All photography by Maria Domican
I was nervous upon arriving at Vintage at Goodwood… Nervous because I had called in sick to work, nervous because I had been hearing bad press about the event and mainly nervous because I had no idea what to expect.
I have to admit, no matter how fashionable, arty and eco driven a festival is, a major emphasis has always been on being drunk and having a great, if somewhat crazy time… I couldn’t imagine myself getting wasted on ‘classic cocktails’ or ‘gin and tonics’, parading around campsites in my beloved vintage treasures and sleeping through bands in a dusty heap at Goodwood. Apparently that was exactly the crowd that organiser Wayne Hemingway was eager to discourage, not wanting those “out on the lash that leave a load of empty tins at their ripped tent”.
Goodwood was billed as ‘the first of what will be an annual music and fashion led celebration of creative British cool’ ‘The new festival of Britain’. But what was it? A vintage Fashion Fair? An exhibition? Or a festival? Featuring music, art, fashion, film and design I was puzzled as to how it would all come together.
None the less I was excited… I had packed a few of my 2nd favourite dresses (the dirt was still a worry!) far too many hats (and yes I carried them in a vintage hat box) and even two matching vintage parasols, for my friend and I to parade around with; in short, more than I would usually take on a week long holiday.
Upon arrival we were greeted by a red carpet and the famous British High Street. Made up like a spaghetti western, all wooden fronted shops, I felt like I had wandered onto a film set. The high street catered for the big brands: John Lewis, The Body Shop and Dr. Martins all had large stores with all the facilities of any other high street shop. It also was the home for the vintage cinema, a traditional British pub and even an Indian take away! The draw of the festival to many though – the vintage stalls – were down the two side streets in tents. These were much more bazaar-like in style; small cramped lines of tents exploding with clothes, accessories, and when it rained (which it did a lot) crammed in people unable to move.
Bands such as The Faces, Buzzcocks, Heaven 17 and the Noisettes entertained the crowds but it was the fashion that was the main draw of the festival. Workshops taught sewing and knitting while Hardy Amies and Pearl and Daisy Lowe were among those with runway shows.
Divided into eras, the festival celebrated five decades of British cool, with each area having a different ‘curator’ (supposed experts in that field).
The 1970s and 1980s zone curated by Greg Wilson featured a warehouse with interactive graffiti wall and a roller disco.
Also in the 1970s era was Eddie Miller’s Soul Casino nightclub – replicating a mid 70s ballroom and reminiscent of many a bad wedding reception, complete with 1970s swirly carpet, sprung dance floor, pool tables and low lighting – it was here that Wayne Hemingway performed his own DJ set on the Sunday.
The emphasis of the festival was definitely the 1940s and 1950s, however, with the majority of outfits being so themed and with one of the highlights being leading percussionist, producer and 1940s enthusiast Snowboy’s Tanqueray sponsored ‘Torch Club’: a 1940’s style supper club which served 3 course meals over the weekend, with waiter service and a full orchestra playing while you eat. Behind the club forties allotments and land girls held guess-the-weight-of-the-pumpkin competitions and the guys from The Chap held an Olympian event with cucumber sandwich tossing and tug-o-moustache.
Still in its first year, the festival organisers have room for improvement before next year’s. The website promised ‘an unparalleled attention to design and organisational detail’ which is a little optimistic considering the press pass debacle. Still, this was upheld in areas such as the attention to period detail in all shops and stages and that all events were first come first served and not fully booked up beforehand.
It’s possible the press pass debacle was a result of the PR company giving all 150 staff free weekend and camping tickets… of which apparently only 8 were used!
One stall holder also complained that they felt the festival had been miss-sold as they thought that the vintage stalls were going to be on the main high street not crammed into the side tents.
Whilst a lot of events over the weekend such as dance classes and the cinema were free, the main grumbles were still about the commercial emphasis of the festival, Bonham’s high profile auction, chain stores and a huge emphasis on shopping and spending money left a lot of people disgruntled, but apparently still willing to spend; Oxfam reportedly made £1000 in the first half hour of opening! Lily Allen’s no-show to launch ‘Lucy in Disguise’ was probably a blessing in disguise as it prevented the focus of the weekend from being celebrity.
The ‘Glamping’ was on all accounts also seen to be a big disappointment. Situated at the bottom of the hill in the woods this area quickly became a muddy bog with the torrential rain and at £1200 for a tent with an airbed was seen as a complete rip off by many who didn’t even have hot showers. The same was true of the pods which had to move some people to tents due to complaints about size and not being able to stand up.
For the regular campers, though, there were no problems. Many vintage tents, bunting strewn camps and campervans were on a chalk based slope which quickly drained and dressing rooms with full length mirrors and power points enabled everyone to dress up.
…And dress up they did! Whilst the day trippers favoured fancy dress over true vintage and stuck to the high street, the weekend crowd were the highlight of the festival. A huge ego-boosting weekend, everyone went out of their way to compliment each other on their outfits and a general blitz spirit coupled with the friendly campsite and interactive nature of events ensured that everyone was quick to make new friends.
Overall the weekend offered an overwhelming range of activities to take part in or witness, and hopefully with the kinks ironed out before next year, things can only get better for Goodwood.
1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, art, British cool, British High Street, Buzzcocks, Cocktails, daisy lowe, Dr. Martins, Eddie Miller, fashion, Gin & Tonic, Glamping, Hardy Amies, Heaven 17, Indian takeaway, John Lewis, lily allen, Lucy in Disguise, music, Noisettes, Olympiad, oxfam, Parasols, Pearl Lowe, Snowboy, Soul Casino, Tanqueray, The Blitz, The Body Shop, The Chap, The Faces, Vintage at Goodwood, Wayne Hemmingway
- Vintage at Goodwood: Festival Preview
- Vintage at Goodwood: Festival Review
- An Evening of Retro Hollywood Glamour at the Victoria & Albert Museum
- Vintage Clothes Bonanza!
- The London Vintage Fashion Fair