Vintage at Goodwood – our verdict
I have just returned from Vintage at Goodwood. I think lets get the good things out of the way before I dive in.
Best bit was seeing so many friends. There was a real ‘whose-who’ of the vintage community including Natasha Bailie (albeit briefly), the girls from Lipstick and Curls, Kali from Lush and lovely, the incredible Hazel from Rag and Bow, my partner in crime Fleur de Guerre and the excellent Chap lot, Claire Pursglove, Leila from Nina The Hairdressers, Lena from the London Guide to Vintage. Best of all was the warm reception I got at the BBC Homes and Antiques stall, and meeting Angela, their Editor.
Unfortunately it kind of stops there, as I feared it might. A little background readers to the VS presence. Last year we had the mighty pleasure of spending 6 weeks sourcing clothes and organising models (Fleur de Guerre looked amazing) and staff for the ‘preview’at Goodwood Revival. We then decamped to Sussex and ran the Emporium and helped with the shows which was great fun. What wasn’t was the attitude of the organisers we met on-site (up to that point we had been working with an amazing lady who really knew her stuff, and who very sadly left the project). Being extremely rude and patronising and then telling us to ‘swallow it’ was never pleasant, nor was the attitude of some key curators who were overheard back stage shouting ‘why does no one listen to me, I am a famous designer!’ Love, walking around, picking things up and saying they are shit is not conducive to intelligent conversation. After the event we kept a dignified silence (though if we had been on Twitter at the time maybe not) and we didn’t want to blog about our experience last year before hand as we knew so many people involved this year. Amelia Gregory, however wrote a smashing preview which lifted the lid and afirmed so many niggles (do read all the comments). I kind of figured that if they were like that at a small event, heaven knows what a large scale one would be? So, you may wonder what on earth we were doing there then? Well, despite vowing never to again, we eventually agreed to help a friend in the fashion side on the basis that we wouldn’t have to communicate directly with the main team…and I guess we were curious to see what it was like. So early Saturday we rocked up and organised the pop-up bathing beauties fashion show (more on that when the pics are ready).
I’m not going to spend a whole evening listing all the bad (and there was lots, very few loos, staff that didn’t give a dam, sponsored to the max, utterly souless, too much fancy dress, no rain shelter), so here are my closing views. I am really really pleased that people enjoyed themselves having paid so much, and I really hope my vendor friends made a buck or two, but it is definitely not a festival for vintage folk. We struggled to find anything to do that wasn’t extra and had no interest in the Body Shop or Primark. The best bit was the Chap Olympiad but you can buy yourself a whole day of that next year for £15. If you are super passionate about vintage of any era the odds are that your life is immersed on a daily basis in the kind of aesthetics and culture that Wayne and Co were trying to capitalise on, and as such you don’t need to pay for someone a fat wad for their idea of ‘vintage cool’. I will leave you with this extract from the FT.com (12th August – apols if you hit the firewall). I hope next year some of that sponsorship money goes towards paying all the enthusiasts and vintage experts who turned up and worked for free for the ‘love’. There is nothing wrong with a large or financially successful vintage event, but please bring the real values of vintage culture with you, such as cooperation, decency and a passion for quality over the mercenary.
The festival is a 50-50 joint venture with Lord March. Mr Hemingway will not be drawn on exact figures but says the event will cost a “seven-figure sum”. He has also pulled in £700,000 ($1.1m, €850,000) in sponsorship and is aiming for £2m next year. “Next year, I think we’ll have a bidding war among sponsors. We’ll be able to cherry-pick them. We’ll lose money in the first year. But Glastonbury took 11 years and Bestival took six. We’ll break even in year two. I don’t want a business that takes six years to wash its face.”