Vintage @Southbank – a case of loads of style, over very little substance

It’s Saturday morning, and I’m still fuming at one of the most disappointing events I have ever attended, and had the misfortune to pay good money out of my pocket for.  I am only grateful that I didn’t pay full price. At least I was until I discovered that some paid only a 1/4 of the full ticket price and some even managed to blag free tickets at the door.  So with having to pay an admininstration fee on top, I’m not feeling in the best of moods. Trading standards will be hearing from me.

On top of it all, I have just rang the ticket line, and have been informed that customer services is not open during the weekend.

I’m now at the ‘way past fuming, ready to shout at someone’ stage.  Monday morning is going to be interesting!

Anyway, as I don’t like being in such a bad mood, especially on such a lovely Summer’s day, I shall talk  about the few highlights of ysterday’s day trip, and  will add my suggestions.  I will be multi-posting today (oo-er!) so I hope you will enjoy.  Please feel free to comment, I intent to send a link to Mr and Mrs Hemmingway so any comments and/or suggestions you may have about Vintage good or bad, would be gratefully received. This is our opportunity to ensure that next year’s event starts with a bang, and not a whimper!

Highlights: Fashion Show

First off here are some photo highlights of the fashion show.

Good points: a lovely introduction to the world of fashion runway shows for complete novices like me. Without exception, all the clothes were lovely and presented well by the professional models.  I think I may have spotted the next Naomi Campbell too!

Bad points: It didn’t start on time – no big deal in itself, except the catwalk show was on a dancefloor, which had been previously occupied by a sole DJ on the stage and a grandmother, mother and toddler booging to 60’s soul music.  While I have absolutely no objection to a family enjoying themselves, it did seem like a wasted opportunity and a huge extravagance for 2 adults and toddler.  Who wants to do the funky chicken at 2pm on a weekday?

My 2nd gripe, when an official did eventually come out, her main concern was setting out the chairs for the VIPs. Other audience members, many who had paid full price for their tickets, were left to scramble and fight for the piled up chairs left in the corner of the dance floor.  I don’t recall seeing the likes of Lily Allen and Alexa Chung having to do that when they were at Chanel’s fashion show.

My final gripe, and this is my biggest one, the designers exhibiting their work are up and coming. It would have been nice to either hand out a programme with details about each of the designers or have a brief introductory commentary – or both.  I have some fab pictures of the clothes, but have no idea who designed them. What an absolutely wasted opportunity, and not at all what I would have expected from the British Fashion Council.  For goodness sakes, if the BFC can’t support their own …


  1. Hand out a fashion show programme, a piece of A4 or A5 paper will do, with brief biographies of the designers, outlet addresses and contact information.
  2. Either have a dedicated area for the fashion shows or organise it so that a grandmother and her family are not shooed off the dance floor by a large crowd of fashionistas.
  3. Have an area to display some of the clothing, again with information for interested people to read.
  4. Also, as the idea of Vintage was to celebrate fashion from 1920s to 1980s, it would have been nice to have dedicated fashion shows, one for each decade, and presented in the style they would have been during that time.  Useful for fashion history students and those interested in a specific era.
  5. I would have liked the opportunity to attend talks regarding fashion through the decades. Maybe a few design schools could have been approched to send lecturers, or a couple of fashion designers, such as Wayne Hemingway himself?

These are my ideas, do you have any?  Please drop me a line, and I will be happy to collate them and send them to the organisers, you never know someone there may even read them!

Up next: Roof Garden, Queen Elizabeth Hall

Please note: I retain all rights including Copyright in all photographs used on this page.  Please ask permission if you wish to use them.


8 thoughts on “Vintage @Southbank – a case of loads of style, over very little substance

  1. Hello, interested to hear your comments on the day. I got a free ticket through a friend who works for one of the organisers, but I did think that £60 was vastly overpriced. If you go to a festival like End of the Road it will cost you £145 for three days which includes camping and a mini-holiday, which is nearly £20 less per day than Vintage at Southbank!

    I only went in the evening (just did a blog post about what it was like) so I thought the empty spaces were down to the fact that lots of things packed up at the end of the day, but it sounds like it was always like that? You could tell that lots of effort had gone into dressing all the different spaces, but some atmosphere was lost because just not enough people were there.

    The other thing I’d say is that the website they set up was rubbish – two days before the event there was still a place-holder on the front page saying ‘More information to come soon’. It wasn’t very clear what was going on and when, and like you, I asked a few staff wandering around for information and didn’t get very far. I think a lot of them were contract security staff who’d been brought in for the weekend. A map of stall-holders for the vintage marketplace would also have helpful as I was looking for a specific jewellery maker and couldn’t find her at all.

    1. Hi, thanks for your comment. You were lucky to get a free ticket, although I still think you paid too much LOL

      You made a good point about End of the Road, £60 was far too much to pay. I agree some effort was made into dressing up the different spaces, but it was lost, and Im not sure people would be happy to pay that amount to see a “dolled-up” building. I was surprised at the lack of people there, but I don’t thin this alone was the cause of the lack of atmosphere – there was more to entertain the visitors outside the RFH than inside. I did a quick scout inside the building in 25 mins and spent most of the day enjoying the free events outside.

      The website was pretty, but I agree it wasnt as iinformative as it should have been. If anything it over sold the glizz and glamour without saying was was actualy at the store – which wasnt very much!

      A stall holders map would have been useful, very surprised one wasnt provided. Let’s hope the organisers take note and make improvements.

