Muddy Goes Vintage at Donna Flower
When Donna Flower Vintage practically lapped the competition in the Muddy Awards, I hoofed it to Barnstaple.
I discovered something about myself the other day. Like, properly dug deep, looked long and hard in the mirror, and came to the shocking realisation that I can do vintage. Never thought I would, but yep, there was a vintagey vixen lurking from within all along. Who knew?!
I blame this revelation on two things. The first – without meaning to be somber – being the loss of a lovely friend recently, someone who was colourful, lived life like we all should, while she could, and was a total vintage fiend. I was due to attend a mini-festival by the sea to celebrate her life – and the theme? ‘What would Laura do?’ It’s highly likely that she’d have gone on a major spree and ferreted out some beaut of a dress, that’s what. So that’s what I needed to do.
The second serendipitous moment was when the penny dropped three days before party-time that this year’s Muddy Awards winner for Best Women’s Store, was, *drumroll* only a vintage shop, for crissakes. *cymbals*
So off I went to Barnstaple to meet Donna Flower, of Donna Flower Vintage – possibly THE most stylish lady in town, North Devon, the whole of the land, even.
It’s not the quickest journey from South Devon, but totally worth it. Barnstaple is a decent destination for a mooch and, if the weather is playing ball, then you ought to grab a coffee by the sea in the village of Braunton, just a few miles away, later on. You’d be mad not to.
Lurking down a quiet walk off the main high street, this is one hell of a photogenic shop, from the outside, in. A flick through Instagram will show you that one thing Donna loves is her ever-changing window displays. And it’s just received an *ahem* upgrade.
So here’s the thing about Donna. She’s one of the nicest women in the biz (which is probably why she’s managed to persuade the cafe next door to deliver her coffee each morning; I mean, credit where it’s due). She also has a genuine love for all things vintage and it shows inside the shop.
This is one of those places where you feel like dropping your bag and kicking off your shoes the moment you’re through the door. And I’m just going to shut up for a sec and let you take it all in.
Like a plush dressing room out of a scene from Mad Men, you’ll find clothes, shoes, hats, scarves and costume jewellery, all beautifully displayed and begging to be taken into the fitting room. If you’ve ever been bridal shopping, this is on a par, where you feel compelled to try on things that you wouldn’t normally contemplate (with some gentle Donna-suasion).
For the die-hard vintage lovers among you, if you haven’t yet discovered this shop (and you probably have, since Donna has garnered quite a following), then you can expect carefully hand-picked one-off pieces, eye-catching dresses, everyday classics and colourful designs from vintage-inspired Lindy Bop. No silly prices, either. Dressing up head-to-toe, or just looking for a flash of something sparkly to make a look individual, it’s a bad day if you leave here empty-handed.
Amongst the fashion, you’ll also find a selection of homewares and gifts, too, from period pieces to fragranced candles. And fabrics, lots of ’em, which are a nod to the early roots of this shop, since Donna started her foray into vintage 13 years ago, selling textiles and fabrics online.
Make no mistake, this shop has some serious appeal and you have to hand it to Donna, who spends most of her weekends up at unsightly hours trawling flea markets, fairs and car boot sales in all weather, looking for ‘treasures to sort out for new beginnings’, as she says.
I spent practically a whole morning playing dress-up (or just Copy Donna) and clocked a totally eclectic mix of visitors all drawn in for one reason or another, all leaving with a DFV paper bag; but my most heart-melting moment of the morning? An elegant, elderly lady who came in and asked to try on the rose print dress on the mannequin because she needed cheering up. And she bought it!
I’m not a fan of using the word ‘inspire’ but this is the place to come if you’re looking to be inspired to change up your look. I almost guarantee this won’t happen, but even if you did leave empty-handed, you will have had the most fun dressing up since play school.
And for those of you wondering what look I went for in the end, well, I just thought: ‘what would Laura do?’
Donna Flower Vintage, 10 Gammon Walk, Barnstaple, North Devon, EX31 1DJ. Tel: 07896 922694. Open Tues – Sat 10am – 4pm (and on Mondays too during summer hols). donnaflowervintage.com