My Vintage London: our photo competition winner Envy Greene
At the beginning of the year we ran a fabulous photo competition in collaboration with Lomography. Let us introduce you to our lucky winner Envy Greene. We loved the picture of her in the garden – taken by her friend and renowned photographer Gordon Ayres – so much that we’ll be using it in on our flyers. Here, Envy shares her top tips on vintage shopping and must-do places to visit.
The Vintage Guide to London: Tell us a little about yourself
Envy Greene: My name is Envy Greene – or rather, that is my pseudonym as my real name, Bronagh, can prove to be a little bit of a tongue twister for some. I’m a full-time linguist working in education with a passion for film noir and Italian and Spanish cinema and literature of the same period and earlier. When not indulging in my love of old books and European cinema, I can be found wheeling my make-up trolley behind me on my way to transform someone into a vintage siren. I have also been part of the Ration Book Britain series where I play a house-wife during the Blitz. That has truly been a wonderful experience and a real eye-opener for me.
The Vintage Guide to London: Why do you like vintage – or in other words, what does vintage mean to you?
Envy Greene: As a young student learning Italian, I became obsessed with mid-twentieth century Italian cinema. Ossessione is one of my all time favourites of the film noir genre: it’s based on the novel The Postman Always Rings Twice. How characters were lit captivated me and from thereon in started my interest in what make up they might have been wearing to give such dramatic effects. I also remember seeing Anita Ekberg dancing in the Trevi Fountain the first time I watched Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. I was so captivated by her confidence, style and beauty.
Also my father was and still is a huge influence on me as he was a child of the mid-Thirties and early Forties, and he used to spend many an evening regaling us children with tales of his childhood – from playing hide and seek in the street shelter right outside his house to tuning into the Dick Barton , Special Agent show on the wireless of an evening in the later Fortiess. He definitely passed on his make do and mend way of thinking to me as I treasure every vintage item I have ever acquired. Today I particularly like vintage cuts from the late Forties to the early Fifties as they’re so feminine, and just like the ladies of that time, I love to finish off every outfit with a pair of gloves and a hat.
The Vintage Guide to London: What are your favourite London vintage shops?
Envy Greene: I am a born traveller and I will I admit to travelling, even abroad if I’m looking for something in particular, but I’ve also made some lovely purchases over the years from Radio Days and Blackout II and some of the shops along Camden Passage.
The Vintage Guide to London: Do you ever go to vintage events? If so, which ones would you recommend?
Envy Greene: Nowadays I tend to visit tearooms or attend the odd vintage fair. My favourite fair is Vintage Vogue which is slightly outside London in Brentwood, Essex and I recently acquired an original edition of a children’s version of Don Quixote printed in the Thirties from the Walthamstow Vintage and Lifestyle fair which for me was an absolute exquisite find.
The Vintage Guide to London: What are your favourite vintage places in London?
Envy Greene: There are so many beautiful old buildings in London and I do particularly like the Rivoli Ballroom. I attended a ball there a few years ago and it was a wonderful opportunity to wear my black evening gown from the mid-Thirties. However, if I were to don my tourist hat, I’d have to say that my absolute favourite place to visit has to be Dennis Sever’s house on 18 Folgate Street. I adore what he tried to recreate as I can’t help feeling like I’ve stepped back in time into the world of Charles Dickens when I visit.
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese pub on Fleet Street is also a lovely little building to visit. You can actually sit on the same chair that Charles Dickens used to sit on and Dr Samuel Johnson’s house is just around the corner (I think this is the linguist and lover of letters coming through though!) Oh, and there’s Wilton’s Music Hall!
The Vintage Guide to London: What is your must-do vintage thing in London?
Envy Greene: Although I have been to many a wonderful club night event over the years, these days I can generally be found wandering the halls and rooms of art galleries and museums. There is a wonderful exhibition on at the moment in the National Army Museum in Chelsea called “Wives and Sweethearts” which is definitely worth a visit. I do try to keep abreast of future exhibitions and I must say that I found last year’s Grace Kelly exhibition at the V&A simply charming.