While some vintage stores are bailing out, others are doing perfectly fine, thank you very much.
The sublime but secretive Cassie Mercantile is a vintage clothing dealership with a showroom in genteel Holland Park. Owner Graham Cassie is a shy Scot who spends his days sourcing post-war Americana, love-worn army surplus and the odd spool of vintage haberdashery trim on his travels around the globe. He sells to upper-end designers on the lookout for inspiration as well as scooping up the perfect beat-up suitcases and just-threadbare-enough old flags to fashion into Japanese shop window displays.
On my recent visit he wouldn’t let me get too snap-happy (frankly, he doesn’t need the publicity) but allowed these gems. Clearly, there’s some mileage in vintage threads yet.
When I first happened upon the revamped Fortnum & Mason store in Piccadilly, I practically recoiled in shock. What had they done? In their effort to modernise, all the character had been sapped out of the poor shop. A few months on and I decided to give it a second chance. To my surprise I discovered a gem. Parlour Restaurant on the first floor is a darling little ice-cream parlour, designed by David Collins (Madonna’s decorator no less) and decked out American diner style with a 50s Italian twist.
The pistachio-green chairs work beautifully with the fondant-coloured china and floor-tiles, while neopolitan-hued lampshades coordinate very nicely indeed. But it’s not just about the decor. There’s a choice of fabulous ice-cream sundaes including a few alcoholic ones and great attention is paid to presentation. My favourite touch? The mini-sized ice-cream cones served with the capuccinos in their own little holder! Absolutely adorable.