Vintage and Me…
Akeela Bhattay is a stalwart of the Vintage Secret team. She has helped at many events, always kept a level head, when I often haven’t. She also has immaculate taste in vintage. Being a teeny size she looks magnificent in 20’s and 30’s clothing. Here she tells us what floats her vintage boat:
Vintage clothes. They’ve become my obsession. I’d always been a bit of a hippy in my younger day and remember as a teenager, fantasising about and wishing I’d grown up in the 60’s – though, I’m pretty sure as someone of Indian heritage, growing up in such times may have gotten rather unpleasant for me!
But I digress… What I mean to say is, I love the clothes of the past – the excellent tailoring, the intricate detailing and the wonderfully flattering shapes and cuts. I also love knowing that a piece of clothing or jewellery is a part of history and I love to imagine the original owner of a dress and what her life may have been like.
After arriving in London late last year, I found myself delighted by the 1940’s and more recently the 1920’s and 1930’s, where I believe my heart will remain for a very long while, at least. In my exploration of London, I was fascinated by what seemed to be a ‘Vintage Community’ in the city – people living a ‘vintage lifestyle’. Woman attired in the loveliest day-dresses, adorning perfectly coiffured pin curls and finger waves and attending fabulous events like the Chap Olympiad and The White Blackbird.
I have to admit I was initially a little intimidated by these beautifully presented women (you know the feeling of inadequacy that comes over you when in the presence of perfectly attired fashionistas?), but after meeting some of them, I was pleasantly surprised to find that they were all rather nice actually. Shame on me for being presumptuous!
Vintage things I love
I usually buy vintage clothes on ebay or Etsy, and haven’t yet had the pleasure to visit and browse through many of London’s vintage shops, but some of those I have visited are definitely favourites of mine. I especially love Alfies Antiques Market on Church Street and I can often be found drooling at the wonderful window displays of Tin Tin Collectibles or browsing nimbly through the racks of precious dresses in The Girl Can’t Help It. Via the wonderful world of twitter, I discovered Lena Hoschek’s collection of vintage inspired clothing. I only wish she had a UK store or even an online store. Check out her website here > . And in my dreams, I aspire to own a particular Ossie Clark dress, which you can find at William Banks-Blaney’s new store William Vintage in Marylebone. If you visit, would you mind not buying that dress? Or if you must, may I borrow it from time to time?
What I don’t have to worry about saving up for, are the reasonably priced flapper art I found on Etsy. Kate Gabrielle, a young artist has created flapper characters – Eloise and Ramona which she draws in various situations, such as contemplating what dress to wear or dressing up in the boudoir. You can also get fun flapper doodles of Eloise as Holly Golightly, Sabrina or Marilyn Monroe. If my landlord weren’t so very particular about keeping the walls uncovered, I would totally buy every doodle and adorn the walls of my boudoir with them.
Speaking of flappers, I recently had my hair cut into a 1920’s style bob, inspired by the enchanting Clara Bow and the lovely Louise Brooks. Now, since moving to London, I’d found it a real task to find a hairdresser that understood my unruly hair and who could cut it properly, but I believe I have finally found a hairdresser in Miss Betty at It’s Something Hell’s who can successfully accomplish my fussy requests. Apart from the very pleasing cut, the novel experience of sitting at a fabulous retro dressing table whilst having your hair cut and being surrounded by delicious décor are simply indulgent!
I must admit that my haircut was also inspired by one of my favourite new TV shows this year. With Season four of Mad Men coming to a close, Boardwalk Empire was welcome vintage-esque escape. Boardwalk Empire is set in Atlantic City during the prohibition era. With Kingpins and flappers, the advent of the Women’s Vote in America, the end of a war, gambling and the illegal alcohol trade; it offers rich and intriguing stories and appeals to a broad audience, not just to those of us who love vintage. But if you do love vintage; especially the 1920’s, you will probably find yourself wanting every dress that decorates the screen.
Sticking with the early 1900’s for a moment, let me introduce to you a fantastic photography website dedicated to photos of that time. Shorpy.com, named after a teenage coal miner Shorpy Higginbotham, who lived 100 years ago, is an online archive containing thousands of high-resolution photographs from the 1850s to the 1950s.
I could spend hours looking through these wonderful windows of history!
As well as being fascinated by the history captured within vintage photographs, I also love the colours and textures of vintage and retro photographs and wish I could develop photos with that vintage edge too. I know this can be achieved digitally, but wouldn’t it be great to just take pictures that have that ‘vintage’ look already? For years now, I have yearned for a Lomo LC-A or a Cosina CX-2 or the more retro looking Diana F+, which all yield weird and wonderful results. You can find galleries of pictures on the Lomography website, taken with various >Lomo cameras .
Photographs and films, dresses and sketches, make-up and hair accessories, tea rooms and train stations (yes, really)… And I could write on and on about all my vintage loves. I’m sure too, that I shall discover and fall in love with many other vintage things, places and events and look forward to all I may find.