Last Monday morning I made my way to Castlemartyr, where a very special event was beginning to quietly unfold. A few days beforehand, I had been puzzling as to where I would spend my bank holiday weekend – having a great desire to get away and unwind for a couple of days yet afraid I’d left planning too late. Then I spotted a virtual poster for a large picnic & vintage fair being held on the grounds of Castlemartyr Resort (where I’d stayed in the past) that was set to be a marvellous day, and immediately my mind was decided. I drove down to East Cork, stayed overnight on Sunday in nearby Ballycotton overlooking miles of unspoilt coastline, and the next morning, walked through the lush pathways of the resort at Castlemartyr before reaching the main event just outside the hotel:
As I arrived just before the fair was to officially commence, the finishing touches to picnic tables and a striking, pinstripe puppet tent were being made, with food & drink stalls displaying their dishes in a manner that made my stomach growl despite the hearty breakfast I’d enjoyed viewing the sea. I was intrigued to stop and view the unravelling scene – the skies were a deep azure, Cork still experiencing quite a heat wave – but I pressed on, knowing that a treasure trove of vintage awaited just a few paces away:
Stepping inside a modern glass edifice, I was instantly transported into an atmosphere that felt anything but present-day; a plethora of colourful, abundant stalls lined the high-ceiling venue, glistening chandeliers and delicate, creamy chiffon cascading from every window. The space was decidedly smaller than the fair I’d attended at the Burlington in April; therefore, the scene had a much more intimate vibe, with traders smiling at customers and happily exchanging words with their stall neighbours. From a little research I’d done prior to making the Castlemartyr trip, I’d discovered from Le Chat Noir Vintage Fair (the Cork-based events planning company that seem to have single-handly paved the path for vintage fairs in Munster’s largest county) that this was to be the largest fair Cork had ever held, which personally made attending feel all the more momentous. The room, though not overly vast, was filled with stalls so individualistic that my eyes couldn’t take them in fully all at once; I resolved to turn my attention to one stall at a time, and soon lost full track of time itself! ♥
The first section I stumbled across held texture-abundant rails of mens and womenswear; a leopard-print maxi skirt coupled with jet-black leather jackets; vibrant jumpers resting alongside bright-patterned florals; vivid-striped men’s shirts standing out on a rail of darker, yet still covetable, garment counterparts – and all presented with incredibly reasonable prices. As I flicked through an impressive array of vinyls and admired the jewellery on offer, I spoke with the vintage stall’s amicable owner, Jeanine, and discovered the eclectic clothing stall was a selection from Chez Jeanine – her vintage brand – while the neighbouring records and unique retro picks belonged to the cleverly-entitled Mod Life Crisis. Outside of fairs, both brands currently reside in Cork City’s Mother Jones Market (famed as the city’s original flea market) and from what I’ve heard and subsequently looked up regarding the marketplace, it appears to be a brilliantly stocked, well-rounded vintage bazaar whose commercial residents boast antiques, retro relics and curio (as well as – naturally – a wide selection of vintage clothing). I shall be sure to make a visit to the market on York Street whenever I’m back in Cork – I’m quite convinced it’ll match up to my blog-review standards!
During my Chez Jeanine peruse, I spotted this incredible dress that has colour shading good enough to devour – it’s a beautiful copper flecked with caramel metallic threads, which exude even more warmth under the summer sun. Because of its see-through, crocheted-net fabric and tran-seasonal colour, it strikes me as a rather versatile piece you could get wear out of all year round – in the summer, over a delicate slip or dark denim cut-offs, and in winter over a tweed skirt & cable-knit hosiery combo perhaps. They would be off-the-cuff suggestions, but I daresay I’ll create quite a few individualistic combinations with the dress over the coming months. Undoubtedly, the most staggering element was the price; I picked it up for an unreal €15! It goes without saying how eager I’d be to visit Chez Jeanine‘s permanent residence for a browse as soon as possible.
I passed through other stalls in a vintage-enduced haze, but many things still managed to catch my eye: one elaborate table at the main entrance corner was covered with cream birdcages & blooming flower crowns draped over them, beside a sheet-music-embossed mannequin that showcased an abundant flower crown wearth so vibrant and realistic, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a little bumblebee emerge from one of the flower cores. Another mini-shop stall – a selection from Number 5 Vintage and Antiques – had a stunning set of turquoise butter knifes that I now regret not have purchased, but I virtually hunted down their usual address after the fair and am adamant I’ll be stopping by their boutique in Bandon when I’m visiting next.
