Looking Back at Stardust Years Vintage in 2017

So, in looking back at Stardust Years Vintage in 2017, where should I start? Well, of course, it has to be with a huge thank you to all the lovely visitors, customers and friends who have supported us throughout the year! As we’ve made it this far, it means that we often enjoy annual visits, as well as more regular visits, from customers.  Recently, one couple said, “Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas, if we didn’t come to Stardust Years”!  It’s so touching and as lovers of Christmas, that really means a lot to Gary and I.

Gorgeous vintage handbag finds a lovely new home

A gorgeous vintage handbag finds a lovely new home!

I’ve been lucky to meet so many brilliant people, including ladies who have worked with famous names in the fashion business – names that give us a tingle down our spines when we see their label in a piece of clothing – Jean Muir, Mitzi Lorenz and even a BAFTA award-winning costume designer…

I had my own moment of fame on BBC Television, this year, when the programme, “Money For Nothing” was broadcast in March.  Actually, the series seems to be repeated quite a bit as I’m often greeted with “I saw you on the telly, yesterday!!” when visitors come into the shop.

April saw the return of Winchester’s Fashion Week and this year, thanks to Paul Spencer of Winchester BID and historical costumier, Helen McArdle, I was able to realise an ambition I had always had for Stardust Years during the Fashion Week – to host informative, and fun, fashion talks.  With the celebrations around Jane Austen this year, and her close connection with Winchester, we decided to look at how the shape of the Dress had changed from the Regency period (when the empire line dress was particularly popular) to the 1960s when the style was prevalent once again and it gave us a lovely excuse to wear some nice frocks!  We called it “The Empire Line Strikes Back!” Never let it be said we’re above a good pun when it comes to publicity. We also toyed with “Jane Austen Meets Jane Asher” but thought only die-hard Sixties fans might get the reference (sorry, Jane, but you only have your successful cakes to blame!).  Anyway, I think a good time was hard by all and the audience were asking for more by the end so Helen did a brilliant job.

Jane Austen Meets The 1960s

The Empire Line Strikes Back!

In July, Stardust Years Vintage was 4 years old and we celebrated in our usual style – special offers, our popular TLC rail (items that just need some love and cotton to revive or recycle them – all at ridiculously low prices) and Gary’s just-as-popular cocktails!

Celebrating Four Years of Stardust Years Vintage

The Fab Four at Stardust Years

Helen made a return visit in September when she joined us for our first Heritage Open Day event, “Make Do and Mend”. I prepared lots of information about Utility Clothing and Austerity Rules and Gary made (rabbit-shaped) biscuits to an original wartime recipe but it was Helen who stole the show with her 1939 Singer Sewing Machine.  It really captured folks’ imagination and several people were heard to say, “I’m inspired to get my machine out now”  Even I was tempted to get a sewing machine but then memories of my needlework schooldays came flooding back and I had to lie down in a darkened room with a strong cup of PG Tips and a bunny biscuit!

Heritage Open Day's Make Do and Mend event at Stardust Years Vintage

Helen working at her 1939 Singer Sewing Machine at Stardust Years Vintage in Winchester

I’m really looking forward to next year, meeting new friends, finding new vintage treasures and helping to encourage more people to discover the joy and beauty of the fashions of the past. Do pop in some time and say, “Hello”  In the meantime, do have a safe, happy and wonderful 2018; may it be a Vintage year!

Discovering the hidden delights of a vintage Corona Handbag

Karen at Stardust Years Vintage

Telling The World

Hope you’re all enjoying this lovely warm weather.  Despite the lure of the garden, yesterday evening, I went along to Winchester BID’s networking event and I’m very glad I did.  Liz Kavanagh, of The Winchester Magazine, was giving some valuable tips on how to capture the attention of busy journalists with a Press Release as well as how to keep customers up-to-date via social media.  It was lovely to meet other local businesses, as well catching up with some friends, like Laura from Brides of Winchester.

It can take me some time to add new stock to the website – as regular visitors will know! However, I often post stock items on our Facebook page so it’s always worth Liking our Stardust Years Vintage Fashion Facebook page for more up-to-date information. Recently, by the time I’ve added stock to the website, the item’s been sold and I understand how frustrating that can be if you’ve found just what you’re looking for, only to discover it’s already gone!  I also post on Twitter and Instagram. Actually, seeing Laura, again, reminded me – I must add our bridal garters! Another job to add to the list.

Don’t forget, what you see on here is just a fraction of what we have in our Winchester shop so if you’re looking for something in particular, just email me.  Always happy to help if I can – karen@stardustyears.com

Karen and Laura

Stardust Years Vintage and Brides of Winchester at Winchester BID’s networking event


Our 3rd Year!

Stardust Years Vintage celebrated its third year in Winchester last weekend. And what a year it’s been!

