Looking Good Flog It: Trade Secrets


Looking Good

Paul Martin and experts offer tips on antiques and collectibles. Vintage style is at the heart of this episode.


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Transcript


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We've got over ten years of Flog It! behind us.

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That's hundreds of programmes

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and many thousands of your objects valued and sold.

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You've brought in something rather special, really, haven't you?

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150. At 140...

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This is where we let you into some of our trade secrets.

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On today's show, it's all about looking good

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and we'll be giving you the lowdown on what to buy for fashionable

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ladies and gentlemen, and some tips on what names to look out for

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when you're buying vintage fashion.

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Got to be the right designers - Chanel, Dior, Vivienne Westwood.

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We've got a show that's bursting at the seams with old-style glamour.

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-Looks awful, doesn't it?

-No.

-Then you do the Mata Hari bit...

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Oh, wonderful.

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And we've lined up a fabulous collection of tips

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for the fashion-conscious.

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Look always for pieces which are identifiable as designed by somebody

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in particular or is associated with a fashion house or a label.

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Fine clothes and jewellery have always been the mark of wealth

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and sophistication for men as well as women.

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Recently there's been a real boom in the market for vintage.

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The whole vintage market has really expanded over recent years.

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I mean, you've got people like Paloma Faith that have been

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tweeting pictures of her at a retro fair recently

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and that's really good for business, you know, it gets the young people

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interested into an emerging market

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and they might expand out of it into other areas.

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Perhaps you have something in your wardrobe or jewellery box

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that could be worth a small fortune?

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The current look is to mix and match old and new quite legitimately.

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I think there's a trick in this business.

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What you do is you go and find a whole load of plastic jewellery

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and kitsch stuff and then you call it retro or vintage

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and put some extra prices on it, and then it sells.

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I can remember as a child walking to many a local jumble sale with

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my mother and having lots of fun buying things for next to nothing.

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But they do seem to be a thing of the past nowadays,

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and that's partly due to online auction sites

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and the rise in interest in vintage and retro fashions.

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If you know what to look out for, there's some serious money

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to be made out of old clothes, and that's where our experts come in.

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I was at an auction sale the other day

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and I bought a pair of patent leather shoes.

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Fit me perfectly - size 8 1/2 -

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and I looked pretty good wearing

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those in my DJ and they cost me £4.50.

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As David's shoes show, this is an emerging market and prices are low,

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so it's a great time to collect and invest for the future.

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Here are some of our most interesting items from over

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the years on "Flog It!" and what we've learned from them.

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First, here's Christina,

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who fell for some iconic accessories from the '60s and '70s.

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Oh, yes, Margaret and her lovely handbags, her collection

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that she brought in that I think held quite a few memories for her.

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She used them, which is so important with vintage textiles as well,

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it's so important to use them.

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But not abuse them, because obviously they're only worth

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something if they're in good condition.

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You've got the most wonderful collection of handbags.

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Where's it all come from?

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Most of them I acquired in a trunk from my late husband.

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-It was given to him to dispose of.

-Right. Have you ever used them?

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Erm, this one I have, yes. This one I have and I used it at...

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-..quite a grand ball in Brighton.

-Oh, fantastic.

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I think I was drawn to them mainly because they were

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so wonderfully representative of their era.

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I mean, that wonderful black and white check, that was just so...

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Inspired the swinging '60s and...

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Oh, it's just fabulous, loved it, and the '70s Perspex and...

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Oh, just lovely. Really loved it.

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This has got the most wonderful label inside it.

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It says, "Saks Fifth Avenue", which is one of the most luxurious

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stores in New York and it's fantastic, I love it.

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And to have come from such a luxury place...

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It's the most wonderful product you can imagine, somebody going to

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New York, picking this up as a souvenir of their wonderfully

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glamorous trip to New York and tripping back down Fifth Avenue.

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And this one here, this one's Italian.

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I think this is quite 1960s, 1970s.

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These very clean lines here, this use of this new material -

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this is quite Perspexy and... It's just really glam, isn't it?

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It oozes glamour. With a nice original strap to it, as well.

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I think we don't get as many vintage textiles

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and clothes as I'd like to see because by their very nature,

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clothes go in and out of fashion and you tend to bin them

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or get rid of them or charity shop or whatever,

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and you don't really think of them as being of particular value,

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whereas that's obviously why they are of value, their scarcity.

