My Ealing

Getting to know the locals

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Amy Calver owner of Clarence and Alabama

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Amy Calver, 34 is the owner of online shop Clarence and Alabama Vintage Inspired Dresses.

What brought you to the area?

I am originally from Dorset and I followed my sister to Ealing after she moved up here in 2006 (well I had to keep my eye on her!). I had a wonderful house share which I had a lot of fun in and then I met my now husband back down on a visit home to Bournemouth – turns out he was living in Ealing – just one road away from mine I like to think we would have met down the Red Lion or another Ealing pub even if we hadn’t met that night down in Bournemouth.

Where do you live?

I live in Hanwell and was lucky enough to buy a flat 2 years ago with my husband. I have lived in Ealing for 8 years now (oh my goodness how did that happen!) Previously to that I have lived in Northfields, West Ealing and Ealing Broadway (ha-ha, I’ve tried them all)

What do you like best about it?

I just absolutely love everything about Ealing! I used to think that the Broadway was the be all and end all when I was in my twenties and living in my fun house-share! Lots of shops, pubs and close to the tube. But as time went on I discovered all the different parts to Ealing. South Ealing, Northfields, Pitshanger, West Ealing and finally Hanwell! I love that you can cycle around and visit all the different parts to Ealing and discover something new every time. I love the summer festivals in Walpole Park – especially the Beer Festival! I have been every year since I moved to Ealing – wish I had all the pint glasses all intact! I also absolutely love the canal, we love cycling along it down to Brentford, or further afield to Richmond or the other way up to Uxbridge. I keep saying we should cycle to Birmingham along the canal staying over at lots of pubs along the way.

And do you think what could be improved?

I think we could do with more exciting shops like There Cycling in Hanwell – What I would love to see is a big warehouse or space where we could all rent a space and have a kind of Emporium of loveliness! My dream is to have a shop in Hanwell one day.

Where are your favourite restaurants/bars/cafes?

The Clock Tower Café in Hanwell is a new favourite. You should try their cornbread, it is so moreish and I keep dreaming about it – They have a really lovely menu, the coffee is delicious and Morna the owner often puts on supper clubs with music but you have to be quick to book a table as they are proving very popular. – I feel so lucky that they are practically on my doorstep. I also really like the newly refurbished Grosvenor Pub in Hanwell ) – It’s a real gem and has local beer Weird Beard on tap and lovely red wine!! I like sitting out in their back garden on a Friday evening snacking on their delicious bar snacks and chatting with my friends – and making new ones!

Are there any places that don't get as much recognition as you think they should?

There-Cycling shop in Hanwell (opposite Wickes) – it is a paradise for bikes! If you are looking for something really special then you should take a trip and go and lust after all the bikes. The staff are so friendly and knowledgeable and the shop is run by a really inspiring couple full of enthusiasm and ideas. They are truly an asset to Ealing!

How did you get involved in vintage clothing?

The clothes on my website are reproduction vintage so that means they are all inspired from the 1940s or 1950s but are brand new and cut to today’s sizing. I got married last year at Pitzhangor Manor (so pleased to hear about their grant to fully restore it!) and I wanted my bridesmaids to wear 1950s style dresses so it opened up a whole new world of amazing vintage inspired clothing. I just wanted to bring all my favourites together and make the dresses available to everyone, you don’t have to be into ‘vintage’ they are just pretty dresses!

How did you come up with the name for your business?

The name of my business is inspired by the lead characters: Clarence and Alabama in the film True Romance. Directed by Tony Scott and written by Quentin Tarantino, it's a great love story and I just love those names, like Bonnie and Clyde or Samson and Delilah!

Where do you find all the lovely dresses?

Most are from the UK; Manchester, Southampton, Newquay and right here in London

Do you think there is a renaissance in vintage clothing and if so why? Which era do you think looks best on women?

Yes there has been a trend for a while now for vintage clothing, even the charity shops have ‘vintage’ rails now – the trouble with original vintage is that you may find something wonderful but the size may not be right so that is beauty with the reproduction vintage, you can get it in almost any size you like!
I think there is a renaissance for ‘vintage’ clothing as it can make you feel a bit special and even part of a ‘lifestyle’ – although I personally think you don’t have to be into the ‘vintage’ look – my dresses are great for everyone, they offer something so different to the high street and you can pretty much guarantee you won’t be wearing the same dress at someone else at that party or wedding you are going to!
I really think that the 1950s era looks so flattering, it’s something about the necklines, belts that pull you in at the waist and full skirts creating a wonderful womanly shape! What I particularly like is that the length of the skirts are much longer than what you currently find on the high street so they are perfect for taller ladies but also look fabulous on petite ladies with some high peep toes on!

Do you do men's vintage clothing?

No I don’t…yet!

Tell us about the pop-up fair...

The Ealing Pop-Up Fair is on Saturday 7th June, open from 11am to 4pm and it is free entry. It is being held at Ealing Green Church Hall which is in Ealing Broadway (opposite Ealing Studios and one down from the Grove Pub)
We have lots of local businesses coming to the fair. Visage Hair & Beauty will be doing free vintage makeovers. W7 Beauty Bar are coming to talk about what they do and file & polishes. There Cycling are coming with a couple of their retro style bikes. We have a new local girl group called The Buttercups who will be performing at 2pm; they sing modern songs with a vintage twist! We have Tea Darling running a tea-room using all their beautiful china cups and teapots. I will be there with my dresses plus lots more stalls, selling handmade goodies and treasures!

I was looking at fairs where I could take my dresses and although there are a lot of these types of fairs around there were none in Ealing so I thought ‘Hey! I will organise one myself!’ I have found a lot of local support through #ealinghour on twitter (join in every Tuesday 8-9pm by tweeting using the #ealinghour hashtag!) and through that it spurred me on to organise the fair!

If you had a slogan to 'sell' Ealing to those who don't know the area what would it be?

Ealing is EPIC!



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June 3rd 2014