Everything but the kitsch-en sink: Natalie Robinson

Natasha Francois enters the kitsch deluxe domain of Natalie Robinson.

It’s hard to know where to look in Natalie Robinson’s North Shore home: every conceivable surface is crammed with whimsical icons of kitsch from yesteryear.

Siamese cats with elongated necks rub shoulders with doe-eyed fawns while kewpie dolls vy for shelf space with squeaky children’s toys, pastel-coloured nallyware cannisters and mid-century table lamps.

Mass-market masterpieces of big-eyed children lock eyes with prancing ponies and pirouetting ballerinas, watched over by a crowd of anthropomorphic salt and pepper shakers.

The 32-year old’s decor seems to be stuck somewhere in the 1950s/ 60s but rather than being an ‘accurate’ period home, it’s like kitsch on steroids. Natalie likes to describe it as “a giant dollhouse” which begs the question, what does her partner make of her unapologetically girly aesthetic?

“I’ve asked him about whether he truly likes it and he always just says he likes what makes me happy…cheesy but sweet haha,” she replies.

“I am too much of a hoarder to go minimalist.. I just can’t do it so I gave up trying to be too pure about it. I just fill it with stuff I like – most happens to be vintage so I just say “vintage home” in that respect…. full of old crap haha “Kitsch Vintage Ecclectic” home is probably more accurate.”

Read on to see more of her eccentric home!

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You seem to have quite a few different collections going. Can you give us a rundown of some of these?

I pretty much just collect what I love, I don’t really stick to any one thing which is pretty dangerous for the wallet! Currently I am actively collecting  kitschy ornaments, pyrex, kitchenalia, kids art prints, retro dolls, wall plaques, vintage magazines, vintage clothing and accessories, retro linen/towels and vintage kids books. I also love 50s-60s furniture so pick up pieces for my house as I find them.  

 

What are some of your favourite pieces in your collection?

I don’t think I could pick “all time” favourites but current obsessions hmmm I would have to say my Nally starburst canisters, “Strawberry Fields” pyrex dish,  a weird blue fluffy poodle ornament, my floral axminster rug and a set of geisha glasses from the 60s that I was given by my grandmother.

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How did these collections start?

I’ve been collecting “old stuff” on and off since I was a kid. My first proper collection started about 10 years ago – Japanese pose dolls from the 50s-60s. At last count I have probably close to 150 of them, most in storage as they are a retired collection I suppose. For those unfamiliar they are essentially the 60s big eyed girls come to life in doll form. They really appealed to me as they were all hand crafted and unique. The vintage fashions they wore was also a big draw card, I especially love the ones in mod outfits. I had to buy them all on eBay (this was before the shipping became prohibitive) as finding them in New Zealand was next to impossible.

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Occasionally I see some of the cheaper dressing table types (big southern belle ladies, 70s) in my travels but they aren’t really my thing. I guess it was downhill from there – now my entire house is a hoard of vintage crap!

LRM_EXPORT_20170320_203256How would you describe your particular aesthetic?

Kitsch really is the most appropriate word!  Childish, bright, cute, colourful, pastel, retro, quirky. I imagine those not familiar with this world would describe it as a bit weird and obsessive…  or refer to it as stuff their grandmother would have loved. People are usually a bit shocked the first time they visit my home, I’ve heard “giant dollhouse” a few times. They love it or they hate it.

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Favourite decades and why?

It would be a tie between the 50s and 60s. I really love both decades for the architecture, cars, sublime furniture, kitschy shit and the beautiful dresses of course. My home is probably more 60s because it’s easier to get my hands on items from that era.

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Capture5posedollsDoes your fascination for collecting vintage extend into your wardrobe and overall appearance too?

I have a reasonable vintage wardrobe but for the most part I am a comfort dresser, jeans and T-shirt. I like modern labels that have a vintage vibe – I have a pretty extensive novelty sweater collection that I wear year round. I spend a lot of time at home so the effort of hair, makeup and quite restrictive clothing is too much hassle for me. I definitely admire people who can manage to make it a daily ritual though!

