Thursday, 23 June 2011

The Girl Can't Help It!

I lived in London for three years, during this time i had a horrible day job for an interior design company, ruled by an evil dictator.  To keep my sanity i worked the odd weekend here and there in London's best vintage boutique, The Girl Can't Help It! It truly was the best job i have ever had.  Even at the end of a six hour shift, there was still new things to discover tucked away.  Many customers described it as an Aladdin's cave, but i think it was allot more magical than that!

Sparkle and Cad are now living full time in the US of A.  Laurie is their trusty manager-ess who is running the show while they are across the pond sourcing new delights for the shop.  Between cocktails Sparkle had a minute to answer some questions about her love of vintage......

So tell us a bit about your shop? What makes it stand out from the others 
The selection, collection, condition and attention to detail. Each piece is hand picked to fit into a style and look. We focus on Hollywood glamour from the 30's 40's & 50's; all in mint or as close to mint as possible condition.

You get allot of celebs and stylists shopping in your store. Any juicy gossip? 
If you want celebs to keep coming to your store-you don't gossip about them! But Kate Moss, Paloma Faith, Eva Green, and Immodesty Blaize are all regulars.

At what age did you start getting into vintage? When were you first aware of the vintage scene?
When I first started to come to Europe in the 70's,I was already buying vintage and London especially has always had a big vintage scene- although then it was called second hand clothes or antique clothes. I guess in the 70's-1950's clothes would have been classified second hand & 20's & Victorian -antique. Until last year-I still had the first "vintage" dress I bought in 1967. It was a rayon Hawaiian dress and it was my favourite dress for years & I bought it for $20. Of course I didn't know it at the time, but it turned out to be one of the most collectible Hawaiian prints and I recently sold it for $3000 to a collector; so I guess that was a good investment!

What made you decide to open a shop? Where was your first shop? 
My first shop was in New York City in Soho; then I opened THE GIRL CAN"T HELP IT in London on Essex Road in Islington in 1988 shipping over all my stock from USA
    Jasja (Cad) joined in after we started living together; and now takes care of the menswear and bric a brac.

What is your favourite item of vintage? What do you collect and why? 
I personally collect Mexican hand painted & sequined circle skirts. They are all individual & like works of art with many scenes & themes & designs. They are also a unique article of clothing that can be dressed up or down.

Have you notices an increase in interest in vintage since Mad Men? 
Madmen has increased an interest in that late 50's early 60's style. One of the reasons-I think for this-is it's feminine, it's shapely & most importantly-a lot of it is really classic & timeless.

What are your hot tips for scouting out bargains in thrift or charity shops? 
 It's getting harder & harder to find bargains in charity shops of any of the older eras- 1- most people throwing things away-are getting rid of 80's 90's and later; and 2- most charity shops now have "vintage" sections that they are pricing hirer. BUT there's always a bargain to be found somewhere if you search hard enough and long enough. You have to know your fabrics, know your hand finished seams, and know your styles and eras.

There are a lot of vintage reproduction brands out there. What are your views on them? 
Usually the reason someone first gets into vintage clothing is to be different & wear something no one else has; so reproduction sort of defeats this purpose. But, if your aim is to recreate an era; there are allot of good reproduction brands out there;& of course-the beauty of them-is you can find them in your size. I do get a little disheartened when I see allot of girls all wearing the same 50's repro dress. I'd like gals to be a bit more creative in their style if they're going to wear a reproduction dress.

Allot of people get confused by what vintage is? How would you best describe the true meaning of vintage to someone who isn’t familiar with it? 
I prefer to think of "vintage" as the best of an era. Like a fine vintage wine, they should become better with age.  Journalists and the press have misused the term for so long now-that any old second hand piece even from 5-10 years ago-begins to be labelled vintage.
  Vintage should have age, quality, desirability, and good condition. Otherwise it is just second hand.

What do you look for when you are buying? Does personal taste affect your choice?


Is it sad, heart breaking when you sell a piece that you love? 
Only if I don't think the customer buying it doesn't deserve it. Mainly, one of the joys of having a shop-is seeing the right item going to the right person. I love when someone tries on an outfit & it totally transforms them when they find the style that suits them. Basically I love seeing people look beautiful & happy.

If you had a time machine what decade would you like to live in and why? 
I guess this answer is a pretty obvious one- the decades I focus on in my shop- when people dressed up for all occasions and clothing was hand finished, and hand painted and hand embroidered. Not the casual, throwaway society we live in today.

 Also find The Girl Cant Help It on facebook! :)

If you are ever in London, do pop by and visit The Girl Cant Help It! It is situated in Alfies Antiquesmarket (which is well worth a visti itself! Amazing roof top restaurant and bar), see here for map

All images curtsy of The Girl Cant Help It! Please contact them direct if you want to use them.

1 comment:

  1. This is one shop that I have wanted to see for ages, how you lucky you are to have worked there!