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It's great that they are in really, really good condition

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because to a costume collector, that's really very important.

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And handbags are a wonderful thing to collect,

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they don't take up too much space.

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So, Margaret, why are you selling your collection?

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Where I store them in the box room,

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my chimney is rather giving trouble and it's getting damp,

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so the condition might deteriorate,

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and that is the reason.

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They are getting back in vogue,

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but they're not really going to be hugely valuable

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because I think people who are collecting

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handbags are collecting them because they're still relatively affordable.

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But I think at auction... If we were to put these forward to auction,

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we'd be looking at putting them probably as one lot.

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I think it'd be best to sell them all together

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and I think we're probably looking somewhere in the region

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of maybe £30-£50 for the group, something like that.

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-How do you feel about that?

-I would like...

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-I would like 30 in my pocket, shall we say.

-OK.

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'I think it's very difficult to put a value on things like that,

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'especially when only one or two of them'

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had particularly good names and labels attached to them.

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Because the thing with vintage textiles,

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collectors will tell you that they can't collect

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everything from that particular maker,

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so you have to choose the very best of what you find.

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Good advice. A collector should be picky and go for quality.

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With a few names amongst them,

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how did this ready-made collection fare at auction?

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-Assorted handbags and evening bags.

-Handbags and glad rags. Here we go.

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-At £40 I'm bid...

-Oh, brilliant.

-40, here to be sold. 40.

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May I say 50 on the bags there? At 40. With me, 50, a lady's bid.

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-Brilliant.

-I have 60 on the book. 70, do you want?

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At £60. On the book at £60.

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Five if it helps you, it goes at 60, will be sold.

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Five, you want? £60...

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-Margaret, that's fabulous. £60!

-Brilliant.

-That's great.

-Well done.

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That was a tough call, really. Hard thing to put a price on.

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So, what is a good starting point for a budding

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collector of vintage style?

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I think handbags would be a sensible item to collect because often,

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as a smart handbag, it wouldn't have been used as much,

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so it would show slightly less signs of wear or damage.

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And they were brought out for special occasions

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and things like that, so look for good condition pieces.

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Personally for me, it would be handbags, shoes, hats, coats...

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Pretty much everything!

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One of "Flog It!"'s most glamorous contributors was Millie Rich -

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such a vibrant character. She appeared on the show twice.

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In 2003, she wowed Mark with her stylish items

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shown off with great flair and elegance.

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How can you forget Millie Rich?

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Of course I remember her, she was wonderful.

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-I've brought a Dior hat...

-I love it.

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..which looks absolutely nothing in the hand, this should be worn,

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plus a parasol.

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This is from Paris.

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It was given to me as a present by a long-forgotten admirer.

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-Don't have my eye out!

-But now I've reached my...

-Oh, fantastic.

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..reached my early plenties, I think it's a bit too flirty for me.

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It is very flirty, isn't it?

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'You have to picture who would use a parasol.'

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You have to think of a petite Edwardian, Victorian lady

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who was promenading down the seafront on a hot summer's day.

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And equally, a wonderful thing from the 1950s,

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this wonderful travel hat in classic black design.

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-May I show you the hat?

-I'm...I'm yours.

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-Don't stop, I love it! Hold that.

-I will.

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Are you getting all this?

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-Looks awful, doesn't it?

-No.

-Then you do the Mata Hari bit...

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Oh, wonderful.

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The key thing to the hat is it was by Christian Dior

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and it was a scruncher -

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you scrunched it up and then it popped back into life.

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'The fashion house of Dior has become worldwide

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'renowned for its quality, classic design.'

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I think the key thing to fashion collecting is name.

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It's got to be the right designers - Chanel, Dior, Vivienne Westwood.

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We must look at this wonderful parasol you brought in.

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And if we look at it now and open it up...

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-This is very gaily decorated, isn't it?

-It is, isn't it?

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Erm, with these wonderful flowers and things

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and this lovely sort of velvet edge into the...

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-It's very Folies Bergere.

-It is very Parisienne.

-Yes, quite.

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-And all hand-stitched on the inside.

-It is.

-You never see handwork now.

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Tell me, why are you wanting to sell these lovely possessions?

