Interview: Fleur Rush, vintage party organiser

IF YOU had happened by Duddingston House, in Edinburgh, one evening recently, you could have been forgiven for thinking you had wandered on to the set of a costume drama

Modest flappers twirled their pearls at debonair, brilliantined gents as a band played from the elegant staircase.

Responsible for this ‘age of elegance’ montage was 26-year-old Fleur Rush, whose passion for all things vintage has seen her set up Era Events, which specialises in luxury vintage styling parties that are aimed at helping guests to style themselves and their home in decadent pieces from a bygone era. “There’s a huge trend for vintage products and services,” says Rush. “I know from my friends, if they walk into a vintage shop they see so many things they love and it’s a fabulous experience, but they don’t know how to incorporate those pieces into their wardrobe.”

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The idea is that people bring Rush a suitcase of clothes and she shows them complementing vintage pieces and how to style them. As well as buying an item steeped in glamour, savvy shoppers are making an investment. “It could be clothes they have not worn for a while but put them with vintage pieces and they take on a new life, so it’s money well spent.

“It’s a fine line, and you can end up looking like you’re wearing a costume. We don’t want to be wasting money on clothes but these pieces hold their value because the quality is so fantastic,” says Rush, who studied fashion business at Glasgow Caledonian University.

Rush also alters and repairs the items she picks up in charity shops, on eBay and at auctions, giving them a modern twist that helps them blend in to the contemporary wardrobe. With a day job as assistant manager at Anne Fontaine, in Edinburgh’s Multrees Walk, she has a wealth of styling experience on which to draw. “A 1950s dress can be made into a separate bodice and skirt that you wear with other things, and people already have these things in their wardrobes.

“I altered a ballgown for a woman to wear at her son’s wedding, and she loved it because it held great memories for her,” says Rush. “She was won over to vintage too.”

Memories and nostalgia are an important factor in the vintage market as both men and women tire of throwaway fashion and seek to invest in something with a little longevity. “I use eBay for my personal collection, and bought a blouse that came with a picture of a Victorian lady wearing it – it was terrifying actually. But I wear it a lot and I like the sense of history.

“It’s a different way of dressing. If you buy something from Primark you don’t treat it the same way as something made by hand and restored.”

Originally from Cullen, in the north-east of Scotland, Rush grew up in a home where vintage items, from old hoovers to typewriters, were treasured. “I have loved vintage ever since I can remember. My family are heavily into vintage clothes and products. Two sets of aunties and uncles run antiques shops and my mother collects quirky items from the 1940s. I like the 1920s myself because they were so elegant and flamboyant, all pearls and feathers.”

As well as the vintage parties, Rush runs Wardrobe Weeding events, where she visits clients’ houses and edits their wardrobes. Inspired by her travels around Australia, when she lived out of a rucksack for months on end, she is convinced we all have too many clothes and would find it much easier to dress and co-ordinate a look if we had a good clear-out. “It’s a personal project too,” she says.

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“I want to have 20 pieces in my wardrobe and mix and match those items. I don’t want hundreds. At the moment I’m down to about 50. With fewer items, I’m far more creative and theres much less worry,” she says.

Freed from standing in front of a rail of clothes and stressing about what to wear, like the rest of us, and with her inaugural event under her “gently loved” belt, Rush can get on with her next project – a day event with styling and a selection of vintage clothing and homewares for sale. Then there’s building her events business and launching her website, due online by the end of the month.

“It’s about looking for the next opportunity,” says Rush, a budding entrepreneur with one eye on the past and the other focused on the future.