Friday, 6 May 2011

60 SECOND INTERVIEW: Harriet Cunningham

HARRIET Cunningham has lived in Lyme Regis for the last eight years where she runs her own shop Sublyme Vintage Clothing. Harriet opened her shop after moving to the area to explore and share her love of vintage fabrics. Before moving to Lyme Regis, Harriet spent 20 years in Blandford and also lived in New Zealand for two years. Harriet has three adult children who all attended the Woodroffe School. She now lives with her partner Geoff, who has a ten-year-old son Gully. In her spare time Harriet likes to take to the water to indulge in her lifelong passion for sailing. She took time out after the Bank Holiday celebrations this week to give us her retro fashion tips, her views on sailing on the Jurassic Coast and to tell us why she had to leave New Zealand.

WHAT first attracted you to Lyme Regis?
The sea really. Just wanting to live by the sea and to stay in Dorset.

WHEN did you start sailing?
I grew up sailing, my father sailed, we all sailed. I used to live out in New Zealand and I did a lot of sailing out there as well. I’ve sailed across the Atlantic and done loads, it’s a big thing for me. I’ve got a mooring in Lyme and I go sailing out there but none of the children will come with me anymore because we have had so many hair-raising outings and they hate it.

IS THE Jurassic Coast a nice place to sail?
It’s quite dangerous if you don’t know the tides and the winds, but I’ve learnt the hard way. Out in Lyme Bay is very dangerous if you don’t understand the tides. The tide sort of whisks in and it’s like a plughole really, the waters are whooshing around one way and the wind is pushing it the other way and if you don’t know what you’re doing you can get in real trouble out there.

WHEN did your interest in vintage clothing start?
I’ve always collected antique fabrics and I’ve always loved searching for old textiles and it seemed like the next step after I bought a house with a shop. I just love old textiles, I’m not so into fashion I’m more into finding the beautiful fabrics, that’s my world.

WHAT was your favourite clothing era?
The 1930s/40s. They just had the most beautiful prints and the style of the actual dresses were always very elegant.

WHAT retro style is in fashion this summer?
I suppose it’s back to the 1950s again, the bold floral prints are very in fashion with the 50s dresses and the full skirts.

WHO would be your three dream guests at a dinner party?
Russell Crowe, Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn because I would love to have them round.

WHAT was the last book you read, film you watched and CD you listened to?
The last really good book I read was 'The Help' by Kathryn Stockett, it’s about the uprising of the Black community in America during the Martin Luther King era. The last film I watched was probably The King’s Speech, I did enjoy that. I don’t listen to CDs anymore because I’ve got an iPod, the last album I was listening to on there was The Be Good Tanyas' album, Chinatown.

HOW does the countryside in New Zealand compare to Dorset?
It looks almost identical in the north. A lot of people from Dorset go out to New Zealand because it’s like a home from home. You’ve got all these soft rolling green hills and little bays. The only difference is that they have got lots of lovely white sand. We came back home because it gets quite boring, a view does get boring after a while. You need to have a bit more than a view, we needed to get back in the rat race a bit.

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