A few months ago, it was with great excitement that Alex and I planned a weekend in London; a couple of days away from it all to relax, unwind, gossip and enjoy a weekend of glamorous vintage style. Vintage had its second outing this weekend, moving from the 2010 outdoor setting of Goodwood to the hive of cultural activity that is London’s Southbank Centre, as a flagship event of the Festival of Britain celebrations.
So were we impressed? Well, not overly.
I must point out that we didn’t go last year, so I can’t talk about comparisons, but listening to other people’s opinions, the general consensus was that the atmosphere was lacking which was pretty much how we felt. We heard it was a sell-out on Saturday, but it was anything but when we went on the Sunday. Apologies too that this is a post without pictures, but truly dear reader, we didn’t find anything worth photographing until we went outside to the stalls and by then we couldn’t be bothered.
We thought we’d have a bite to eat before we went into the festival, and grabbed ourselves a couple of spots at our favourite yo sushi so we could do some good old fashioned people watching as the crowds started to appear. It’s always wonderful to see people in full vintage regalia, and we certainly weren’t disappointed. The weather had brought out some stunning outfits. Our particular favourite was a blonde lady who was wearing a beautiful 1920s silvery silk floor-length gown (sadly we didn’t get a pic) – I wish we felt the occasion had been special enough to have deserved her Gosford Park gorgeousness!
On entering, we caught the end of a set by The Bombshellettes, who I have to say sounded brilliant and so looked the part. We’d have loved to have seen them at a ‘proper’ dance event so that we could have joined in, but there were 3 couples jiving, all of whom were clearly experts, so the dance floor was pretty empty and we decided to give it a miss.
And then, we wandered. We were given a ‘map’ when we got in, but it was basically a photocopied piece of A4 paper with lists of names on it. We’d planned on getting our hair and make up done, but there only appeared to be four people offering this….the queues must have been busy on Saturday when it was apparently sold out, that’s all I can say! So we carried on wandering. And that was pretty much it to be honest.
The usually fantastic Judy’s Affordable Vintage fair had been split up across two separate landings, one of which we didn’t discover until we were ready to leave.
We thought we’d quite like to watch a vintage fashion show that was due to start at 2pm, but by half past, it showed no signs of starting and we were fed up of watching rotating images of Pearl & Daisy Lowe on 2 big screens, as stylish as they undoubtedly are.
The only saving grace in our minds came from us joining in two craft sessions. The first was with the London Printworks Trust (their website is currently being renovated) who were absolutely fantastic and were frankly far more patient with us than I would have been in their situation. Fiona was really helpful and talked through all the different designs we could use and we made a 50s/Festival of Britain inspired headscarf of which were are very proud!
We then headed over to the other craft landing (no, nothing was all together in one area!) and were given a lesson in hand embroidery by Jessica Aldred which we both really enjoyed – after her initial frustration, Alex declared herself to be a convert!
After we’d had some crafty fun, we thought we’d better head outside to do some shopping before the vintage market closed, so headed out into the crowds enjoying the sunshine. We were very nearly totally distracted by all the delicious food outside, which I don’t think was anything to do with Vintage, but made do with a glass of prosecco. In a plastic glass. Which was a bit wrong!
Now, we are chronic browsers the pair of us, and will happily wander around for a long time searching for that elusive vintage item, but to be honest, I’d sort of lost a bit of heart by this point. It was pretty warm and there were a LOT of people in there, just milling around looking a bit mystified by the whole thing. There was some gorgeous stuff that sellers had put together and most stalls looked really great – some had clearly put a lot of effort into making their areas look tip top. But y’know what….. I didn’t see anyone actually buy anything.
I’d love to hear from some sellers to see if they thought it was worth all their hard work, because the pitches can’t have been cheap and I do wonder if they made their fees back. A few stalls had some crazy prices (£125 for less than a metre of 50s fabric, I shit you not!), but we did see some amaaaaaazing dresses and some fabulous mid-century furniture which were totally worth the (mostly hefty) price tags.
So would we go again? Not if it’s like this year. With so much to do outside the Royal Festival Hall for free, the £60 ticket price wasn’t worth it and we were miffed to say the least when we discovered they’d offered up cheap tickets via Time Out a few days before. Take note organisers: You reward the faithful for booking early, not rip them off then flog tickets half price to the as-yet-undecided cos you’re panicking!! We saw people with wrist bands for all three days, and quite what they managed to amuse themselves by doing each day I have no idea. Also, maybe make some signs so people know what is where……….
The Hemingways do seem to have a great passion for making a success of the festival and it is only their second year, so we’ll reserve judgement until they unveil the plans for 2012 and hope they take onboard some of the comments from other festival goers on this years, rather underwhelming, event. I should imagine it’s make or break time.
Feel free to share your thoughts folks