ARE VINTAGE; Going, Going ... Steinberg and Tolkien Was a Treasure Trove of Fashion History, Such as This Yellow Gown, on Sale at [Pounds Sterling]520 Steinberg Gems: Forties Red Crepe Dress, [Pounds Sterling]78; Sixties, Yellow Andre Courreges Suit, [Pounds Sterling]880; Peach Bias-Cut Gown from the Thirties, [Pounds Sterling]624; Seventies Maxi Dress by Ossie Clark, [Pounds Sterling]396
Byline: Karen Kay
OVER recent weeks, the great and the good of Planet Fashion have beenpaying their respects to one of the style greats of our time: Steinberg andTolkien on London's King's Road.
Stylists, designers, students and aesthetes have joined the pilgrimage to thetiny, iconic boutique that gave birth to the trend for vintage when it openedits doors 14 years ago.
Back then, second-hand clothes were derided. But how things have changed! Sincethen, stylish figures such as Kate Moss, Helena Christensen and Winona Ryderhave pushed the boundaries of fashion by experimenting with vintage pieces, andthe quest for a unique, antique style has gained incredible momentum.
Chelsea's Steinberg and Tolkien has been at the heart of the vintage movementwith its idiosyncratic take on the trend.
Yet as fashionistas from across the globe arrive in the capital for LondonFashion Week to celebrate the UK's style heritage, and in a season where retroremains a huge influence, this shop is about to close for good.
In a week's time, Steinberg and Tolkien, which was founded by mother anddaughter Anne Steinberg and Tracy Tolkien, will hang up the 'shut' sign on itssmall, black, shabbychic door for the last time.
'The staff were amazingly passionate, with a huge knowledge of the stock,' saysFunmi Odulate, author of Shopping For Vintage: The Definitive Guide To VintageFashion. 'Tracy, Anne and Mark [Tracy's brother] were pioneers: they didn'tlook at the catwalks and try to source stock to fit with trends, they just wentfor it with their own, unique vision.
'They found vintage pieces that looked contemporary, so you didn't look likeyou'd walked straight out of a period drama or a Seventies sitcom. That wastheir special touch.' FUNMI said she never went there in a hurry 'because youwould be in there for hours, drooling over some amazing piece from Chanel orOssie Clark. I'd usually buy an anonymous Eighties' belt for a tenner, but thatwas equally thrilling in its own way'.
So, if people loved the store so much, why is it closing? Vogue magazine'sfashion director Harriet Quick believes it has been a victim of its ownsuccess. 'It spawned a huge interest in vintage that didn't exist before itcame into being and it may have suffered as a result.
Other vintage stores and eBay have since
opened and made sourcing such clothes more competitive.
The shop has been hugely influential. Its sold a well-chosen selection ofstock, from nameless hippy fur waistcoats to exquisite Christian Dior cocktaildresses which has been represented in the price range.
I once bought a Loewe handbag there and an Yves Saint Laurent blouse, and wasthrilled with them. Once, vintage was taboo; now its all about individualityand an expression of personality. Designer Sara Berman, now a creative directorat N. Peal Cashmere, recalls heading there aged 18. I bought a beautiful beadedhandbag soon after I started as a fashion student at St Martins, she says.
It was investment vintage rather than the shabbier styles youd unearth on thePortobello Road. I couldnt really afford it, but I couldnt leave it there.
STEINBERG was filled with exquisite treasures that you couldnt help but covet,she continues. You could treat it as the most fabulous dressing-up box. Itwasnt just a shop; it was an experience. Itll be greatly missed and is thepassing of an era. Its so sad that such an institution will no longer bearound, agrees designer Ann Louise Roswald. I once went there for some vintagegloves, and found some wonderfully glamorous Fifties satin ones after rummagingin the baskets.
I got a glove-maker to replicate them in white, because they were a bit grubby,but it made sourcing authentic style easy. …