Remember Wayne Hemingway that tweed-wearing Northern straight talking entrepreneur who launched Red or Dead and gave me a taste for acid-tripped out shoes? Remember how he left the world of fashion to work in social town planning and develop ethical housing and promoted the good life with radio 4 tales of bike riding along the local Sussex roads and coastline, close where he moved in West Wittering?
Well life has a funny way of making all parts add up to a sum total and next month with the launch of Vintage at Goodwood this August, Wayne's journey seems to be a case in point:-
Goodwood is very close to West Wittering – tick.
It is very beautiful – tick.
Any designer with any talent has a reverent passion for vintage – tick.
Any designer with eco-credentials has a reverent passion for vintage – tick.
Any designer growing up in 1970's England will have a love for late Twentieth contemporary design – tick.
Have a brainstorm with your wife, your kids, your friends and then cycle past the glory that is Goodwood and you might well conceive of a festival fusing all these plus more – tick.
Have the drive to sleep a nightly quota of z's less than Margaret Thatcher as PM and the go-getting wherewithal to know this is nothing compared with setting up your previous businesses and you have the start of what promises to be my combined heavens in a field festival – tick, tick, tick!
I have been collecting 'vintage' (which i called old clothes back then) since I was approximately 6 years old: the first piece was a 1930's brooch for 50p from a church jumble sale in Bushey and quickly learnt to speedy thrift through the metroland charity shops heartlands with a hardcore gang of fellow committed lovers of the past. Aged 7 when I worked out that my Great Grandma had been alive in World War One, I can remember feeling sad that she hadn't kept any of her old dresses and couldn't understand why neither had my Nana from her glory days during World War Two. My mother, like me is a hoarder, or as I term it 'a collector', firmly believing that as everything comes around again in fashion cycles, it is pointless to throw anything away. Mum also has a shed at the bottom of the garden which we call 'Vogue Shed', in which her 30+ year collection of back issues sit in proud archival glory, waiting for the day where she can, and has been called into archivist action, by panicked photographer friends of mine, desperately searching for a back issue.
Collecting is then the new hoarding; just as vintage is the new old. Darning (if anyone under the age of 75 could do it) should be a skill we learn at school; instead we learn how to love the latest and sadly as I know all too well from my chats with sustainable fashion experts, new doesn't always mean best.
The stories in these beautiful old clothes are what always lured me into their caverns of dreams: imagining the life of the tailor who spent hours pintucking, or gathering; sewing hems by hand, or adding crystals to bust-lines. Finding those rare treasure-laden vintage shops or markets, which hit that addictive surge of STOP THE CAR intensity are akin to the most in the moment high experiences I have ever felt: seeing my Transylvanian embroidered 100+ year old jacket hanging from a dusty Rumanian road-side wall was one, driving past Mishka in Hornsey, North London, last year was another. Both hit that rarely pulsed nerve, the one which knows I am about to do business and not the business of simple commercial transactions: this would be more powerful than that, as here I could buy the tailors' tales and fall in love all over again with the very reason why I ever became a history fashion geek turned stylist, old clothes' stories…
What I am hoping for from Vintage at Goodwood is the near-nirvana combination of so many glitteringly fun-times worlds: heaps of gorgeous old clothes, 'curated' I think is the word they use, into decades so like a market-place social history, with music, films, art and design to add to the glory days trip down memory lane delight. What sounds great about this is that is seems so perfectly to fit the times: if like me you have always harked back to look forwards, then this gathering of the cultural arts into high streets of eras, with iconic movies to match, means that my shopaholic (remember I call it collecting) tendencies can be satiated, while my husband's film graduate (buff) hours can be wiled away in the cinema tent pleasure dome. Plus Goodwood promises art and design, glamping, groovy djs: from Norman Jay to Princess Julia, as well as a huge diversity of acts: from the tea room tunes of The Daily Tea Dance, to the pumping sounds of The Horsemeat Disco and acts as diverse as Sandie Shaw and The New Faces, through to The Noisettes, Heaven 17, I could go on…
I am excited! I hope I see you there: be it in the mosh pit, or in amongst the pile of clothes I am sure to be 'collecting'.
let's end with a quote, their quote about what Vintage at Goodwood promises to be: 'A celebration of all that is best about British culture.'