A celebration of textiles in Manchester - past, present and future
On Sunday 23rd April, the Textile Society celebrates Manchester’s heritage as the powerhouse of British textile design and manufacture. The Antique and Vintage Textile Fair is the hub for all passionate collectors of textiles. It was the first antique fair to specialise entirely in historic textiles, and it has remained a key event in the textiles calendar for over 30 years.
Today you will find an exciting and abundant array of beautiful and original pieces. Fashionable dress from the 1970s through to mid-century and earlier, beautiful costume dating from the 17th century onwards. Original designer labels, items that suit all pockets and taste whether you are a collector, a fashionista or an upcycler.
If you want to add unique pieces to your home this is the ideal opportunity. Our dealers travel worldwide sourcing the most beautiful textiles. They are experts and leading specialists who will bring unique textiles and fabrics from Europe and Asia enabling you to create an original interior space without it costing the earth.
Maggie Harding has stood at the Manchester Fair since it first began. Her company, Garbo Antiques has been trading in vintage costume for over 45 years. She supplies museums, collectors, traders as well as theatres and television companies, including providing original items for Peaky Blinders, Downton Abbey and Mr Selfridge. Maggie will “...spend many hours travelling across the UK and Europe looking for top quality vintage items” and has built up contacts over her 45 years of trading” “ Vintage clothing and textiles have been part of my life for so long –it has become a way of life!”
For collectors or for those who want to update an outfit we have specialist dealers such as Julie Baldock who has a large stock of buttons and accessories including a fantastic collection of strawberry emeries and pin cushions from 1800 era to 1910. These are a sewers delight, made from a variety of materials including velvet, silver, felt thick cotton many are filled with sand which is used to sharpen needles.
If you are interested in World Textiles, there are several dealers who will be at Manchester and a number of them are currently out in India and other areas in Asia sourcing textiles and costume. Alongside John Gillow, Polly Lyster and Jim Gaffney, Clive Rogers and Tanya Burne have both recently returned from buying trips. Tanya is particularly excited about a new collection of baby quilts from West Bengal. Following folk traditions, the Nakshi Kantha baby quilts are made using the age-old technique of Kantha, quilting together layers of repurposed cotton sari. Hand-embroidered traditional patterns and figurative motifs are used in an often limited colour palette of pinks and soft grays. Dating from the earlier part of the 20th century Tanya will be bringing her examples to Manchester.
European textiles and costume are also very popular, and we have a number of dealers coming over from France, Sheila Holloway of Maison Bourgeoisie, Claude le Guen of Maisonbleulin, George Adams Interiors to name but a few.
Both Meg Andrews and Notty Hornblower (Hope House Museum) have participated in the Fair since it started. Meg has been advising and selling to collectors, museums, decorators, designers and enthusiasts in the UK, Europe, and North America for over 35 years. Amongst many pieces that she will bring to Manchester include INTERRAIL. 1950S, a horizontal linear design depicting different nations railway carriages including The Royal Scot, with amusing national characteristics, in blue and white cotton; a zany hat made possibly for the theatre in the early 20th century and a fabulous piece ideal for an interior, Top Brass 1964 by Zandra Rhodes. Designed for Heal & Son Ltd with eight colours, screen-printed on cotton, this is just one example of the iconic pieces you will see.
Manchester is a hub for all passionate collectors of textiles and an abundant source for objects and ideas, wall art or wearables, the beautiful or the kitsch. There are textiles to suit every purse, whether you are a student seeking that original design inspiration, a collector of the unique, or passionate about preserving the past, recycling and upcycling for the future. You will spend time browsing or chatting about shared interests. Many dealers have personal connections to Manchester. Juliette de Haan’s mother was an artist and textile designer for Briggs in Manchester, her grandmother also worked for Briggs as a machinist and her other grandmother owned a haberdashery in Moss side. Textiles and the memories they bring rise above language and are a means through which we can all connect.
The Fair is not only about the past – it points directly to the future. The funds raised from the fair each year enable the Textile Society to showcase the work of new creatives shortlisted for the society’s generous student bursaries. The competition attracts applications from every corner of the UK, and awards prizes of up to £1000 to six selected BA and MA students who go on to become the future makers and designers of textiles. You can meet this year’s Bursaries competitors on the 1st floor. In addition the funds support the Museum, Archive & Conservation Award, the Professional Development Award, specialist study days, group visits, a biennial research symposium and an annual conference. The Textile Society gives support to students, designers, historians and practitioners through its educational and professional awards.
In the words of Dr. Brenda King, past Chair of the Textile Society and co-founder of the Manchester fair, ‘On a single day in April, Manchester becomes the centre of activity in textiles. Whether collecting, creating or just revelling in the richness of textiles, it is the meeting place for everyone delighted by the diversity of textiles’.
For further information about the Manchester Antique and Vintage Textile Fair visit https://www.textilesociety.org.uk/event/manchester-antique-vintage-textile-fair