01/08/2007

Book Review: Shopping for Vintage

This is possibly the most exquisitely designed book I have ever held between my two hands. It is a style classic in it's own right; a little hardback covered in beautiful fabric. The first 176 pages are full colour and glossy and the rest of the pages, which make up the vintage source directory, are quality matte paper printed in gold. The tag and ribbon you can see on the picture of the cover (scroll down - I am cameraless so the Amazon picture is all I've got) is in fact a bookmark, which I love because using an old receipt or postcard to keep a page would spoil the act of reading this book.

Shopping for Vintage covers designers from La Belle Époque to the "aspirational Eighties", most are illustrated (by Richard Merritt) and short paragraphs introduce who they were and describe. There is also an overview of vintage accessories by type and designer or decade, which is fairly broad, although it covers luggage but unfortunately not hats! Anyone who knows me will know how much I am offended by this omission!

I think that as far as vintage design goes, this book provides a good place to begin - if there are any designers or looks that you find particularly interesting you will want to do more research because the information in Shopping for Vintage is so brief. However, the last sections of the book - a directory of vintage stores and other sources - are brilliant. When I read through them they made me desperately want to go shopping. This is not your typical back-of-book directory focusing on the author's home country and skimming a few other locations, this is detailed and well researched. Names, addresses, phone numbers and websites (where they exist) are given, sometimes with a paragraph about store content and pricing. Stores the authors has clearly visited and loved are covered in more detail, and although stores from the United Kingdom get a lot of emphasis, these picks range from The Diva's Closet in Sydney to a store called Granny's Goodies in South Carolina, by way of Dongtai Lu Antiques Market in Shanghai! The directory is also peppered with quotes from various fashionable personages, giving shopping advice and insight into why people like owning vintage clothing.

There are tips for buying vintage, which you will find most useful if you have cash to flash, and a section entitled "Vintage going forward", where the author suggests which contemporary designers and "pieces" will become collectible in the future - again, for those with enough money to consider fashion as an investment! Despite this, the book would be enjoyed by both collectors and people who are hunting for a vintage bargain to actually wear and although the author focuses on vintage designer labels, she does not assume that every reader and fan of vintage fashion will have excessive amounts of money to spend on it, or will want to. The shopping advice and price information in the directory is very helpful if you are looking for a bargain.

I recommend this book for anyone with a burgeoning interest in vintage fashion and to any fashion tourists who want to know where some of the most interesting clothing stores on the globe are. It is a well designed, informative little book that you won't want to hide away on your bookshelf - it's far too pretty and inspiring for that!



Eight out of ten!

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