By Barbara Chandler
@sunnygran on Instagram
Design writer for Homes & Property at the London Evening Standard
The V word is big in retail at the moment – that’s V for Vintage. Even John Lewis is floating a new vintage department in Kingston, underpinned by the expertise of the successful on-line marketplace Vinteriors.
But the virtuosos of vintage – its life blood if you like – are not to be found closeted in a department store. They are the doughty dealers who have created and nurtured this trend from its inception, first championing the 50s and elevating it into mid-century modern – and indeed inventing that very name. Then came “retro,” a much broader church, encompassing pop, op, the 70s, 80s and even 90s. To this in turn was added the simply the second-hand – and the up-cycled, where an old piece has been adapted for a new use. “Nowadays, many people just want something that’s special, a little old, that will set their room apart on Insta– they are often not so worried about age, date and investment any more,” as one trade veteran recently remarked – “and vintage does it nicely.”
And the good news for Chiswick is that 40 experienced specialist dealers came to our very first antiques and vintage market on Sunday, and, as restrictions ease, the number could double, strung out along the South side of the High Road every second Sunday of the month from 9.00 am to 3.00 pm
On its first outing at least, the venture was a resounding success, with sellers and buyers alike manifestly happy to be discovering each other – though many were hampered a bit by masks.
The woman behind it all is Jenny Titmuss, who already runs a successful similar venture in St Albans. She pitched the idea to Hounslow Council to secure a licence for an ambitious run of stalls all the way from Chiswick Police Station into the old market space and on beyond Devonshire Road and Barclays Bank to the South Beach premises at number 123. She is deservedly popular with the dealers.
“I researched the site very carefully,” she says, “and it’s perfect.” Not only is the market a treasure trove for stylish homemakers, but, she says, it also taps into green ethics and sustainability – “a desire to keep things in circulation rather than buy new.” Incidentally, over the past six months, searches on johnlewis.com for “sustainable home” are up 650%,”vintage” up 77% and “antique” up 55%.
So on Sunday browsers got ample eyefuls of carefully-curated architectural salvage, old furniture, ironmongery, kitchenalia, memorabilia, ephemera, toys, and French brocante. There were clusters on the pavement of white enamel jugs, traditional baskets, kettles and pans, sporting equipment, and much more. Hand-written labels lovingly gave details – and the price. Fashionistas favoured the clothes and shoe racks, and punctiliously picked over a stash of handbags and jewellery. A stand-out stall had glass of all periods arranged by colour from aqua to ruby red and cobalt. Reflected in a myriad of individual round mirror mats were vases, bowls, decanters, bottles and ornaments flashing back the rays of an agreeably sunny day. Here Yvonne of @antiqueadventureslondon happily shared with punters the provenance of each piece, which she had earlier cleaned and polished to perfection.
Dawn and Stephen from Retrovation, who run the Retrobarn in Flamstead near St Albans, had laid on a fine spread of decorative antiques and vintage props. “We want to get antiques back on the High Street,” they say. “And Chiswick is exactly what we have in mind. There was a great mix of antique, vintage, collectibles and interior pieces. The market was buzzing with the young, the old, the antique lovers and just city dwellers. The stands lined a pedestrian market area parallel to the High Road – the perfect setting.”
“Yes, we all left on a high,” reports Arabella of Oculuseque. With an eye trained by discriminating collector parents and a history of art degree, she was selling French treasures that included an exquisite embellished mirror, modernist paintings, and a fine early pastel. Brexit, though, was already making imports trickier, said another dealer sadly, itemising the pile of paperwork imposed at ports – “I think the French are trying to punish us.”
No food sellers came with the traders, as Chiswick already abounds with eateries who were benefitting from extra business. The George IV pub got a special commendation from one grateful dealer – “thank you for your warm welcome, use of facilities and end of the day pint @georgeivw4 @fullers”
And we had a great busker, too – “yes, we usually bring him along,” Jenny said affectionately. So Chris Harvey upped the mood with an unstinting stream of smooth jazz and swing – check him out on @nicenjazzy And save me a dance.
See a gallery of photographs of the antiques market taken by Barbara Chandler and Frank Noon here.
Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar
See also: Chiswick Antiques Market in Pictures
See also: Chiswick Outdoor Markets
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