The M&S Archive in Leeds takes part in the fabulous Festival of Vintage in York this weekend, plus there’s dancing, classic cars and a beauty boudoir. Stephanie Smith finds out what to expect.
Fashion specialises in reinventing itself, endlessly revisiting the styles of the past and coming up with new ways of interpreting them, making them relevant for the present day. It’s what fashion, arguably, does best.
But if real nostalgia is your bag, then you want the real thing, genuine garments and accessories from previous decades, for that authentic vintage look.
Despite rumours of its demise, vintage remains hugely popular, gaining new devotees year after year, in what many believe is a backlash against the cheap, mass produced fashions that we see on the High Street and on the pages of so many online stores.
Vintage represents value for money, as pieces can cost the same or less than many High Street styles, but have already stood the test of time and will usually still be in good condition long after cheap modern pieces have shrunk or fallen apart at the seams.
If you want to see genuine quality vintage clothing being worn in truly authentic style, step along to the Festival of Vintage, which takes place this weekend at York Racecourse.
It’s an annual event which gives vintage lovers the chance to shop, find inspiration and dress up to the era born in their finest. Some even take to the catwalk.
“Fashion-wise, it’s definitely Yorkshire’s largest gathering of vintage fashion sellers who concentrate on 1920s -1960s fashion,” says Keeley Harris, director of the Festival of Vintage.
“The exhibitors themselves come from much further than Yorkshire and a lot only normally do London-based fairs and make the effort to come up to us once a year.”
This huge event started in 2011, and this year, for the first time, the Marks and Spencer Archive, based at the University of Leeds, will be taking part, giving a total of four showcases over the weekend. The two on Saturday will be themed Dressed in Time, showing on the catwalk St Michael label genuine fashions from the 1930s to the 1960s, from beach pyjamas to mini skirts. On Sunday, the M&S Archive will give another two showcases, this time called ‘We actually show the knee’, showing how innovations in textile technology changed fashion at M&S in the 1960s, using film, photos and documents.
There will also be vintage fashion parades of men’s and women’s pieces from the 1940s to the 1960s, by Purple Rabbit Vintage, and vintage inspired clothes in fashion shows from Elland-based House of Foxy.
A highlight each year is the Best Dressed competition on both days, which gives visitors dressed up to the nines in their vintage clobber the chance to walk down the runway and talk about what they are wearing. For example, a young woman wears her grandma’s 1950s going away outfit. Keeley says: “Some of them are absolutely era-specific with every detail pitch perfect, and others just have amazing vintage style. I love that bit of the weekend and it brings a tear to my eye often when I speak to the entrants.”
There are more vintage jewellery sellers than ever before, says Keeley. “This includes Gemma Redmond Vintage who is exhibiting with us for the first time. She specialises in high end designers such as Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent and Chanel. And Jewels Past have the most amazing collection of Bakelite and Lucite jewellery from the 1930s-1950s.”
There is also lots of live vintage music and dancing, including dance classes, plus homes items, vintage vehicles on display, a make do and mend corner and a vintage Hair and Beauty Parlour. A great opportunity to learn about the past and be inspired.
The Festival of Vintage is at York Racecourse this weekend, April 22-23, 10-5pm. Day tickets £12 per adult, under 16 free. See Festivalofvintage.co.uk for details and to buy tickets.