My name is Lili and I am a vintage addict, I’m always searching for treasures to squirrel away into my collection.
One of my favourite places to search used to be a tiny vintage shop in Auckland. Called Victorian Gilt, it was in the very stylish suburb of Remuera. From the outside, a little shabby but once inside the shop was a veritable treasure trove of wonders. Stuffed with clothing and accessories from the late Victorian, all the way to the 1950’s, it was a heaven for someone like me! Dresses from all eras hung five deep around the walls (a moth’s dream!) and it was a tough job searching through and frequently I’d work up a glow. Everywhere I looked, my eyes fell upon 1930’s evening dresses, cabinets filled with rhinestone jewellery and piles of vintage linen. If you wanted furs, she had it. You wanted a prom dress from the 1950’s made of chiffon, she had it. You wanted a 1920’s, fully mink lined, bright orange, chinoiserie silk, full length evening cloak, she had it (honestly!).
Once last year, as I was searching, my eye was caught by a flash of pale pink, pleated satin. My heart leapt. When I first went to New Zealand, five years ago, my husband (then boyfriend) took me to Victorian Gilt and I fell head-over-heels in love with the most stunning ball gown. Handmade in the 1950’s, she was curvy and made of heavy satin in the palest oyster pink. The front was hand-appliquéd with swirls of purple and grey ruffled velvet and the skirt adorned with rhinestones and sequins. A consummate beauty, she made me feel a million dollars. Sadly, she also had the most fantastic price tag and I could only dream of taking her home. This beauty had waited for me for five years, hidden beneath several other vintage dresses. I lifted her down and put her on. She was a little dusty, and there were some areas which needed attending to, but she was as lovely as I remembered her.
Sadly, at that time, she was still outside my price range, but I was ever hopeful that I may get to take her home one day.
I consoled myself by trying on heaps of other wonderful dresses. I tried on a fabulous 1940’s coral red dress, with beautiful square shoulders and a gracefully falling crepe skirt, which I then hid at the back of a rack, so that I could go back and get it another day! I ended up taking home with me the quirkiest green dress. It’s 50s, Chinoiserie design silk and designed so that the top looks like a dressing gown, with wonderful lapels and an Obi-style belt which really nips in the waist. It’s become a favourite in my collection.
So ladies (and gents), if you do get the chance to go to Auckland, I insist you go to Victorian Gilt, now situated on Waiheke Island. Spend plenty of time ferreting around I guarantee you’ll come out with a treasure or two.
When you get there, if you are looking for an oyster pink ball gown, you are too late. My husband came home from his last visit with a very special parcel for my birthday…