The National Trust
The National Trust of Australia is a non-profit organisation committed to preserving Australia's indigenous, cultural and historic heritage. Many people have antiques and vintage clothing that they donate and bequeath to the National Trust in the hope that they will be preserved and appreciated. However, in reality, the National Trust does not have the resources to store and preserve much of what is donated.
In Victoria, the National Trust holds an annual vintage clothing sale at the beautiful Como House in South Yarra, near Melbourne, to sell off a lot of these donations. Money recouped is spent on refurbishments to Como House.
This is the second year that I have attended the sale, awaited with much excitement by vintage lovers in Melbourne. Indeed, I know of several vintage dealers who flew in from interstate. In my limited experience, I find myself thinking of the sale like this.
Vintage Clothing Sale
Day A - Saturday
Attending a family wedding in the country kept me away on this day. All items are full price. However, from all reports I believe that the full prices asked were extremely reasonable and there were some real treasures found.
I also heard several accounts from those who attended who reported an argy bargy (as our British friends would put it) or as we would say in Australia, a bun fight. (I would be interested to hear what our friends in the States would call it). The volunteer ladies who served me on the Sunday (B day) rolled their eyes in terror when recalling the previous day's horrors and appeared to be grateful to have escaped with their lives. Vintage shoppers reported having other shoppers run and push in front of them to grab treasures. Don't go on Saturday if you're claustrophobic. Shoppers report being wedged in place and unable to move at all. Luckily, there was not a fire, or there would have been trouble.
The ballroom on the relatively sedate B day (Sunday).
The ballroom at Como House was packed with clothing, and other adjacent rooms held patterns, linens, hats, shoes and other accessories. The ballroom had so many clothing racks that single file only was possible between them and overtaking (especially when laden with goodies) was very difficult. I don't know what treasures were found on Saturday, I know there were at least two 1920s coats scored and the Edwardian wedding dress and 1920s shoes I had spotted in a sneak preview on a colleague's blog had certainly been snapped up before Sunday. If you found a treasure, please add a comment, as I would love to hear about it.
The Hat Room
Day B - Sunday
I went to Como on the B day, Sunday. I cut short a long weekend at Daylesford as I was determined to be there on Sunday afternoon when everything is sold at half price. I got there about 11.00 and I had a sizeable pile put aside out back after about 45 minutes, when we were told that everybody had to go outside so that the volunteers could rearrange all the items. It turns out that this was code for putting back all the items selected before 12.00 in case one got a head start on shopping at 50% off. This was really silly. About 100 people had to go and stand outside for 20 minutes or so while the volunteers did their thing.
Queuing for re-entry.
I raced inside and proceeded to locate the treasures from my stash that had been put back into circulation. I managed to find them all very quickly, all except for one late 1920s/early 1930s black silk dress, which I sadly spied over the shoulder of another woman. A treasure found and lost!
After sorting out three piles of fabulous vintage, I was exhausted, and so were the ladies packing and tallying it up. In the end, I was very happy with my finds, but I couldn't help thinking regretfully of the black silk dress.
Day C - Monday
Monday is what I call C day. Various vintage dealers are invited in to mop up the remains at bargain clearance prices. And I know for a fact that some ridiculous bargains were had.
When I went down to visit my stall at The Vintage Emporium at Tyabb, I was discussing the sale with the proprietor, Vanessa Mangan. Vanessa had gone up with the other dealers on C day Monday to mop up the leftovers. She told me how surprised she was to see what was left, including a beautiful black silk late '20s/early 30s dress! Yes, it was the same dress I had missed out on! The customer who grabbed it before me after the reshuffle must have tried it on then rejected it. If only I'd thought to go back and double check that rack before I left on Sunday! So now it's for sale at The Vintage Emporium instead of at Louisa Amelia Jane. Que sera sera.
Vintage Fashion highlights
Here are my highlights, beginning with my personal favorite:
1930s crepe evening dress
Battenberg lace parasol is already sold.
I'll list a whole lot of pictures of most of the other items I bought from The National Trust. It will take me weeks if not months to get it all mended, cleaned, ironed, steamed, photographed and listed, so if you want to get in early contact me for details.
1950s beaded silk dress. This one is a bit "as is" but the beading is glorious. I won't be listing it online, so contact me if you're interested.
Prue Acton jumper sweater
1960s brown chiffon polka dot dress
Two 1970s floral mini dresses with amazing sleeves. Pat Rogers, left, and Van Roth, right.
1950s damask wedding dress with bolero
1950s Alencon lace dress
1950s-1960s ribbon rosette dress
1950s-1960s satin dress
1930s wedding dress
Bustiers - 1950s, left, and 1960s
Something for the men - three 1920s waistcoats and two cravats.
Hand smocked silk bed jacket
1960s gold satin and lace dress
1960s three piece lace dress with beading and cummerbund
Here's the first of my fixer uppers. Wish me luck. 1930s? ballgown with beading
1920s-1930s embroidered kimono robe
And how could I leave this beauty behind, even with the tears in the back? Let's see what I can do.
1920s nightgown with lace and eyelet embroidery
And more that I haven't photographed including tap pants, a swimsuit, and a Shetland shawl.
for more information about any of these items.