The Sydney Fair Opening Night


Chiparus ivory and bronze statue of the Dolly Sisters (1950s reproduction)

The Sydney Fair opened last night at the Byron Kennedy Hall in the Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park. I met up with the girls and we headed over after work – the doors opened at 6pm so there was time for cocktails beforehand and what was planned as a quick change into a 1930s devoré velvet gown. I’d brought all the accessories and even remembered the shoes, but alas – had not remembered that the gown was rather…er….sheer in parts, and required a slip! After contemplating myself in the bar’s mirror for a few minutes and deciding that no, I am not of an age or figure where semi-transparent gowns are becoming, I opted to wear the accessories with my work attire (fortunately black and flowing), along with a 1920s black velvet coat. Not quite the look I was going for, but one must improvise!


Virtanen Antiques – only part of their display

There was a decent sized queue to get in – we were fortunate to have comp tickets from Dianne at Circa Vintage – but the bar staff swiftly equipped us with champagne and away we went. Virtanen Antiques had a large, quite dramatic display of furniture and art works opposite the entry, and they demonstrated the workability of a theory that I’ve long cherished – namely, that certain pieces of Art Deco and Biedermeier furniture would look superb together, even though a century or so stands between the eras. The clean lines of the former and the restrained neo-Classicism of the latter, the use of light woods and inlays…it looked superb, whether the Biedermeier was original or c1910 revival.


A case full of goodies at Coutura Vintage

We worked our way around to Lena at Coutura Vintage, who always has such a superb collection of 1920s and 30s pieces, both clothing and accessories. Sure enough, there on a mannequin was a lovely 1920s black silk pink beaded gown comprised of an underslip with beading on the hem, overslip/tunic, and long belt/sash. There was also a rack of gowns, capes and coats. Her display cases were brimming over with everything from early sewing kits to 1950s jewelry, with plenty of Deco pieces mixed in, including a few lovely evening cloches and bandeaux.

Lena recently acquired some 1920s necklaces with lampwork beading and we were particularly interested in these – after agonising over the choices, and being particularly divided been a dramatic red and black one and a very pretty black with pink and gold, we purchased the red and black.


Deco Diva’s flock of “Captured Birds”

Then on to some of our favourite dealers, all of whom are passionate as well as knowledgeable about Art Deco. Deco Diva is a case in point – one of my favourite Deco dealers in the world, with a remarkable collection of bronze, spelter, glass, pottery and porcelain. Sculptures, clocks, tea sets, cocktail shakers…all the beloved Deco pieces. I was entranced with a grouping of  Josef Lorenzl’s  “Captured Bird” – a whole flock of them, in the different sizes Goldscheider offered this charming figure.


German perfume lamp, 1920s

Prism Lighting also had a wonderful display – lighting, of course, with beehive pendant lamps going toe to toe with classic Diana lamps and an array of shades, but also fabulous decorative pieces. I believe it was they who had a beautiful grouping of opalescent glass including works by Lalique and Sabino.

Moving around we came to Online Antiques which always has not only beautiful pieces of furniture, art and vintage clothing and accessories, they are also displayed beautifully. I was intrigued by some Chiparus sculptures that were far better than contemporary reproductions, particularly one of the Dolly Sisters. As it turned out, they were cast in the 1950s. I’d have happily walked away with almost all the furniture, but a French sideboard with carved Deco-style flowers was one of the standouts. As always, Dianne had wonderful figural clocks and lighting. Moving around to the cabinets, I spotted a blue and white Egyptian revival Czech piece. Jill – usually a voice of caution warning me to do a full circuit before I start buying – put her foot down and insisted I needed it there and then, so purchased it was!


Lots of 1920s – 30s lovelies to be had, like this beaded bag, compacts and bakelite necklace.

We found another stall – the name of which escapes me – that had quite a few quirky pieces, like a 1930s tin chocolate box styled like a crocodile skin handbag. There was a lovely 1920s beaded bag there that needs a bit of restoration work but, as it was a great price, we purchased it. Then a bit of a sit down before a final foray – by now there was time to say hallo to old friends and meet new people, as I caught up briefly with Eloise (wearing a lovely 1950s peach knit ensemble) and a couple from Melbourne who had come up to the Fair to hunt for the perfect pieces for their Art Deco home, and who had had considerable success.


Eloise and friends in vintage

Finally back to Lena and the pull of the pink beaded dress on the mannequin…to finally cut the long story short, “Reader, I purchased it!” Or rather Sandra and I jointly did. And while we were at it bought the black, pink and gold necklace we’d considered earlier (after all, it was the perfect match for the dress!) and a lovely 1920s black chiffon with prong set rhinestones and crystal beading.


Always a happy ending when I get to buy another lovely 1920s dress, like this one from Coutura Vintage.

So another successful Fair, and with so much to look at we’re thinking about returning over the weekend for a second look-through.


The 1920s necklaces we purchased at Coutura Vintage and Online Antiques.


4 comments on “The Sydney Fair Opening Night

  1. What super write-up and photos, almost felt like I was there too. I was so taken with the Dolly sisters – would have loved them. You found some real treasures.

    • You’d have loved it, Jean – so much beautiful furniture and artwork. The Dolly Sisters was one of the best reproductions of a Chiparus sculpture I’ve seen!

  2. What a wonderful write-up, Inger! So lovely to see you! X

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