Monday, December 13, 2010

my island home.

Ok so that's actually the Himalayas, but I was too sleepy to take photos of Australia!

Flying back to Australia from the UK is always an emotional experience, and the last journey I made back a few weeks ago was no exception. After almost 6 weeks in England visiting family and friends, and places I used to live, it was so hard to say goodbye to a country that I still feel so connected to, and to family members - some now growing old - who I always worry that I won't get to see again. I always feel so torn, like I'm leaving my home.

But every time I'm on a plane back to Australia, I feel like I'm coming home. I usually somehow start singing My Island Home by Christine Anu to myself for hours, especially once we're actually over Australia. Something about looking down over the top edge of the Northern Territory makes me feel glad to be back, even though at that point there are still several hours left before we land in Sydney, and even though I've never actually seen the landscapes we're flying over at ground level. It's still a part of the land I call home.

And I am really glad and excited to be back, despite missing my family and all things English, because I've brought with me some amazing vintage finds from overseas, both for my own wardrobe and for the store, including some amazing vintage party wear with lace, sequins and beads - now listed on eBay!. I've brought back vintage finds from vintage fairs in 14th century heritage listed buildings in Yorkshire, from stalls and crowded shops on Portobello Road and Brick Lane, from little opshops in seaside towns and villages with cobblestone streets, and from the most amazing Parisian thrift stores.

I've already listed some vintage party wear, and I'll show you more of my wonderful finds soon, but in the meantime, I do have lots of photos from overseas. And so I present... my favourite vintage stores in England/Paris (with some added other touristy things)!

First to London...

Portobello Road markets is an absolute MUST do. They run every Saturday, and take up almost a kilometre of Portobello Road, starting with fabulous antique stalls and shops at one end (with tables and tables of brooches and other awesome costume jewellery starting from $5!) to the flea market stalls at the other where major bargains can be had, via the vintage section and shops in the middle. It's so overwhelmingly amazing, I managed to buy only a green knitted hat and a 70s tan & brown silk scarf for myself.

I think I must have been even more overwhelmed in Camden Town, because I forgot entirely to take any photos, despite spending the best part of 4 hours exploring each and every little part of the markets, especially the Stables Markets, (Chalk Farm Road) where vintage dresses could be found for a mere £5 in some places. I doubt I'm wrong in saying that Camden has the best collection of vintage stores collected together in one place, possibly in the world. Again, I left with fewer things than I should have, despite having found many more things than I could have carried!

And I thought I had taken photos on Brick Lane but I can't seem to find them now, so maybe I didn't.

(photos from here and here)

Either way, there are loads of amazing vintage stores in the Brick Lane area, with my three favourites being:

Absolute Vintage (91 Brick Lane - absolutely STUFFED full of clothing, and mountains of bags!),

(photos from here)

Rokit (two smaller stores very close together at 101 and 107 Brick Lane, with well picked items including gorgeous evening frocks, furs and heels),

(photo from here)

and Beyond Retro (a huge 5,000 square foot warehouse at 110-112 Cheshire St with racks and racks and racks... you get the picture).

(photos from here and here)

Elsewhere in London, at 6 Monmouth St in Covent Garden, there's Pop Boutique, whose window features the following wise vintage fashion words "Don't follow fashion - buy something already out of date". They have some amazing and fab 50s/60s/70s dresses, and I wanted to make off with all of their vintage homewares. I love lamps!

Near Victoria, Retromania (6 Upper Tachbrook Street), is one of those smaller, not particularly well-lit charity vintage stores, but boy does it have some treasures.

(photo from here)

On the cool autumn day I visited, there were two racks outside the shop full of summer dresses for just £1 (AU$1.60!) each, and inside was stuffed with more racks of fabulous things, with 70s disco dresses and furs stocked up for the winter. There’s not very much room to move, but one doesn’t mind when one finds so many nice things to ooh and aah over! Including one of my favourite things from the trip, this gorgeous 70s forest green top with floral trim and empire line tie, and puff sleeves, which also came with a matching maxi skirt for a measly £10 (AU$16):


In some of the other parts of England I visited...

The sister shop to the London store of the same name (there are also stores in Manchester, Liverpool and Sweden), Pop Boutique in Leeds (12-16 Central Road) has two levels with another pretty impressive collection of retro and retro-inspired homewares as well as at least 4 pairs of boots that I was very keen to purchase, but couldn't face carrying around for the rest of my trip. I did buy a cute 70s red white and blue print pinafore dress though, which will be added to my wardrobe once I've fixed the zipper (yay, discount!). Let's not talk about the mountain of sewing I have to do though...

English opshops seem to have been a little slower to recognise the profit potential of vintage clothing than their Australian counterparts, and as such it's quite hard to find vintage clothing in English opshops unless it's in absolutely perfect mint condition, because until recently the storekeepers would throw out anything 'old fashioned' on the grounds that 'no-one would want it'! Most opshops I went into was so clean and nice-smelling, and some of them even steam clean stock before it's tagged with a size and ordered properly into the store. It's very civilized and everything, but it's not as fruitful as I'm used to, and I do love a good rummage sometimes!

Having said that, the PDSA Attic, Leeds (57 Otley Rd, Headingley) is a little charity shop which specialises in vintage, and has a good selection of vintage items which are reasonably recent but very well priced, especially compared to Australia, and it's quaintly decorated with vintage furniture and a big piano.

York has some fabulous vintage shops full of 50s and 60s evening dresses and other couture, and earlier vintage treasures from the 30s and 40s (including The House of Avalon at 5 High Petergate, which has its own tea shop and Priestley’s Vintage at 11 Grape Lane, which is well decorated with vintage suitcases and birdcages), but they are understandably also quite pricey. Purple Haze on the other hand, has much more accessible items, mainly day dresses, blouses and boots from the 60s and 70s, with much more affordable price tags.

(photo from here)

Quite amusingly named, Deep Vintage in York(26 Fossgate) has the usual checked shirts and denim jackets amongst various new high street labels, but it does also have a pretty good selection of purses and boots. I was quite tempted by a tan leather satchel and a lipstick red leather clutch.

I love vintage shops that have steps at the front door, there’s something aladdin’s cave-esque about descending into a space with vintage clothing hung high and heavy around you. Ding Dong Vintage in Durham (45 The Gates, Framwellgate Bridge) has that feel to it too, with evening dresses adorning the walls, lacey things abound, and a decent mens collection. Apparently, they also supply hollywood items to tv shows and movie stars too.

And then there was Paris! But I think this post is now long enough so I will save my French adventures for another day/blog post.

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