IMG_3411The very international Ooh la la Vintage is a Paris and London-based bundle of fun brought to us by guru of all things vintage, the Scottish Tara Munro Corre. The concept is quite straightforward – so much so that you wonder why no-one has done it before – it’s basically a big dressing up day, complete with pastries and champagne, a little history lesson on vintage clothing, and the possibility of taking some treasures home with you at the end of the day. What better way to spend a Saturday afternoon?

Tara’s main clients are groups of women celebrating some kind of event – e.g. a birthday or a hen do – and they are often British people visiting Paris, although her French client base is expanding. The great thing about it is that it’s completely customisable – our session took place at Tara’s house in South East Paris, where she has the most enviable of closets. However she can also bring it to your house, or workplace or other requested location. Our day began with drinks and pastries in front of her balcony before we moved upstairs to begin the lesson.

Now, I’d always thought myself fairly knowledgeable about vintage, but Tara certainly unearthed some gaps in my understanding. In fact I realised more clearly than ever the difference between the kind of retro bits I buy in Paris’ “friperies” and the meaning of a true vintage designer piece. It was really interesting to learn about how fashion had reacted to social change throughout the 20th century – womenswear becoming more masculine when they took on male roles during the war . Other trends might have occurred accidentally – for example, Christian Dior’s famous fluffy skirts of the 1950s were perhaps less a conscious design decision than a means to get rid of a vast amount of post-war parachute silk he’d just bought off a friend in bulk. Meanwhile, it was interesting to hear her take on why the 80s are so big with young women now – especially in hard economic times they are seeking comfort in familiarity, and thus in the clothes of the 80s they find the styles that their mums were wearing at a similar age. Tara has a garment to illustrate every point she makes which really brings the presentation to life. Amongst the most jaw dropping items were the encrusted Christian Louboutins pictured below.IMG_3393

Presentation over, we were given carte blanche to try anything on – Tara stressed how often stories the stories behind certain garments had been what had persuaded her to buy them. This was infectious, and knowing a bit of background to certain items made me consider things I might never otherwise have tried. Since I’d sent photos and style preferences of myself and my friends in advance, she’d even dug out a few things for each of us individually – such as a Victoriana shirt like I’d been looking for.

One of the most frustrating things about vintage shopping can be falling in love with something that doesn’t fit. Well Tara’s even thought about how to remedy that, which gave birth to ‘Madame Tra La La’. She works with a highly skilled tailor who can recreate any vintage design in a high quality garment which fits you perfectly. But there were also some ingenious ready-to-wear Madame Tra La La items available to try that day – things like their scarf tops and dresses which integrate a vintage scarf into a more modern design. There is also an eye-watering array of accessories from jewellery and hats to glasses and shoes. Items range in price from very affordable (around 10€) to priceless – I think these are the things she doesn’t want to part with!

Whether you’re a fan of vintage or just a fan of fashion and curious, an afternoon of Ooh La La Vintage in Paris with your girlfriends is heaps of fun and highly recommended.