Treasured Norwich Vintage Fashion Collection
Treasured Norwich Vintage Fashion Collection to form Single-Owner Auction
By Elizabeth Talbot
A treasured collection of vintage fashion, which has taken 57 years to compile, is to be offered for sale by TW Gaze at Diss Auction Rooms on Thursday 10 March. Owner Patricia Fox has decided to begin parting with some prized pieces, although the decision has been a difficult one to make.
Mrs Fox, who bought her first garment in 1965, has been a well-known and much-respected collector, buyer, and seller of fine vintage clothing in Norwich and throughout Norfolk and Suffolk for many decades. She has traded out of shops in the city, including in Wright’s Court, Elm Hill and in Bagdley’s Court, lectured students on the history of fashion and shared her collection in fashion shows at St. Andrew’s Hall in Norwich to raise money for charity. Her enthusiasm and passion are infectious. Her appreciation of the design and artistry which was applied to clothes by past generations, especially those of the early 20th Century, is clear and unfaltering.
Patricia recalls when it all began: “In 1965 I was a young married mother with a three-month old son. We rented a basement flat; both my husband, Keith, and I were working, just about managing to make ends meet. Then one day in September, whilst walking into St Stephen’s Street, I came across a charity shop next door to Marks & Spencer’s and hanging on the door was a pale blue beaded 1920’s dress. That’s the moment my passion for vintage clothes was ignited. It was priced at 10/- which was a lot of money for us working class and more than I could really afford; but I had to buy it! Keith was extremely annoyed on that occasion. However, as my interest and knowledge grew, so did my collection and I began to build a client base of sellers and buyers.”
She is very clear about what has driven her life-long enthusiasm: “As a young child I loved watching my mother dress up for special occasions. Today my love and passion for vintage fashion, especially from the 1920’s and ‘30’s, remains the same as the day I saw the pale blue dress. I think the early 20th Century was the last elegant era. The clothes are stunning, the colours beautiful, and there is so much imagination in the design.”
As well as patronising Norwich charity shops on an almost daily basis, Patricia travelled the counties to buy “from aristocracy, the wealthy and the poorest of the poor” and she became a trusted consultant and conduit for outmoded pieces. It is obvious that her memories are enhanced by the many and varied people she has met along her journey, all of whom she feels privileged to have encountered. She continues, “My pleasure has never been about the money or financial value. I have a great admiration for the designers and dressmakers of beautiful fashion in all periods. Plus, I like the way an item has been treasured and maintained by ongoing repairs, which add to the charm and the historical narrative of a particular dress. The best part for me was the buzz of discovering, buying, and rejuvenating a garment, giving it a new relevance.”
As well as afternoon frocks, cocktail dresses and ball gowns, the collection also includes shawls, stockings, camisoles, underclothes, blouses, kimonos, and nightdresses. Patricia always delighted in wearing pieces from her collection and often combined old and new items in one outfit; by the 1970’s she had developed her own special style of mixing her wardrobe and wore clothes with great panache, a trend-setter ahead of her time. Patricia is quoted as saying that while she loves old clothes, she is not in awe of them and believes they should be worn and enjoyed. So, the parting by auction is sweet sorrow; she is sad to see old friends go but would hate to see the clothes stored away and forgotten. She is mindful that after the auction the garments will join other people’s collections and be enjoyed by other wearers, the result of which surely puts the “joy” into “glad rags”?
There are over 160 lots in the auction, covering Victorian to 1970’s interest, but with the main emphasis on Edwardian, 1920’s, through to 1950’s. Auction estimates range from £30 for eye-catching hand painted American and British ties to £300 for an Edwardian black and blue beaded evening gown.
Details of the sale, including the catalogue and viewing times will be posted on twgaze.co.uk. Further information from email@example.com. Attend the auction in person, leave commission bids or bid live via the-saleroom.com.