18 November 2009

Keep Calm & Carry On


the inspiring calm of a David Hicks room

Some people- some rooms- Exude a spirit of CALM. Nobody does it better than the Brits. Whether it be their glossies, their artful dodger or tweedy fashion sense or their approach to comfortable, yet luxurious living- the Empire can turn out- COOL, CALM, LOW KEY STYLE with aplomb.

This now "everywhere" image has its roots in the Second World War-Britain. When in spring of 1939 war with Germany was all but declared- the British Government planned its strategy to maintain morale, inspire courage and provide reassurance to its people.

fashion Empire style

The KEEP CALM story begins with three posters created under the crown of King George V during WWII.The first two were widely released, appearing on billboards, train stations and shops in England.Production commenced in August 1939, with a print budget of £20,600 for five million posters. The first poster phrased by a civil servant named Waterfield- was simply the following-the crown of George VI, the bold red and white poster & the words‘Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution will Bring us Victory’. The second poster read ‘Freedom is in Peril’.
an original

The third design, read ‘Keep Calm and Carry On'- reserved for the ultimate crisis feared- Invasion. The poster remained uncirculated-
image from here 

The poster  resurfaced after about 60 years later in a box of books purchased at auction in 2000 by Stuart and Mary Manley of Barter Books in Northumberland.

The KEEP CALM poster was hung in the shop and the pair started to research their find. Requests to purchase led to the reproduction of the poster and the rest in HISTORY- as they say.

 A message that continues to resonate. Perhaps-we take ourselves a little to seriously, when reflecting on the original creation of the mantra. The clean crisp look of the words with the iconic image of the crown designwise could not be more current. In a time when making the message clear was ALL- it is a refreshing, nostalgic- but ultimately a powerful presentation our world today.

Think about this simple,powerful design when the blowouts and blow-ups of the Holiday Season blow in. Repeat-
Keep Calm & Carry ON. & Again- if necessary.

 cuff links with a white shirt

a rubber stamp would be great
oh wait-
they have that too, 
available here.
Perhaps an addition to my design proposals.

David Hicks lit a polonaise 

& in today's modern world-the ultimate Cool approach by Brit0Anya Hindmarch, handbag design darling, posing in her Living Room,as seen in VANITY FAIR 2009 here


image from here

all fashion images from Style.com here, Vivenne Westwood Red Label, Graeme Black, Aquascutum, Ossie Clark.

all things are available at the KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON website here 


  1. Cool Britannia wins again. This is an excellent reminder.

  2. Thanks for sharing the history behind this timeless (and oh-so-relevant to current times ) moment from British history. I especially love the tattered & peeling poster image.

    Let's also hear it for
    Courage / Cheerfulness / Resolution!


  3. Yes, thanks. I had wondered where this came from.

  4. I know that a lot of the design people say this is so last year, but I think that it's a timeless message.

  5. The message really resonates this time of year and most probably the years we are entering. Thank God I don't follow Trends and Fads- if it was good enough for Winston and Clemmie in the 40's it is good enough for me! G

  6. That photo of Vivien Leigh is a perfect illustration of why I wish I were a brunette. A blonde just couldn't pull it off as well. :-(

  7. said with stiff upper lip! That last evening dress - mmmm - has that 40s flair too!

  8. Love it(still), thanks for background. My best college bud and I had another favorite: "things could be worse". Or there's the stalwart "could be worse, could be raining...". Should we compile a list of the 10 most historically uplifting phrases? Trish

  9. Hi there - great post, very interesting to see the history. yes it is an overexposed image but like all good messages it is authentic and resonates. xoxo

  10. mamacita- She is quite amazing. The now gray hairs creeping into the dark hairs makes maintaining it hard. I have had to lighten to accomodate the gray otherwise I look like I have plastered black polish on the locks for about 2 weeks-look good 2 weeks and then begin desperately seeking the tweezers for the gray! Wonder what V. did? la

  11. All your lovely comments-many thanks. I am struck by the fact that I am still quite virginal in the blog world- I can not back pedal FAST enough to know whats In or Out. Fortunately(I think). For me- Toile is never out-though Grossly abused, Skins patterns are not New-at least not since the mid 18th c or earlier, faux painting is still good when done well, Trends are Out here at Little Augury-hope no one minds. G

  12. Love the images. Also like your thoughts that trends are banished but the good shall always remain timeless. I'm letting mother nature frost my hair. She's very good at it.

  13. Home- always my sentiments pretty much exactly. I am officially banishing Trends from LA. (imagine No trends in LA- something John Lennon didnt even imagine.) Thank you- I need to come to some more terms with Mother Nature-she is loved-but I am limited in my affections! G

  14. Another gloriously eclectic post. Good old Blighty! (the affectionate wartime name for Britain). Gaye, tell me this: are you up all night carefully compiling your posts?? They look like mountainous amounts of work but don't stop, please.

  15. I've seen this poster everywhere - but not all the other fun things to go with it! Thanks for the great shopping trip.

  16. Rose- I learn from you each and every read and comment here. Not up all night at all- except with a dog occasionally, & yes there's the wee bit of insomnia, oh, and the night sweats, but I am trying to get to bed earlier in order to compensate.

  17. Sanity Fair- most welcome, and to think something that stayed hidden for 60ish years and was created at such a perilous time could be over saturated. I don't think so. G



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