Given that Camden Market probably looms large in many people's first experience of buying second-hand clothes in London, it's amazing how sniffy people can get about buying second-hand clothes in Camden Market. I'm clearly talking about myself here and was guilty of more than a touch of sniffiness about the place until I went back up to reacquaint myself for the Rough Guide to Vintage London. Okay, there's still masses of stalls selling nasty T-shirts or 90s sportswear or nasty noodles, and I wouldn't really want to venture there on a weekend but I did discover some great new places. My favourite was the hither-to unheard of St Cyr Vintage which has quickly catapulted itself up my list of favourite vintage shops.
St Cyr is set at the back of the Stables Market under one of the railway arches. That makes it a bit of a mission to get to but once inside it is (joy!) spacious and (more happiness!) calm. If one of the things that depresses me most about Camden is the huge amount of tat for sale, this shop is the opposite of that: good quality stuff, which is clean, well laid-out and reasonably priced. It stocks anything from the 1920s to the 1980s although when I visited it was a selection of beautiful patterned 50s frocks that caught my eye.
Those dresses by themselves probably would have been worth a return visit but can you guess what really made this shop a favourite? Books. Yes, hundreds of fashion books. Supplied by The Old Bookshop, a specialist fashion and textile bookseller, St Cyr sells everything from how-to guides to back issues of Vogue and old sewing patterns. Classic fashion texts on their shelves included Cecil Beaton's The Glass of Fashion, biographies by Diane Von Furstenberg and Pierre Balmain and it's also where I bought my copy of The Magic Names of Fashion. I could have bought an awful lot more. Camden, I can only apologise for judging you so harshly.
Images are from the St Cyr vintage website