LDNER #31 FRANCES AMBLER

Frances Ambler 2

This weeks Londoner is Frances Ambler writer, editor and enthusiastic vintage frock wearer who has lived in south London for the last ten years. Frances is also the author of the Rough Guide to Vintage London which came out this May. We caught a few words below…

You’ve lived here for 10 years but which area do you call home and why?

I live in Crystal Palace. I decided it was the place for me when I realised even the pub had its own vintage shop attached, Vintage Hart. I love all the area’s cafes, independent shops and the Crystal Palace Antiques Warehouse and Hayes Lane Market provide plenty of hunting vintage ground. And there are the dinosaurs in the park. Who could resist an area with its own misshapen model dinosaurs?

You obviously know a thing or two about Vintage, what are your top tips for vintage shopping in London?

There’s something for everyone in London, whatever your budget or your shopping style. I enjoy a good charity shop rummage and have got some beloved designer bits from the well-heeled selections found at Octavia in Knightsbridge and Red Cross in Chelsea. If you’ve got the energy, it’s fun to scour the huge ranges at 162 Holloway Road and Blitz but for sure-fire frocks, try somewhere like Scarlet Rage Vintage in Crouch End or appointment only Juno Says Hello: they’ve done the hard work of searching for you. Places like Revival Retro in Kingly Court and Vivien of Holloway do great repro looks in sizes suitable for twenty-first century women.

Some FAB tips there people! What would be your must visits for an vintage loving tourist visiting London?

Definitely head to one of the markets to see some of the city’s vintage street style. Brick Lane is an obvious choice to observe the peacocks on parade, but, if you brave the crowds and the tourist tat, there’s still some great stalls tucked away in Camden Market. A wander round Soho is a great way to explore some of London’s history. Stop for an espresso and great people watching at Mod favourite Bar Italia, or treat yourself to a traditional afternoon tea at Soho’s Secret Tea Room, hidden away in the infamous Coach and Horses pub. The evening definitely calls for glad rags and cocktails. I recommend the Bar Americain at Brasserie Zedel, which feels like it’s come straight out of Casablanca, or Happiness Forgets in Hoxton Square is perfect for some sophisticated supping.

Bar Italia

A little birdie also told us you have a lot of love for girl bands from the 60’s, who should we be listening too?

Yes! Da Doo Ron Ron by The Crystals is my karaoke number of choice. Try The Shangri-las, The Ronettes, The Shirelles, The Supremes, The Angels, The Chiffons: all of the ‘The’s!

Finally, what would your perfect day in London be?

I’d start with a potter round my local Crystal Palace shops in the sunshine, including a caffeine fix from Bambino, a salvage store cum coffee shop. I’d then head over to the Fashion and Textile Museum for some style inspiration, hopefully catching the end of Bermondsey Square Antiques Market before wandering down the South Bank. There would be another stop-off for coffee and a play with the cat and a Tunnock’s teacake at Scootercaffé on Lower Marsh. In the evening, I’d see what was going on in Brixton Village, watch my favourite band playing the Academy, then have a shimmy around to some girl bands and indie pop at the Canterbury Arms. Of course, the magic number 3 night bus would waiting outside to carry me home…

CRACKING! If you want to read more about France’s tips why not check out The Rough Guide to Vintage London. On sale now people.