Vintage Brighton – Food, Fashion and Events
Much of Brighton has decided that the sterility of clean cut modern life is just not its bag. For this City, looking to the old is what keeps it young, as “vintage” has become Brighton’s life blood.
As post war cool and the raging sixties assembled on the South Coast, Brighton became a mecca for sharp Mods and leather clad Rockers, inspiring films such as Quadrophonia and carving another notch into Brighton’s cultural bedpost. Brighton is also embroiled in an ongoing love affair with Rockabilly, rock n’ roll’s spunky little brother. Its disciples take it all very seriously, and the scene has flourished and persisted here.
The mid noughties took a nostalgic turn when we all decided there was something soulless about dry modernity and sought innovation in the archives. Of course Brighton blazed the way. With London leaking into it, a proud subcultural heritage and a generally sunny disposition it has become a watering hole for creative types and a womb to nurture the vogue of the day. An ideal logical epicentre for the rise of vintage.
Vintage has made itself a home in Brighton, where it offers up legions of charity shops, vintage and second hand boutiques, rockabilly hair salons and pre -war tea rooms. Brighton is nailing it. Here’s where to go to get your daily dose of Vintage Brighton.
Things to do
London to Brighton Veteran car run:
Taking place on the first Sunday in November, the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run is the longest running motoring event in the world, and the world’s largest gathering of veteran cars. To qualify your car must have been built before 1905, but apply at your peril; the speed limit is set at a hair raising 20MPH.
Location: London, Hyde Park to Brighton Preston Park and Madeira Drive.
Ragroof Tea Dances at The Emporium:
This gorgeous renovated church hosts afternoon tea dances for all levels of experience, and recreates the heyday of ballroom dance set to a roaring 20s, 30s and 40s soundtrack. Dance your way through three hours of vintage music, glam costumes and glorious dance displays, with the odd tea and cake break thrown in, of course. Rather than be dictated by gender, Ragroof encourages dancers to both lead and follow, and It’s a jolly good knees up all round!
Lindy-Hop Dance Lessons:
Led by Graeme and Amanda, devoted Lindy Hoppers who aim to spread the love of Lindy Hop to as many people as possible. The teachers take inspiration from some of the best in the world, including some of the original Lindy Hoppers from 1930s Harlem. They will bring the swing to any event!
If you’re looking for a glamorous night, Proud Cabaret is just the ticket. Formerly the Hanbury Ballroom, Proud have re-opened this historic venue as a retro supper club. You are presented with a beautiful 3 course meal while enjoying the cabaret and burlesque performances. Drag out something sparkly, get dressed up and enjoy a night of grown up glamour.
Location: 83 St George’s Road, Brighton BN2 1EF
Frockabilly presents itself as “The only club playing 1950s music all night long”. It’s a `Queer – run, straight – friendly vintage club” which basically means it’s Brighton in club form. Nights have a variety of themes such as the upcoming “Comic book super hero special” with “live music, vintage visuals, super – hero/ine snacks, queer shenanigans and some of the best rockin’ DJs in the UK”.
White mink has become a big hit on the club and festival scene, gaining huge popularity and recognition around the world and capturing the sounds of the 20s and 30s. Founder Nick Hollywood said: “I think the key of the White Mink in Brighton is actually that we provide an environment and the audience bring the stuff, they bring what really happens, they dance and absolutely everyone is dressed up, everybody’s bought a ticket in advance so everyone’s planned it!”
Location: The Old Market, Brighton BN3 1AS
The Mesmerist takes inspiration from 1930s gin palaces, the burlesque and steampunk movements. It’s full of surprises and knows exactly how to put on a show, as it celebrates the best of bygone eras and hosts an exciting variety of live vintage inspired acts as well as hosting the vintage loving resident DJ. The Mesmerist has been praised for its great food and an even greater atmosphere. This is the place to go if you’re after unadulterated and unabashed fun. It has a happy, straight forward attitude and so does its’ clientele.
Location: 1-5 Prince Albert St, Brighton BN1 1HE
Blackbird Tea Rooms:
Blackbird Tea Rooms serves gorgeous home-made tea and cakes with a vintage, pre-war English feel. You will be served by charming waitresses with white pinafores and hair in a 1940s style. A lot of love has gone into this place and it makes for a delightful Sunday afternoon.
Location: 30 Ship Street, Brighton BN1 1AD
JB’s American Diner:
Slap bang on the sea front, this is a nod to the classic American Diner and it does what it says on the tin. It’s dripping with 50s Rock n’ Roll. Yes there are booths, yes there are shakes and Mountain Dew and yes it’s a cardiac arrest on a plate, all set to a rock n’ roll soundtrack. Not much is authentically vintage about this place but who cares, we’re just there to eat our way through the hangover.
