On Sunday I visited the fabulous Belfast Fashion Souk - a vintage and second-hand market with a twist.
Hosted in the luxurious RBG Bar and Grill, entering the Fashion Souk felt like walking into a treasure trove. Stalls packed with gorgeous jewellery and extravagant dresses were tucked away between eating booths, where tired shoppers could enjoy sumptuous food or a cold drink. Models, fully styled and dressed in vintage finery were mingling with visitors, occasionally posing for spontaneous live photo shoots.
As Alyson, one of the organisers, explains to me, the Fashion Souk is more than just a vintage market:
"The aim of the Fashion Souk is to destigmatize second hand shopping by creating a stylish shopping experience. A lot of women don't like shopping in charity shops and not everyone can pull off wearing only vintage."At the fashion souk you find so-called "catwalk cast-offs", high fashion pieces for reasonable prices, mixed with creations by local designers, quality second-hand clothes and beautiful vintage pieces. The idea behind this is that introducing shoppers to quality clothes at affordable prices, will eventually reduce what Alyson calls "throw away shopping". Once women experience how great they can feel in a well tailored dress, they may think twice about buying cheap off-the-rail garments from the likes of Primark or New Look.
The Fashion Souk promotes a holistic approach to shopping, making it a more sustainable and guilt-free activity. And one that makes women feel good about themselves! This is why at the Fashion Souk they are careful to use "real" women models ranging in size from a 6 to a 16.
"At the Fashion Souk we want to promote an image of women that is natural. Women come in all different shapes and sizes and they are all beautiful." Alyson
So let's have a closer look at some of the treasures to be found at the Souk. I particularly liked these fabulous beaded vintage pieces available from Vintage Gladrags:
I'm not even quite sure what you would call them, is it a collar? a vest? a shawl? All I know is they're dead handy if you want to spice up that old black top or need to turn a beach dress into a cocktail frock. I just had to snap one up myself!
I also fell in love with some of the jewellery made by local designers.
Elephant Juice designer Lizzie Rooney is based in Belfast and creates beautiful jewellery out of 1850's to 1940's silver cutlery. If you ask her nicely, she will also create a bespoke piece just for you! You can find out more about that here.
The Fashion Souk takes place every second month and the next one is happening on February 23rd. To make sure you don't miss it, like Fashion Souk on Facebook or follow them on Twitter @FashionSouk.