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Vintage

Manchester's vintage fashion show

  • NQ's Rachel Velebny went down to Lou Lou's Vintage Festival to chase the elusive one-of-a-kind find

Tucked inside a grey street-level façade common to the industrial Northern Quarter is a grand, shabby but chic ball room in the Britannia Sachas Hotel, once again serving its beautiful purpose by hosting Lou Lou’s Vintage Festival Manchester last Sunday.

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Lou Lou’s Vintage Festival, born out of a need and desire for good quality vintage clothing at decent prices, has grown year on year, winning the award for the “Best Vintage Fair” in the UK for the last three years.

The first fair was comprised of vintage sellers who had no fixed shop from which to sell, now including similar sellers along with those who do have physical shops but find it both fun and profitable to pack up and travel the country with Lou Lou’s.

One such seller attends a fair every weekend with her personal shop called Tabatha’s Nice Things, which works during the week with Ella Jayne’s Emporium buying and selling vintage china, bottles, jewellery and other unique finds.

Tabatha’s items ranged from a truly vintage small hand mirror with a delicate outdoor scene detailed on the back, to bright, chunky bracelets and rings for those inclined toward the style of the '60s and '70s.

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Each stall’s items were delicately arranged, many containing suitcases full of vintage scarves, and one thing each stall and festival attendee communicated was the desire for unique pieces. None of the scarves, or the cases they were tumbling out of, were the same and no two attendees were the same.

The festival attracted casual vintage fans, those looking for one-of-a-kind gifts for the holidays, and those wearing wool coats with full skirts, fur headpieces, and perfect red lipstick as if they’d stepped out of the '50s.  

The festival attendees wandered up and down two aisles packed with clothing and jewellery from nearly every decade of the 20th century, broken up by more obscure items like 100-year-old cameras and Smith-Corona typewriters. Toward the back of the room were tables and chairs for enjoying a cup of tea and a cake on vintage china while listening to a chanteuse with her hair in victory rolls sing a mix of Christmas and '30s and '40s songs.

One beautiful stall was devoted entirely to vintage blouses, each one a different colour and pattern from the next, the owner proudly declared. This was the first Manchester fair for the owner of Blousey and as nearly every passer-by couldn’t resist touching at least one blouse, it is sure to be a successful one. This stall alone would be heaven for those tired of seeing their carefully chosen clothing, purchased at high-street shops, on someone else.  

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And while Christmas was the purpose for many shoppers’ purchases, the sellers themselves had put their decorating on hold while they travelled with this and other vintage fairs to serve those Christmas shoppers. The owners of Goodness Gracious Geek fell behind on getting into the Christmas mood, with friends and family posting photos of brightly decorated trees, but once their vintage jewellery and other trinkets are packed away they’ll dive into the festivities. Such is their passion for vintage objects that they both might find some of their unsold items wrapped-up under the tree on Christmas morning.

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The current resurgence of vintage popularity may have been brought on by the financial crisis, but a growing awareness of the material and human waste of fast fashion has sustained the trend. As Lou Lou’s Vintage Fair demonstrated, vintage is not just for millennial hipsters, it’s for anyone looking for good quality, affordable, one-of-a-kind items.

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Saying, “it’s vintage,” might soon become more fashionable than name-dropping a high-end designer. Indeed, at this vintage fair that is already true.

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