Space Harrogate vintage shop recreates Yves Saint Laurent famous Vogue fashion shoot
Some set out to find Space, others stumble across it as they wander down The Ginnel, a steep short cut from Harrogate’s Parliament Street (home to Bettys flagship cafe).
Then there are Space regulars, die-hard vintage and retro style-lovers who flock to the shop because they know they will always find something special and rare.
Variety, says owner and founder Steve Elvidge, is the Space of life. “That’s the key to Space,” he says. “Because we are not a university town and there are not a lot of students around, we can’t just cater to that market. We have to aim at a much broader market, so we do get the kids but we get the parents as well.
For almost 15 years, Space Harrogate has been at the heart of the North Yorkshire town, offering an authentic and alternative shopping experience to visitors and locals alike.
At first glance, you might never guess that, behind its corner door lies a 1,800sq ft store selling vintage clothing, mid-century furniture and retro homewares, vintage watches and jewellery, music, books and retro homewares.
At a time when shoppers are tightening their belts, Space is holding its own.
“We are doing very well,” says Steve. “It’s an interesting time for vintage because the shops that sell genuine vintage 1950s, ‘60s, ‘70s items seem to be a dying breed.
"A lot of the shops now have switched to American imported sportswear, selling stuff for a much younger market, which is fine, that’s where the money is and it's easy to just import stuff from a warehouse in America. But if you want to find original ‘50s and ‘60s dresses now, it is getting harder and harder.
“We have proper vintage collectors, people who have loved vintage all their lives and will always wear ‘50s, ‘60s or ‘40s stuff, if they can find it.”
Originally from Leeds, in the mid to late Eighties, Steve was lead singer of Age of Chance, a pioneering alternative rock-dance crossover band which was signed to Virgin Records and made a couple of LPs. Its mutant metallic cover of Prince's Kiss topped the UK Indie Chart in 1986.
“It was great,” he says. “We did tours and recordings - and the creative process, of course. I have kind of got that feeling again, of being in a gang.”
After leaving the band, he had a shop called Funky Stuff on Hyde Park Corner in Leeds in the early 90s, and also managed a mobile phone shop for a few years.
“But I had always had a passion for vintage and retro furniture and thought I wanted to do something more interesting,” he says.
He founded Space Harrogate in 2009 and sells his own vintage finds there (West German pottery, music and space-age retro are his specialist objects).
He also rents out areas to 14 other traders, known as Space-holders (some help staff the shop). These include: Vintage Keeley and her Discover Vintage Interiors, Alfie Robot Retro; Vintage Beau; Moonbow Vintage; Adorn Vintage; Books4all; Vintage Strawberry; The Vintage Underground; Miss Grace Space; Beatniks Vintage, and Collectro.
“People who have a lot of contacts tend to be able to get the good stuff,” Steve says. “It's not by accident.”
One of Steve’s latest finds is a collection of dresses by Joseph Ribkoff created in homage to famous designs of Yves Saint Laurent’s 1965 autumn/winter collection, in which he paid tribute to Dutch artist Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) by designing cocktail dresses based on the painter’s abstract style of neo-plasticism, featuring primary colours on white within a grid of black lines.
One featured on the September 1965 cover of French Vogue. The original six dresses can now be found in museums around the world, including the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the V&A in London and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
“They were iconic,” says Steve. “They really took off, obviously because they photographed so well and there is a series of iconic images.
Steve decided to recreate these iconic images, Space staffers Nicola Johnson and Jodie Moonbow (of Moonbow Vintage) agreed to showcase the Ribkoff Mondrian-esque dresses, alongside professional model and long-time friend of the store Rachel Peru.
“It kind of escalated, as these things do,” says Steve. “Simon Godsave is a high-end professional photographer we have known for a decade and he offered to shoot in his studio and suggested that all the models brought along their own Sixties outfits, too.”
So the Space team found itself at Simon’s studio in Harrogate, where Michelle Wilson, of Oh So Gorgeous in Harrogate, also pitched in to take care of makeup and Trudy Fielding took care of hair and styling. The fabulous results can be seen on these pages
The goalposts for vintage have shifted in recent years, says Steve, who lives in Knaresborough with his wife, Stacey (they have three grown-up children).
“When we started 14 years ago, you wouldn’t normally have regarded the 1980s as vintage stuff, but a lot has changed in that time and now younger people looking for something cool can buy ‘80s stuff and look great in it,” he says.
Laura Ashley prairie dresses and all colourful maxi dresses are currently popular but, with originals becoming increasingly hard to find, he has teamed up with a local seamstress who is making kaftans and wrap dresses using 1970s batik fabric that came from thea house clearance of someone who spent a lot of time in the Far East.
Vintage treasure-seekers will be pleased to hear that Space’s lease has just been renewed for the next 10 years. Create an emporium selling top-quality, hard-to-find vintage, and they will come to you.
- Space is open everyday 9.30am-5.30pm, Sunday 10.30am-4.30pm at The Ginnel, Harrogate. Upstairs is Major Tom's Social Cafe-Bar, for beer and pizza from 12 til' late. Website https://spaceharrogate.co.uk/ and Instagram @spaceharrogate
- See more vintage fashion here