My idea of delectable vintage heaven – the monthly Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair in London. The irresistible allure of 50 vintage fashion traders under one roof at the Finsbury Town Hall. Since moving to London a few months ago, wandering around this intimate and enchanting art deco building with adorable vintage traders has quickly become my favourite place to source vintage fashion. And the autumn Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair on Sunday 16th of October certainly did not disappoint. This was only my second visit to the fair and, on both occasions, I felt like the proverbial overexcited Aussie girl in a ‘vintage candy store.’
I left my house last Sunday morning eager with anticipation. What would I find this time? Another gorgeous gold queen bee with emerald green eyes or dazzling teardrop-like rhinestone brooch? Would I happenstance on a similar vintage dress to the one I purchased at the fair in September? This amazing 1970s/1908s geometric print dress in warm autumn colours which I found at the L-O-V-E Vintage London stall. After an hour of browsing the stalls on Sunday, trying on a few 1980s dresses and chatting to several stall owners, my vintage dress search proved to be elusive this time. However, I did find something completely different and entirely unexpected. Vintage fur. A long, chocolate brown French fur coat from Retrouvé Vintage. A coat so silky soft and cozily warm. Perfect to keep this Aussie girl snug during the bitterly cold northern hemisphere winters. And that is the beauty of vintage shopping. You just never know what you will fall in love with amongst the rails of eclectic one-off vintage clothing pieces and sea of beguiling accessories.
On both my visits I went home a very happy vintage customer. The Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair certainly offers a fabulous range of high quality vintage fashion from a variety of vintage traders. And you can vintage shop for hours without having to traipse all over London to the various vintage markets and shops. Whilst there are 50 traders, the fair is spread out over three main rooms and ensures the vintage shopping experience is more intimate than overwhelming. For me, offering so many tremendous vintage traders under one roof makes hunting for vintage treasure a delightful treat. And each trader has their own unique vintage style. Truly something for everyone: sequins, frills, tartan, velvet, embroidered blouses, tulle dresses, mesh clutches, bomber jackets, fur boleros, fur coats, snakeskin handbags, beaded bags, pearl necklaces, costume jewellery, designer jewellery, fascinator hats, gloves, sewing patterns, fabric – the list goes on. You literally could put together complete outfits for every occasion! Oh and did I say fur coats galore which I hadn’t noticed too much on my first visit. Perhaps it was just that the weather had suddenly turned cold, autumn leaves littered the pavements, and warm winter clothes were creeping into my mind.
And the fabulous quality vintage is not the only attraction of this fair. The Finsbury Town Hall venue echoes stories of a time gone by, much like the vintage items it so lovingly houses once a month. The art deco architecture and stained glass windows are a perfect match for the vintage fashion that fills the main hall and spills out into the adjacent rooms. The soothing sound of jazz floats delicately down the hallway from the quaint old-fashioned tea room and into the magnificent grandeur of the main hall. The team room is enchantingly decorated with colourful bunting and a long table filled with delicious hand-made cakes. An urn stands proudly in the corner waiting to fill up emtpy tea cups. And there are no sounds of loud fancy coffee machines here to spoil the ambience. Just good old-fashioned filter coffee for those who need a little caffeine fix after all that wondrous vintage shopping. The fair also offers an onsite alterations service and a large open plan fitting room for trying on all that lovely vintage. Make sure you leave your modesty at home if you want to use the fitting room.
For me the joy of attending the Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair extends beyond purchasing vintage fashion. The clothes you buy, or those accessories that catch your eye, provide an education into labels, designers and trends that may, or may not, have faded into fashion history. Like my geometric print dress by TRICOSA. A quick google search on TRICOSA reveals very little except a few late 1960s fashion magazine adverts blazened with the slogan ‘Before she owned a TRICOSA she didn’t know what to wear.’ In the fine print, women are urged to mail order their TRICOSA colour magazine via a Bond Street address. Last Sunday I also laid eyes on an adorable black owl box purse which unfortunately I didn’t end up buying. Despite kicking myself that this purse was the-one-that-flew-away so to speak, I learnt something new that day. The box purse was by Enid Collins, a milliner from Medina, Texas who made fanciful bags and box purses in the 1960s and 1970s. Since the fair I cannot stop thinking about this little black box with an adorable owl with big amber rhinestone eyes. Maybe the owl purse will miraculously appear at next fair?
So if you are in search of high quality, reasonably priced vintage fashion from a range of friendly traders all under one art deco roof, then Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair is hard to beat. Mark your calendars so as not to miss out on the last fair for 2016. I certainly will be there for a wonderful afternoon of pre-Christmas shopping. Who knows what vintage treasures will be discovered for the upcoming festive season?
Queen bee pill box from Vintage Lady | rhinestone teardrop brooch from The Antique and Vintage Wardrobe | vintage fur coat from Retrouvé | TRICOSA vintage dress from L-O-V-E Vintage