Is it only me? Or has anyone else set out with the sole purpose of buying a specific item only to return with something completely different? I was back in Crystal Palace - an area of London that really is a hidden gem for retro and vintage lovers – with the intention of buying a retro coffee table. I returned home with a vintage dress.
I'd found myself in Vien, a treasure trove of a boutique owned by the vivacious Vivienne Bartholomew. Vien sells an eclectic selection of unique vintage clothing including a wonderful choice of Fifties dresses, elegant eveningwear, tailoring and accessories. A Lurex batwing top from the 80’s caught my eye. As did a metallic jacquard top – very Marni. Ahhh! But it was a Little Black Dress with sheer voluminous sleeves that won me over. A perfect fit. How could I resist.
All of Vien’s vintage is in excellent condition without eye-popping price tags – easily less than half the price of similar vintage clothes you would see in boutiques around Portobello Road and Cheshire Street. Vien also holds a small range made from surplus and vintage fabrics under it’s eponymous label. I thought the vintage range was much stronger. This is where Vivienne’s eye for detail, love of fabrics and passion shines through.
Crystal Palace may not have the style of Notting Hill or the cool factor of the East End but it’s definitely worth taking a detour for. You never know what vintage treasures you might come home with.