Want to look the part for Derry's Jazz Festival? Then check out Vintage Star

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Vintage Star appeals to those with an interest in fashion styles and flair from iconic and bygone eras as owner Elaine Duffy’s collection focuses on the 1930s, 40s and 50s.

Looking back it might seem like a different world entirely, but Elaine and many others wish to capture some of that world in our modern day.

The Journal spoke with Elaine to find out about her business, herself and the state of local business in Derry.

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So, who is Elaine Duffy and what is Vintage star? “Vintage Star is my little boutique. About a year ago I launched the shop myself.

Elaine Duffy of Vintage Star.Elaine Duffy of Vintage Star.
Elaine Duffy of Vintage Star.

“I was part of the ‘Reimagine’ pop up show for a couple of months and I got plenty of experience there. After that I decided to give it a go myself. It's been a challenge starting up the business. I’m a single mum, I’m part of the Amelia Earhart legacy association, very involved with the swing dance community.”

A passion for fashion that is nearly 100 years old isn’t a common thing, but for Elaine this is a labour of love: “The three eras I really love are the 30s, 40s and the 50s. 40s being during the war, after the war time. Very powerful things happening at that time, women working in the lands, they have to keep the country going but they always kept their glamour. They were well put together, if they went to the cinema before the movie started there would be a tutorial that is essentially a way of doing Instagram posts, for example they would teach them how to do their cleansing. It was big in those days to wear red lipstick, to help with morale; having to keep everyone upbeat.

"History and fashion – put the two things together and that's my dream job. I've always been drawn to the old style of the old days, even as a child. I always admired old photos. Hollywood has been a big influence. My favourite is Lucille Ball. She was so ahead of her time in so many ways. The optimism and nostalgia, the resilience I would channel that, especially nowadays.”

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Elaine is very well informed on the fashion of those olden, golden days. She continued: “In the 1940s clothes were very scarce and money was very scarce. The history of the apron - when you are wearing your good dress the apron must be worn, protect the dress. It’s wiped tears away, it’s wiped a mucky face, it’s helped to lift the pan out from the oven - it's got a lot a stories to tell. That's how I started out, making aprons. It wasn't the case of just picking something off a rail like we would now. You would go to your tailor or your seamstress.”

Vintage Star Derry.Vintage Star Derry.
Vintage Star Derry.

Elaine’s shop is very unique here in Derry. There’s no place quite like it, and there is a market for it. Elaine said: “There is potential, as people are looking for something different from the high street. The 1940s are very timeless, a tea dress every woman has one, it might not be in 1940s style, there's a lot of repetition throughout history. Tea dresses will always be a staple.”

So what age groups would be interested in this vintage fashion? Elaine said: “All ages, from teenagers to 80 year olds. The classic pieces that seamstress does would be suited to teachers, who want a particular dress that would be suited to everyday wear. The unique selling point with ‘seamstress’ is they would have multiple colours and designs of a particular dress.”

The topic of ‘local business’ has been buzzing around now for a while; people pushing for stronger support of local business. Elaine said: “All our smaller businesses now are struggling. I'd be really keen in people to stop buying so much online, come in and discover what we have in all our lovely little side streets. There's not enough footfall up around this area but we are working really hard now with the cathedral quarter initiative to promote each and every one of us.”

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Elaine has been pushing her business forward with the Jazz Festival coming up, offering styling help and of course selling the dresses. She said: “Say for example the swing time starlets are looking for three dresses, I can accommodate that with something beautifully put together, help them with their styling, and other performers. A special service, I'm developing the business into consultations. I'm now exploring quirky weddings.”

Clothes in Vintage StarClothes in Vintage Star
Clothes in Vintage Star

Also to do with the Jazz Festival she is hosting a fashion styling workshop with ‘La Belle Bombshell Vintage Hair’ hairstylists Sara and Meredith and Elaine doing the fashion side of course.

Looking towards the future of Vintage stars Elaine said: “I’d love to see more. If you look at Camden Market, it'd be lovely to have something like that here. During the Millennium Forum Grease show last year they were up looking for petticoats, so I would love to see much more things like that coming my way. Young people are looking for different things these days, looking for ways to reach out to the community as well.

“A boutique like this can be so much more than a shop. It can be a community space.”

You can find Elaine on her boutique on 7b Pump Street, The Cathedral Quarter, Derry or check out her Instagram page for a peek at some of the items for sale.

You can find her on Instagram here.

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