Elf?

FE: For about the last 10 years I had been very unsettled. I never really had the confidence to go and do what I really wanted to do. Having cancer was a kick up the arse for me. It was a bad time but I got some really positive stuff out of it. I started a fashion and costume design course when I finished my treatment and after making all my family and friends their Xmas presents they said I’d be mad not to start something up. This really motivated me to start the boutique and I’m so happy I did. I think life’s too short to be unhappy. I’m not money motivated and would rather love what I do, and not earn big bucks, than the other way round.

H: Where would you like to see yourself and Forest Elf in the coming years?

FE: I would love Forest Elf to be at lots of festivals and also for the boutique to expand. I love what Barbara Hulanicki did with Biba when she expanded. I’ve always wanted a vintage shop with a little hang out area where people could sit and drink and listen to vinyl.

Forest Elf Site

Stable yard.
Main street
LE17 4HX

Mon - Fri: 10.30AM - 5PM
Sat: 10AM - 5PM
Sun: Closed

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