Sports luxe, florals, mirror-prints, printed pants, neon. Modern fashion can be exciting, bold and fierce as it fizzles and crackles off the pages of glossy magazines.
Yet, just like many things in this progressive world we inhabit, sometimes don't you just want to go back? There is no time like the past and demure, fifties-inspired fashion is having a fashion moment right now. This week's Grazia reports that 'from the red carpets of Cannes to the bars of Dalston, ankle dusters, high collars and long sleeves are everywhere'. Which is welcome news for a girl like me, a passionate admirer of retro-inspired clothing and accessories. Vintage has had quite the renaissance over the past few years with festivals and pop up fairs, not to mention an influx of vintage emporiums, and it is coveted the world over. Sometimes it can be hard to separate the Westwood from the Cassini; it would appear that everyone is jumping on the vintage bandwagon and taking advantage of our obsession with nostalgia.
So I was delighted to recently discover a sparkling treasure trove in the heart of the Suffolk countryside, in the pretty market town of Halesworth.
Bluebird Vintage is a clothing and accessories boutique specialising in vintage clothing for ladies and gentlemen. Perfectly housed in what was formerly The Hawk Inn pub, it truly is a feast for the eyes, generously full of vintage goodies from the 1920s through to the 1980s. Clothes, shoes, hats, jewellery, gloves and bags adorn every beautiful space like delicious treats in a sweet shop. It is very easy to walk in and lose yourself for hours but it is decidedly tricky to leave empty-handed.
On my visit to Bluebird Vintage I met Laura Churchill, the glamorous owner who smiled at me in welcome from behind a vintage desk. Laura allowed me to look around what was in effect an art gallery of clothes in my own time, uninterrupted, as I perused the delicacies from an era of elegance. These were sumptuous pieces that didn't shout loudly, but instead whispered flirtatiously to me like movie stars from days gone by. As I glanced around at the unique one-offs I honestly believed I was immune to the glamour, that I could easily walk away with, admittedly, an empty heart but a full purse and some space in my wardrobe. Silly, silly me.
I had seen it. Or maybe it saw me first? The dress hanging delicately on the rail. I tried to avert my eyes, but it was too late; I was snared in its twinkling trap. As my eyes brushed over the dress again from afar, I could see it was vanilla ice cream in colour with gold trim glistening in the light. I tried to resist, but it murmured at me 'take a closer look. Go on, what's the harm? Try me on!'.
I approached the rail to inspect it more closely. It was a sleeveless cocktail dress with a high collar trimmed in gold and a very demure hemline. The top half was covered in a delicate cover of sheer, flowered gold lace and under the waist, also trimmed with gold, cascaded a swath of cream chiffon. It was the most beautiful dress I had ever seen. The label informed me in swirly letters that its creator was Marcel Fenez, designed by Roland Klein. It was a little piece of fashion history.
French-born Roland Klein, first worked at Christian Dior from 1960-1962. He then went on to work for the legendary Karl Lagerfeld as an assistant at Jean Patou. Klein moved to London to learn English in 1965, and he worked at Marcel Fenez, where the ready-to-wear line of Madame Carven was made. In 1973 he was made the director of the house, and was given his own label, going on to open his own design business in 1979 in Chelsea. In the 1980s, Roland set up in London and established his own label.
Klein's innovation had completely won me over. I guess you could say I was hypnotised as I tried the dress on in the quaint changing room at the back of the boutique. OK, admittedly it was a little snug across my back and restricted momentarily not only my movement but my breathing until I moulded into its shape. I knew I would be terrified to eat or drink anything that wasn't translucent whilst wearing it in fear of tainting that perfect cream colour, but it was so beautiful I knew I had to have it. This dress was simply too special to part from.
The Klein creation had its first outing in March this year, the night before my sister's wedding in Sydney, Australia and I felt proud to tell enquiring guests that it was Roland Klein vintage, from a stunning little boutique in England.
In today's world of over styling and mass production, vintage pieces are a timeless investment. They were beautifully hand-made to last. To buy vintage is to acquire an item with a story from days gone by and showcase a long-forgotten design. To wear it is magical.
If you are ever passing through Halesworth, which I highly recommend, do stroll along the Thoroughfare and step through the ornate door into Laura's beautiful vintage emporium. I promise that you will not be disappointed and you may just walk away with your own little piece of history. If you are the lucky one, I defy you not to smile as you float out of the door, happily lost in another time...Bluebird Vintage, The Hawk Inn, Bridge Street, Halesworth, Suffolk, IP19 8AD firstname.lastname@example.org 01986 875325 @BluebirdVintage