20160901_165913-01Is your partner a collector too?

 Not to the same extent as me but he wholeheartedly embraces my passion for it. I think before we met he was pretty clueless about vintage but now 6 years later I would say he’s pretty good at spotting a diamond in the rough. He actually found a very rare pyrex dish that I ended up selling to a US collector for $500, he gets props for that!

 

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Would you say vintage is a way of life?

We purchased our 70s-era house 2 years ago and have spent that time renovating and gathering bits and pieces (a lot of them) to fill it. It probably seems a bit weird to not stick with a 70s theme but luckily the interior lends itself nicely to a more mid-century look.  This has taken up a lot of our time so I guess it really has literally been a way of life. We also spend every spare moment op shopping, looking for treasures all over the place.

20160810_130441_001-01What are some of your favourite places to source bargains and treasure?

Trademe is my go to when looking for specific items, I search lots of obscure keywords which pays off. I have lots of overseas collector friends who I buy/trade with on instagram but I do find the shipping a big killer so it has to be something really special.   I do twice weekly op shop missions all over Auckland, often visiting 10-15 shops. Some days I score big and others are a dud but the thrill of the hunt is strong. I don’t really have any honey holes, it’s just luck of the day.

IMG_20161018_221916What do your kids think of your home decorating style?

I have an 11-year-old daughter who is pretty neutral to it all. She doesn’t mind me decorating her room with cute ornaments and pictures as long as she has the final say. She’s developing her own style more and more so this may change as she becomes a teenager. She will either embrace vintage or absolutely hate it I think!

LRM_EXPORT_20170624_045022-03Any pieces you dream of finding? What are they?

A certain turquoise starburst pyrex dish, Lefton Miss Cutie Pie, a pink or mint green dinette set, 50s fibreglass lamps, the matching nally starburst spice set that match my canisters…. I have lots on my wishlist.

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Who has a collection that you envy?

I don’t know too many collectors in person but a few of my favourites on instagram are @atomickats (her home is to die for), @ashtomaton (vintage toys), @restyledvintage (best NZ pyrex collection), @tootycatgirl (vintage cats cats cats!), @milbeetoy (vintage japan ornaments and toys), @theconnoisseurofcute (style queen).  I could name dozens of people I idolise!

 

General thoughts on op shopping/ treasure hunting in NZ?

It can be rewarding if you put in the money, time and effort. It’s never going to be like what people in the US, Europe or even Australia have access to but there is still lots of goodies here waiting to be found. Avoid op shops in upmarket areas, they are a waste of time unless you have money to burn. Look for shops that are crowded, dusty and full of 90-year-old nanas who can’t work Eftpos.

So what do you think of Natalie’s kitsch wonderland? Let me know in the comments! xx

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In the closet with: Bailey McCormack

Natasha Francois peeks into the wardrobe of Wellington’s Fanciforia Foxglove.

With looks to rival Jayne Mansfield and comic timing to match Lucille Ball, Fanciforia Foxglove, aka Bailey McCormack, flawlessly combines slapstick comedy and period-perfect style.

A communications manager by day, and burlesque performer (and publicist) by night, the 29-year-old Wellington denizen describes herself as a “vintage girl in a modern world, with the style of a silver screen queen but the sensibilities of a 21st century woman” .

When it comes to vintage hair styling, she’s a purist who swears by the ‘no heat’ method of pin curling. She believes in her technique so much that she holds classes to teach other women the lost art of pin curls. In her spare time, she teaches burlesque and co-produces the comedy show Lip Sync Battles Wellington.

And if that weren’t enough, she’s also involved with the coolest mass dog walking event in the country The Big Dog Walk with Lots of Dogs, and is a publicist for the upcoming variety show at the Opera House The Menagerie Deluxe.

