I love a bit of vintage. Give me a handbag that smells of mothballs and tell me a very elegant lady from the 1940’s once took it to a tea party and I’m there with bells on. Vintage seems to be the latest ‘it’ word doing the rounds – never has it been so cool to recycle clothes, rummage through your Nan’s wardrobe and pop into Oxfam.
Wayne Hemmingway identified this opportunity in 2010 with the launch of Vintage at Goodward; I would have loved to have gone, but by the time it was on my radar I’d already made plans so spent the weekend stalking other people’s adventures on twitter.
This year when I found out it was taking place on London’s Southbank I trotted off with my rock n roll dress and Raybans to check out what all the fuss was about.
The main part of the festival was held in the Southbank Centre – a rather unconventional choice. The main auditorium downstairs greeted you like an old movie – all slow jazz, people dressed to the nines practising their Lindy Hop and cocktails before midday. This was definitely my kind of place. If you’re really into vintage (and I mean really into vintage) then this would be the perfect weekend for you. Live music, bands singing classics, vintage clothes on sale, free makeovers and hair advice, sewing, dress making and knitting… I could go on. If you’re a ‘hands on’ kind of lass then you’d be in heaven.
Me? I liked wandering around for a bit watching everyone else, but I preferred looking at the old records and vintage jukeboxes (and hoping I would win the lottery so I could afford one). Each floor had different musical entertainment, but the downside was that it was all quite segregated. You had to pick your room and roll with it, rather than wandering around a field like a festival, and if you couldn’t get a glimpse of the actual act you’d move on to the next.
It seemed like a great idea, but the actual Southbank centre didn’t entertain me for more than a few hours. The best part, in my opinion, was actually the free vintage market and High Street outside. I wandered around for hours checking out handmade jewellery, vintage records, costumes, hats and even furniture.
I stumbled across the Crown Vintage Tea Party and stayed for as long as I could make my pot of tea last. A cake stand full of treats and an endless supply of tea and elderflower juice was one of the highlights of my day – so much more so because I couldn’t find a scrap of decent food in the actual festival hall. I’m easily pleased – give me a cupcake and a cup and saucer and I’m a happy girl.
The temporary ‘High Street’, which contained a row of pop-up shops and beauty parlours from brands such as Batiste and Benefit, was definitely one of the best parts and what made the festival different. These were full to the brim with ladies getting their hair styles and makeup topped up, even people getting lessons on how to appropriately ‘vintage themselves up’. This is what I remembered from the previous year, so it’s a shame more wasn’t made of it – especially as it was completely separate from the main festival. I really wanted more stuff to look at – not just the walls of the Southbank Centre.
Don’t get me wrong, it was a lovely day out and definitely worth a trip next year, but I’m hoping they’ll bring back some of the sparkle from 2010 that interested me in the first place.
I know the Southbank Centre is getting on a bit, but vintage it aint. Maybe next year they can change the venue to the Tower of London so at least I can try on a suit of armour.
By Hayley Carr