As The Rough Guide to Vintage London is published May 1, one of its authors Frances Ambler explains why she finds this aspect of the city so exciting.
Eye-popping pink and blue concentric circles on polyester, my first London vintage purchase is indelibly printed on my memory. I was fourteen, in Camden Market and out to spend the tenner burning a hole in my pocket. I knew that this was the dress to make me stand out in the sea of mid-90s khaki back on the high street of my hometown.
I leave the polyester on the rail now, but London’s varied vintage scene is still an inspiring hunting ground for my retro whims, whether that’s some sparkling costume jewellery or a spectacular piece of Art Deco lighting. While each of the shops, bars and venues listed in The Rough Guide to Vintage London has its individual charms, what’s interesting is that every postcode of the city is characterized by a different definition of vintage. On Brick Lane, it might mean rummaging for a 1980s jumper or a 90s rucksack. In design-conscious Clerkenwell, it’s about the mid-twentieth-century Scandinavian pieces sold by carefully curated places such as Førest. Or head to Islington for the high-quality boutique selections available at Annie’s and Fat Faced Cat. To me, the pleasure comes from being able to pick and choose from the abundant variety spread out across the city: I have pretty 1950s dresses bought from 162 Holloway Road, an Ercol sideboard found in my local Crystal Palace Antiques, and I’ve enjoyed one too many classic Manhattans in the glamorous West End setting of Brasserie Zédel.