Thursday, 19 May 2011

Frock Me Vintage Fair Review

A big hello to you all, I hope you're having a great week, I have another Vintage Fair review for you today. I do hope you're not getting bored with these, I just love going to them and sharing what I see :)

Last Sunday's Vintage adventures took me to Frock Me Vintage Fashion Fair Chelsea Town Hall.

Frock Me - with Pimms inside!

Frock Me Vintage will always have a special place in my heart because it is the first ever vintage fair that I went to, and on that occasion I bought my first vintage handbag, a beautiful french needlepoint clasp bag which has seen me through many an event including the POTC premiere. But I'm getting off topic! Back to the fair...

I have to say that Frock Me is definitely the place to visit if you are looking for something really special. The quality of the products on sale is really incomparable, so just a browse at this fair is quite likely to leave you breathless! On previous trips I have seen impeccable outfits from the 1800s, victorian corsets, beaded evening gowns from the 20s and a huge variety of flawless dresses from the 40s and 50s. But then of course for great quality you have to be willing to pay, and believe me some of the prices here will leave you breathless too!

For the majority of items you are looking at the bog standard pricing that is identical for all london vintage fairs, i.e. an original 1950s dress will set you back about £60. For suits or evening wear you are looking at upwards of £70 and for tops and jumpers etc. you would expect to pay around the £30/40 mark. However, the more I looked around the more I saw prices stretching into upwards of £70 for some items that I would not consider to be particularly special. I'm beginning to think that the people that price some of these things just look at what everyone else charges and then price up accordingly, rather than actually looking properly at what it is they are selling. I mean, it's fair enough to not want to under charge for a dress when you know that you could get more for it, but take this dress for example:

1950s dress, nice print, flattering shape
The price tag, £58

As you can see this is a lovely dress, bright print, very fashionable right now, very Mad Men and it was also in an average size (not extremely big or really teeny!) all of which are strong selling points which on paper mean you could get £60 for this dress. However, after some closer inspection I noticed that there were some small holes around the waistline of the dress, several of which looked like someone had tried to mend them (rather unsuccessfully!) with lime green thread. Also, the hem was coming down in the back as the thread had frayed with age. Now, I'm not one to shy away from a fixer-upper, but I refuse to pay nearly £60 for something that I would probably have to spend a couple of evenings at least repairing if I wanted it done properly. I may have considered buying it at £50, but even then I would have felt a bit cross at the thought of the repairs, but that seems to be the way it works at these things. Do any of you visit Vintage Fairs anywhere other than London? Is this kind of pricing the same or is it just the extortion of London town? I'd love to know :)

Well of course it's not all moaning and doom and gloom, there were some beautiful things on sale that, if I had the money, I'd be happy to pay full price for! Just take a look at these:

Just look at the lace on that dress!

I nearly cried after leaving this playsuit! I wish I'd had £72...

Jewelry, beautifully displayed

Hand embroidered muslin collar, swoon!

I loved the button detail on this 1940s dress

I nearly cut my toes off to fit these shoes!

Another thing to give some positive feedback on is that Frock Me Vintage definitely has the edge when it comes to men's vintage clothes. Usually the pickings can be a bit slim and if he's with me my poor old Sweetheart can end up spending most of his time looking through a tiny selection of jackets that are too big for him! However, whenever we have visited Frock Me my Sweetheart has left with something nice, including a beautiful frock coat and some fabulous riding boots. And even though he wasn't with me on this trip I spotted this original 1920s blazer that I knew he would love!

1920s blazer - nice :)

I also visited the vintage tea room at the fair, and although the food was nice the service really was pretty awful! We were waiting for almost 45 minutes to get our order taken after sitting down, I food then got to us at snail's pace and to top it off our bill was lost so we had to wait to be charged! Not really a happy bunny about that... But I did have a lovely cheese scone and a slice of lemon meringue pie so at least that was something!

Mmmm cheese scone
Mmmm lemon meringue

I would have to say that my favourite parts of the day were a couple of beautiful finds that I came across. First of all was this fabulous dressing gown, which I would have killed to take home with me!

Piping detail on the fish tail back, swoon!
Wide collar with more piping
Double breasted front with silk covered buttons

This dressing gown reminded me of my idea of transforming a dress into a Dita Von Teese style robe. I feel newly inspired! The second find was this beautiful Valentine's Day postcard, it was just so sweet:

The front of the card
The back of the card
It says:
Thursday Evening:
To let you know you are not forgotten though far away
February 14th, 1916

How lovely is that? It actually made me feel a bit emotional, silly old me :) All in all I still love Frock Me Vintage, but I would suggest that you go there seeking accessories rather than outfits if you're a bit strapped for cash (although I did see some brooches with prices in triple figures!). The £4 entrance fee is representative of the quality of goods on sale, but at the same time you may end up not buying all that much because of the prices, so whether or not you think it would be worth it is up to you. I would say that I was put off on this visit by the tea room experience and also I did feel that I was being watched like a hawk by several of the stall holders which I found more than a little bit rude. I understand that having a fair in a London location could mean that you might have a few more untrustworthy visitors than if you were at a simple village do, but am I really going to pay £4 to get in and then nick things? As a regular visitor at these fairs I did feel a bit insulted by this kind of behavior, but maybe it's just me being snobby and I should get over it! There just wasn't as much of a friendly atmosphere as at say Clerkenwell, but maybe I'm just biased!

Frock Me Vintage is a great day out, but you will need a big budget if you're looking to spend, or you may have to take a great deal of your time hunting out the more reasonable items (and you'll meet me there!). Not my favourite fair, but it will always have a special place in my heart :)

I hope that you've enjoyed my little series of vintage fair reviews, I'm wondering if any of you would be interested in a vintage fair calendar of some kind, so that if you'd like to you could visit some yourselves? I'd also like to look further afield than just London and the surrounding areas, maybe taking a few trips to see what the rest of the UK holds vintage-wise. If this is something you'd like to hear about do let me know!

Oh and P.S. this was my best find of Sunday's trip:

A little squirrel brooch!

How perfect is that?! 

Bye for now :)


LandGirl1980 said...

I, for one, have loved your reviews. I live outside London - so it is nice to know what to expect.
I HATE being watched like a hawk by sellers. Makes me instantly NOT buy from them.
And the price hikes make me so mad. *rant*

Wendy said...

I love the reviews too!! I have not been to a vintage fair (yet!) so its great to see what to expect and which ones are worth the effort, from some one who knows her stuff!!! So keep up the good work:)

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