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Article on vintage

I’ve just realised that I forgot to do a post on an article of mine that was published in the last issue of beyond magazine. The article was discussing vintage – a favourite topic of mine! For those who didn’t manage to get hold of a copy or don’t live in the area, I’ve included the content here. Hope you enjoy.
Beyond magazine
Head/ A very good vintage
Sell/There’s been a huge revival in the popularity of vintage and we’re not just talking second-hand clothing. Young guns are revisiting the golden oldies with a renewed respect for music, fashion, art and design through the decades.
Kathryn Sharman reports
Vintage is fast becoming mainstream and while this may not please some die-hard fans, its growing popularity is a positive sign that our throwaway culture is reassessing the value of days gone by. And now there’s even a new festival dedicated to the cause.
Vintage at Goodwood, which took place in August, is the brainchild of Wayne and Gerardine* Hemingway of Red or Dead fame. Intended as a voyage of discovery, the festival celebrates music, fashion, film, art, dance and design from the 1940s to the 1980s.
“We’ve created something special that fills a niche because people don’t just want to see a band, they want to have an experience,” says Wayne Hemingway. “We’re giving an in-depth look into the underground scenes of lots of different kinds of music and design but in an accessible way. It’s not nostalgic, it’s fresh and exciting.”
While there were experiences aplenty, music was still the essential element, taking people on a magical mystery tour that included the Faces, Sandie Shaw, The Noisettes, Earth Wind & Fire, The Feeling, Heaven 17 and The Damned.
Performers like Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Shingai Shoniwa, lead singer of The Noisettes celebrated their love of vintage through their stage costumes.
“Vintage at Goodwood was definitely the highlight of the festival season for me and all the band and crew,” said Shoniwa. “It was like being at a huge dressing up party!”
“This is the best festival I’ve been to this year,” added Supergrass’s Danny Goffey, who had come to support the fashion show curated by his wife and daughter Pearl and Daisy Lowe. “It’s great for those who love vintage to be able to come here and go for it with like-minded people”
This was an opportunity to see and be seen as thousands turned out in their finest vintage, raising the bar of festival chic in spite of the weather. And if you hadn’t come prepared there was a high street full of vintage sellers to be plundered.
This desire to be glamorous and original has long been fuelling the market for vintage clothing and has been spearheaded in the North both by buyers and sellers alike.
Catherine Smith, whose newly-opened store on Harrogate’s Cold Bath Road has made a reputation for its superb quality, high-end pieces, which are attracting a new breed of vintage customer.
“I’m aiming at people who haven’t tried vintage but are so impressed by the quality that they want to own it for themselves. They want an individual statement piece that’s also top quality. I think people realise you can’t get this kind of craftsmanship from most areas of retail anymore.”
Steve Elvidge, owner of Space in Harrogate has just launched a new business called, which recognises and facilitates this clamour for all things vintage as he explains.
“If you love vintage you will seek it out wherever you go and this location finder tool makes it easier.” The online directory, created in conjunction with Keeley Harris of Discover Vintage fairs, provides a UK wide map of vintage sellers, which already totals over 200 and counting.
“There are people who buy one piece of vintage and work it into their wardrobes and there are others who live the whole lifestyle. I think more than anything we’re acknowledging there’s some great design in the past.”