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As I say, now I've reached such advanced years, I thought perhaps

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somebody younger could reap the benefit of its flattery.

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What do you think we should do, sell them as one lot in a sale?

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Well, I'll take your advice, you're an expert.

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I think we should and we'll try them...

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I bow to your superior wisdom.

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-Oh, Millie, you're such a flatterer.

-I know.

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-And it'll get you everywhere, you know?

-It has. I'm here, aren't I?

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-Exactly. On a second run.

-Thank you so much.

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-Now, what if we put £70-100 on the two of them?

-That sounds wonderful.

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-And give them a go, and see what happens.

-Absolutely, absolutely.

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-And we...

-I'll tell you what I'll do with the money.

-Go on.

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I'll put it in my running away box and join the raggle-taggle gypsies.

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Fantastic, and I didn't even have to ask you the question.

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-I know, and I knew you were going to.

-Exactly.

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So, the stylish Millie Rich's items go under the hammer.

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But will the Dior label entice the buyers?

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How have you been since the first series?

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-Well, people have been stopping me, it's amazing.

-Do they?

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I didn't know that I was so noticeable but apparently I am.

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-But you look so fantastic.

-More, more.

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-Don't stop, don't stop.

-And you look so much younger.

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Well, naturally, I shall be 86 on my next birthday.

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-This is your lot, your hat and parasol.

-Two items, lot 202.

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£20 for the two. The Dior hat and the parasol, 20, I'm bid.

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I'll take five on the lot. At £20, maiden bid, 25.

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Bidding, 30. 35. 40.

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45. 50. 55.

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-It's climbing.

-60.

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65. 70. No?

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-Lady's bid in the seating at 70.

-At least we've done it.

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Round at the back of the room.

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I'm selling it. Done, then, at 70.

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-Oh, I'm so thrilled we've done that.

-It's quite respectable, isn't it?

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-It was.

-And your number, madam, is 7340. Thank you.

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-I've got a bit of a surprise for you, Millie.

-Really?

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-You know I like to shock.

-Do you? In public?

-No.

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-Your hat was bought by your daughter.

-No.

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Yes, and she's here right now.

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-Oh, Shula, why did you do that?

-Cos you look so lovely.

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-Oh, sweetheart.

-I just thought you looked so beautiful

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that you shouldn't sell it.

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-Oh, you're making me feel like crying.

-Aw...

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-That's so sweet of you.

-That's really sweet of you. Thank you.

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It just goes to show you're never too old to look good.

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And remember Mark's advice.

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Name. It's got to be the right designers.

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They may know the top tips for collecting vintage clothes

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but not all our dashing male experts are going to win any awards

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when it comes to their own wardrobes.

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As you can tell, looking at me, I'm no expert in fashion.

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What am I wearing? A suit and a tie?

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It doesn't come much more boring than that.

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But some of us do like to look our best.

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But on a more serious note, looking good isn't just for the ladies.

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Chic accessories for men can be highly collectable too,

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as Anita will reveal.

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I had a wonderful swagger stick that was brought in by Janet.

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Swagger sticks are marvellous, they're a fashion statement.

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They're all about showing off.

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And to have something that brings a smile to your face,

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is just really what the collectors want.

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-Janet.

-Yes.

-Where did you get this wee monkey?

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Well, he actually belonged to my great auntie

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and Great Aunt lived with Grandma and Grandad.

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She was my grandfather's sister and she was bedridden.

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So the thing I remember about it is, when she needed attention,

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sort of, a cup of tea or anything, she knocked on the floor

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and everybody went running.

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She was quite a formidable lady, yeah.

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Well, you have sticks which are used to help you in walking

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-and you have other sticks which are fashion statements.

-Right.

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-And this is a fashion statement.

-Right, OK.

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-It's what I would call a swagger stick.

-Uh-huh.

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A swagger stick would have been used,

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or worn, by a gentleman of fashion.

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Someone who liked his clothes, someone who liked to cut and dash.

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And he would walk along and enjoy the admiration of all

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the young ladies around.

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-It's made of, it's lacquered, ebonised stalk here.

-Yeah.

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-But the most interesting thing about it is the handle here.

-Uh-huh.

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-Where we have this brass monkey.

-SHE LAUGHS

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He's finely moulded, so the quality is there.

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At the turn of the century, people were interested in exotica.

