Vintage by way of Hemingway

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A guest post by Kate Baxter of Fabric of my Life.

This weekend Vintage by Hemingway hits London’s Southbank in a big way, and thoroughly lives up to it’s claim to be “a sensual delight, a big dressing-up box, a collector’s dream and a joyous creative feast for all ages.” I was lucky enough to attend the press preview of the event yesterday and had an amazing day, but if you haven’t got your ticket yet never fear – all the best bits are free anyway!

For those who do part with their cash, your tickets will get you into the decked out Royal Festival Hall, which hosts a veritable array of workshops, makeover stations, live performances, exclusive DJ sets, catwalk shows and cocktail bars. But the claim that the cream of the crop vintage retailers are inside doesn’t ring true – the free-to-all vintage marketplace by the London Eye is packed to the seams with glorious vintage fare; more than enough to satisfy even the most die-hard vintage fans!

The Southbank Centre setting though is genius, and of course ties in with their ongoing Festival of Britain celebrations this summer. For the first time ever, the six levels of this fantastic building have been transformed into a playground of fun and games, making great use of the myriad of rooms and beautiful balcony areas which are not normally open to the general public.

Upycling is the buzzword of the year it seems, and Louise Kamara, founder of The Eco Design Fair and Barley Massey of Fabrications, have curated a whole host of hands-on thrifty activities and workshops for all you crafty types. You can try your hand at a whole host of activities such as making brooches from vintage buttons and learning to knit with Traid Remade.

There are also plenty of opportunities to embrace your inner showgirl and dress up for the cameras! As well as the Sunday Times Style Studio, the students from the University for the Creative Arts in Epsom are on hand to help transform you into a vintage goddess, and Which ever era you have a penchant for, they have clothing to cater for, with their archive of vintage clothes ranging from 1920s to 1980s.

Outside of the centre, the Vintage Marketplace is the place to head, and if you have a few spare hours (and plenty of spare change!) make sure you head on down. Situated adjacent to Jubilee Gardens, the marketplace  is curated by Judy's Affordable Vintage Fair, the nation's largest travelling vintage troupe, and assembles over 250 of the UK's premier vintage purveyors in one easy-to-navigate but insanely busy space. I was naturally drawn to the Midcentury Modern homeware stalls, and to say I fell in lust with it all is not an understatement!

If I did not have vintage teapot sets coming out of my ears that black and blue diamond coffee set would be mine, but on this occasion common sense prevailed (that, and the fact I was weighed down a small forest of press packs!)

I made time to stop by Crown Paints Jam and Tea Rooms where I was lucky enough to dine with Wayne Hemingway himself, as he explained his recent collaboration. The newly launched Vintage paint colours are ‘inspired by music, fashion, film, art and design from the 1940s to the 1980s’ and have fabulously groovy names such as ‘Shoulder Pad Purple’, ‘Green Cross Code’ and ‘Mean Mustard.’

The Vintage High Street plays host to newly relaunched Horrockes, whose new bedlinen range features patterns from their iconic 1940’s and 1950’s archive, as well as Cath Kidston, Benefit and Oxfam.

Back out on Southbank there is a further wealth of activity to keep you occupied; from deluxe vintage cinema buses, impromptu live entertainment (including an amusingly cheeky tea trolley dance troupe!), and hot food stands galore, with even the local eateries getting in on the action and hosting vintage-themed weekend menus.

What are you waiting for? The sun is shining – head on over now!

All photographs are © Kate Baxter