Read on for a peek at her theatrical threads…

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You seem to have a great wardrobe. Wanna take us on a tour of your closet? What would we find within?

Goodness where to start! You would find everything from ostrich boa feathered burlesque costumes, to 1960s deadstock gowns, to custom made corsets; heaps of ’50s style high-waisted capris and even a rooster costume! (Long story) I think the best way to sum it up would be eclectic and theatrical.

I seem to acquire weird and wonderful items that I always try and make use of as a performer. But I would say most of my wardrobe is made up of op shop finds and the odd vintage store splash out.

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Are you a vintage purist or do you wear repro pieces occasionally too?

No, not a purist, but I do get more excited and enticed by true vintage items; I just love the thrill of discovering a gem from the past, especially if it’s an op shop bargain. I’m drawn to unique pieces that tell a story and evoke a sense of character.

However, I do find myself buying more and more repro these days as I feel there is better variety of styles and influences on the market currently. I tend to buy repro items for everyday or work wear as they are great for mixing and matching. I like my vintage items to be real ‘show stoppers’ such as evening wear and costume items.

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What are some of your most prized pieces in your vintage collection?

I have many treasured items and I’m the sentimental type so it’s hard to single out a few but here goes:

 I have a gorgeous and impressive faux fur coat that looks real and garners an average of two comments a day from strangers on the street complementing it’s splendor. It simply demands attention, especially when worn with a fur hat. It’s my winter staple.

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I found a white vintage Edwardian style corset in a thrift store in San Francisco that I turned into a costume piece for a Lucille Ball inspired burlesque act. It required a lot of nipping and tucking, and I added numerous appliques, crystals and feathers but I love it because it’s custom and truly magnificent. I wanted it to look like a piece from the Ziegfeld Follies.

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I have a delightful coral vintage chorus girl/carnival dress with white fringing that looks like something Dolly Parton would have worn on stage in the 60s. It’s a costume piece and at one point was used for the Cuba Street Carnival Parade. I was gifted it from the owner of Wellington’s best vintage store Ziggurat in exchange for performing burlesque in her shop window for an event.

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I have a vintage black and white 1950s swimsuit my mum found in an op shop that I’ve had since I was about 16. It’s tailored to perfection with a built in bullet bra for true ‘va va voom’ factor, much like a 1960s Playboy bunny costume. It has a white panel on the front that actually looks like the shape of a silver fern.

Any noteworthy recent purchases?

I found the most gorgeous emerald green satin floor length dress for only $30 in an op shop. It has beading around the neckline and is just divine. It is handmade and quite rough around the edges, but all it needed was a bit of mending to resurrect it.

I don’t always go for quality and ‘mint’ condition; I’m attracted to bold and often badly sewn costume pieces because they have an amplified sense of drama. Plus, who doesn’t love a bargain! I’m willing to put in the effort for a damaged piece that has potential.

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How did you first become interested in vintage style?

What came first, the chicken or the egg? This is a hard one to answer for me because I feel like it’s in my blood. My mother, grandmother and aunt are all op shop queens – well before op shopping was cool. Firstly, because they grew up working class and it was more affordable, but they all appreciated vintage items (clothes, household items, furniture etc.) as precious relics from the past that kept with them a narrative.

Each item like a little window into the past. They all had an impeccable eye for quality and could sniff out a diamond in the rough from a mile away. They instilled these qualities in me too. To us, op shopping is not just a pastime; it’s a lifestyle, a religion.

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Coupled with that, I have a petite but curvy figure with proportions that were considered ideal for women in the 50s and 60s, but certainly not in the 90s or early 2000s when I was a teen!

As an awkward teen growing up in the era of low rider jeans, belly button rings and boob tubes, I instinctively understood that what was  considered ‘cool’ just didn’t suit my body shape and knew that was ok. I never felt ashamed of my body, I knew there was nothing ‘wrong’ with me. I just needed to go against the grain and change my style to feel comfortable in my own skin.