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Exotic animals from the... from distant lands.

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So this would have been something which would have been telling

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people they were up with all the modern trends, that they

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knew about the exotic travels that were

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being done by a gentleman of leisure at that point.

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So it was making a statement about himself,

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about what he knew.

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Perhaps even the places that he had gone to.

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Now, there are collectors for this type of thing, Janet,

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-but it's not enormously valuable.

-No. No.

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-But it is collectable.

-Yeah.

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Did you have it on display, or...?

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No, well, as I say, it came from Mum's,

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and then literally went into my loft.

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Because, I mean, I'm not planning on being bedridden for a few years yet.

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-He wasn't needed.

-So you won't be doing...

-No.

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-I hope not.

-A-ha.

-No.

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-So it's time, really, to pass it on. Let it go to a collector.

-Exactly.

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The value I would put on it would be between 30 and 50.

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-Right.

-Would you be happy to sell it at that price?

-Yes,

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if it gives somebody else some pleasure

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because he isn't going to sort of - he doesn't do anything for me,

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-so he might as well move on.

-Oh, right. Yeah. Well, let's put

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-a reserve price of, say, £25 on it.

-Right, that's fine.

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As I say, you're not going to be able to fly to the Bahamas with

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-that money but it will go on to a collector.

-Right.

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The early 20th-century swagger stick.

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With the ebonied cane handle,

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and I'm bid - 50, to start it at 50.

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20. 5.

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At £25, the commission bid.

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30 in the room.

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At £30, it's against the book.

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-35. 40.

-That's good.

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45. 45.

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-50.

-Yes!

-50! 5.

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55, down at the front at £55.

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-£55!

-Wow!

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Better - that was better!

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-That's not bad, is it?

-That's not bad at all.

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OK, I know there's a bit of commission,

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but it's not a great deal of money. It's not our most expensive item.

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What a wonderful starting point for a collection.

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For £50, it's nothing, really.

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And you're getting something which has age,

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a little bit of quality and lots of fun.

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So let's take a closer look at some of those trade secrets.

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Buy vintage now, while it's still relatively affordable.

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Condition and name are all-important.

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And check in the back of your wardrobe - what you think

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is jumble may be priceless.

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Look, always, for the pieces which are identifiable

0:16:580:17:01

as designed by somebody in particular,

0:17:010:17:03

or is associated with a fashion house or a label.

0:17:030:17:07

You've got Gucci and that sort of thing. You've got Dior.

0:17:070:17:11

Those are the names that people are after.

0:17:110:17:12

If you've got something, by Vivienne Westwood,

0:17:120:17:15

don't just discard it because, in years to come, I think it's

0:17:150:17:18

going to be worth a huge amount of money.

0:17:180:17:21

And the same is true of Stella McCartney.

0:17:210:17:23

But it's not just about names.

0:17:230:17:25

Iconic style moments are key

0:17:250:17:27

when it comes to collecting vintage fashion.

0:17:270:17:30

You've got the tweed suits from Chanel, for example.

0:17:300:17:33

You've got the New Look pieces from the 1950s,

0:17:330:17:36

as well as Vivienne Westwood,

0:17:360:17:38

the punk pieces that she designed.

0:17:380:17:39

Again, iconic pieces that really stand out

0:17:390:17:42

in the whole history of fashion. That's what people are after.

0:17:420:17:45

And there's nothing more distinctive than the look of the swinging '60s.

0:17:450:17:50

The '60s were a time of great vibrancy in London.

0:17:510:17:54

It was a youth-orientated cultural revolution,

0:17:540:17:57

that emphasised the new and the modern.

0:17:570:18:00

'London has burst into bloom.

0:18:000:18:02

'It swings. It is switched on.

0:18:020:18:04

'Everything new, uninhibited and kinky

0:18:040:18:06

'is blooming at the top of London life.'

0:18:060:18:08

Fashion was a symbol of the confident youth culture.

0:18:080:18:11

Young men as well as women were expressing themselves

0:18:110:18:14

through their clothes. In the early '60s,

0:18:140:18:16

men were strutting their stuff in the stylish mod look.

0:18:160:18:19

And later in the decade showing their hippie flair with

0:18:190:18:22

bell-bottoms and tie-dye.

0:18:220:18:24

I think there's a tremendous search for individuality.

