I've learnt many things in life from watching the inimitable Mary Portas, but the crowning glory has been the discovery of Ardingly Antiques Fair in West Sussex. For those who don't know, her show Mary Queen of Shops sees her turn failing retailers around using her enormous business savvy, magic Louis Vuitton scarves and the odd lacerating (but well placed) comment. Ardingly is where she took Denny and Dazzle, the hippies in charge of Kingston homeware store 'Under The Moon', to try and inspire them into selling something other than "utter shit" as she so put it. To read more of Mary's witticisms, click here - it's worth it, she's a legend. But before this turns into a love letter to her (er, too late?) here are some pictures from my trip yesterday...
And lastly, a picture frame for three quid, an antique bonbon jar and an identical brush to one my grandma had when I was little.
These beautiful gems are from a lovely little stall called 'Scrumptious by design' - owner Louise stocks vintage jewels from the 20s onwards, some of which she reworks into one-of-a-kind pieces with her (and mum Fitzy's) own fair hands. Look out for these lovely ladies if you go - if you're lucky they might even make you a cuppa, talk you through their rarer stones (cyanide mixed with glass, to be more specific!) and send you off with some tips as to what vitamins you should be taking for your holiday!
This would've made my room (if not my life) complete - it's an original 1950s neon diner sign. But even at £85, it was a little out of my price range for something that I wasn't sure worked. Next time, though, I'm all over it!
I think we're having a bit of a mad scientist moment in terms of decor - maybe it's a dark spin-off from tough-girl chic and all the vampire obsessions around, but I predict animal skulls, apothecary jars and taxidermy are the Next Big Thing.
I very nearly bought this 1950s portable record player - it was from Paris and only £20. Decided against it in the end (my mum uttered some nonsense about not having the space) but it just goes to show there are some amazing bargains to be had!
Oh hai vintage Halston! Ok, not really, but this 1970s Miss Mayfair dress looked like it was straight out of the archives. Can't wait to do an SJP and wear it along the beach on holiday.
I won't lie, the place is gigantic (I had to have a little snooze when I came home) so it's better to go both days if you're serious about covering all 1700 stalls, 5 buildings, 90 shopping arcades, 6 marquees and hundreds of outside pitches. The first is the trade day and it costs a little more to get in but you get first dibs on things like 160 copies of Vogue dating from the 50s (the trader told me he sold them all for £200!). The second day is good for a potter about but I have it on good authority that it's full of PPPs - the picker-ups, the putters-down and the pisser-offs. Not such good news for the sellers, but great if you're looking for a fun day out that will wipe the floor with Portobello market!