Location: 31 King’s Rd, Brighton, BN11NR
1930s Parisian style tea salon in the heart of Kemp town that serves and sells a huge range of teas from around the world. If you can’t get enough you can take it home, as Metrodeco is also an art deco specialist furniture store. Crammed with gilt chairs, velvet chaise-longs and polished dark wood tables, it’s a bit of a squeeze, but a trip to Metrodeco will feel like you’re hanging at your friend’s house as the regulars and their canine companions create a homey atmosphere.
Location: 38 Upper St James’s Street, Brighton, BN2 1JN
Simon Webster Hair:
Simon Webster Hair is a North Laine vintage specialist salon on Gardner Street, where Simon Webster is acclaimed for his expertise in barbering Rockabilly and Mod hair styles. His salon is a haven for vintage lovers, where high fashion photos, a stag’s head and flying ducks take pride of place on the walls and add the personality many modern salons are sorely lacking.
Location: 16 Gardner St, Brighton, BN1 1UP
Betty Lou Hair and Beauty:
A vintage salon specialising in styles dating from the 1920s to today. Betty Lou’s offers a comprehensive range of treatments including vintage inspired makeup, hair, nail treatments as well as bespoke bridal hair and 50s inspired clothing. For a head to toe make over and a vintage experience, Betty Lou’s also offer high fashion photo shoots so you can document your transformation.
Location: 16 Preston St, Brighton BN1 2HP
The Chop House Pop up Salon at The Mesmerist:
Just when you thought the Mesmerist couldn’t get any better it’s only gone and set up a vintage pop up salon. “The Chop House” is upstairs on a Friday. Rockabilly specialist stylists from Pretty Pout offer a selection of vintage styled hair and makeup. If you’re feeling adventurous or if you’ve had a few and just don’t care anymore, visit the Chop House pop up Salon to get a Monroe lip or a Hepburn flick. Turn up on the night after 9pm or call to make a booking.
Location: 1-5 Prince Albert St, Brighton BN1 1HE
Beyond Retro throws it all at you but doesn’t scrimp on quality – these clothes are still authentically vintage and not just someone else’s overpriced cast offs. Sticking with their signature warehouse style, the London chain have had the good sense to expand to Brighton. A huge Aladdin’s cave of densely packed texture, colour and pattern, they certainly know how to fill a space. Get stuck in!
Location: 42 Vine Street, Brighton BN1 4AG
Vintage brings out the big guns with the winner of best vintage fair in the UK. The fair takes regular trips to Brighton, and features 30 – 100 of the UKs best traders under one roof. It presents a giddy assortment of men’s and women’s vintage clothing from the 1940s- 1990s, as well as accessories, jewellery, art, home ware and hair salons; with live acts and a tea party to boot! If your planning your big day, LouLou’s also do a roving vintage wedding fair with dates in Brighton.
With a doff of the cap to American retro, this cool little boutique is just what we need: it’s cute, well presented and fresh – I mean it literally smells fresher than many of its musty colleagues. The staff are friendly, it makes the most of the space and it’s a great little place to find your vintage staples. A bright, breezy and unpretentious store – hoorah!
Location: Gardner St, The Lanes, Brighton BN1 1UP
A Brighton icon, flaunting three floors of vintage and retro clothing. Dirty Harry has been in the game for 20 odd years, starting off in Camden before settling down as one of the first shops in the North Laine. This store is an old hand, and the vintage lovers’ meat and drink. It’s a little bit too cool for school which means I often cringe my way round it but if you can grit your teeth through the pretensions, it’s basically very good at what it does.
Location: 6 Sydney St, Brighton, BN1 4EN
Hope and Harlequin:
This ode to the past is a veritable palace of vintage opulence. It is high end stuff and specialises in delectably unique clothing from the late 1800s to the 1970s. Prices are unsurprisingly steep, but if you’re financially challenged it’s still worth a look in, as it works more as a museum of vintage ladies wear.
Location: 31 Sydney Street, Brighton BN1 4EP
Dig for Victory:
A sustainable fashion label in Brighton that creates one off pieces from vintage and “end of roll” fabrics. Eleanor, the designer, has made a career out of her love of dressing up after she set up Dig for Victory in 2007. The label presents a really diverse range of dresses. Select from a huge collection and get measured up for a custom fit. Shopping just got personal!
Location: 175 Edward Street, Brighton BN2 OJB
Lizzie Lock Millinery:
This Millinery is a headwear design company that specialises in using traditional techniques to create classic shapes with an elegant, contemporary twist. Lizzie uses wooden blocks from as early as the 1920’s and sources materials and embellishments from markets, vintage fairs and second hand stores.
Location: Albert Mews Studio, 11 Albert Mews, Third Avenue, Hove BN3 2PP
Artifice Vintage Interiors:
Specialising in Victoriana, Art Deco, Bauhaus, WW2, vintage industrial and factory chic styles. At a time when so many retailers are reproducing vintage home wares, Artifice is refreshingly authentic, displaying some really special, hand-picked items
Location: 4 Powis Road, Brighton BN1 3HJ