I must have been watching a lot of Trinny and Suzannah. I’m sure having a liberal upbringing and going to a Rudolf Steiner school where mufti was allowed and self-expression was encouraged no doubt helped foster this attitude.

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I definitely saw my shape represented in pictures of old Hollywood starlets and pinup girls of the 40s and 50s. So I started to emulate those women and have never felt more at home. But it wasn’t always smooth! In my last years of high school I was still finding my way and kind of got stuck in the 80s for a bit en route to the 40s. 50s and 60s. It was all side ponytails and loud colours for a while. I gained a reputation for being an ‘experimental dresser with a bold style’ that year.

What is it about vintage clothing that appeals to you the most?

The fit and attention to detail. They just do not make clothes like they used to! Especially if you have curves, vintage clothes are simply more flattering for a womanly figure. Plus so much care was put into making every item look beautiful and last forever.

I must also mention ‘the cinch’ which is something I’m known for always having. I won’t wear anything unless it is cinched at the waist in someway. As a short person, I feel swamped by anything too flowy or A line, so a belt, cinch lip or tapered waistline is a must for me. Even when I’m working out I knot t-shirts at the waist and wear high-waisted gym pants. I’m never off-brand.

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How does it make you feel when you wear it?

It depends on what I’m in! I often describe my style as ‘character dressing’. Some days I feel like being a French air hostess from the 60s, and other days I’m catwoman or a Russian spy.

Clothes and style are so powerful, they tell a story and inform how people judge you in many ways, But no matter what, they make me feel confident and at ease in my own skin. I’m a true believer in having a sense of fun, humour and play with style. I’m a naturally nostalgic person too, so wearing something from the past gives me great joy and honour.

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What are your favourite eras when it comes to vintage clothes?

I really do appreciate anything from the 1800s to the 80s. I think the 70s is my least favourite because I feel it suits me the least – but I can appreciate 70s items on others and I do love other aspects of the 70s outside of the fashion.

But like many modern vintage enthusiasts ad pinups, I’m most comfortable wearing items from the 40s, 50s and 60s mainly because they are fundamentally designed to flatter my curvy figure the best.

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Where are your favourite shopping haunts and why?

Any St Vincent de Paul op shop hands down. Of all the charity shops, St Vinnies staff are the least clued up about vintage. Bless their cotton socks! So I find you can score way better bargains in a St Vinnies store. Especially the ones in small towns.

Ziggurat in Wellington is just magnificent. The items are all really unique and of superb quality.

Thrift in Wellington is also a new favourite. The pricing is mid-range, but they also sell on your behalf so it’s a good place to take unwanted items and earn a bit of $$ for yourself.

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Etsy is a great addition to the scene. I love being able to trawl the entire world for vintage!I Even if most of the time I’m drooling over my laptop instead of actually purchasing. But I have bought the odd  some gems from Etsy, and it’s perfect for finding something really specific.

What are your general thoughts about op shopping and vintage shopping in New Zealand?

Gone are the days when it was a secret only a few people were in on! I miss the times where shops were far less picked over. These days you have to go further out into the wops to find true gems for a good price, but it is more satisfying when you do because they are now so rare. I find the further south you go and the more rural, the better the chances.

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Vintage stores will always be more pricey, and they have to be to stay operating, but I’m glad we have them as they can be relied upon for special show stopping items. It’s nice to be able to see them in the flesh, even if it’s just to admire from a distance. But I am also saddened by the shift towards some stores only really stocking 80s and 90s styles as pieces from the 40s, 50s and 60s become more rare and coveted.

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What are your holy grail pieces? Fave labels/ fabrics/ outfit types?

I’m on the hunt for a vintage Lilli Ann 1940s blazer or a matchy matchy two piece blazer/skirt suit. I haven’t found any small enough to fit me yet, which is incidentally a problem for me, despite knowing many women were more my size in the 40s and 50s.

