On the search for treasures

By Libby Nicholson-Moon

There are few shopping outings more fun and fascinating than exploring vintage stores on a lazy weekend afternoon. Libby Nicholson-Moon uncovers some of the best in Auckland.

Matt and Lili Crockett from Kingsland's Fly By Night. Photo / Bruce Nicholson
Matt and Lili Crockett from Kingsland's Fly By Night. Photo / Bruce Nicholson

AUNTY MAVIS
St Kevin's Arcade, K Rd, open Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 10am-3pm. Email crownlynandvintage@gmail.com

Aunty Mavis sits snugly in a space in the historic St Kevin's Arcade in K Rd. This vintage shop is crammed full of books, records, furniture, clothes, hats, boots, jewellery and a multitude of other fascinating and adorable discoveries, including what the owner Alison Reid describes as "kitchenalia". Alison opened the store a little over a year ago, after spending 15 years working in the theatre scene. As she was already a collector, her decision to open a vintage shop seemed a natural progression, and Aunty Mavis fits perfectly into the K Rd community. The shop is quaint and curious, walking into it is like taking a trip into the past through a kiwiana portal. Souvenir spoons are displayed beside linen and handmade doilies, plastic ice buckets, pictures, Formica tables, baskets, bags, suitcases, tea cosies, dolls in national costume, and even the odd typewriter. However, one of Alison's specialties is Crown Lynn collectables, especially teacups and dinner sets, many of which date back to the 1950s. An old piano, which takes pride of place in the shop, evokes the feeling of walking into the cosy lounge of your favorite Aunt's house. Funnily enough, I discover that is precisely why Alison arranged the shop in this way, as it is in honour of her own Aunty Mavis, who taught her how to knit and crochet.

FLY BY NIGHT VINTAGE
500 New North Rd, Kingsland, open Mon- Sat 11am-5pm, Sun 11am-4pm.

This shop was named because of the intended transitory nature of the its existence - owners Matt Crockett and his wife Lili planned for it to pop up in various locations in the wider Auckland region. However, for the last two years they have chosen Kingsland as the base for Fly By Night, right next door to one of the community's hubs, Neighbourhood Bar. The couple are passionate about what they do, and like most vintage dealers they make regular trips around New Zealand and overseas to stock their shop. Fly By Night Vintage has an eclectic mix of stuff from the 50s through to the 80s. Among other things, they specialise in furniture, lamps, chandeliers, mirrors, bags, clothing, furs, hats, boots and shoes, sunglasses and glasses frames, art, tableware (including an extensive range of Crown Lynn crockery), Temuka pottery, records, books, art glass, jewellery and plenty of other unexpected quirky paraphernalia. This shop is a veritable treasure trove of collectables that speak inspiration and style.

VICTORIAN GILT
85 Great South Rd, Remuera, ph (09) 520 5565, open Mon- Fri 9.30am-5 pm, Sat 9.30am-4 pm. www.victoriangilt.co.nz

Gill Ward opened Victorian Gilt nearly three decades ago, and sadly will close the doors of this remarkable shop in March 2012, so if you haven't yet ventured inside this Aladdin's Cave of stunning antique collectables, now is the time. Gill's passion for collecting was inspired by her English grandmother, who was an antique dealer in the 1940s. Gill had been collecting vintage for 20 years before she decided to leave her job as a school teacher and open her first Victorian Gilt shop in Ponsonby. She is reluctant to stock anything dated beyond the 1950s, and whatever she purchases for the shop must be in good condition, and authentic. She has travelled the world in her pursuit of treasures, including to America, France, England, Istanbul, Brussels, Marrakech, Czechoslovakia and Kenya. Victorian Gilt specialises in 19th and 20th century antique collectables and textiles. Victorian lace is draped beside a French opera dress from the 1900s. Gill points out a mink cape once owned by a woman of title. The walls are adorned with impeccably designed suits, dresses, coats, hats, and handbags from eras gone by. Every inch of this shop is festooned with beautiful fabrics, antique sewing tools, glass cases filled with exquisite costume and period jewellery, beaded bags, crystal necklaces, silver lame, hatpins and much more. It's like a mini textile museum, and if you're lucky enough to visit when Gill is there, you'll find her happy to share her knowledge and stories.

