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Thompson's Interview: Dressed to Kill

It’s dressing up time this coming bank holiday. Don’t waste it on a bender. Instead check out the London Fashion and Film Festival Weekender (24-25 May). This 2 day event is jammed packed with a heady cocktail of films, fashion and general frolicking, ending on a truly high note with ‘The White Coffin Club Night’ party. Vintage Secrets co-founder Naomi Thompson talks to Curator Claire Geddie from the BFI who unveils an insight to the debauchery ahead.

NT: What do you think is behind the current trend for all things 20’s and 30’s?
CG: I think these eras capture people's imaginations. They evoke a sense of both abandon and possibility, and hedonism in the face of real concerns about livelihood and politics. They also happen to be periods marked by incredibly gorgeous (and important) fashion and culture.

NT: What makes this event so different to the others cropping up in London?
CG: There are many nostalgia events and club nights in London of course, but we are specifically building this initiative around the opportunity to experience the period first hand through original prints of archive films. In particular The Rat, starring Ivor Novello (Saturday May 24th, 17:45) serves as a snapshot of the period, and will be presented as a true spectacle with a compere and performances by the all girl dance troupe The Lady Greys!

NT: My Gran says the period between the wars was a bit rubbish. What was she missing out on?
CG: Votes for Women, Jazz, speakeasys and the debuts of both nightclubs and cocktails.

NT: What makes a good 20’s/30’s baddie?
CG: The 20's baddie should really have a twirly sort of moustache and an aggressive sneer. He generally should compromise the heroine's virtue, and be independently wealthy.

NT: Who were the rogues of that era that we should all be aspiring to?
CG: Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, and Ivor Novello of course. And lady-rogues- Gloria Swanson, Greta Garbo, and Clara Bow.

NT: How important was film during this period?
CG: This was a hugely formative period in film history, marked by the beginnings of the studio system and the first appearances of both colour and sound.

NT: Would you say this was the beginning of the ‘Femme Fatal’?
CG: I think Salome would disagree with that notion. Femmes have always been fatal.

NT: What should we be wearing?
CG: For the ladies - think fringe, drop waists, beads, cloche hats, t-bar shoes, red lippy and pin curls. And for the chap (gentleman or rogue) - brillantine and brogues, suits and boots, flat caps or fedoras. But we'll appreciate your efforts if complete authenticity is unattainable, and will have apparel available on site if the mood strikes.

NT: Importantly – what shall we be drinking?
CG: We have every conceivable tipple but I would recommend buck's fizz by day, and absinthe by night! I also hear a Hendrick's gin and tonic has wonderfully restorative qualities.

NT: Foxtrot or Charleston?
CG: Definitely Charleston - it's self contained and thusly perfect for the lady lacking a full dance card.

For more information on the Dressed to Kill Weekender at the BFI Southbank, visit ... or call 020 7928 3232.

Naomi Thompson is Director of ..., specialising in unique vintage clothing from handmade 1950's prom dresses to fabulous vintage designer diffusion lines.