I am always into a good wiggle dress with a well tailored bust line and a cinched waist a la Jayne Mansfield. Any colour will do as long as it fits tight like a glove.

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Jayne Mansfield

I also love cute 40s and 50s summer sets, like sun tops with little short shorts. I feel like matching sets just aren’t a thing anymore, but they are just so darn adorable and set me in a frenzy of joy. Gingham, yellow, white and any kind of pastel are my go to colours.

I’m all about leopard at the moment too. I just can’t get enough of it. If I could get all of the aforementioned items in leopard I would die happy. I’m very Jayne Mansfield in that way.

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Whose closet do you envy and why?

Dita of course! She has gasp-worthy items from burlesque performer Gypsy Rose Lee and the most extravagant custom costumes and true vintage collection.

Also the aforementioned Jayne Mansfield. I adore her racy, bad girl 50s style full of wiggle dresses and fur trim.

Violet Chachki the drag queen! She is just killing me with her choices lately. Her aesthetic is really 40s and 50s with a high fashion twist and plenty of sequins of course.

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Dita Von Teese

There is a gorgeous Instagram pinup I follow called Miss Lark Bahar who is Elizabeth Taylor reincarnated. She has the best vintage wardrobe and models her items so beautifully, just nailing the vintage poses perfectly. Every detail is era perfect and just to die for.

Who are some of your style icons and influences?

All the classic old Hollywood like Betty Grable, Jayne Mansfield, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. But I also love Brigitte Bardot, Lucille Ball, Dolly Parton, Betty Brosmer and characters like Elly-Mae from the Beverley Hillbillies or burlesque performers like Lillian St. Cyr and Josephine Baker.

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Can you remember the first vintage piece you bought? What was it?

I actually can’t. Vintage has just been such a huge part of my life,  I never actually had a significant first purchase moment. My mother even used to put me in Victorian dresses as a child, so my vintage palette was being trained and refined from day dot. I probably came out of the womb wearing a 40s sailor dress with a bow in my hair!

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How do members of the public react to your getups?

Very positively. When I entered Miss Pinup I ended up on the telly for basically being Wellington City Council’s sassiest dresser, which is where I worked at the time. The next morning, a nice lady who had seen me on TV came to my work and left a boa feather and some other vintage items because she thought I’d appreciate them! She was a complete stranger but wanted me to have them ‘so I could do them justice’ she said.

I get called Marilyn a lot which is fine with me. Sometimes when I am dressed very burlessquey I get unwanted male attention on the street, but I always stop, turn around and out sass them as a response. They never really expect to be challenged by so feel rather affronted when I do. The performer in me is never afraid to raise my voice and cause a scene on a busy street to make an example out of rude and entitled men.

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A lot of women come up to me and say that they admire my confidence and the way I put outfits together which is really sweet. They often go on to say they could never pull off ‘x, y or z’ , or they don’t have the right occasion to dress up etc – to which I say ‘why the hell not?’ and ‘life is occasion enough!’.

Style requires attitude but attitude can also comes from having a strong sense of self through style. They are inextricably linked. I appreciate any person who makes bold choices, whether they are vintage or not. I enjoy seeing people having fun, taking risks and making statements. Your outfit should say ‘helllooooo world! This is me’. 

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Do you wear vintage to work as well? What do you do and how is your style received in the workplace?

I absolutely do. I’ve been really lucky with my workplaces all totally accepting and in fact encouraging of how I dress.

I tend to stick with more classic silhouettes for workwear but offset that with bold colours and lots of accessories. For example, I will often go with a 1940s vibe, like a pencil skirt and a cardigan in winter so I’m very covered, but the pencil skirt will be hot pink and the cardigan will be mint green. I will then add a beret or a neck tie for added flare.

