With so many clothes shops in Rome claiming to be vintage, it can be hard to tell the goodies from the generic.
Grieves Omero opened Cecilia & Omero, the first vintage boutique on Rome’s Via del Governo Vecchio (a street now adorned with vintage shops), in 1976. He says “Vintage should be applied to wine or classic cars, but no longer to clothes,” and claims that the word “vintage” is overused in today’s market. It appears that many shops are selling modern pieces, claiming them to be vintage, while offering items such as a three-year-old Tom Ford belt. In this vintage boutique, Omero’s customers can be guaranteed the full patriotic experience about why Italy is better than London for vintage beauties. If their coffee on offer doesn’t make you weak at the knees, their bags will. Best to take a seat, admit defeat, and start buying bags. Via del Governo Vecchio 110. Rome’s vintage boutiques spell handbags, shoes and leather galore. What’s more, you’d hope for one-off treasured vintage pieces, since Italians are as much connoisseurs on clothes as they are on food. Vintage is nothing new to Rome, far from it. But Rome is not quite the same vintage haven as its European sisters. However, seek and ye shall find. There is a wide choice of vintage markets to choose from. Micca Club, Circolo degli Artisti, Necci, Magic Market in Monti, S. Giovanni’s renowned Via Sannio, or Lanificio Factory, to name but a few. Here is a guide to some of the hot spots.
Together with Omero, Piero Marcolini was one of the first people in Rome to establish a vintage clothing boutique and was still hunting down pieces for his shop well into his 80s, taking old-fashioned to new heights. The real McCoy of vintage. Marcolini’s Street continues to trade under the management of his son and daughter who, by the way, offer a special Sunday afternoon complimentary aperitivo to all their customers, plus a ten per cent discount on the first Sunday of the month from 15.00-20.00. They stock a high-quality list of raincoats including labels like Burberry, and specialise in Levis and Lacoste, plus they have hats for every occasion. A good range of wallets and key-rings too, if you are looking for small vintage gifts. Via Plauto 16 (Borgo Pio), tel. 066865782, www.marcoliniroma.blogspot.com.
They are vintage expert owners. Elegant and well-restored pieces adorn the mannequins displaying out-of-production dresses of yesteryear, some for a mere €35. Not bad. From Converse boots to military memorabilia, fur coats and 1950s dresses. Sunglasses and jewellery galore. Large selection of bags and hats. For leathered and weathered bags, jackets and boots, they’ve got it. If vintage luggage tickles your fancy, it’s time to make a trip to this old-school boutique. Via del Governo Vecchio 45, tel. 066832945.
The Monti district is crawling with trendy vintage shops. Abito is one such gem. Owned by Wilma Silvestri, who learnt how to sew at the age of six, Abito is the real deal. This is refined women’s clothing at its best, including Gucci bags and Valentino belts. Specialising in vintage 1940s dresses, Wilma offers an express, two-hour tailoring service too, which is handy if you are shopping for a gown at the last minute. Via Panisperna 61, tel. 064881017, www.abito61.blogspot.it. Mon-Sat 10.30-20.00. Sun 12.00-20.00.
Circolo degli Artisti
To make shopping a day out, head on down to Circolo Degli Artisti. Once a month they have a huge market which has a range of new and old, sometimes holding special themed events – such as 1940s/1950s – to make the market more interesting. They also often have events with make-up artists or fashion shows to go with the trends they promote. Via Casilina Vecchia 42, tel. 0670305684. www.circoloartisti.it.
You are always guaranteed to find something exciting at the Micca Club market. However, there is a focus on up-and-coming designers to showcase their designs too, so it is mix of new and old, meaning the goodies might not be as leathered and weathered as one would hope for. The vintage pieces on offer are great, though. High quality goods for sale are guaranteed, as potential vendors must go through a process of sending photos of their intended stock to be vetted by the organisers in advance of the market event. Aperitivo and vintage themed swing DJs add a special touch to the atmosphere. Via Pietro Micca 7, tel. 0687440079, www.miccaclub.com.
Rome’s garage sale near Piazza del Popolo. Bargains galore, not much of a chore for a Sunday afternoon stroll, and with an entry fee of €1.60 – what are you waiting for? A mere two stops on the tram along Via Flaminia from Piazza del Popolo. This is a small, manageable market. Vintage items amid bric-à-brac household items, porcelain goodies, plates, pots and pans. A vintage Italian teapot and some Gucci sunglasses. Piazza della Marina 32. Sun 10.00-19.00.
Venues trawled and boutiques crawled, the target is confirmed. It is a classic black leather doctor’s bag. Would be even more perfect with a copy of Wanted in Rome poking out of it. You’d better swoop in quick for the steal, as this is the real deal. But, just like that, it was gone. Hence, if you see a bargain, grab it, as by the time you get back, someone else will have taken the initiative and swooped.