Discover vintage fashion
 in the Dordogne

Where can I find Vintage fashion on the Dordogne?

Vanessa & William's love for vintage fashion led them to create a unique fashion museum right here in France. Step into the past and discover the story behind their fascination with women's clothing.

A pale pink high necked Victorian long sleeved blouse dripping with luscious delicate white lace

Collecting vintage fashion and where to find it

Vanessa's journey into the world of vintage fashion began in the mid-80s when she stumbled upon a charming antique shop in Essex, in the UK. It was there that she found her first treasure, a lovely pink Edwardian blouse, igniting a lifelong passion. 

As time went on, Vanessa's love for vintage grew stronger. She scoured car boot sales, charity shops, and antique markets, even exploring the renowned Portobello Road, long before vintage became a trend. Her collection expanded to include a wide range of items, from clothing and footwear to gloves, handbags, hats, scarves, and jewellery. 

Vanessa didn't limit herself to any specific era or style. What mattered most was the craftsmanship and the presence of a reputable manufacturer or designer label. Quality was her top priority.

Today, Vanessa continues to indulge in her passion for vintage fashion. She now frequents specialist vintage trade fairs, and auctions, and even explores the vast world of online shopping through platforms like eBay. Each new addition to her collection tells a unique story and adds to the tapestry of her ongoing love affair with vintage.

Long gold satin dressing gown with big collar and big tie waist, the fabric has an repetitive orange flower printed on itranhe won Go

The evolution of a nightwear collection

It was in the early '90s during a visit to an antique fair in Alexander Palace, London, that she fell in love with and bought a pair of 1930s pyjamas.

This sparked a side interest in collecting women's sleepwear and everything else associated with it including slippers and nightcaps and everything in between. She searched for further information on the topic but couldn't find a single book that dealt with it. So, she learnt as she went along gathering snippets here and there from places like the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Palais Galliera in Paris. As her collection grew, she shared her finds at various groups and clubs. She then decided to put all her accumulated knowledge to good use and has started to write her own book.   

Elegant luxury a brochure showing a pretty young lady wearing delicate chiffon pajamas

Fortnum & Masons here we come?

At the turn of the millennium, the nightwear collection had grown so much covering items from 1880 to date that she felt inspired to create her own nightwear designs mostly with the 1930s/40s vibe. A sample was put together by Theo Designs in Islington and comprised a capsule collection of eighteen pieces. They were made in liquid silk and embroidered silk chiffon and included nightdresses, culottes, pyjamas, shoulder capes and smoking jackets. Once completed they were featured on a London catwalk and were even presented to Fortnum & Masons for stock approval. 

However, due to escalating costs, and Fortnum owners deciding to refocus on their food offer,  the project was shelved hopefully to be revived at some future date. 

Girl with vintage beige coat, white hat, gloves, bag and shoes leaning against a shop doorwayv

The Eye of Time Vintage Boutique   

In 2012 Vanessa and her partner - William McDonald - moved to the Essex/Suffolk border and established a vintage boutique in Clare. The emporium, run by William, known as “The Eye of Time,” was packed with all sorts of treasures that drew customers from near and far including the BBC who bought in particular for their 'Call the Midwife' series. 

“I've always had an eye for quality, and nothing quite compares to the euphoric feeling of discovering a designer label from the past,” said Vanessa.

William was a quick learner and was soon dressing everyone for events like the Goodwood Revival and classic car rallies. Their shared love of serving the public and searching out vintage items to sell would not be lost and would be set to play its part in their following gite business.

Man & woman with hands on shoulder of a healess mannequin wearing a 1960's orange sleeveless dress

Voila the Dordogne fashion museum

When the couple relocated to France they chose a home that offered ample space to accommodate their vintage collection. There was an onsite outbuilding that was perfect for transforming into a small museum, where Vanessa could beautifully showcase the fascinating evolution of fashion throughout the 20th century. Utilizing his carpentry skills, William created a stunning environment to exhibit their diverse selection.

Vanessa took great care in curating the museum, highlighting the captivating stories behind women's fashion choices and the profound impact of war. She also explored the evolution of fabrics, technology, and the iconic film stars of the silver screen. Additionally, Vanessa incorporated local treasures she discovered in vide greniers, and she was especially delighted to include a 'New Home' sewing machine generously donated by the previous house owners.

Future plans and how you can see the museum and nightwear? 

Vanessa plans to hold by appointment only, talks to individuals or small groups on the contents of the fashion museum and the history of women's nightwear. 

All guests of Beaux Souvenirs are invited to a complimentary museum tour at a mutually agreed time during the stay.  

If you would like to learn more about the fashion museum or any related aspect, drop a line at 

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