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To me, my workwear is ‘casual’ by my standards, but to others it is dressed up. I think people appreciate it when someone has put in a bit of effort to create a cohesive outfit from hat to shoes. It shows thought and creativity.

We are lucky in NZ because we have a more casual approach to work wear in general, so you can’t really get it too wrong unless you turn up in flip flops and a bikini top. Because I’m an extrovert/show off, this drive away from formality in the workplace actually makes me want to dress up more and stand out against the grain.

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Does your vintage obsession extend into other areas too such as home decor, car, accessories and other collections?

Not yet….but I I’m making mental notes for things I’d like to collect for the future. Because I’m a big horse lover, I can certainly see myself collecting vintage equestrian items like stock pins, dressage top hats and jackets, paintings of aristocracy out in the hunting field and anything else horse related. I am just obsessed with all things equestrian. I have jodhpurs that I wear to work sometimes.

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Anything that you’d never be caught dead wearing?

I’m pretty much game for anything these days. Especially as a performer! I’ve even dressed up as Bryan from the Backstreet Boys for an act so I’m willing to go great lengths for comedic effect.

But for everyday life, you’d never see me wearing anything of the overly casual ‘normcore’ variety. Anything from the 90s or early 2000s that reminds me of my teen years just makes me shudder.

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Everything but the kitsch-en sink: Rebecca Smith from Timaru

Welcome to part one of a new series about vintage collectors:

Rebecca Smith shares her passion for playful objects d’art and tongue-in-cheek decoration with Natasha Francois.

The 37-year-old mother-of-three describes her style as “colourful, nostalgic, tacky and a little bit saucy”. So its no surprise her Timaru house is awash with whimsical Siamese cat figurines, saucer-eyed  children, flying seagulls, pink flamingos, cigar lamps, boomerang coffee tables, mid-century kitchen canisters, touches of exotica and lashings of yesteryear.

I first encountered Rebecca about 20 years ago when we were both living in Palmerston North. We were both teenagers into the punk scene then and lapped up the abundance of cheap op shops in the town where we lived. I only recently reconnected again with her via one of my favourite Facebook groups  NZ Lovers of True Vintage.

Read on to find out more about her quirky collection!

You seem to have quite a few different collections on the go. Can you give us a rundown?

At the moment I’m collecting vintage Pyrex, patterned drinking glasses, kitsch art, cute ceramic figurines, Gayware kitchen canisters, Kewpie dolls, Barsony style black lamps,  1960s deckchairs and umbrellas.

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How did these collections start?

 I’ve always been a collector. When I was a child I collected rubber erasers, at 9 it was Babysitter’s Club books,  around 11 I collected troll dolls, then at 13 I had rather an impressive collection of Bob Marley memorabilia – haha – I was obsessed with him! When I was in my mid teens I started collecting vintage homeware/decor and it’s just stuck.

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How would you describe your particular aesthetic?

Colourful, nostalgic, tacky and a little bit saucy. My cousin recently described it as ‘looking like our nana’s house had vomited’! 

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You seem to penchant for mid-century and kitsch: why is this? Does it remind you of childhood?

I think it is mostly nostalgic; although I grew up in the 80s and 90s and loathe anything from that era! I always preferred the things in my grandparent’s houses. Growing up we had a bach at Pleasant Point which had fantastic barkcloth curtains, vinyl armchairs and cupboards full of Crown Lynn colour glaze.  I remember my cousins and I each had one of those sad-eyed children pictures hanging on the bedroom wall – I’ve got a collection of those now.

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How long have you been collecting retro and vintage?

I started about age 14. My mum worked for a law firm at the time and they were dealing with the estate of an elderly hoarder who’d passed away. He had no family and it would have cost a fortune to clean out the house. The museum came and took quite a few pieces first then my mum and I cleaned the rest. It was absolutely filthy – cobwebs thick from the ceiling down to head height, mouse poop everywhere. There was no payment involved but we were allowed to keep whatever we wanted. So much of it was damaged beyond repair but I did start a collection of Vernon Ward prints from there! When I was 16, I went flatting in Palmerston North and starting collecting the retro glassware and furniture. At the time (mid 90s) there was an abundance of great op shops around and mid-century stuff was cheap and relatively easy to come by.

