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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Dolling up in Dalston

Shop: Vintage Secret, Dalston, London

Written by Katie Antoniou

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Usually I’m loathe to talk in breathy, click hero-worship tones but let’s make no bones about it, clinic I absolutely gawked when I first encountered the work of art director Petra Storrs – she’s a set, prop and costume designer who has worked some serious origami- fashion magic with lots of bits of paper, amongst other things. Having been recently featured in Dazed and Confused, Storrs has been dressing a series of super brilliant muso-types like MGMT, Telepathe and Paloma Faith, for the latter constructed a ruddy brilliant umbrella dress out of mirrors.

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Her work with paper and other inexpensive materials is testament to the potential for creativity to flourish even when times are hard. Practically speaking you’d be wise to stay away from water, flames and people with scissors, but these are minor quibbles, all that matters is that you’d look pretty damn cool.

Tell me a bit about your DIY ethos – when did you start experimenting?

Well, I design and make things, so I-do-it-myself, and I think it’s important the designing and making processes go together as they inform each other. I have been working professionally as an art director and designer for a couple of years now, but previous to that I have always been very busy making art and my mum taught me and my friend to sew when we where very young (maybe 4 or 5 years old), and all our next door neighbours where painters, sculptors or keen quilt makers so I have always found it very appealing.

Do you think we’re going to be seeing a lot more of it? Is creativity changing?

I don’t know, it is hard to have an overview when you’re in this little bubble! I think its important to try to work in a way that means you get the most creative output from what you put in be it time, materials or money. East London is choc a block with talented creative people working away for next to nothing, I think they should all be paid lots of money, that would be a nice change!

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What is it about the materials – in particular your use of paper – which you find appealing?

I often work in paper because it is very immediate, and gives you license to experiment, almost like a maquette, or a three dimensional drawing, a blue print of how it might be. I think objects and designs have the most potential just before they are finished. Also I like how fragile and delicate paper is, as lots of my work is for the photographic industry, it really only needs to last for a few days until it is captured in a picture,

What is it you hope people will take away from your work?

I would like people to be pleased and for them to remember it, but my primary motivation is really for me, its like art therapy!

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What has been your favourite project that you’ve worked on in the last year?

The Mirror Dress is my favourite project so far I think. It is collaboration with singer Paloma Faith, she’s so theatrical and such a wonderful performer, it really comes alive, and its curved surfaces are completely reflective so it almost seems liquid as she moves around the stage. It’s also different in every environment like a chameleon reflecting the surrounding colours, shapes and audience.

What or who else do you find inspiring?

Everything and anything, lots of sculptural shapes and structures, architecture, pictures from the National Geographic, Planet Earth, I love all the tiny underwater creatures and small insects beetles and bugs: they are really extraordinary iridescent, brightly patterned and beautiful.

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What advice would you have for anyone hoping to break into fashion right now?

Work for as many different people as possible to gain experience of all the element that go in to having a small business and at the same time concentrate on a few projects of your own and make them amazing and create a website. Say Yes to everything because you never know what it will lead to.
Naomi Thompson set up Vintage Secret in response to the increasing demand for good quality, sildenafil reasonably priced vintage clothing. Running the venture from her little boudoir in Dalston, the site has gone from strength to strength, with Vintage Secret styling fashionistas like Mademoiselle Robot, artists and DJs Tinsel Edwards and Twinkle Troughton (pictured here as styled by Naomi), and singers Catherine AD and Tallulah Rendall. Vintage Secret’s events page and blog have become part of every London vintage fan’s bible, with the site’s newsletter offering competition winners tickets to the best parties that give you a chance to air your best gladrags! We had a chat with Naomi as she launches Vintage Secret homeware…

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Have you always had a passion for all things vintage?

As far back as I can remember I have loved the shape of classic vintage
dresses. I haven’t always had the guts to do the full on 50′s look but
that was when I was much younger. Then I just decided to embrace it. Life
is too short to follow the crowd.

When did you decide to set up your own company?

I had a bit of a eureka! moment when I saw a rubbish M&S dress on sale for
£30 on a vintage website a few years ago. I had got the same one from a
jumble sale in Portsmouth for 50p. I thought ‘my dresses at home are much
nicer and better quality’ so why not start a site selling beautiful good
quality items instead of al the rubbish that is passed of as vintage.

Where do you find your stock?

Well that’s would be telling! I do buying trips out of London. Tip – head
to the seaside towns. It’s morbid but the best vintage has been lovingly
looked after by little old ladies who have moved to the beach.

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We hear you’re expanding into vintage home-ware- is this true?

Yes I have found some amazing crockery sets and lots of fabulous tea cups
and cake stands. I now have over 400 items of vintage crockery, including
50′s toast racks! They are perfect for a tea party or even a small
wedding. I have a full 80 piece baby pink 50′s dinner set that can be
hired for a special occasion. We also have the most beautiful hand
embroidered vintage table clothes, linen napkins and bunting. We can even
come and set it all up for you. If you are looking for gifts I also have a
huge collection of 30′s bevelled mirrors and 30′s dressing table sets but
those are by appointment only.

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Any tips on how to keep vintage clothes in good condition?

Keep them out of light and away from moths. Don’t put them on metal
hangers and always clean items before you put them away.

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You’ve styled lots of fans like vintage blogger Mademoiselle Robot- can
you share your vintage style Dos and Don’t with us?

Dress according to your shape. I don’t wear 60′s clothes as much as I love
them, as they just don’t look right. That’s the great thing about vintage,
you can pick an era depending on your figure and if you stick to it you
can instantly know what will fit and suit you in the future. I would also
say, push your boundaries. The amount of times I have had to cajole
someone into a frock which hanging up is their idea of hell, only for them
to fall in love with it when it is on.

Photographs by Matt Kent
Make up by Bella Cruickshank

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