My life in fashion: Vintage dealer Donna Grimaldi
- Credit: Jim Holden
This Hove-based fashion expert wears Fifties clothes every day and has a passion for hand-embroidered Mexican jackets
“Ever since I can remember I’ve enjoyed clothes,” says Donna Grimaldi, a vintage dealer from Hove.
“I started getting into vintage as a teenager. The main attraction for me is the quality, which is far superior to anything you can find now, and also the cut and the design of garments. I really love that element of nostalgia you can get with older pieces, especially from the Forties and Fifties.”
Donna hand-picks every item sold through her business, Bobby and Dandy, which has received plaudits from Time Out and Conde Nast Traveller. She started selling vintage clothes full-time in 2008, largely through eBay initially but eventually having concessions in shops in the North Laine. This led to her opening a shop in Blatchington Road, Hove in 2012 but this summer “I decided the uncertainty of the high street just wasn’t for me.” She now has an appointment-only workshop in Cambridge Grove and also sells online.
Donna specialises in original items dating from the Forties to the Sixties and says: “I wear Fifties clothes every day, mainly dresses. I find them really flattering and comfortable. I think a lot of people when they think of Fifties fashion imagine being really dressed up, in a hat and gloves, but actually what a lot of people were wearing, especially in America, was a nice pair of high-waisted jeans and a sweatshirt.”
MORE: Midhurst boutique owner Lalita Russell-Smith on her life in fashion
Time spent touring with Giffords Circus in 2004 as a dancer and head of costume has informed her taste for bold, theatrical items. The outfit Donna has chosen here reflects her passion for collecting Mexican jackets: “They were made in the Forties and Fifties for American tourists in the post-war period,” she says. “They’re all embroidered and handmade, each one is different and very charming. Every time you wear one, you’re guaranteed to have someone approach you and ask you about it. I get them imported and I’ve sold quite a few in Hove – they never last long in the shop. Shelley Duval wears a yellow one like this in The Shining.
“I’m also wearing an original Fifties skirt from America. I have quite a collection of Fifties cotton skirts and I love novelty prints like this, they’re very collectable. I’m also wearing Bakelite bangles and some vintage reproduction shoes by Rokit Originals, an English company who reproduce vintage designs in limited editions. Original Fifties sandals can be quite difficult to buy.”
Donna values eclecticism in her wardrobe and says vintage clothes encourage experimentation. “It’s really great if you like to be individual and don’t want to wear what other people are wearing. If you shop around you can buy really fantastic pieces for great prices and they’re not necessarily going to go down in value, they’re an investment. It’s guilt-free shopping!”
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