0:18:240:18:26

Carnaby Street started it off,

0:18:260:18:29

and so you can walk anywhere now,

0:18:290:18:31

and wear anything you like.

0:18:310:18:33

Areas of London, such as Carnaby Street and the Kings Road,

0:18:330:18:36

came alive selling the cutting edge clothes of the era,

0:18:360:18:39

from Mary Quant's geometric miniskirts

0:18:390:18:42

to Ossie Clark's daring prints and fluid cuts.

0:18:420:18:45

Biba was one of the big names in fashion during the '60s,

0:18:450:18:48

founded by Barbara Hulanicki.

0:18:480:18:50

Biba tasted its first success in the guise of a gingham dress,

0:18:500:18:54

which featured in the Daily Mirror.

0:18:540:18:56

Biba's individual and fresh approach to fashion

0:18:560:18:59

soon became synonymous with the coolest fashionistas.

0:18:590:19:02

And if you have clothes from that era, you could be in the money.

0:19:020:19:06

In Hartlepool, in 2005,

0:19:060:19:08

I valued a stunning Biba ddress owned by Liz.

0:19:080:19:11

-You're modelling it for us!

-I am, indeed.

0:19:110:19:14

-I lived just around the corner from the Biba shop.

-In London.

-In London.

0:19:140:19:17

There are a lot of vintage clothes collectors, and I think the sort of,

0:19:170:19:20

the vintage and retro clothing is a strong textiles market.

0:19:200:19:23

Anything from things that you can wear from the Victorian era,

0:19:230:19:27

right through to the 1970s.

0:19:270:19:29

-There's a market there. People still look for it.

-Yes.

0:19:290:19:32

The designer pieces are still affordable,

0:19:320:19:35

as the Biba dress proved, as it went under the hammer.

0:19:350:19:37

£80 for the last time. £80.

0:19:370:19:39

Come on, a bit more, please. He sold it. That was quick.

0:19:390:19:42

Hammer went down really quickly.

0:19:420:19:44

-We're happy with that.

-I'm happy, yeah.

-We said 80, didn't we?

0:19:440:19:46

But when it comes to the big sellers of vintage fashion,

0:19:460:19:49

it's all about the person who once wore it.

0:19:490:19:52

A diamond-encrusted 1960s Dior evening gown,

0:19:530:19:56

owned by Elizabeth Taylor,

0:19:560:19:58

reached over half a million dollars when it went under the hammer.

0:19:580:20:02

And a pair of Queen Victoria's bloomers made a staggering £4,500,

0:20:020:20:07

and everyone would love to get their hands on a classic James Bond suit.

0:20:070:20:11

A snip at £46,850.

0:20:110:20:15

But not all of us can afford this,

0:20:170:20:19

so if you want to collect '60s fashion, my top tips are,

0:20:190:20:23

look for designer names, such as Biba and Mary Quant.

0:20:230:20:26

Iconic pieces should always be desirable.

0:20:260:20:29

Miniskirts, kinky boots and kipper ties.

0:20:290:20:32

And condition is a must.

0:20:320:20:34

If it's moth-eaten, leave it well alone.

0:20:340:20:37

And, last but not least, it should be seen.

0:20:390:20:41

Don't hide it away in your wardrobe.

0:20:410:20:44

If you're going to buy vintage clothes,

0:20:440:20:47

buy clothes that will fit.

0:20:470:20:50

And that you can wear.

0:20:500:20:51

I mean, it's all very well spending lots of money

0:20:510:20:54

on a very nice Coco Chanel cocktail dress,

0:20:540:20:56

but if you're size 16 and the dress is size 10,

0:20:560:21:00

you've wasted your money, really!

0:21:000:21:02

Buy what you like and wear it with pride,

0:21:020:21:04

and show off your individual style.

0:21:040:21:06

So if you want to collect vintage clothing,

0:21:110:21:13

there are lots of places to find it.

0:21:130:21:16

Auction houses and specialist dealers are increasingly selling.

0:21:160:21:19

But your best bet for a bargain is to look out at charity shops.

0:21:190:21:23

But, remember, textiles decay,

0:21:230:21:25

so check the condition of anything you want to buy.

0:21:250:21:28

Look at things through a magnifying glass.

