3:04 pm

A magical day

alfie“Magical day in London – lovin’ life” – that was my facebook status after spending the day with my Spanish friend Berta Bernad and our friend Bennie Gray, who gave us a personal tour around London. We met up at Dance Works (Oxford Street) which is London’s leading dance studio and watched a ballet and tango class. They offer dance and fitness classes of the highest quality and Berta and I were luckily given a free membership, so I need to go back there soon and start working out!

Afterwards we walked around the corner to Gray’s Antique Center at Davies Street . Gray’s was established by Bennie Gray in 1977 and is the epicentre of the art and antique dealing world. I didn’t know about Gray’s, but when I walked into the beautiful nineteenth century terracotta building I was sold. There was an amazing selection of vintage costume jewelry, antique jewelry, fine antique silver, porcelain and glass. It was heaven for a vintage lover like me. Gray’s is definitely worth a visit and is open Monday-Friday 10am-6pm, and many dealers are open Saturdays 11am-5pm aswell.

We were lucky with the weather, so it was perfect to cruise in a convertible towards Alfie’s Antique Market at Church St. Bennie opened Alfies back in 1976, when half the shops in Church Street were boarded up and there was a terrible problem with vandalism. Bennie was actually born just around the corner from Church Street on Cosway Street and he is justifiably proud of the impact Alfies has had on the area. “I’m unashamedly happy to say that the regeneration of this area is in large measure down to the success of Alfies. When I first had the idea, plenty of people said I was mad and that it was doomed to failure – which is just the sort of incentive that makes me go ahead with a plan.” For over 30 years this old department store has attracted dealers from around the world and we met a couple of them. Today it is the largest antique arcade in the UK and there is around 100 antique dealers trading there.

We found many amazing treasures and you can buy a huge range of antique and retro goods from the 20th century including vintage fashion and accessories, modernist furniture, costume jewellery and 20th century decorative arts. In the last picture I am standing in front of Alfie’s Egyptian-style art deco facade, which was really impressive. We also sat down on their rooftop café, where Bennie told us a lot of inspiring stories from his amazing life and his development of the market business. We had lunch and I had delicious fish & chips!

I just loved the bohemian market atmosphere and both Berta and I fell in love with these wooden roller shoes, which were funny to try on aswell – watch the short clip below!