Review: The Vintage Fashion Bible by Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway

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If you’re as interested in 20th Century fashion as we are, you’ll find plenty to entertain and inform you in the latest book from vintage gurus Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway: The Vintage Fashion Bible.

It’s impossible to be involved in the vintage scene without acknowledging the Hemingway’s influence. From their early days selling vintage clothes on Camden Market, through the iconic vintage-inspired fashions of Red or Dead, to their present position as leading figures in the vintage world, Wayne and Gerardine have led the way.

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It’s safe to assume, then, that they know what they are talking about when it comes to fashion history, and this new book is a superb primer for anyone interested in the essential looks of the 20th Century – and how to get them. It’s a fascinating history of fashion, explaining the social reasons behind design and style choices, all lavishly illustrated with images from the Hemingways’ own archive – The Land of Lost Content. It’s a beautiful book to browse through, and although it doesn’t pretend to delve too deeply into its subject, it’s more authoritative than many similar books on the market. Plus, if you’re as interested in wearing vintage fashion as you are in reading about it, the book is full of excellent styling tips from professional make-up artist Hannah Wing.

It’s an inspiring, well-designed and practical book and a must-have for the vintage-lover’s bookshelf.

The Vintage Fashion Bible by Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway is published by David & Charles. Available from all good bookshops as well as from http://houseofhemingway.co.uk/

Review by Alex of Snygg 

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A Flea Market in Belgium

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People often ask us: “Where do you find all these things?” Good question, and the answer is generally a rather cagey “all over the place”. But the fact is, all of us at 20th Century Stores put a lot of time and effort into tracking down the kinds of things you can’t buy anywhere else – and over the last two days Team Snygg has been out in Belgium doing just that.

It was hard work,  but amazing fun. It took us 5 hours to drive to the Eurotunnel, and another three hours to get to the town of Verviers, which isn’t the sort of place we Brits would normally visit (sorry, Verviers) but over Easter weekend it becomes Flea Market Central. Literally. The whole centre of town becomes a massive flea market, and after falling unconscious pretty soon after our arrival, we were up at the crack of dawn and ready to buy.

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That was the tricky bit. There was so much to see, it was hard to decide what we really needed. There was everything, from clothes to kitchenalia, from Mid-Century loveliness to last week’s junk. But that’s the joy of a flea market – you never know what you’ll find. We soon got the hang of bargaining in terrible French, and before we knew it we were heading back to the van to unload. There’s no easy way of doing this – we took a wheelie suitcase each which came in handy, but we invariably found ourselves steering a loaded suitcase with one hand while carrying a load of bags with the other, through crowds that became thicker and thicker as the morning wore on. By lunchtime, we really needed a break. Luckily, Belgium has plenty to sustain the weary hunter.

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We carried on shopping into the afternoon, each time discovering stalls we hadn’t seen down streets and alleys we’d not noticed. Some of our best buys were late in the day – we found a stall selling exactly the kind of colourful 1960s items you’d expect to see at Snygg, so we had to spend some money there. Then we found some of our beloved religious chalkware, and then some orange enamel ware, and then … and then …

You’ll have to visit the shop to see what we brought back. Too much to tell you about here. By the end of the day, we could barely muster the energy to lift a glass to our lips, but it would have been rude not to sample a couple more delicious Belgian beers. Recommended. We passed out in our beds after shopping for approximately 10 hours, before another early start to drive back home. That took a long time, and we may never recover. But we’re doing it all again soon – we owe it to our customers. And it’s the best job in the world.

Incidentally, we meant to take a lot more photos but we were too busy shopping. That’s the kind of place it was!

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Written by Alex of Snygg

Introducing Rimini Blu by Bitossi

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When you visit 20th Century Stores and find yourself in Snygg’s space, you’ll always see at least a couple of examples of ‘Rimini Blu’ ceramics from the Italian company Bitossi. We often get asked about it – the vibrant colours and almost rustic forms of the Rimini Blu range really draw the eye, and we’ve certainly made Bitossi a few new fans since the Stores opened. That really makes us happy, because Mid-Century Italian pottery is something we collect ourselves, and Bitossi Rimini Blu is a big favourite.

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Designed in the 1950s by the great creative director of Bitossi, Aldo Londi, Rimini Blu has been pretty much in production ever since. We happen to believe that the earlier examples are the best, and most collectors tend to agree, but there’s something to be said about Rimini Blu in any form. Call in for a chat and we’ll happily explain the differences. But as several of our customers have found, once you get the taste for this lovely, vibrant pottery it’s a hard habit to break. And once you start collecting, you’ve a world of forms to choose from – Rimini Blu was used to decorate vases, bowls, lamps, boxes and whole range of beautiful quirky animal and bird sculptures to name just a few.

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At Snygg we aim always to have a few examples of Bitossi Rimini Blu in stock. It’s a growing area for collectors, investment value is good and prices are strong so now’s a good time to start collecting if you love Mid-Century design. And if there’s a particular piece you want that we don’t have in stock right now, do let us know – we have contacts all over the world and we can probably find what you need.

We’ll post more about Bitossi, and other things we love, in the weeks to come. But do come and see us at 20th Century Stores in Stockport – we’re always happy to show you what we’ve found.

Posted by Alex of Snygg