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Me and Nancy Joined at the Wrist

Posted by Anmarie Bowler Fashion blogger

30th Mar 2015

I recently bought this gorgeous bangle at my local Ealing Oxfam. It was love at first sight and why not? As it happens I've already got quite a few bangles.

Over time and through my travels I have amassed a large, colourful collection of bracelets. I feel underdressed without my wrist ware; indeed arm candy has become my signature look. Collecting a certain fashion item has been a sartorial exercise that focuses my style eye. By gathering multiple examples of something I love, it seems I naturally compare and contrast textures and colour; seeking out the quirky, the one-of-a-kind and the unusual.

Collecting bangles also led me to the rather unusual Nancy Cunard. Born in 1896, she was the daughter of Sir Bache Cunard (an heir to the Cunard shipping business) and Maude Alice Burke, (an American heiress). In the 1920's Nancy moved to Paris and became involved with literary movements of the day, including Surrealism and Modernism. While a published author of poetry, she was also the muse to some of the most distinguished writers and artists of the era; Ezra Pound, Langston Hughes, Man Ray and James Joyce to name a few. 

Nancy had a penchant for African art and artefacts. Oversized adornments - primarily bangles - made of natural materials like wood, ivory and bone were her 'calling card'. She was often photographed wearing a good many of her much-loved bracelets.

Nancy founded her own publishing house, The Hours Press, and among other things, edited and published the Negro Anthology, a massive collection of poetry, essays and non-fiction primarily the work of black Americans. While today it's considered a seminal accomplishment, at the time rampant racism saw Nancy face death threats and abuse for her literary contribution.       

While she was born into money and lived an artistic life among some of the worlds most accomplished creators, Nancy was a tortured soul and died penniless.

Bangles brought me to Nancy Cunard. Against the odds, this remarkable woman explored the arts and politics, while putting style at the forefront of her life. So with her in mind, I grow my second-hand bracelet collection, helping good causes a few bangles at a time. 

For more on Nancy Cunard and other women of her era, I highly recommend Judith Mackrell's book Flappers.  

Have a look in your local Oxfam and see what beautiful bangles you can find, or explore great range of accessories on Oxfam's Online Shop. 

Go to the Oxfam Online Shop

Blog post written by Anmarie Bowler

Fashion blogger

More by Anmarie Bowler