'I Heart Vintage,' and So Does Valparaíso

Early on a Sunday afternoon as most porteños were still printing zzz's in bed, some very busy bees were setting up the "I Heart Vintage" fair at Bar Pajarito in downtown Valpo.

Santiago Chile I Heart Vintage
Photo by Rob Fischer

Six vintage fashion labels came under one roof on February 1 to provide Valparaíso vintage heads with a creative shopping experience. Clusters of patrons buzzed around the Bohemian hive of vibrant designs, retro clothing and vintage treasures.

Santiago Chile I Heart Vintage
Photo by Sofia Carvajal

Alluring accessories were laid out on tables draped with patterned cloth that your parents or grandparents might have had picnics on--or worn--during the fruits of their youth in the '60s. Tetrapunk's purses and wallets, made with recycled plastic like Tetra Pak juice cartons, appealed to the green-conscious consumers. A table or two over, Blow_ups and Bazar Chirola's medley of old-school leather bags, straw hats, white leather loafers and clutch purses made from retro magazine pages had shoppers debating where to splash their cash.

My initial frenzy of delight involved seizing as many things as I could carry and making a mad dash towards the fitting room. Humming along to the tunes of Shirley Bassey and Amy Winehouse, I later browsed the second-hand, highly wearable one-pieces and separates at RocketCloset's display before striking up a conversation with the label's lovely owner, photographer and vintage aficionada, Eleonora Aldea.

Her customers are artsy kids between 18 and 25 who are out looking for items "that say something about them." Consequently, Aldea is not your average Chilean when it comes to wardrobes, decked out as she was in her beloved Reebok Freestyles and a Karen O-inspired hairdo.

Santiago Chile I Heart Vintage
Photo by Rob Fischer

In Aldea's eyes, Chile still has a lot of catching up to do before it fully embraces the charms of vintage fashion. It's a "growing trend," she says, but stylish Chileans are still a "minority."

My personal highlights included the gorgeous floral '50s dress from Re_cuerda, a green button-up high-waist skirt by RocketCloset (CP$3,500, or US$5.70) and Una Chiquilla's colorful hair clips with kitsch rabbit, flower and poodle designs (at a bargain CP$500 per pair). A wave of nostalgia also had me eyeing the pretty pastel-colored "sweetie" purses I had when I was a young gal (CP$1,000), which I spotted at more than one stall.

The six designers plan to make "I Heart Vintage" a regular monthly event in Valparaíso. This month, a few of them are setting up shop in Reñaca on February 15. Avid enthusiasts of the vintage movement will be swarming to the next fair like bees to a honey pot of retro delights.

"I Heart Vintage" designers:

Bazar Chirola

RocketCloset

Re_cuerda

Una Chiquilla

Tetrapunk

Blow_ups

Feria Reñaca

February 15, 2009 (times TBA)

Centro Cultural

Las Olas 78 (at Central), Reñaca

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