0:21:280:21:30

And, also, if it's dark, shine a torch on them,

0:21:300:21:33

or, better still, take them outside to the daylight,

0:21:330:21:36

because all the imperfections will obviate themselves.

0:21:360:21:40

You can still find iconic pieces very cheaply.

0:21:410:21:44

It's worth bearing in mind, you're not just buying an item

0:21:440:21:47

of clothing, you could be buying a part of British social history.

0:21:470:21:51

In 2009, I learned the story of one of Britain's style icons,

0:21:540:21:59

who herself had a love of all things vintage.

0:21:590:22:02

Without a doubt, her 1970s Victorian-inspired dresses

0:22:020:22:06

are truly iconic,

0:22:060:22:08

and look set to be collectable.

0:22:080:22:11

Laura Ashley and her business-minded husband, Bernard,

0:22:110:22:14

hit the high streets of London with their Welsh-made

0:22:140:22:16

ladies' fashions in the 1970s.

0:22:160:22:19

How would a capital still swinging from the '60s react

0:22:220:22:25

to clothes inspired by a rose-tinted view of country life?

0:22:250:22:29

The look was wholesome.

0:22:320:22:34

Harking back to am Edwardian and Victorian period.

0:22:340:22:37

High collars, lace, ribbon,

0:22:370:22:39

floral prints and long hems created clothes that were pretty,

0:22:390:22:43

conservative and definitely feminine.

0:22:430:22:47

Amazingly, young ladies all over the country packed away

0:22:470:22:50

their kinky boots and miniskirts,

0:22:500:22:52

and covered themselves up in Laura Ashley designs.

0:22:520:22:54

By the 1970s, the Laura Ashley empire

0:22:540:22:57

had firmly established a place in the world of fashion.

0:22:570:23:01

I've come to this country retreat to meet a lady who can give me

0:23:010:23:05

an insight into the life of Laura Ashley.

0:23:050:23:07

Biographer Anne Sebba.

0:23:070:23:10

So why was country life in Wales so influential in Laura's life?

0:23:100:23:14

Laura was born in Wales.

0:23:140:23:17

Now, of course, that didn't remain in Laura's mind,

0:23:170:23:20

because she went back to live in London,

0:23:200:23:22

but she continued to come for holidays to Wales.

0:23:220:23:24

She was put on the train with her sister

0:23:240:23:26

and a guard looked after them, and it was these holidays in Wales

0:23:260:23:30

that made a really deep impression on Laura.

0:23:300:23:33

Laura met and fell for Bernard Ashley, and after a long courtship,

0:23:330:23:37

they were married and set up home in London.

0:23:370:23:40

Laura was determined to be a devoted housewife.

0:23:400:23:43

This meant that any job she undertook could not

0:23:430:23:45

interrupt her domestic chores.

0:23:450:23:48

Laura went off, in one of her lunch breaks,

0:23:480:23:51

to the Victoria and Albert Museum,

0:23:510:23:53

saw a patchwork exhibition,

0:23:530:23:55

with all these wonderful little tiny Victorian prints,

0:23:550:23:59

made into a brilliant patchwork quilt, and thought,

0:23:590:24:02

"Well, I want to do this. This is something I can do at home."

0:24:020:24:05

Went off to try and buy the prints, couldn't find them anywhere.

0:24:050:24:08

So said to Bernard, "why don't we print them ourselves?"

0:24:080:24:11

And they were restricted to tiny little squares,

0:24:110:24:14

because that was all they had room on the kitchen table for.

0:24:140:24:17

So the first products they made were table mats,

0:24:170:24:21

which Laura would hem herself,

0:24:210:24:23

or little square napkins.

0:24:230:24:25

And Laura herself took them off to John Lewis,

0:24:250:24:28

was terribly nervous waiting to see the buyer,

0:24:280:24:31

and their first order was almost as much as they could cope with.

0:24:310:24:35

She waited up all night, hemming the squares,

0:24:350:24:37

in order to complete a repeat order for the buyer a John Lewis.

0:24:370:24:41

And that's how they got going.

0:24:410:24:43

As production started to grow, so did the Ashley family.

0:24:430:24:47

And, with young children in tow, they moved to a bigger premises.

0:24:470:24:51

The countryside was calling, so after a period in Kent,

0:24:510:24:54

the family and the business headed to Wales,

0:24:540:24:56

settling in the town of Carno,

0:24:560:24:59

and opening a factory in the town's disused railway station.

