Television viewers have been captivated by the hijinks of period drama, Downton Abbey. We’ve fallen in love with a bygone era of wind-up gramophones, lavish barrel-sized hats, fur capes, strings of pearls and elbow length gloves. The entire collection of Jane Austen can be for downloaded for free from Amazon to read from your high-tech Kindle while trawling vintage fairs to snap up one of pieces.
Hosting some of the best and most successful vintage fairs in the capital is Anita’s Vintage Fashion Fairs (AVFF) London – renowned for showcasing the very best in wearable vintage clothing, accessories, unique pieces of jewellery & textiles dating from 1800 to 1980’s . These fairs have gained a prestigious reputation, drawing the creme of the fashion and celebrity world to their Battersea and Notting Hill locations.
The last fair for 2011 will take place at the enchanting Battersea Arts Centre (BAC) on Sunday 20th November. The BAC architecture is stunning, almost mesmerizing and is equally matched with the variety of items and stalls available in the grand hall. This fair is perfectly timed for the Christmas and New Year party season. Inject some movie star glamour into your own wardrobe for the festive season by wearing a unique and stylish outfit.
There is a lot of satisfaction in owning and wearing classic vintage pieces. What looks gorgeous on the pages of a glossy fashion magazine may not always look good in real life – sometimes we aren’t quite sure how to wear it well – whether to wear head to toe vintage, or just accessorise with a hint of something classic. What I loved learning about AVFF is that you can access a personal stylist to inspire and show you how to mix different items.
We’ve all raided our mum and grandmother’s wardrobe at some stage in our lives to get our hands on their treasured items. I have inherited my grandmother’s cream fur cape. I’ve had it reconditioned by replacing the lining with a Liberty print silk material, and attached silk ties to each end. For years it remained wrapped in tissue paper and travelled with me from home to home. Fearing being branded fashion ‘geek’ rather than ‘chic’ for wearing it inappropriately, I sought the advice of a fashion stylist friend, and voila, I’ve reinvented it.
I was also given my grandmother’s pearls at the ripe old age of 22. I felt I was far too young to be wearing pearls, so these also just sat for years in darkness in my jewellery box. I thew light on them a couple of years ago when I had them re-strung and cleaned, and I can often be seen wearing my pearl neck piece teamed with jeans and a cardigan for an understanded Audrey look.
Imagine inheriting an entire collection of coutoure designer Chanel suits in a selection of iconic tweed. My friend’s grandmother specifically wrote in her will that her grand-daughter was ‘to take care of her collection and do Coco proud’. Beautiful. These days, my friend will auction the suits for charity, knowing her grandmother and Coco would be proud.
My sister-in-law Sarah only wears vintage, and has the most gorgeous face to get away with wearing a 1950’s Cobalt Blue Maxine hat with netting. We were in a vintage shop in Barcelona and found a stunning Sonia Reikel 1970s red and black stripe jumper. I squealed with joy and insisted Sarah bought it.
Vintage knows no age limit, and in particular it is the younger shopper embracing the aristocratic chic look. It’s interesting what the younger generation perceive as vintage, especially when the high-street shops boast ‘vintage-inspired’ collections each season. On the one hand I’m finding that a lot of 16 year olds believe the likes of Top Shop will do to satisfy their vintage cravings. While those in their early 20s are getting rather savvy about their love affair with the vintage world.
Zara King is the AVFF’s Marketing and Press Coordinator. I asked Zara about the changing dynamic of the ‘vintage’ customer and the strive for quality in wares.
‘We would say that from our presence at BINTM Live and Clothes Show Live we noticed younger shoppers are continually becoming more aware of vintage – from vintage sections in Topshop, Urban Outfitters and their idols and celebrities stating in magazines that their look is made up with vintage pieces’.
Vintage-savvy customers are young, and really know what they are looking for in clothing and accessories, furniture, and even books. What we don’t want is a car-boot sale selling poor excuses for seconds. Genuine vintage will be an investment and therefore it is important for those buying and selling to maintain quality and authenticity. What I found at some fairs is that a slip in quality of products not only turns customers away, but also upsets other stall holders who pride themselves on only selling the very best. Remember, quality over quantity, and for ‘vintage’ prices, customers expect quality.
‘Vintage pieces are items that will last, and if you were to stick it on eBay in a few years time you would easily get back your money, if not more’ says Zara. If quality is what you are after, then AVFF will not disappoint, and in fact the team who organise these fairs are quality focussed at every level – a reputation which has been noticed in the vintage world. There’s simply no room for trash in a purely vintage world.
“An established name in the vintage game, the dealers at Anita’s Vintage Fashion Fairs don’t mess about, focussing on quality investment pieces. It is in your interests to arrive early – not only to stop the vintage traders snapping up the best bargains but to grab a goodie bag.” – Time Out London.
Although this is the last fair of the season, the fairs will return in 2012 bigger and better than ever with some really exciting developments in the pipeline, including new events… and a new venue.
Win! Win! Win!
‘Like’ this blog post and leave a comment for a chance to win two tickets the Festive Wonderland AVFF event, Sunday 20th November at the Battersea Arts Centre. The winner will be drawn Thursday 17th November at 5pm. Good luck.