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The African Market & Belle's Vintage Wedding Fair at Old Spitalfields Market

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by Chris Henniker (subscribe)
There are 6m postcodes in London, what's happening in yours?
Published October 26th 2013
www.oldspitalfieldsmarket.com


Here comes the bride, the photographers, caterers, cake and the African choir, all on the way to Spitalfields Market. The expansion of Spitalfields Market into new territory gathers apace as it, like the USS Enterprise, ventures into new markets. In its inaugural vintage wedding market, people have come up from Brighton to showcase their wares. The African Market not only raises money, but also awareness of third world issues with goods made out of recycled materials from The Gambia.

The African Market, organised by Open The Gate, showcases the best of African crafts and the organiser, Sandine, even has a stall that sells purses, hoodies and shoelaces made of recycled materials that fund educational & cultural projects in The Gambia. When I asked what her best sellers are, she replied:," The hoodie is the best-seller, as Are the shoelaces." When I said her whether It helps raise awareness of Third World issues, she said it helped because: "when people come to the market, they like to buy alternative things."

The same could be said of the vintage wedding market, which is gaining momentum because as shows like Downton Abbey have lead to people tweeting as they watch, leading to people gossiping on something minor and it snowballs. Jackie James, a fashion blogger and founder of the campily charmingly named Ooh, Mrs James, who sells vintage wedding dresses and supplied them to productions like Downton Abbey and The Artist testifies: "Oh, definitely. That's trending at the moment, for sure."

www.oldspitalfieldsmarket.com


Other trends Jackie has noticed are that, "brides are getting older, the element of surprise has gone." She has even spotted fiancées at bridal fairs because "there's not that element of tradition anymore." More and more men are having an input into their wedding day than ever. Another trend Jackie noticed is that: "Men tend to go for 1920's dresses, as they're more showy."

Regarding era, many gay women are looking for 1950's dresses and matching ones at that. Less of the butch & femme. When I noticed the irony of being a queen for a day, you end up a drudge for a lifetime, Jackie said: "I wear wedding dresses everyday. " Joking aside, she said that people want the day to last forever.

The best way to do that Is with a photographer, such as Olliver Photography, whose relaxed documentary style is a breath of fresh air against the musty formality of the group shots. Annie, of Olliver photography said: " People feel now that they can now express their individuality in their wedding. There is no trend anymore." If there is no trend, what was the most original wedding they covered? Christian, of Olliver Photography, told: "a fancy dress wedding where everyone had to come as a household object. The bride & groom came as a lock and key." They even covered weddings that had a day of the dead theme and one rustic on a farm, one where the wedding car was a tractor.

Spitalfields Market was established in 1897 as a Fruit and Veg market, with stall holders here for generations. Since then, it has moved with the times, but now it moves the times gentrification of The East End. It was refurbished ten years ago with many start-ups starting as market stalls, with some going into shops.

Indeed, I know of a shop in Greenwich market that started the same way. Like Greenwich, you see every level of British retailing in a microcosm, from people who've been there for generations to original start-ups to multinational corporations.

It has even become a place to star spot such as people like Kiera Knightley, Russell Brand, Led Zeppelins' Jimmy Page and even stuff sold here has ended up on a Rita Ora shoot, which shows who goes there and what the style conscious look for.

It even holds the Young Enterprise Market, which showcases the work of year ten & eleven students as part of their GCSE business studies coursework. Kids who appeared on The Young Apprentice judge the merchandise and the organisers, Wellington Markets, even hope to get Alan Sugar on board as a judge, who is an Eastender made good.

One market, Judy's Vintage Fair, is popular with students because its geared to a budget. Since all the markets are on a four week cycle, you never get he same thing twice, which leads to a possible impromptu motto: "Old Spitalfields Market: different everyday." What of the future?

Nana Agyeman, a spokeswoman, said there are plans in the near future for ones like "From Yorkshire With Love", celebrating Yorkshire produce and "We Are Handmade From Essex" , which sounds like TOWIE cash in, it's a reminder of home for people coming into town. As I tucked into a Chicken Bangalore pie, I thought the filling was a perfect symbol of both the market and London as a whole, since nothing is ever the same twice here.

Useful info:
African market: Sunday 24th November at 35-47 Bethnal Green Road , London E1 6LA
Website:www.openthegate.org.uk/shop

Ooh! Mrs James:
Website: Www.oohmrsjames.com
Mobile:07734 207 809
E-Jackie@oohmrsjames.com
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