Last summer, Gary and I were lucky enough to be invited by Nick Rayne of the famous vintage shoe company, Rayne, to the Dorchester Hotel for the launch of the book “RAYNE Shoes For Stars”
Karen with Nick Rayne
Now, how did little ole Karen get invited to such a prestigious affair, you might well ask? Shortly after we opened in 2013, I was researching Rayne Shoes and Nick, son of Sir Edward Rayne who succeeded Nick’s grandfather as head of H & M Rayne in 1951, replied to my email. As a result, we donated a pair of Rayne shoes (my favourite!) to the Rayne Shoe Archive and Nick has continued to source vintage Rayne from us. You can see them in Michael Pick’s book which was written to accompany an exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London.

We had a very busy autumn but as Rudolph and the boys were limbering up ready for the Festive Season we joined in the Woolly Hat Fair’s Live Advent Calendar! A different door in the City opened each day at 6.00pm. It was the first year anything like this had been done in Winchester so it was a steep learning curve for everyone, including the audiences who braved queueing in the pouring rain waiting for the “door” to open at 6.00pm. All they knew about what might be behind each door was given in a one-line hint on the Woolly Hat Fair’s website. For our piece, we devised a little Christmas play, based on Saki short stories which was set in the 1920s so the girls could enjoy modelling our original Twenties’ dresses and accessories. The comedy was performed in our Dressing Room; we have a lovely pink curtain so it was crying out to be a mini stage!

April saw us involved in the Winchester Fashion Show’s Fashion Fair. I was travelling to Salisbury for my rehab – no, not that kind; for my back – so our involvement was very small compared to the year before but we’re looking forward to working with Winchester BID, again, for next year’s show.

But, of course, it’s our customers who’ve been the best part of the year. So a huge THANK YOU to anyone who’s purchased from our website, shop or just browsed either site. We’ve met some great people, from all over the world, and received some lovely emails. Amazingly, people from Winchester are still just discovering us! So, we need to improve on our marketing, I think! We’ve parted with some beautiful vintage pieces, including Corde handbags and Waldybags – two of my favourite vintage manufacturers – and I’ve been known to shed a tear as they go but I know they’re going to live on and to be cherished for the future.

So, 3 years old! Only you can tell if we’ve aged well! We’re excited to have reached 3 and are looking forward to getting up to all sorts of vintage shenanigans in the coming year. I also hope to improve my website post rate as I’m a bit slow (think you’ve noticed). We have so much more stock in our Winchester shop so if you can’t wait for my computer skills to improve – and it may take some time! – do just email me if you’re looking for something in particular karen@stardustyears.com I’m always happy to send photos.

In the meantime, we’re on the campaign trail! Actually, it’s a campaign organised by Winchester BID to vote for their favourite Winchester Independent. The aim is to encourage everyone to think about using their independent shops and businesses and, when you vote, you’re entered for a prize draw to win a hamper of treasures, worth £700-800 from the participating businesses. We have donated a lovely little 1930s beaded evening purse 1930s Beaded Evening Purse

To vote – hopefully, for us – and be in with a chance to win a whole host of gorgeous prizes, including our original 1930s evening purse then please just click here http://winchesterbid.us8.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=04965d3bb181dbedacceacc0f&id=a63eeb8b7c

Thank you, and Good Luck!

Winchester Business Excellence Awards 2016

We had a lovely evening on Friday 3rd June when we were invited, as one of the lucky Finalists, to attend the Winchester Business Excellence Awards 2016 at Winchester’s Guildhall.

Stardust Years Vintage was shortlisted for the Independent Retailer of the Year Award, sponsored by the Winchester BID. Gary and I were proud to be in the same category as some great local independent businesses including Chococo and Jeremy France Jewellers (What more could a gal want? Chocolate and diamonds!). The lucky winners were Jeremy France Jewellers with whom we held a joint vintage fashion and jewellery event, “Rocks ‘N’ Frocks”, in last year’s Winchester Fashion Week so we couldn’t really begrudge them their victory (Grr!). A lovely team of lovely people.

We’re still chuffed that at just under 3 years’ old, a vintage fashion boutique could be chosen as a potential Independent Retailer of the Year. There are so many brilliant and diverse retailers here in Winchester. A huge thanks to all the sponsors and the organisers of the Winchester Business Excellence Awards 2016.

Also, it was great to meet colleagues old and new and, of course, to wear my vintage 1950s, “Heiress” blue sequinned gown! A very talented lady, Virginia Hannan, altered the dress for me as I’m rather on the short side! The lady who wore the dress before me must have put her heel through the hem (boy, haven’t we all done that?) so that was my excuse for not letting this gorgeous piece reach the shop rail. Virginia has carried out the alterations on a number of our customers’ treasures so it was nice to approach her to work on one of mine. Ironically, though, when I was sitting down another lady had her foot on my dress and as I got up from my chair… you’ve guessed it! Another visit to Virginia. At this rate, I might end up with a 1960s mini dress!
At the Winchester Business Excellence Awards