My Vintage London - Vintage Guide writer Rebecka Mustajarvi
This week new Vintage Guide writer and 30s lover Rebecka Mustajarvi shares her favourite vintage shops, club nights and places in London. Watch out for her regular book reviews and articles on arts, history and culture.
The Vintage Guide to London: Who are you, and what do you do?
Rebecka Mustajarvi: My name is Rebecka Mustajarvi, I’m a projects co-ordinator for a poetry charity and indulge in my passion for the past whenever I can. I recently finished an MA in late 19th-20th century literature and culture and form part of the editorial board for the London lit and art magazine Nutshell. When not reading through my ever-growing pile of old books, I go swing dancing or knit my way through my mountain of wool, trying to recreate knitwear from vintage patterns.
The Vintage Guide to London: Why do you like vintage – or in other words, what does vintage mean to you?
Rebecka Mustajarvi: Good tailoring combined with fun fabrics, prints, colours and quirky details – even homemade dresses from the early 20th century are more aesthetically exciting, not to mention better made, than most of the stuff you get in shops today.
I predominantly wear 1920s-mid 40s styles, with my heart firmly placed in the early to mid-1930s. I love that the styles of these decades could be sassy and attractive, in a demure and buttoned-up way, instead of relying on exaggeratedly short hemlines and deep cleavages to create an impression, as many modern styles seem to do. Vintage to me is also the art of dressing up. Going to a vintage club and seeing the effort people have put into their appearance is a real buzz.
Rebecka Mustajarvi: Although Camden Passage in Angel is sadly changing for the worse, due to the influx of mainstream clothing chains forcing out the antique-shop owners, it remains a good place to go for accessories and clothes. Cloud Cuckoo Land always has a good stock of early to mid 20th century clothes at decent prices.
I never walk out empty handed from any of the London Vintage Fairs, especially the Hammersmith one, which is always full of gems, like inexpensive celluloid bracelets or silk stockings. Unexpectedly hidden away in the basement of Camden Stables Market, Black Cotton Vintage (pictured) also has a lovely selection of clothes, bags and shoes, both for gents and ladies.
When I lived in North London, I also loved going to the Blue Carbunclein Tufnell Park. My boyfriend once found an original 1940’s bike there and the stylish owners look like they have just stepped out of an early Hitchcock silent.
The Vintage Guide to London: Do you ever go to vintage events? If so, which ones would you recommend?
Rebecka Mustajarvi: The Black Cotton Clubat Volupté, run by the lovely Lady Kamikaze and El Nino, is a favourite. The music is always fantastic, and if you stay until closing time, you can often witness an adrenaline fuelled Charleston-jam that’ll have your mind spinning until daybreak.
The Vintage Guide to London: What are your favourite vintage places in London?
Rebecka Mustajarvi: London’s full of fantastic buildings, but Liberty’s in Great Marlborough Street is one of my favourites. Finished in 1924, it is a spectacular mock-Tudor building, and I can easily spend hours admiring its amazing wood interior.
The Vintage Guide to London: What’s the must do vintage thing in London?
Rebecka Mustajarvi: Not strictly vintage as such, but the Imperial War Museum’s new “Explore History”centre, where you can access their enormous collection of film, photographs, art and documents, is well worth a visit. Being able to read the diary of an ATS girl posted to Egypt during WW2, or the mud-splattered letters between a Western Front soldier and his fiancée from WW1, is truly a special experience.
The Women’s Library is also great for a glance into the past, as their collections encompass everything from Suffragette ephemera, to knitting patterns and women’s magazines from the 18th century to the present. They always have interesting exhibitions on too.