Illustration by Antonia Parker
Vintage is having a cultural moment: from parties, to interiors, to food. Of course, fashion never lost interest. A red-carpet star wearing ‘vintage’? Best-dressed lists, watch them go. A bride in a 1940s gown? The toast of the wedding season. Apparently, you can elevate your look and even personality, with vintage. Designers consult the past for inspiration (let’s face it, nearly every trend has been done before), but you can’t beat an original. Cue successful fairs like Frock Me! or London’s Portobello. But really, why this vintage love affair? Well, if we can access fashion’s entire history, wardrobe choices become infinite. Individuality is also more likely. And, our nostalgia for days gone by? Vintage fashion keeps (the stylish) memories alive. Unfortunately, it’s never been the easiest trend. Sourcing the perfect 1980s jumpsuit or 1920s evening gown, equals time, money and relentless rummaging. At least that was true until September, when sisters Lily Allen and Sarah Owen, opened Lucy in Disguise. Vintage pieces spanning all eras are said to be expertly edited, well-presented and affordable (for the most part). A vintage revolution? When Lucy in Disguise launched its With Diamonds VIP Dressing Room, I couldn’t wait to find out.
Illustration by Gareth A Hopkins
Snug under numerous layers (and token vintage cape, hiding somewhere), I arrived at LID’s King Street store for the launch party. Just a hop, skip and a jive away from ‘Theatreland’, it’s an apt location for the drama associated with vintage fashion. Marveling at ‘The 12 days of Kissmas’ cheeky window-display, I soon remembered my icy fingers and rushed inside. The store was sleek-looking, spacious and well, atypically vintage. Almost immediately, my sights were set on a flowing Ossie Clark 1970s gown, 1960s shift and 1940s tea dress. The layout upstairs, even though the entire collection looks unified, is designed to resemble an apartment (Lucy’s), split into era-defining sections. Browsing the meticulously arranged clothing and accessory displays, it became evident that buying and styling standards are high. Each item appears a unique ‘statement’ and carefully chosen. Pricier pieces aside (Ossie and co), you could just about find something for £30; most are £60+. For beloved must-haves that stretch the pennies too far, it’s useful to remember that nearly everything can be hired. Fashion aside, it’s also worth a visit for the spectacularly glamorous mannequins and lighting fixtures.
Illustration by Sandra Contreras
I was soon ushered downstairs to the launch party, the laughter and music rapidly rising in volume. Was the pristine storefront a façade? Hiding a speakeasy-type vintage marketplace below? Not quite. The 1930s With Diamonds VIP Dressing Room is a decadently girlie boudoir and the crux of Lucy in Disguise as a concept store. A soft-carpeted dressing/lounging space, it epitomizes the customer’s journey to a bygone era. No doubt, the retail signature and marketing strategy of Lucy in Disguise. ‘Lucy’ has asked you to enter her world (dressed for your chosen decade) and, as her glamorous VIP friend, you couldn’t possibly say no. At least that’s where my imagination was taking me, as I reclined on the sofa with partygoers, admired the ‘vintage gold’ hanging around us (YSL, Dior, Pucci) and read classic editions of Vogue. Unsurprisingly, all guests were revelling in this world of make-believe. As Lucy clearly knows, the act of getting ready is almost as fun as the outfit itself.
Illustration by Karina Yarv
So, who is Lucy (apart from a playful nod to the Beatles song)? She is a decade-defying fantasy figure, who “rock and rolled through the fifties”, “wigged out in the sixties” and “disco danced the seventies away”. An ageless persona, Lucy enables Lily and Sarah to stock pieces from the 1920s to the 1990s (yes, the 90s are now vintage), hoping to offer something for everyone. On party night, Lucy’s ‘presence’ was everywhere, flitting through the fashionable crowd, which included Sarah Owen. And, as I discovered, it’s not just the VIP Dressing Room downstairs. An extension of her apartment, this is where Lucy comes to play. You could picture her at the beauty parlour, where we asked for Jackie’s hairdo and make-up (courtesy of Bumble and Bumble and Illamasqua), before completing our look with WAH nails. Surely she was propped up alongside us at the Grey Goose bar, sampling era-inspired cocktails and enjoying live Jazz. And suddenly, several lovely Lucy’s were entertaining the crowd in head-turning party dresses, while we savoured raspberry Ladurée macaroons. How elegant! Some flared sleeves, peplums and exquisite headpieces later, I was contemplating which era I should call my own.
Illustration by Rukmunal Hakim
According to Lily and Sarah, Lucy in Disguise is the “modern girl’s way to do vintage”. It’s a clever description, and I could become accustomed to this slick and well-groomed version. Formerly fearful vintage shoppers will no doubt join me. Perhaps others will miss the hunt and haggle, but I suspect they’ll still enjoy the all-encompassing LID experience. Because, beneath this (revolutionary?) fashion business, lies a girl who wants you to have fun. Judging by the glammed-up, cocktail-swilling crowd, our vintage love affair is still going strong.
See the website for Lucy in Disguise opening hours and contact details. You can book a hair/make-up/WAH nails appointment over the phone.
The With Diamonds VIP Dressing Room is available for group bookings and events including ‘Evelyn’s Roaring Tea Party’ and ‘Cynthia’s Sparkling Soiree’. You can also hold a bespoke event, or hire out the entire downstairs, bar and beauty salons included.
Antonia Parker, Bumble and Bumble, Dior, fashion, Frock Me, Gareth A Hopkins, Illamasqua, Karina Yarv, Kate Ingram, Ladurée, lily allen, Lucy in Disguise, Portobello, Pucci, Rukmunal Hakim, Sandra Contreras, Sarah Owen, tea, vintage, VIP, WAH Nails, With Diamonds, YSL
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