In Gok we trust

Last week Gok Wan came to Harrogate to film the new series of his fashion roadshow and thanks to a bit of word of mouth via local networking group BlaH (Business Ladies Around Harrogate), I managed to wangle an invite. No sooner did I get the nod from production company Endemol, I was very excited about being in the presence of Gok – who doesn’t love this man!?
Along with my fellow Gokettes Katie and Lisa, I was taking part in the Bodyshape Boutique, the part of the programme where Gok dispenses invaluable advice on how to dress to make the most of your body shape, followed by a rather frenetic clothes swap.
Prior to this, we had duly hung up our five items of unwanted clothing on rails dotted about the room in eager anticipation of the swap. At one point Gok did a brief survey of the rails looking for interesting pieces to use in his forthcoming makeover section. I saw him pick up a cute checked vintage-style shirt and no sooner had I muttered to my friends, “ooh I like that” he twirled around to size up the garment against me.
True to form, Gok is every bit as warm and funny as he appears on screen, with his trademark combination of sarky wit and almost maternal fondness for women of all shapes and sizes.
“Welcome to telly-land,” said Gok as we groaned slightly at the prospect of having to film yet again a sequence of us all filing into the Royal Hall auditorium, but once things got underway the Harrogate ladies conquered their stage-fright and stepped up with their fashion dilemmas: “I can’t wear dresses”, “I always wear black” and “How can I be a glamorous grandmother?”.
After a little bit more standing around (you do a lot of that by the way, but lovely Gok keeps you entertained with his flagrant language and ruthless mickey-taking of the director), the bodyshape surgery is over and several runners start hunting around the room, seeking out the brave women who put up their hands to ask a question, in order to be whisked back stage to be re-styled according to the fairy Gokmother.
And then it happens. Gok is holding the aforementioned checked shirt and pointing to me. A runner smiles and escorts me backstage with the others, where rows of flesh coloured underwear and a myriad of fashion accessories are waiting to transform us. It’s all slightly surreal as Gok joins us and we start changing into items he’s picked out for us. “You don’t mind if I do this do you?” he asks as he rearranges someone’s decolletage, “you know I’m very gay.”
The lovely fashion girls run around at Gok’s instructions: “Can we have some navy blue tights please”, “I think this needs a belt and size 6 shoes while you’re at it.” Meanwhile Andy the seamstress pops in to see if any quick pinning and tailoring is required to complete the look.
Then it’s back out in front of the cameras to film ‘before and after’ sequences as Gok works his magic on each of us and a seriously impressed audience.
Was I slightly unnerved to be stood on a box next to Gok with a camera crew in my face? Just a bit. Did I love being made over by the master? Yes! Was it a fantastic, once in a lifetime opportunity? Most definitely.

Katie and Lisa registering


Katie and I with our bags of second-hand booty


What shall now be known as my Gok shirt


The lovely Gok!

The new series of Gok’s show will be aired in January!


Geek chic

I’ve been in the market for a pair of brogues for some time now and was about to buy some from the high street when I happened upon this pair of beauties in my local charity shop.

Now I know they’re the kind of shoes that might divide opinion (and technically they’re not brogues either) but I really like these and here’s why.
Firstly, they are made by traditional men’s shoemakers Loake, a family business that has been producing fine handmade footwear in Northamptonshire since 1880. Apparently Loake is most famous for its Goodyear Welted Footwear, a construction process that involves 130 skilled craftspeople, up to 75 shoe parts and approximately 200 different operations.
Secondly, I’m not sure how old these shoes are but I don’t think they’re from Loake’s current collection that’s for sure. In fact I imagine they have been languishing at the back of someone’s wardrobe for a number of years and therefore, in my book, they are definitely vintage!
Thirdly, they are in mint condition, in my size (quite unusual considering they’re men’s shoes) and they cost just £4!!!!! I might add that I already recognised the Loake brand name as I used to edit a magazine on footwear so I knew they were worth far more. In fact a pair of new Loake shoes will set you back nearly £200.
So, yes, I am channelling my inner geek, proudly sporting my new shoes (with Argyll socks of course) safe in the knowledge that I have bagged a serious bargain!


Colourful cashmere

As you probably know, I love a good window display and one retailer that’s definitely caught my eye of late is Brora.
Brora has become renowned for its fine Scottish cashmere and vintage-inspired clothing, and its recent window designs have simply yet effectively conveyed these brand values.  
For example, anyone with a love of retro fashion and design couldn’t help but notice this screen, decorated with vintage sewing patterns. It certainly made me go inside to get a closer look and isn’t that what good window design is all about?
Another lovely prop I saw is this old suitcase, which is a great alternative used to merchandise smaller separates to create a colourful, eye-catching display. It also reminds me of one my dad used to own when he was a boy!

More recently Brora has introduced another simple but inventive scheme which showcases the brand’s colourful Scottish cashmere. Straight from the mill, the yarn has been wrapped around cardboard cones and hand strung like cashmere bead curtains across the window, creating an eye catching and bold display.  What a clever and beautiful way to say, “We’re all about colourful cashmere.”


Buzzing designs

For as long as I can remember I have always loved honey and had a fascination with beekeeping. I eat copious amounts of honey, usually on toast and to sweeten my tea, but if a food has the added ingredient of honey I can’t resist and the same goes for toiletries.
I also have a deepseated fondness for bees themselves, and having attended a bee-keeping course and read widely around the subject, I have a genuine respect for them; beautiful, intelligent, diligent and mysterious as they are. So, when the image of a bee is used in some way, whether traditional or cute, I am naturally drawn to it. Not surprisingly I have the (now iconic) bee necklace by Alex Monroe and a few other bee-related pieces of bric-a-brac around the house but I thought I’d share with you some nice cards I managed to pick up the other day in Paperchase. Not sure if I’ll send them or keep them to myself!
Illustration by Carolyn Gavin
Hand printed by the Archivist Letterpress
Paperchase design
Pango productions