My university town of High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire could never be described as a Mecca for the fashionista among us but delve deep enough and there are a few people bringing the fashion edge to a small town.
At the end of the High Street sits a small, hot pink shop called Kitsch Me Kwik which fills any alternative fashion starlet with a sense of hope that just maybe they’ve found somewhere in High Wycombe that’s made for them…. Step inside and instantly you realise that you were most definitely right! The entrance is reminiscent of a pebbled beach which satisfies my nautical sensibilities perfectly whilst all around the shop is scattered a vast selection of vintage and handmade ephemera, giving the shop a really homely quality. I chatted to the lovely owner, Juliet Hamilton, about her vintage haven and her fashion influences!
Tell me a little bit about your shop.
I trained as a costume and fashion designer in the 80’s and opened my first shop in 1982. I went into fashion after seeing the Sex Pistols in 1976!! Life changing times for fashion and music! I also had quite a number of famous customers including Cyndi Lauper. Have a look at my website www.kitschmekwik.com
What do you think about the fashion scene in High Wycombe?
Is there a fashion scene in Wycombe? I think the cross section of ages, cultural diversity and musical differences makes it all one big jumble of hippies, punks, chavs, bikers, goths, etc etc…a very eclectic mix!! And then there are the fashion victims as in every town…and students!!
Why do you think vintage has had such a revival in recent years?
Vintage clothing isn’t having a revival as it has been popular for quite a few decades. What has happened though is that it has become acceptable now to wear second hand clothing! Everyone visits charity shops and vintage clothes shops now, even celebs. It isn’t just something that the ‘poor’ do or hard up students.
What inspires you to have such a creative shop? And where do you get the inspiration for the interior design of your shop?
Hollywood movies have always been a huge influence on us and for me. In order to acquire the look of your favourite actor or actress you would have to wear the right clothing!
What is your favourite fashion era and why?
I love the 50’s but then doesn’t everyone! I love the Victorian period and earlier as well as I have always been interested in corsetry and the ultimate hourglass shape!
If you could have anyone’s wardrobe, past or present, who’s would it be?
I love the eccentricity of Elizabeth Taylor’s wardrobe; very sophisticated and waist cinching when she was young and beautiful, then a bit mad as she grew older and fatter. It must have been awful for her to get so fat and end up in a wheelchair after being one of the world’s most beautiful women! Then again I wouldn’t have minded Marie Antoinette’s wardrobe or Elizabeth I’s!! And would be quite happy to dress up in Jane Fonda’s togs from the film Barberella!! In movies though I always fancied myself as Maureen O’Hara.
With my faith in fashion in High Wycombe renewed I decided to get a group of my friends together to show off their favourite outfits. They’re a pretty eclectic bunch which I think shows in their fashion choices. I had so much fun doing this shoot; I love shooting new people! And the weather was glorious too.
Special thanks to Juliet Hamilton for the interview and my lovely models; Lydia Kenny, Guy Humphrey, Laura Haythornthwaite, Natalie Worrall, Kirsty Edge, Daisy Burton-Collis and Hanna Senior.
Also, sorry for the slightly grainy/stripey quality of my scans. I’m looking into getting a negative scanner so hopefully they’ll be better quality come my next article!