Thursday, 19 July 2018

Linda Bee: I love quality but I am not a classicist

Linda Bee has been trading with Bennie Gray’s businesses for most of her life. She has been part of Alfies, Barrett street market, Grays Antiques, and now she is back in Alfies and has joined forces with the Vintage Modes ladies.

Linda Bee in her stand

I asked her about her early days in the vintage trade.

I was very shy as a child and when I changed my school from Soho to Victoria my new teachers said that I should go to Art School. I wanted to but I did not want to leave my friends. I was creative and I wanted to do creative things, but mostly get involved with fashion. I wanted to go into hairdressing or design. Instead I ended up working in an office. However, soon I was running a hat shop. That experience changed my life. It was the seventies. I moved to Chiltern street. There were all sorts of interesting shops there and the Chiltern Fire House was still a working fire station.

I was working for Diane Logan and my life changed overnight. Diane Logan was the sister-in-law of Andrew Logan, the artist. Through them I met fascinating people and glamorous personalities of the London art scene, Andrew Logan the artist, Pauline Stone the model, Fenella Fieldings the actress, Derek Jarman the film director, Divine the actor. At the time Diane (Logan) would love going to jumble sales and bring back things into the shop to sell. It was all sorts of extraordinary objects.

In my break I used to go to Barrett Street, near Oxford Street, which was a market owned by Alfies' founder Bennie Gray. It was very similar to Alfies, but there were also stalls outside on the street which people could rent very cheaply. Then I could sell my findings from the market in the hat shop. I was desperate to become a dealer of vintage fashion and I had this boyfriend who said to me "Bee you can be anything you want to be!". He really encouraged me to explore my passion for fashion, so I rented a unit in Alfies as soon as it opened, he built it for me. I was there the very first day Alfies opened. I was located near the entrance, on the ground floor. But I was inexperienced and didn’t really like it. A friend of mine offered to buy the stall and I moved my new business to Barrett street. I carried on trading there until Bennie sold the market and all we moved to Grays Antiques. 

I don’t have any difficulty choosing stock. It’s more a matter of having the resources to expand my collection the way I like it. When I was little and my father wanted to take me out to the park, I always wanted to go and look at the shops on Bond Street. When I read Collette this phrase impressed me: "The shop windows of Paris are my changing museums, and although I love museums, I find that shops reflect life more. They inspire me".

My collection is multifaceted. If you are artistic you can’t be limited. I am inspired by all artistic expressions in art and design. I love interiors and dressing people. I would describe my collection as eclectic and very theatrical. I like quality and haute couture, Chanel, Schiaparelli, Dior. But I especially like anything that catches my eye, which could be inexpensive 1950s but with great design. My customers are themselves people of the theatre, other dealers, Americans, Europeans, people who appreciate glamour. I am just not a classicist!    

We had a browse around Linda's shop and spotted lots of covetable objects, see below...

Linda Bee at Vintage Modes | Second Floor, S048/49 | 07956 276 384 |

Written by Titika Malkogeorgou

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