August is here, which means holidays! Several of team Palava have trips coming up this month. I am lucky enough to be travelling to Croatia next week - I'm so excited I have already started packing. Here's a selection of my holiday essentials, chiefly - sunglasses, books and dresses!
This is my pick of books for the trip: an anthology of women travel writers, a novel by Elizabeth Bowen and my favourite novella by W. Somerset Maugham.
Elizabeth Bowen was an Irish born writer from Dublin. Born in 1899, her first collection of short stories entitled 'Encounters' was published in 1923. Bowen went on to be a prolific short story writer - her work is often taught as part of creative writing and literature courses as a shining example of the craft. This novel, 'A House in Paris' was first published in 1935. Split into three parts, it follows the meeting of two children in France's beautiful and majestic capital city. From there we travel back in time to learn more about the boy's parents and the family's history in Paris - their lives, loves and adventures.
William Somerset Maugham was born in France in 1874. His influence as a writer is apparent in not only the continued popularity of his novels and short stories but also the many film adaptations of his work. One of my personal favourites is 'The Painted Veil'. Maugham himself was an interesting character - during WW1 he served with the Red Cross, going on to work as a government spy. He fictionalised his experiences of espionage in 'Ashenden: Or the British Agent' (1928) and other short stories.
'Up At The Villa' (1941) is both a literary classic and the perfect holiday read. I have read this twice before - the last time was a few years ago, so the memories of the story have faded a little. One of the most enjoyable things about returning to a book is the different perspective that time can provide. The nuances of characters and plot can shift, depending on your own experiences and the context or the place in which you read the book. Without giving too much away for those who haven't read it, 'Up At The Villa' is essentially a tale of romance with a dark twist. The clean prose and vivid characterisation enable you to get lost in the luscious Tuscan countryside where the novel is set.
'The Virago Book of Women Travellers' is a collection of short stories by female authors: including Mary Wollstonecraft, M.F.K Fisher and Joan Didion. Selected for their common theme of travel - all stories take place with the author or lead character visiting places far away from home. The stories date between 1717 and the later part of the 20th century, and are fascinating snapshots of women who were fearless in their ambition to travel and explore the world, even during times when it was particularly unusual for women to do so. I am looking forward to dipping into this during my own summer adventure!
Now that I have my book choices sorted, on to the dresses! These are all currently in our big Summer Sale, alongside countless other styles. I picked these three for myself and am looking forward to wearing them in Croatia.
The detail on our Kew Gardens print is very special - featuring Mr. Giraffe and several of his animal friends including a crafty snake, a few birds of prey and a magnificent peacock in full plume. The vibrant colours, unique print and flattering cut make this one of my favourite Palava designs.
Irene Coral Doodle is a lovely lightweight summer dress that was designed by Bryony after an afternoon doodling. A little sketch on a notebook transformed into the print you see on the dress. The muted coral colour is vintage inspired and perfect for summer.
Our Rose Pineapple Heaven dress is a classic - with a V-shaped neckline, pretty pink waist tie and lovely knee-length skirt. I love the fun quality of the novelty print.
I can't wait to share some photographs from my holiday with you all, so stay tuned. In the meantime, have a browse of our sale. Many of our gorgeous prints are limited edition and won't be made again. Which makes them even more special!
Whether you're going away in August or staying at home, here's to a good month ahead!
For our main correspondence address, please contact:
8 Selkirk House,
Were It All Began...
Once upon a time... in a small town called Yarm on Tees there was a family owned shop called Strickland and Holt. To this day it is no ordinary shop and is well worth a visit if you find yourself nearby. Passed down through the generations since 1854 this small department store has taken many forms - from a wine and spirit merchants to a chemist to the gift, toy and clothing shop it is today.
In 1974 Stephanie Holt and her husband Michael left London and returned to Yarm to to see what they might do with the family business. Strickland and Holt became the birthplace of Poppy (now called Palava). Poppy initially made children's bedding from prints designed by local artists and it wasn't long before Stephanie and Michael were selling to the prestigious department stores Harrods and John Lewis. The company branched out into clothing and continued to make collections until the year 2000.
What Happened Next?
It was not until 10 years later that the youngest of Stephanie and Michael’s four children decided to bring Poppy back to life. Bryony moved back to the family shop and set to work.
Starting with children’s designs, Bryony began to draw her own illustrated prints, taking inspiration from the storybooks she had read as a child, such as Milly Molly Mandy and the storybooks of Eve Garnett.
Soon, Bryony's friends were asking about dresses for themselves and before long, the womenswear collection took shape.
Today and going forward
'Poppy' became 'Palava' a few years ago and Bryony now heads up a little studio in London rather than Yorkshire, but apart from that, the spirit of this little family business still remains. Stephanie and Michael still help out at the Yorkshire warehouse and the beautiful prints are still what Palava is known for.
We make clothes for real women and children - who live, love and laugh. Real women with real bodies and real lives. Real women who forget their keys and who have that extra slice of cake with their tea. Real children who have muddy knees and wild imaginations. We celebrate living colourfully and creatively and we will always do our best to bring an extra bit of joy to your day through our clothing.