0:24:590:25:03

One of the main reasons that Laura really felt a family atmosphere

0:25:030:25:07

in the factory was so important is because she didn't really believe

0:25:070:25:11

that women who were mothers should have a full-time job.

0:25:110:25:14

So she got round that in a number of ways.

0:25:140:25:16

She would insist that Friday afternoons was free time

0:25:160:25:20

for all the mothers and they went home.

0:25:200:25:22

Friday afternoon was definitely a time to be with your children.

0:25:220:25:25

As far as she herself was concerned,

0:25:250:25:28

and by this time she had four children,

0:25:280:25:31

so Laura got round it by saying that,

0:25:310:25:33

actually, the factory was Laura Ashley.

0:25:330:25:36

That is, herself. It was an extension of the family.

0:25:360:25:39

-So it was a way of her being able to have a full-time job...

-Yes.

0:25:390:25:42

..without contravening this very deep-seated philosophy

0:25:420:25:46

that mothers should not work away from the home.

0:25:460:25:49

She believed that domesticity was absolutely crucial.

0:25:490:25:53

By the mid-'60s, Laura was ready to expand fully

0:25:530:25:56

into the area of fashion design.

0:25:560:25:58

With strong views on how she thought women wanted to be dressed,

0:25:580:26:02

Laura launched her range of ladies' fashions,

0:26:020:26:04

and her first high-street shop in South Kensington, London.

0:26:040:26:08

The floral dresses carrying the label, made in Wales,

0:26:080:26:11

flew off the racks.

0:26:110:26:13

So why were her dresses such a big success?

0:26:140:26:18

All sorts of reasons. Don't forget, we're in the '60s.

0:26:180:26:21

Laura absolutely hated hot pants and miniskirts.

0:26:210:26:25

She thought they were ghastly.

0:26:250:26:27

So she reacted against that, to an extent,

0:26:270:26:29

and she genuinely believed that for a woman to wear high necks

0:26:290:26:34

and conceal was actually much sexier,

0:26:340:26:38

and that, you know, men liked to imagine

0:26:380:26:40

-what was underneath...

-Yes!

-..rather than revealing all.

0:26:400:26:43

So it was a time when no country wedding in England

0:26:430:26:47

was complete without a smattering and a sprinkling of Laura Ashley dresses.

0:26:470:26:51

They were very countrified,

0:26:510:26:54

but also very theatrical and romantic.

0:26:540:26:57

The '70s was a time of change.

0:26:570:26:59

Greater sexual and political freedom meant women's roles

0:26:590:27:02

were being redefined and, yet, in contrast,

0:27:020:27:06

Laura was still attracted to a rose-tinted view

0:27:060:27:09

of the Victorian and Edwardian periods.

0:27:090:27:12

Did Laura lead the traditional life she wanted to promote?

0:27:120:27:16

Very interesting. She worked very hard to try

0:27:160:27:19

and lead a much more rural life than, in fact, was possible,

0:27:190:27:24

since she was the head of a multi-million empire by the end.

0:27:240:27:27

She was always good at making the man feel that he was the one

0:27:270:27:31

doing the important things,

0:27:310:27:33

and so, for example, when she went on a plane,

0:27:330:27:36

she would take her needlework with her,

0:27:360:27:38

and pretend to do her needlework so that Bernard

0:27:380:27:41

could feel that he was the one doing all the man's stuff.

0:27:410:27:44

Because she believed that women wanted domesticity,

0:27:440:27:47

and that's reflected in her dresses.

0:27:470:27:51

And not to go into an office and look smart.

0:27:510:27:54

That was the antithesis of what Laura cared about

0:27:540:27:57

in her design philosophy.

0:27:570:27:59

So, keep your eyes peeled for early Laura Ashley items.

0:27:590:28:02

Her fabrics and designs are unique,

0:28:020:28:04

and could be the next big thing in the world of vintage fashion.

0:28:040:28:08

Clothes and jewellery go in and out of fashion all the time,

0:28:120:28:15

but spotting a bargain never goes out of style.

0:28:150:28:18

I hope you've enjoyed today's show.

0:28:180:28:20

Join me again soon for more Flog It! Trade Secrets.

0:28:200:28:24

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