Wednesday 1 March 2017

All's vintage fair in love and wardrobes

Anything goes at the fun and fabulous Dublin Vintage Fashion and Decor Fair, writes Constance Harris

Constance Harris

Frank Usher cocktail dress, €185; rhinestone earrings
and necklace, €90, both Hayworth Vintage. Shoes,
model’s own
Frank Usher cocktail dress, €185; rhinestone earrings and necklace, €90, both Hayworth Vintage. Shoes, model’s own
(Left to right) Natalie wears a gold Fifties cocktail dress, €100; diamante and faux pearl earrings, €15; black gloves, €15; Fifties black patent handbag, €40, all Hems and Gems. Shoes, model’s own. Aimee wears a Fifties cream organza wedding dress, €270; Fifties feather hat, €62; Sarah Coventry citrine earrings and necklace, €140, all Hayworth Vintage. Shoes, model’s own
Fifties hand-painted halterneck, €100; pearl clip earrings, €10, both Hems and Gems. Shoes, model’s own. Ronan: Retro black-and-leopard-pattern shirt; denim jeans; shoes, all model’s own
Sixties pink cocktail dress, €150, Hems and Gems; Fifties pink tulle hat, €65, Hayworth Vintage; beaded clutch, €30, Hems and Gems. Shoes, model’s own
Fifties blue lace dress, €180; Fifties blue feather hat, €60; pink Thermoset earrings and necklace, €125, all Hayworth Vintage. Shoes, model’s own

For me, fashion is about personal expression and the lifting of one's spirits. Unfortunately, when one looks at the catwalk collections, that doesn't always appear to be designers' attitudes to clothes and our lives.

For those of you who attended my talk at the Mind Body Spirit festival a few weeks ago on The Awareness Wardrobe, and were asking me where to get lovely, uplifting yellow that flatters Irish skin, I have good news: Per Una at Marks & Spencer has loads of it, as well as smashing linen dresses for those of you who love to wear linen and were disappointed by the offering in our stores last summer.

The other place you will find uplifting yellow, as you can see from our page today, is the Dublin Vintage Fashion and Decor Fair in the Royal Marine Hotel, Dun Laoghaire, next Sunday, April 17, from 11am to 6.30pm. The entrance fee is €5.

In fact, if you just want your soul uplifted full stop, this is one of the happiest, most fun, fashion-related events I have attended in many years.

Created three years ago by Joan Murray, a woman who adores vintage clothing herself, the fair is like a voyage into a whole other type of shopping place. It reminds me a little of the Dandelion Market of my childhood which was a veritable Aladdin's cave of magic and mystery and fun.

At the Dublin Vintage Fashion and Decor Fair last autumn, I found cool clothes from all eras of the 20th Century, saw stylish interiors and decor pieces and curious bric-a-brac, heard music that one wouldn't normally hear, met unusual characters -- and I am not even including the fortune-tellers in that description -- experienced unusual things, saw a vintage fashion show, enjoyed an impromptu song and dance, or two, and so forth.

The spring show next week looks to be even more diverse and more fun than last autumn's show.

I know for a fact that Joan works hard to ensure the fair offers something new and is of a consistent standard. Being a serious fashion and vintage maven, she knows the importance of quality. From being in the business of organising antiques fairs for years, she also knows you have to keep the offering interesting.

The fair ticks all of the boxes of being the ultimate in fashion experiences.

People can find unusual and rare pieces, which is every fashionista's dream.

It is sustainable, environmentally friendly consumption, because it is about valuing the past and is an exercise in recycling, albeit up-market, articles. It is also about celebrating the unique in our lives and culture, people dressed from head to toe as if they stepped out of Joyce's Dublin or the Forties and Fifties are not your usual shopping centre pedestrians.

Joan is particularly proud of the fact that the fair is becoming a launch pad for new, female-run businesses. "It has been about turning the economic disaster of redundancy into an opportunity. It has given women the incentive to turn a private passion into a viable business," Joan told me.

"[It might have been] a business they have secretly dreamt of doing but never thought they could make happen. But they have."

She cites Sinead Lee of new vintage shop Hems and Gems, in the Indoor Market, Gorey, Co Wexford, as an example. Sinead was made redundant in 2009, having been a bathroom buyer for nine years. After having her son, Sinead decided to use her expertise in buying but apply it to her passion -- vintage fashion -- and a new business was born.

Cork internet retailer Olivia Murphy, of Elsa and Gogo (see www.elsaandgogoboutique.ie), an online boutique specialising in vintage bags, jewellery and gifts, is another.

But the fair isn't all oestrogen-orientated. I saw a lot of men at it last year and they were loving it. Men adore the vintage fair, probably because they love when women really go for being girly and feminine, and probably because it is a fun day out. They can find vintage movie posters, books, stylish interior pieces and clothes, too.

But especially for men, this year, Joan has got the Waldorf Barbershop, founded in Dublin in the Twenties, to set up a pop-up barbershop. It will also be launching for the first time its new in-house range of grooming products based on original recipes used in the Twenties which they came across in an old tin box in their store room. Our shoot today was shot in the premises of the Waldorf in Westmoreland Street.

Anita Williams and Rouge are a fabulous jazz group which will be playing at the fair and you can enjoy dancing, too. They are releasing a single soon, Take Me to the Paradiso.

There will be a best-dressed competition, where the male judge Eoghan Quinn (apparently he is very cute) will be interviewing contestants. So get your Miss World sound-bites ready: vintage fashion icons and favourite vintage stores will be essential to win his approval.

There will also be vintage make-up and make-overs by Chris Loh and Amanda Hynes, of Smashbox. Louise Joyce will be doing vintage hairdos.

So, put it in your diary -- Vintage Fashion and Decor Fair next Sunday. And a word of advice -- dress up for the event. People delight in how every one else is dressed at the fair.

So why not make it an excuse to have fun, before you even spend a penny.

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