So here we are . . . better late than never!
Last Sunday I attended the wonderful Vintage Festival on London’s Southbank. The Festival is the brainchild of Designers Wayne and Gerardine Hemmingway, original founders of Red or Dead. I have to say that I did spot Wayne walking around the fringes of one of the fashion shows but I wasn’t brave enough to approach him for a photo. He seemed to go unnoticed for the most part but I wish I had plucked up courage at least to have congratulated him on such a fabulous event. So here is a photo I have ‘borrowed’ from the V&A!
It is unlikely that this ‘party’ captured the same spirit as the original Festival of Britain, which was hosted in 1951 as a post war celebration to promote a feeling of recovery and progress in in Britain, but there was indeed an amazing vibe of creative appreciation and social interaction. All things art, music and fashion wrapped up in 6 floors of the Southbank Centre surrounded by sprawling vintage market stalls, nostalgic fairground rides and side shows.
I have since found out that the original Festival of Britain was in itself a celebration of the centenary of the 1851 Great Exhibition But going forward . . . !
We set off at midday after I gave up a whole morning of trying to convince my 7 year old daughter and fiancé to dress up a little for the occasion. 7 year old girls, if you ever have the pleasure, would normally jump at the chance but I have one who is far too contrary and managed to convince me that Tweety Pie t-shirt was from the ‘olden days’. Mr Ooobop had plans on going ’80s metal’ but that somehow jarred a little with my plans on 50’s day dress!
On arrival we were met with an amazing village of vintage stalls. Free to Joe public. Packed with all things nostalgic, retro and vintage. Lots of people dressed appropriately which in turn had lots of people smiling. Not least of all Mr Ooobop who was already incredibly distracted by the sea of seamed stockings!
There were not as many stalls with fabric and notions as I expected but that was probably a good thing as the tickets weren’t cheap and a day of drinking and eating was going to cost a pretty penny!
We stopped off at the little pop up tea house which was a hit with Samaria. The simple pleasures of 2 lumps or 3 (of sugar) brought immense joy to one who was already beginning to flag under the sun and the annoyance of two parents who were behaving like pigs in muck!
We could have spent all day here, honestly. It was like a treasure trove. But we ditched the temptation to head into the Southbank Centre instead. The festival covered all things vintage 1920’s to 1980’s (although I would personally consider 60’s to 80’s to be more retro than vintage!) The main feature on the first floor was Hot Shots night club. A gorgeously lit dance floor with the most amazing girl band I have ever seen, The Bombshellettes. They were so glamourous as were the people dressed 40’s on the dance floor.
We supped G&Ts whilst watching the dance lessons and quaffed more than our fair share of Haagen Dazs ice-cream served by 50’s ‘cigarette girls’.
Art was everywhere. Gorgeous photography and a mini Peter Blake Exhibition. The contrast in music styles between rooms was quite incredible. From the glamourous and charming 40’s we swanned past a Pearly King and Queen at the doors of an 80’s disco to get to the Balcony of 70’s soul and then down to the Cotton Club for a proper timewarp and some amazing jiving.
On route of course I couldn’t be in too much of a hurry to leave the craft room. A display of handmade dresses lured me into a long chat with a lovely teacher from Fashion Antidote, a fashion school in East London, a crochet class was in action and a there was place where you could sew your own souvenir vintage bunting. There was an art school too where you could learn printing techniques and sketching. I so wish I was more brave at taking photos of strangers. It really was a wonderful place.
It was difficult to cover all aspects of the day. I think we skimmed the surface of most of the events but when I go next time (and I absolutely will go again at the drop of a vintage hat!) I will be sure to spend more time in each area if it means missing out on some. I guess we were a bit too excited. General ‘people-watching’ was definitely the order of the day. In every direction there were stunningly dressed ladies, holding themselves in a way that oozed glamour, but probably because underneath those amazing dresses they were ‘trussed up’ in lingerie, corsetry and suspenders that forced them into straight lines! Im telling you, even with what little effort I made, I have never spent so long in the bathroom to go out for the day. Those ladies of the 50s must have had time on their hands or got up really early in the morning!
We did hop back out to the markets to buy some cool shades but also I was feeling a bit bad that Samaria was duly tagging along. So luckily for her there were some vintage fair ground attractions too!
One last stop before we left led us to the Pink Bus. A fabulous art installation by artists Victoria Brook and Caroline Fletcher. It is quite literally a pink bus filled with all things nostalgic and retro, cherished, saved and rescued from a landfill. Samaria loved sitting in here and you’d have to sit in there for a very long time to see everything!
And even on our way back home, the vintage theme continued on the green. How absolutely delightful and British! Roll on next year!