As Space Vintage celebrates its tenth anniversary. Victoria Benn meets Vintage Beau and Alfie Robot Retro, just two of the fashionistas who help ensure it’s a treasure trove of vintage style. Main pictures by Simon Hulme.
If you already like sustainable fashion, the chances are you will have heard about Space, the Harrogate vintage emporium which has just celebrated its 10th year in business at its premises on The Ginnel, just off the town’s Parliament Street. If you’ve never heard of it, but are tempted to pop along – then you are in for a treat – just be sure to allow plenty of time...
“We’ve ten traders who deal exclusively with fashion and accessories,” explains Jill Coulson, aka Alfie Robot Retro, who not only sells at Space but organises the Ilkley and Wetherby Vintage Fairs. “So the shop is able to stock a really wide mix of fashion from classic day dresses, suits and evening dresses from the 1950s, 60s and 70s, to 80s and 90s sportswear, to more high-end collectable pieces by designers such as Dior, Chanel and Prada.”
A school teacher by trade, Jill has been a vintage hobbyist for many years, but made the switch to full time vintage trading five years ago, as a way of working round her two young children.
“I’ve always had a thing about vintage handbags,” says Jill. “I love the classic shape and sharp lines of bags from the 1960s and 70s bags like the Hermès’ Kelly Bag. British brands like Ackery, Mappin and Webb and Waldybag also had their own version of this type of bag with its angular lines and central clasp.
“It’s the little extras you find inside which makes them special, like an integral matching purse on a chain or a mirror compact in one of the inside pockets.”
Another fashion trader at Space is Vintage Beau, otherwise known as Trudy Fielding who also owns Studio 4 in Little Germany, in Bradford, as well as attending fairs and events throughout the UK. With a great eye for style and curating looks, Trudy has become increasingly in demand as a stylist with professional fashion photographer Stevieroy, as well as a procurer for several BBC productions, including forthcoming BBC drama Small Axe directed by the Oscar and BAFTA winning filmmaker Steve McQueen and the next series of Back in Time and Call the Midwife.
“On the styling front I’ve done everything from establishing a look for a band – which I did for the four piece post punk band, Cheap Teeth and which was all about creating that worn in rock ‘n’ roll vibe, with classic 1970s leather jackets, denim and original band T-shirts.
“One of my most recent shoots with Stevieroy involved creating a chic evening look which we called #GreatestShowWoman. Rather than just using an ordinary evening suit, I selected a classic 1940s tailcoat adding sequins to the collar and matching it with dinner suit trousers. I also tied silk ribbons around the legs of the trousers to take them up to just above the ankle for an edgier look, before finally adding fishnet ankle socks and original 1980s silver stilettos.”
As ambassadors for the clothes they sell, Trudy and Jill both wear vintage in their everyday lives. For Jill who loves to dress in the colours and prints of the 1960s, “just something as simple as a vintage brooch can add a little unique flair to a high street outfit,” she explains. For Trudy her passion for vintage comes from the joy of creating new looks by matching together diametrically diverse pieces from different eras. At the Space shoot, Trudy exemplifies this by wearing a 1940s jacket over a pair of 1980s culottes and shoes. “Fashion is another art form so part of the fun comes from being creative,” she says.
Acknowledged for her input into many vintage fashion shoots with the nationally acclaimed Yorkshire model, Rachel Peru, Trudy was recently invited by renowned vintage fashion photographer Dan Urban, to join Rachel in a shoot. The results which use Little Germany as its back drop feature the duo wearing some of Trudy’s favourite pieces from the 1960s and 70s; “I love the earthiness of 70s fabrics, especially its beautiful velvets and lush suedes. I also love a dagger collar blouse – cool, versatile and easy to wear either fully buttoned up or pulled out over the lapels of a jacket. The shoot was certainly a fun way of celebrating the journey that Rachel and I have been on together!”
With its eclectic mix of eras, prints and fashions all under one roof, Space is the perfect place to discover vintage fashion. And, if you are stuck for inspiration, Trudy’s advice is to start with just one item you like and build your look from there.
“Forget about labels and designers, just pick out a shape or a detail you like, such as a great pair of shoes or a fabulous jacket and start experimenting!”
spaceharrogate.co.uk ; @myvintagebeau; @trudybeaustylist; alfierobotretro.com
The next Ilkley Vintage Fair is October 26 at Ilkley Playhouse. See AlfieRobot.com, SpaceHarrogate.co.uk and Facebook: Vintage-Beau