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Favourite time period and why?

I love the shapes and lines of 1950s furniture especially Atomic designs but I think the 1960s would be my favourite era because of the bold patterns and clashing colours.

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Does your fascination for collecting vintage extend into your wardrobe and overall appearance?

My wardrobe is mostly vintage or vintage inspired. Lots of colour, lots of frocks. I don’t collect anything per se but there is definitely a theme going on there. The only pants I own are two pairs of jeans – I wear dresses or skirts all the time. A 50s or 60s dress with boots or tights and heels is probably my ‘go to’ look. I struggle for work because our dress code is ‘current in-season’ fashion which I mostly despise. It means I have to keep two wardrobes going which gets expensive but I try to give my work outfits a retro twist where I can. Last winter was great as there was a 70s revival in women’s fashion with lots of corduroy, pinafores and pussybow shirts.

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 Fave places to source bargains and treasure?

I love scouring the op shops of Oamaru. It’s an hour south of here but I always find great stuff at cheap prices and there are so many. I often take the kids for weekend a day trip. 

I’m also a big fan of the local ‘dump shop’ the Crows Nest here in Timaru which is a great place to find cheap crockery and project furniture.

If I’m in the North Island: Savemart in Wanganui is hands down the best place to find vintage clothing. Their retro section is huge.

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What are some of your favourite pieces in your collection and why?

My favourite pieces are the ones I inherited from my grandparents- purely for a sentimental reasons: a gorgeous African black lady lamp, three ceramic flying seagulls that were always on their lounge room wall and a green apple-shaped ice bucket that my brother tries to steal every time he comes over!

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Is your partner a collector too?

He collects bicycles and surfboards – thankfully his passions are more outdoorsy – there’s no room in the house for another collector.

What do your kids think of your decorating style?

The little ones love their vintage-inspired bedroom. My cabinets of ceramic nicknacks are a source of constant frustration for them though. They want to play with all the cute little cats and elves but they’re not allowed to. It can be awkward when parents of their friends visit us for the first time because some of the artwork around the place is a bit risque and I’m never sure how they’re going to react.

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Tell us about your retro caravan. I understand it’s kitsch/ tiki inspired. And how did you decorate it?

Our caravan is a 1964 Zephyr. The theme started with the wallpaper which I found on the amazing Spoonflower site. It’s a tiki, surf and hula-girl print. The colour scheme for the interior and exterior draws upon colours from that. I made all of the curtains and blinds and most of the cushions. My husband painted the interior and built the table. He had to sew the covers for the squabs because I was pretty over the sewing by that point! The guy at the bench top company freaked out when I requested bright orange bench tops – people are pretty conservative down here.

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Any pieces you dream of finding? What are they?

I’d love to find an atomic lamp with one of those double-tier fibre glass shades! Never gonna happen in New Zealand but dreams are free right?

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Who has a collection that you envy?

My ex-boyfriend Brian (you might remember him from Cuba Street Records in Palmerston North) has an absolutely huge collection of 50s-70s TV shows, game shows, b-movies, sci-fi and general obscura. Much of it is still on VHS but he’s got everything catalogued  in little notebooks. There are shelves and shelves of videos right up & down his hallway. He’s never embraced the digital age but host the best video nights!

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Do you have any general thoughts on op shopping/ treasure hunting in New Zealand to share with our readers?

There’s still plenty of places to find great things at good prices if you look often enough. Wellington had all but dried up three years ago when we left there and I find Christchurch to be overpriced. Levin, Wanganui, Hawera and New Plymouth would be among my favourite places to op shop.

 

What do you think of Rebecca’s sweet retro digs? Please let me know in the comments!

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