VIXEN
St Kevin's Arcade, K Rd, ph (09) 309 8884, open Mon-Sun 11am-6pm. Email vixen-no8@hotmail.com

Vixen has been a feature of St Kevin's Arcade for 16 years, and is just as popular now as when it first opened. Owner Allison Rothville opened the shop, after finishing her studies in garment construction and costume design at Auckland's AUT. Vixen specialises in American vintage - cocktail dresses, swing petticoats, tuxedos, suits, footwear and accessories, western style vintage, and anything embellished with sequins and leopard print. Allison honed her own vintage skills by trawling through the thrift shops of New York many years ago. Now, with partner Michael Taliaferro, an American, they travel regularly to the US to source their collectables. The interior of Vixen is vibrant and textural. An entire wall is dedicated to vintage guitars in their varying rock 'n' roll shapes. Racks are lined with fur jackets, sequined tops, and gorgeously feminine and frivolous dresses. Rows of cowboy boots, outrageous shoes, and Doc Martens are lined up waiting to be loved again, while leather jackets, T-shirts, men's suits and ties and other assorted accessories languish stylishly amid the mayhem of glitter and colour. There's plenty of costume jewellery for embellishment, and an eclectic array of sunglasses on display. Before you venture into this modern museum of vintage finery, try watching the American TV series Mad Men to get you in the mood, as this is the show that continues to inspire Allison's search for the best in classic vintage.

THIS IS NOT A LOVE SHOP
290 K Rd, ph (09) 377 1350, open Mon-Sat 10.30am-6pm.

One of Auckland's longest-running vintage shops, this store opened in Dominion Rd in 1988, was loved there for 15 years, and then moved to K Rd seven years ago. Michael Barribald worked in the shop back in the 80s, and now owns it. You won't find any technology in store, except for an Eftpos machine and a retro security camera, as Michael prefers the old school methods of retailing, but you will find an extensive and eclectic range of slightly kitsch clothing, accessories, footwear, and curiosities. Michael carries out any necessary repairs or alterations that are needed before the clothes hit the racks, as he maintains a high standard of condition for his garments. This shop mixes sophisticated 50s vintage, with 60s peace and love, the flair of the 70s, and 80s glam. Think street wear versus anything goes, with sensible pricing to boot. There is fake fur, fluro colours, pastels, polyester, 80s orange sheepskin slippers, knitted hats, crocheted dresses, neon lights, safari suits and crazy mannequins. Check out the bargain bins, have a chat with Michael, and have some fun re-inventing yourself. Amid the wonderful eccentricities that are on K Rd, this shop fits hand-in-glove, so to speak.

TANGO
55 High St, Auckland City, ph (09) 300 7165, open Mon-Thurs 10am-6pm, Sun 11am-4pm.

Chanel, Christian Dior, Yves St Laurent, Gaultier, Vivienne Westwood, Versace, Christian Lacroix - these are just some of the designer labels you might encounter at Tango vintage store in Little High St, an arcade off High St proper in the CBD. You might also find some of New Zealand's favorite designer labels, including Zambesi, Nom*D and Adrienne Winkelmann. Driss Lambaraa, who arrived in New Zealand from Austria in 1992, opened Tango 12 years ago, and the store reflects his passion for style and fashion. Exotic animal furs such as mink, sable, squirrel, ocelot, jackal, fox and rabbit, feature with leather coats and jackets from Germany and New Zealand, stunning dresses, beaded tops, coats, stoles, capes, hats, men's suits, shirts and accessories, and footwear from Chanel, Christian Dior, Balanciaga, and other top designers. Driss, who speaks eight different languages, travels to Europe each year, including Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Rome, Zurich, and London, to source the treasures that make Tango so enticing. Marvel at Edwardian and Victorian vintage clothing, discover beautiful furniture, stunning lamps, pictures, and an incredible selection of vintage jewellery, sunglasses, accessories, and bags, including travel bags and briefcases. Be impressed, and make sure you have the opportunity to engage with the charming owner of this amazing vintage salon.

- NZ Herald

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