Vintage at Southbank Centre

Over the weekend of 29-31 July, the award-winning Vintage Festival took over the whole of the Southbank Centre, transforming it into a time-warped spectacle of retro music and fashion, with each corner dedicated to a different era. There were bespoke hairdressing and make-up parlours, hands-on creative workshops and vintage market stalls as well as music halls dedicated to different eras including a warehouse celebrating Eighties rave culture and a Fifties rockabilly club. There were also fashion shows hosted by Pearl and Daisy Lowe, Jo Wood and Sue Tilley, all showing off their favourite vintage outfits.

We were greeted by Vintage founders Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway who told us that they were thrilled to be hosting this year’s event at the Southbank Centre as it has been one of their favourite places ever since they moved to London in the 1980s. As well as offering the perfect quirky backdrop to the event, the venue was even more appropriate as it celebrates its sixtieth anniversary this year.

The Royal Festival Hall was built in 1951 for the Festival of Britain, which was a celebration of the best in British art, science, design and technology aiming to help revitalise the nation after World War Two. By the end of the festival’s four-month run around one in every three Britons had visited. The basement of the centre was dedicated to the museum of 1951 in honour of the anniversary and on display is original 1950s furniture and electrical goods.

The good thing about hosting this year’s festival in London is that much of it was outdoors and available to the non-ticket-holding public. This could be seen as a pro for the public but those who had forked out £60 for a ticket were less likely to appreciate the crowds. The biggest highlight of the outdoor area was undoubtedly the marketplace, which alongside around two hundred vintage retailers featured a pop-up high street with shops by Cath Kidston and Oxfam as well as a hair salon by Batiste and a make-up parlour by Benefit.

As I was there early for the press preview and left before the masses arrived due to an oncoming cold, the festival was pretty much empty and I didn’t get to see any of the fashion shows or workshops in full swing. However, I was assured there would be the opportunity for visitors to take part in free workshops including decorative stitching, fabric printing, fascinator making and broach making. The music areas would also be sure to get in full swing in the evenings and I would have liked to see the authentic dancers and musicians. However, I spent a happy couple of hours wandering around the empty Festival Hall, which is one of my favourite places to be anyway, checking out the wonders of vintage hidden away inside.

The Vintage Festival was held at:

Southbank Centre
Belvedere Road

Tel: 020 7960 4200

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1 Response

  1. Thank you Natalie, lovely post, really paints a picture of the vintage atmosphere.

    Was very disappointed not to have our stall there, bad timing with our holidays.

    Sounds fabulous, will be there next year.

    Best Wishes

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