No matter how good my intentions or camera angles, shooting at an indoor vintage fair is not a walk in the park. The lighting is usually a cold, flat halogen. The backdrops are messy and busy – not an inch of empty white wall space. Shoppers run in and out of the shots. And there’s dozens of vendors to whom I have to rehash my story – “Hi, I have a blog about vintage. Can I take a picture of this dress on my muse?” – each time I find something interesting to shoot at their stall. It’s a lot of talking, a lot of waiting, and a lot of hoping that they will eventually let you take the shot. Oh yes, I get the door slammed in my face sometimes. Not everyone is taken in by this whole blogging business… Ouch. On the other hand, vintage fairs convene the hottest dealers from across the country so you get a concise overview of some of the best collections out there. Everyone wants to put their best foot forward and brings their prize pieces. Which, I must admit, can be stressful too. Given the limited time I have with my model, entering these massive venues can be overwhelming. I usually need a few trials and errors to get a hold on the right vibe and direction. And I mean, literally direction: where to start, how to walk? Some simple breathing exercises and a pat on the back from a beautiful, inspiring girl luckily always sort me out.
The London Vintage Fashion Fair takes place once a month at the Hammersmith Town Hall. It’s comparable to the Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show, only smaller and considerably less Couture. My muse for the afternoon is model-mom Portia Freeman. Described as “the modern day Twiggy”, 22-year old Portia has one of those unforgettable, intriguing faces. With her big blue eyes and quirky nose she often has a slightly fifties, rockabilly edge, but other times appears super soft and romantic. Her self-described personal style is “kinda mismatched. I like to wear slouchy boyfriend jeans with a vest top and blazer somedays but then on others I like to wear cute dresses or floaty blouses.” Portia started modeling when she was only 15-years old. She was scouted in London by a model agency and soon landed her first shoot for British Vogue with Mario Testino. Her most memorable fashion moments to date are “having worked with Alexander McQueen, my first runway show for Chanel and shooting with Steven Meisel.” Today she is the proud mom of 1-year old son Dylan and on the brink of a global comeback. She is the face of Charlotte Olympia’s current shoe campaign and short film noir, based on the mystery stories of Agatha Christie. And here’s a bit of a prime scoop: in honor of her model and muse Charlotte Olympia has just named a new season shoe ‘Portia’! I wish I could show you the shoe but unfortunately only Portia has seen it – so hot it’s still on the press!
Despite all the location caveats Portia and I had a great time at the fair. We found a few vendors excited to let us raid their stall and run to the peripherals to shoot. Sadly I forgot or misplaced some of their business cards and can for the love of god not remember the name of their stores. I would love to hear from them so I can credit them properly and with love.