      Thanks again

  2. Hi there,
    this is the first I’ve found of what I think will be many bad reviews of this event. I had the misfortune to be a stall holder in the Vintage Village and have spent £400 and weeks of preparing in renting half a 2m x 2m space in an overcrowded marquee with little or no signage and a lay out which verged on breaking fire reg and health and safety. Every trader (all of whom were true vintage aficionados who do this for love as much as a living) I spoke to had either lost money or only covered their fee. The look of the village was tacky and no money had been wasted on decoration other than that provided by the stall holders. Just read a preview which said there were themed restaurants and bars by Wayne and Gerardine H ( where ????)
    I looked inside the festival hall and, like you, was hugely disappointed – where was everything? The workshops looked like a scene from a village fete, and not a successful one. Lonely stands – Tupperware,Foyles etc were plonked like sad islands in vast underfilled space. I could go on and on …. but life is too short … as I decided on Saturday night, packed up my stuff and cut my losses, collecting more stories from furious and disappointed stall holders as I waited to leave.
    Never again – Wayne, Southbank, Judy’s Vintage Fairs – all or one of you has been a little too greedy – I’d like to know who – but you won’t be getting my hard earned cash again.

    1. Hello Jill, thanks for your comments. £400? Good grief! You are right about the marquee (I’ve yet to write a post about that – it will not be positive!) Very overcrowded, and even the shops like Cath Kidston wasn’t up to stratch. The vendors didn’t have enough space to display their goods, so it felt alot like a jumbled mess.

      If it’s ok with you, I will include your comments in a mass email to the organisers, it is not right or fair to have this many unhappy people for an event that was supposed to celebrate Britain! What a shambles.

      Hope you recover from this ordeal soon. Best wishes.

  3. i went to this with a friend yesterday and was really disappointed. It was boiling hot in there, half empty in most of the spaces and just didn’t feel like enough effort had gone into the look and feel of the place. Sticking a few posters up just doesn’t cut it. There was NO INFORMATION available about what was going on. At some stage my friend went and asked someone (with an ‘information’ badge on) and he told us that he only had one schedule available and didn’t usually work at events so our guess was as good as his really. I spotted lots of people wandering about listlessly waving fans in their faces – everyone seemed to be looking for something to do. And do I really want to see a fashion show about British Airways uniforms through the ages? Really?!

    It also felt really HARD SELL so there were loads of brands trying to hawk their wares- displays were little more than opportunities to sell more stuff (jukeboxes, sound systems, ice cream) and I was subjected to a ten minute rant by someone from the Times Online because I wouldn’t sign up to the deal he was offering. I don’t think enough thought was put into who the target audience was for this event- was it designed for vintage fashion fans? (then you could have just gone to the marketplace outside and avoided the ticket fee) Or old men who collect obscure records? Or was it actually for families who wanted a fun day out? Overall there was no real entertainment on offer unless you were prepared to fork out another thirty quid and attend the evening event. My boyfriend was so bored that he left after ten minutes (watching sweaty people looking for something to do wasn’t his idea of fun either).

    1. Hello, thanks very much for your comments, although I was very sorry to read about your day. I was hoping that I was unlucky going on the Friday, but it seems that the entire weekend was a shambles.

      The fact that the ‘information people’ didn’t know what was going on, proves that very little thought and organisation went on behind the scenes. It was billed as a massive event, surely the people there to guide the visitors should have some idea of what was going on. London will be an Olympic city next year, if we can’t even help the locals, I hate to think what will happen to our overseas cousins when they reach our shores!

      The music event was worth the £30 I have to admit. The difference between the RFH and the music revue was night and day. Unfortunately to see the revue you had to pay for the RFH tickets as well. Bit of a rip off I think.

      I also suffered the rant from the Times Online man, but suffered it to get the free cotton bag – I felt perhaps wrongly that I had to recoup something from this awful day.

      If OK with you, I will forward your comments to the organisers, maybe something good will come out of this mess.

      Thanks again and best wishes

  4. Great to see pics of the fashion show, I went to Saturdays Vintage, missed the fashion show, thought Id catch the last 15 mins but it had finished early, so missed that one.
    In actual fact I wish I’d given the whole bloody thing a miss or maybe just stuck to the free bit outside.
    Like you, peeved that tickets were going cheap/free. I couldn’t make last years as I’d just started a new job, so the moment dates were released I booked this one off. I can’t tell you how disappointed I am with the indoor event. We’ve been drip fed all this fantastic stuff that was going to happen – What did I pay for exactly? I thought it was supposed to be more than just music, I found no active classes, workshops or talks. There was no atmosphere inside and felt like I was rattling around in there. I convinced my boyfriend to come with me, we travelled miles, payed over the top for everything in London, this was basically my holiday for the year. After splashing out around 500 quid in 24 hours I’ve got nothing to show for it.
    Would only consider going again if it was like last years, which is what convinced me it was something not to be missed this year. Truly gutted.

    1. Hello Gina, Thanks for your comments. Yes the fashion show started late and finished early, so by viewing these photos you probably see the best bits here! I was so busy trying to take photos I didn’t realise that the billed hour long show was actually over in less than 30 minutes.

      Having read your comments I feel for you – mostly anger, disappointment and frustration on your behalf. You raised a very good point about being drip fed all the fantastic stuff, that failed to materialise.

      There were some active classes, that I accidentially stumbled upon in the workshops – which consisted of… wait for this… 3 circular tables and a desk. The way it was advertised I was convinced there was going to be a hive of activity with knitting needles, spools of thread and scraps of fabric flung around. Instead I saw maybe 4 people sitting at the tables with bits of material, and 2 of those were the instructors.

      For you to spend £500 on that just makes me sad for you and angry at the organisers. I’m as gutted as you and for you. I didn’t attend the Goodwood show last year, but if this was an award-winning festival, then Lord only knows how bad the others were for Vintage to win! Hope you at least got to enjoy the sunshine this weekend. Best wishes

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