Thanks to the Sunday train cancellations, the freezing temperatures and the schlep from Wandsworth to Farringdon, my vintage-loving friend and I arrived at the gorgeous Old Finsbury Town Hall (it really is a gorgeously well-preserved old building) with not especially high hopes for the wares on show. It seems anyone with a handful of last-season tops can launch a vintage shop these days and all too often the rails are populated with genuinely hideous eighties garbs that should never see the light of day again. Thankfully, we found no such items here.
The Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair began four years ago as a one-stop shop for all things retro – and not just clothing. There’s a tea room (with an amazing range of cakes), a beauty salon and a stall for on the spot alterations. But the real selling point has to be the quality and variety of the clothes available. Keen fresh eyes and long-established vintage traders from far and wide bring their best items and present them carefully and thoughtfully – there’s no hint of jumble sale here, and the standard of what’s on offer really does make an impression. Spread over three beautiful rooms, there’s fashion on offer from every era. Full on fifties glamour to nineties grunge, take your pick.
The best buys we picked up included a French blouse from 1900, perfectly preserved (I don’t think even a 30 degree wash will be gentle enough for that one), a Dior necklace, Yves Saint Laurent earrings and an Alberta Ferretti jacket. I personally fell in love with some French men’s trousers that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Comme des Garcons, and my friend made a real find with a denim pinafore. On the whole, however, prices aren’t cheap – this is not really the kind of place you take a spare £20 to and buy an entire outfit. But the sheer forethought for the clothes you’re perusing makes up for it – Vogue, Time Out and Grazia all agree too.
SPECIAL OFFER: Style & Then Some readers can get 2 for 1 entry to the next Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair – just say you read this post on entry. Keep an eye out on the website for the date of the next fair.