Being an undeniable gourmet foodie, it was a centrepiece table covered in delicate green & floral tablecloths and, over that, a copious selection of decadently presented cakes, tarts, breads and cookies, that stopped me from wandering elsewhere. My eyes passed over chocolate marbled brownies, lemon meringue pies and baskets of danish pastries & scones, but I was still in a savoury mood somehow and decided not to pick up a sweet treat. Nonetheless, I was very impressed by the array and took one of the menus on display – I poured over its contents afterwards, mouth watering at the mention of Lemon Lavender sponge cakes and flavour-bursting soufflé tortes, even more delighted when I noted gluten-free options (I was definitely hungry for something sweet then!). The company that produce these masterful sweet treats is Diva Boutique Bakery, an award-winning patisserie & deli that has some amazing savoury concoctions on its menu in Ballinspittle (think organic produce, a plethora of gourmet sandwiches & burgers and hand-cut sweet potato chips with aioli). Quite honestly, after writing that description my intense pining for their food has been renewed! I haven’t visited Ballinspittle in years, but aside from Diva I’ve heard a lot of good things about boutiques in the town – yet another Corkonian lengthy pitstop to add to the list (Check out their Facebook and Twitter for more cavity-enducing info – in the best way possible!)
After passing the cakes and pastries, I came face-to-face with the very label that was responsible for me discovering the fair in the first place – and further encouraging me to make a visit so I could view the brand’s magical designs in person:
I only came across Samantha Kennedy Designs recently, immediately enchanted by her vibrant, whimsical creations and her gorgeous written ethos, “A Vintage-Inspired Fashion Fairy Tale“, which essentially sums up my ideal thought process when dressing, to channel those romantic, magical vibes. I was enamoured of her online stock – think delicate florals, vintage-reminscent styles and plenty of bows thrown in for good measure – but her designs seemed even more alive when I viewed them in the flesh. The stall was a colourful marriage of varying textures and shades; the main display table was draped with creamy lace, furs and rose-printed fabrics, over which lay a bountiful selection of Samantha’s pieces, some peeping out of wicket baskets. After striking up a conversation with Samantha herself – who was dressed in a gorgeous gingham-blue dress nipped in with an embellished tulle belt designed by her label, the shades going perfectly with her blonde locks and smiling eyes – I browsed the clothing rail beside the display, taking in the tulles, sequins and vibrant florals that her clothing collection focused on. I also noted her attention to detail when designing; every button I came across could make a standalone impact (covered in jacquard or taffeta) and each display tag was unique, hand-embellished with fabric remnants from the collection. I then begin perusing the display table once more, eyeing her pretty, antique-style necklaces, bow accessories and stunning embellished handbands in a rainbow of shades, but what ultimately captured my attention were the geometrical sequin necklaces & brooches that lay enticingly over a bed of lace. I was able to try one necklace on fortunately, and with no hesitation (it was a steal at €10 after all!) I purchased a vibrant triangle piece, one that I knew would make a serious statement placed alongside my other jewellery:
Arriving home, my suspicions of the necklace’s versatility were confirmed – worn with an LBD it instantly rejuvenates a tried-and-tested look, while paired with any of the vibrant shades featured in the necklace it packs just as much of a punch (As I write this, I’m sporting the piece with a Silence + Noise black jersey slit maxi dress, and I love how individualistic it’s made the look feel paired with a relatively basic – albeit well-cut – staple). Admittedly, I was never one for geometry in school – I much preferred analysing equations – but this necklace has made me view triangles in an all-together more favourable light (if only all three-sided polygons could be encased in colourful perspex with vibrant sequin underlays!). The piece falls at just the right point on your décolletage, a little above the bustline (as can be seen “here”) and is further embellished with jewel mirror additions, that sparkle in the sun and under club lights in equally-dazzling measures. I haven’t yet ceased to think of what a bargain the necklace was – yet even if it was a tad dearer, I still would have gotten it, as you’re buying into quality here, supporting up-and-coming brands that have genuine talent and – something both Samantha and I agreed on heartily – buying into the beauty of wearing something and knowing it’s truly one-of-a-kind. I highly recommend you check Samantha Kennedy Designs out immediately if you haven’t already done so: clicking “here” will transport you immediately to her whimsical wonderland of clothes and accessories, where you can browse and purchase her wares online to your heart’s content (check out her Etsy boutique “here” also); you can keep up-to-date with any of the label’s happenings through Facebook & Twitter and, while you’re at it, you should check out her blog “here” for an added dose of magic. I’m seriously lusting after her heavily-sequinned, colour-bursting cuffs, hand-embellished to give, once again, a one-of-a-kind feel that’s truly worth savouring – imagining having one on each arm (in orange or purple; or why not both?) with a billowy chiffon blouse! I’m being rather self-indulging in my own design thoughts here, but it’s lovely losing yourself to spellbinding fashion worlds every once in a while – and Samantha’s creations provide the perfect platform. ♥
I have quite a few more diverse labels and thoughts to share from the fair, but seeing as the post could nearly overflow at this stage if I went on further, I shall conclude this first segment! The second instalment will be live on La Femme Éclectique within the next few days, but in the meantime, make sure to follow LFÉ’s fashion updates and sneak previews via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you don’t miss a beat
To continue La Femme Éclectique’s vintage fair retelling, check out Part Two “here”.
To discover where that gorgeous blue fur – shown above – was purchased, click “here”.