As one of my more geli (if that word makes no sense to you, read it as squeamish) friends said to me when I was bemoaning the lack of vintage dress shops here in Singapore, “Darling, I just don’t like to buy anything that someone might have sweated in or died in.” I know what she’s saying; I just never think too hard about it. There is also the rather more obvious solution of giving everything you buy that’s been worn before (and not by you) a jolly good wash.
I love the idea of clothes having had a life before they became mine and when I was in London for my three day flying visit I managed to go, with my sis who was clever enough to know all about it, to the London Vintage Fashion, Textiles and Accessories Fair that’s at the decidedly dodgy end of Hammersmith, on King Street.
It was chock full of beautiful pieces…from granny’s old furs,
to retro-fabulous handbags…(I particularly loved this square one, right in the middle of the picture below, with its red on beige houndstooth check…
although I have to say I’m decidedly less sure on the concept of second hand shoes)
…and stunning vintage kimonos:
Stalls were not manned by people having attic clear outs (damn, because when they are, prices are fabulous)…vintage in the UK, and indeed almost everywhere, has become big business.
These guys – Butterfly Girl Vintage – actually had a very comprehensive, wearable selection of things (you’d be amazed by some of the stuff that was for sale at other stalls). Running this clothing line, that they have built up with clever retro buys over the years, is all they do. The real money though comes not from fairs, but from their tours of all the music festivals around Britain which they do in an old fashioned van groaning with stacks of retro dresses. They also have a permanent shop.
You can’t help feeling that if you are a half decent Charity shopper (I consider myself to be pretty darn good in a Charity shop) then you could pick up most of this stuff for about £5…rather than the £40 the price tag that’s now being asked for.
I bought two things, one (for £30) was a set of beautifully heavy damask linen hand/face towels with my initials on. I couldn’t possibly pass them up as I’ve never, ever managed to find any old linen that was vicariously meant for me. They are so well made, all stitched and embroidered by hand and in a bundle of five, so I can now dry my face with a new one every day of the week (on weekends I’ll just have to make do with whatever I can find lying around).*
The other thing was a 1960’s dress in a fabulous print – very Pucci – that I really do love. The only thing is it doesn’t fit me remotely well. It felt like it fitted better when I was standing in the corridor at the fair, squeezing it over my head. Since getting back to Sing, I’ve had to have it taken in and chopped about, probably costing more than I paid for it *sighs*
…it will be great with gold flip flops though.
My sis bought a DVF hot lip wrap dress for only £50, which looked amazing on and was as good as new (it may even have been new, although no tag) to be worn at a friend’s wedding along with a fabulous matching headpiece that she already has. Result!
*Due to a hideous – and customary – panic on the way to the airport about my checked baggage being over my weight allowance (sis must be the only woman in the whole world who doesn’t own weighing scales), I decided my newly acquired linen was the straw that broke the camel’s back. So it was all left in London – with my sister – to be collected at a later date. The image of the towels is almost identical to mine, but in fact comes from an etsy listing.
The lip dress picture is taken from here – the fabulously named Fashion Foie Gras which I am a big fan of and is well worth reading (Vogue and practically everyone else thinks so too).