Thursday, 4 August 2011

Vintage at Southbank

On Sunday we went along to the Vintage at Southbank festival. Mr V and I didn't fancy paying £60 a pop for half a day entrance into the main event but there were plenty of free things to see at the vintage high street and market set up in the Jubilee Gardens just next to the London Eye.  I thought it would be an excellent excuse to don a vintage brocade fifties dress I haven't worn in years and to do some vintage clothes shopping (which I haven't done in years either!)

There was lots of vintagey type clothing on offer...

There was also lots of food and drink available and plenty of people walking around in head to toe vintage outfits.

Although there was plenty of wares on sale I have to say I was underwhelmed by the festival. A lot of second hand gear trying to be passed off as vintage, lots of "reworked" vintage and several brand new creations in "vintage style".  What vintage was on sale was unbelievably expensive, especially after following and reading blogs of vintage queens who pick things up for peanuts (Vintage Vix you'd have died of shock!)

Some of the dealings I had with stall holders also left a very unpleasant taste in my mouth. One woman who I asked if I could take a picture of her stall was extremely rude to me when I told her it would be for a blog and shooed me off snapping "I've had enough of you (bloggers)".  Well yaboo sucks to you too honey.  No wonder nobody wanted to buy your fake hair flowers at £40 a pop with that kind of attitude.

So I stopped bothering to ask permission!  Here's another photo of an extremely expensive, albeit beautifully presented stall where there were no price tags on anything - always a bad sign.  The navy blue dress is an Ossie Clark design in a Celia Birtwell print.  Asking price £700.  Yep.  Vintage collectors are obviously a recession proof lot.

The piece I loved was the gorgeous cream silk jacket hanging below it which was apparently bought by the seller in a market in France.  I'm not sure when it would date from, 18th to 19th century perhaps?  It would have set me back over £300 to buy it.  Boo!  Elsewhere it was the same story, pieces from the seventies and eighties were easily reaching asking prices of over £100 a piece.  Even the second hand stuff that couldn't really be classed as proper vintage was pricey and there was a fair bit of trying to pass off stuff as an era it wasn't.  I particularly objected to being told that a Laura Ashley dress that had a "Made in China" label in it, priced at £75 and that couldn't have been more than five years old, was from the nineteen twenties!

I lived in second hand clothes as a girl and teenager, much of it true vintage clothing that cost next to nothing.  Those who love vintage do so because it is a way of looking unique in an age of mass production.  Some love the era from which a particular look harks and others do it for recycling and waste reasons.  However at those prices it is increasingly less to do about being economic with your clothing budget.  For those prices I could get new garments that don't require dry cleaning, mending or tailoring to fit me.  It used to be fun shopping for vintage clothing in markets in London.  Now it feels more like hard work.

The final straw was when I finally found a nice stall owner who sent me off to an external communal change room as she didn't have a changing facility in her stall.  I set off after her assistant leading the way and promptly lost her in the crowd.  I stopped at another stall where I asked the two stall holders for directions to the communal change rooms and they insisted that no such thing existed and promptly proceeded to accuse me of stealing the two dresses I was carrying with me to try on!

Shopping experience thoroughly spoiled by then I was amazed to find that I loved one of the dresses.  Although it was not cheap it wasn't going to break the bank and ticked all the boxes of why I love vintage.  I'll feature it in another post soon.

I'm not one of those people who can pull off a head to toe vintage look.  I generally throw some modern pieces into the mix, in this case my sandals and bag.

I chose a vintage look butterfly brooch with green stones set in gold to match the gold flowers on the pale green background. The glass flower clip on earrings are vintage earrings I inherited from my grandmother.

Wearing this dress in these photos, I bear an uncanny resemblance to images of her in photos of a visit she made to London at a similar age to what I am now.

Although I'm glad I didn't come away empty handed from the day out and have a nice dress I'm looking forward to wearing, I doubt I'd repeat the experience. Think I'd much rather try my luck at a car boot sale for my next vintage shopping trip!


  1. My eyes went straight to the cream silk jacket. It looks exquisite.

  2. Your dress is absolutely gorgeous! It is so different from everything you wore when I first found your blog this winter. I just love it all.

  3. Oh gosh! What a harrowing experience! That does not sound like the most relaxing shopping environment. In any case, you looked great nonetheless.


