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The Vintage Guide To London | November 21, 2017

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My Vintage London - vintage photographer Claire Pursglove

This week vintage photographer Claire Pursglove shares her favourite vintage London shops, places and club nights.

The Vintage Guide to London: Who are you, and what do you do?

Claire Pursglove: I’m a lady of many talents and a hybrid of many things! I’m predominantly a photographer, specifically for vintage events – although I’d like to experiment with studio work too. I’ve been on the scene for about three years now, during which time I’ve done PR for vintage related companies, had my own column on Queens of Vintage.com, been a pin-up model, and become a published photographer. In the words of The Beach Boys, ‘I get around’! I still do all these things (to varying degrees), and am always up for new experiences.

The Vintage Guide to London: Why do you like vintage – or in other words, what does vintage mean to you?

Claire Pursglove: I love true stories and history, and I think there is a great deal to be learned about who we are from where we’ve come from. My mum was an antique dealer so I grew up around beautiful things which have a past. I think it’s amazing how these things survive so long; they seem to carry a different energy from all the disposable crap you get nowadays. I certainly treasure things more knowing that people before me loved them enough to take care of them.

I like vintage clothes because so much accessible fashion was much better made way back when. The appeal is very much aesthetic, as I think the clothes suit my shape much better too. I love being a woman, and looking feminine. In terms of shopping, there’s something really satisfying about finding vintage clothes that fit like a glove, and knowing that there was once another woman who was just like you, and who loved what you’re now wearing. The fact that no one else will have the same thing is a massive plus. Who wants to look like everyone else?

Vintage to me is also very much about the lifestyle and the social values of previous generations, when ‘women were women and men were men’ and people were much kinder to each other. My dad seems to think I would have found life in the Fifties and Sixties somewhat lacklustre, but sometimes I really crave a simple life.

The Vintage Guide to London: What are your favourite London vintage shops?

Claire Pursglove: PortobelloMarket is a treasure trove, and the first place I went hunting for vintage when I started out. I’m also lucky enough to work around the corner from Alfie’s Antique Market, which houses some amazing dealers, like The Girl Can’t Help It. I love their clothes, but the shop itself is also always beautifully laid out. It’s worth a visit just to chat to the owners, who have some great stories to tell – not least about their shopping trips!

Closer to home there is Vien Vintage and Vintage Hart, both in Crystal Palace. For a more personal experience, Vintage Secret is another favourite of mine; the owner Naomi uses her home as her showroom, and is very hospitable when I go round to browse her wares!

No outfit is complete without the hair and make up in my opinion, so I also go to Nina’s Hair Parlour whenever I can. Their hair and make up classes were invaluable to me when I was starting out, and I still always learn something new when I go.

The Vintage Guide to London: Do you ever go to vintage events? If so, which ones would you recommend?

Claire Pursglove: I really don’t go to as many vintage events as I should, given the plethora of amazing stuff going on. London is wasted on me sometimes! Hula Boogie is a great night, they get some good bands in and it’s always a fun crowd. Rock a Hula is good if you fancy a boogie and a bowl.

I always look forward to the vintage/retro weekenders as well, such as Goodwood Revival, which is only an hour and a half outside of town. That for me is like Disneyland for vintage, what with the attractions, the location and the effort that all the visitors make with their outfits as well. The atmosphere is just amazing. I wish they would make it a commune so I could stay there forever!

Fifties weekender Rhythm Riot is a lot of fun too, there’s always something going on to keep you entertained (even if it’s just the shopping). I really need to learn to dance though…

Read on for more of Claire’s top tips

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