I used to think vintage meant bad charity clothes. Memories of sitting outside Oxfam dying of embarrassment as my mum rummaged through bins while I prayed my school friends wouldn’t walk passed haunt me still, but Judy’s Vintage Fair has changed all that.
The business owners who frequent this twice annual event are a class apart and this is where you’ll find the stylish Cambridge crowds gathered. Judy’s Vintage returned last weekend and on entering the hall I immediately felt that rush of adrenaline (a sort of shopper’s sixth sense) that comes with just knowing there is something special here - it’s safe to say she brought her ‘A game’ this time.
Most of the stalls that had made the effort to show up in the Snowmagedon of the last fair were in attendance again - Miniola, the one that had Dior shoes in February, had upped her game and added Jimmy Choos to the range. Sadly they were too big for me but someone is walking around with a coat hanger mouthed smile if they picked those little beauties up!
While some items were simulated vintage or reworked by the stall owners others were the real deal, like Scarlett Rage Vintage owned by Jade Stavri. Ranging from 1900 – 1980 Jade’s speciality was the 1950’s era: “I like things that are wearable and beautiful,” she explained. With her gorgeous (and really well behaved) puppy by her side, Jade happily advised how she adds to her collection: “I use trend forecasting to help me decide what to choose. I’ve just got back from America and I hand-sourced everything I have here.”
Though 1950’s was her specialty, Jade’s favourite piece was a dress from the 20’s which has been worn by Charlotte de Carle (the cool one in photographer Perou’s recent show ‘Dirty Sexy Things’) as they are close friends. With all these stunning dresses around, I started to think it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to befriend a couple of stall owners myself.
Annie Prew the owner of ‘Tell Kate Vintage’ seemed to be the only one who specialised in a style rather than an era. “Nothing is younger than 25 years and it’s mainly eveningwear,” Annie explained. “We found a sort of niche in the market for people that don’t want to spend £500 on a dress for one evening.”
Sourced from Hawaii, US Auctions and ‘other people’s mothers’ many of Annie’s clients purchased her dresses for college balls: “you can wear a dress, look fantastic and know that no one else is wearing it. We found that in these times of austerity sometimes you can’t justify the expense.”
Vintage doesn’t have to mean clothing. A booming addition to the trend is Vintage Pictures and here’s where my resolve to save wavered, and then damn right keeled over. Nicky Young is a third generation owner of Vintage in Print: “My granddad started collecting postcard books and magazines and when he got stuff delivered some were damaged, so mum and my uncle started to mount or frame them” he told me.
All original covers and adverts, the images (looking pretty darn perfect to me) range from late 1800 – 1996. Classic Dior and Channel adverts were displayed next to 1960’s Ford car ads and Vogue covers from all over the world. I wondered if it broke her heart when a beloved picture was bought, but it seems not: “if it goes to a really nice person who will love it as much as I do then I’m happy,” she said.
Susanne Harris, the owner of Mothball Vintage, was another one who embraced magazines as collector’s items, but here the whole magazine, not just the covers were available. Collected as research aids for her fashion degree - at St Martin’s no less - many others were given to her as a gift by a friend and the range of dates and famous covers were quite impressive.
This friend may well be kicking herself now as this gift included a bunch of Queen Magazines (which you may know as its later incarnation ‘Harpers and Queen’) from the early 60’s. These may well be quite valuable but Susanne is happy to pass them on echoing Nicky’s comment, “I’ve looked at them and loved them and had the use out of them. If I know someone is going to appreciate it I’m happy.”
Della Reed who also makes ‘flamboyant and eccentric collars’ started Velvet Eccentric as a hobby.Though the items range from 1940’s – 1980’s her personal style and favourite era is the 1970’s. “When I see these sorts of dresses I do remember my mum wearing them,” she told me.
Though Della sources most of her items from the UK auctions, a particular stand out piece was a black and silver 1980’s dress from LA. Had it included some serious shoulder pads I could see this hand beaded trophy garment suiting Alexis Colby to a tee!
Talking of tea, when the shopping was finished a trip to the refreshment area is advised. I was encouraged to pick my own cup and saucer from a range of beautifully designed china and hardly anyone passed the deliciously decorated cupcakes without being lured in. These provided just the sugar rush I needed.
I could then carry my finds home and safely hide them away from the prying eyes of a husband that might not find ‘but its vintage’ a fool proof argument as to why one might need a Lacroix (sweetie Lacroix!) skirt.
Judy’s vintage returns in the winter. Get saving, it’s an event not to be missed.