  4. You look absolutely stunning in the vintage dress. It fits you perfectly and the butterfly brooch is such a nice touch. Too bad about the extreme vintage prices. I can still find a few good pieces now and then at estate sales, which is always a delight.

  5. As a seller, Penny Dreadful wasn't particularly impressed either. I love the dress you are wearing and the dragonfly brooch and look forward to seeing what you found.

    I know in my area, I am unwilling to pay the vintage prices when they are essentially doing the same as me when I shop thrifts.

  6. That dress is absolutely beautiful on you, I love the way you've worn it with sparkly sandals and put your hair up. I prefer my vintage to look modern rather walk about like an exhibit, too!
    That Vintage festival does sound a bit of a washout. Who on earth goes out for the day with £700 to spend on a dress? Obviously I'm from a different world. I don't really understand the concept of the festival, either. Whilst I love vintage clothes that's only a tiny aspect of my life.
    I'm so cross you were treated so rudely, too. I think I'd have been in tears.
    Do try your luck at car boots, eBay and charity shops. Finding bona fide vintage for cheap is a real buzz. x

  7. People like the ones you encountered would probably put me off buying from vintage sellers for life! It doesn't help that the festival was so horribly disorganised - puts them all in a bad light. Greedy, greedy, greedy. Your dress Miss V - your dress!!! I'm salivating over all the wonderful details - the pleating is divine and the cut is perfect for your lovely figure:) xoxo

  8. Christ, £75 for a new laura shley dress! I have seen prices for vintage go up a lot since I first moved to the UK. I keep veering between 'it's an absolute travesty' to 'fair enough, vintage is fashionable and demand pushes up prices'. But I think £50 for a 50s dress is expensive. I can't believe that dress was £700! I

    I adore your brocade dress!

  9. Hi my dear-your dress is exquisite, you look gorgeous and I would imagine the quality and niceness of your dress was so much better than the stuff for sale there. I'm sorry to hear of your shopping experience here, to be honest it sounded very pretentious and I'm not sad I did not go. You are better off thrifting for your own finds via the boot sales or charity shops xxx

  10. My goodness, I can't get over the prices! Even in the top vintage boutiques in Paris (where you can get loads of late 19th century stuff) those would be outrageous! I am also shocked at the way you were treated, you poor thing. I'd have been shaking. But you look lovely in your modern take on vintage. And I look forward to seeing your purchase!


  11. Oh, nice post.)) Love your blog!!!.))))))

    I need your help ... Soon I am flying to Greece and I will have a two-day shopping in Athens .. You were there ever? If yes, what places you advise?

  12. This dress is amazing! And it looks great with your skin tone and beautiful dark hair. I have a few vintage dresses like this one - great cut, great fabric and pattern, and wearing them is pure delight <3
    As for this festival - it's crazy, and not in a good way. 700 pounds for a dress? For vintage dress? How can anyone, who's in a right mind, buy a simple vintage dress for such money? Wow. And all the rudeness - I just can't get people, who's not only selling overpriced stuff, but also being so disrespectful to their clients. Last week me and my friend went thrifting, and she was looking at a black boho-style blouse, when the seller looked at us and said: "What are you even thinking about? Can't you see it's a hand-made silk blouse? It's a steal! What are you thinking about?!". It was pure poliester made in Chine with New Look lable on it. Yes, a steal, I woudn't deny it))

  13. I haven't heard one person say a good thing about that event. £60 just to get it!! I am absolutely disgusted to hear how the stall holders were so rude, they all sound like rip-off merchants too. It is really getting to me how silly prices for vintage are these days event etsy is getting extortionate! I am glad you got a dress you liked though, makes it all worth while!

  14. It's a shame you had a bad experience. From my experience prices on the events like this are usually unreasonably high! Do sellers really think they could go away with that? But at least you found something!

  15. It is a shame people were rude to you, all the dealers I spoke to over the weekend were lovely. And I actually bought quite a bit in the end - I had to do quite a bit of digging, but that is usually the case and part of the fun of vintage. The prices were really variable, some were over the top expensive and some really reasonable. Personally I thought the worst rip-off merchants were Oxfam :) xx

  16. Aw I'm sorry you had such a miserable day :( I can't believe they said "I'm tired of you bloggers!" It really spoils your shopping, when thrifting should be fun! Love your dress :)

  17. I love this dress and it fits you perfectly! I'm not a fan of overpriced vintage either. High end designers...maybe. Just a cute, but old, dress...not so much.

    Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to link up! xoShelly


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