Vintage Boutique, Modes and Mode, began quite suitably between the array of antiquities of Gray's Antique Market in London's West End. Pushed out by insistant flooding, vintage fashion expert, Susie Nelson, saved her one-off pieces by moving to a new home in Pimlico. Here she preserves and sells fashion's history from her favourite eras, with a colourful timeline dating back from 1920s to 1990s hanging from the rails and walls. Named as one of the UK's Top Vintage Boutiques and providing pieces for Helena Bonham-Carter and Lana Del Ray, we knew this must be the place for ultimate vintage glamour.
You started selling vintage at Gray's Antique Market in London's West End before finally opening Modes & More in Pimlico, tell us when your love for vintage clothing really began and if there is a paticular ear you hold a certain passino for?
My favourite eras are the 1930s for the elegance and the 1970s for fun and memories. From the tall slender Garbo look, to Chanel’s understated elegance and the slinky halter tops and evening gowns favoured by Joan Crawford, the 1930’s took glamour to a new level. I was lucky enough to enjoy the 1970’s fashion scene first hand. From the boho direction inspired by Karl Lagerfeld to the Westwood punk era, these years signify fun and happy memories for me.
Did you start selling vintage purely out of passion or did you always consider vintage clothing as a way of being sustainable?
I started selling vintage as a passion but realised there was the bonus of it being an ethical/environmental friendly purchase. If we could just learn to appreciate and look after the contents of our wardrobes, the problem of clothing adding to our landfill issues could be reduced. In such a faced-paced world of fashion, you manage to keep the past alive, selling incredible vintage designer pieces.
Why do you think these pieces can stand the test of time and hold their value?
They are of interest and hold their value for several reasons. In no particular order, they are scarce as the quality of fabric doesn't exist anymore, designers were and still are cutting edge and people want to look more individual and seek out alternative investments e.g. handbags.
Landfill, the result of fast fashion, is becoming an increasing problem to our environment. How do you think, could selling vintage clothing solve this threatening issue?
It can help, but not everyone can or wants to wear vintage or second hand clothing. People are larger today, and not everyone can fit into vintage clothes. However, I think valuing items as investments rather than disposable items would go a long way to reversing this trend.
Many fashion icons, including Lana Del Ray have found pieces at your store, however what was the most original item you have ever sold?
Most 'celebrities ' find pieces via their stylists. However, one of the most interesting items I sold was a pink Hartnell cocktail dress with feathered arms - it was brought by a lady for her 60th birthday party - a welcome change from the usual little black dress.
And finally, what are your absolute vintage must-haves?
I have always had an interest in history, and leading from that fashion through the ages. My parents lived in Tokyo in the 1970s/1980s and the way the Japanese mix vintage with current designs was an inspiration to me.
Here’s a shortlist of my favourite vintage items:
1930s bias cut evening gown
Silk velvet opera coat
C41 dress for the history
1970s YSL Le Smoking suit
Thea Porter print dress
Ossie Clark gown