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Admiral Vernon Market

Naomi

Ballerina, Vintage Designer & Trader


"Portobello to me is the centre of antiques in London – it’s all of that and a wide variety of characters"

How did you end up on Portobello Road?

I am woman of different sides. I have three things: first and foremost my performing both as a ballerina and an actress, that will always be my primary profession; then the jewellery design of chokers and cuffs; and I do interior design as well. I love beautiful things – I’ve always loved antique jewellery and antique costume and clothing and textile. Even before it was tagged “vintage” I was into it. I had a friend who said “you know, I love chokers and wouldn’t it be fun to make some things” and so I started out with her. At a certain point I think I did antique fair in Bath and the woman next to me was a vintage clothing dealer and she said to me “why don’t you come to Portobello? I’m in the Admiral Vernon market so why don’t you come and look around?” … So that’s what happened – I had a look around and took my own view of it and I suppose I’ve been 5 or 6 years now. It’s once a week, just a Saturday.

Have you always lived in the area?

My husband and I met in New York. I was then dancing in Europe and he was fed up with New York and we just kind of fell into living in London. It wasn’t a conscious thing to move. I went back and forth for a while and then gradually ended up here. I’ve always lived in this area since coming to London though. When I first came to London, my husband and I were driving around and we came up Kensington Church Street - I remember saying at that time that “I like that windy street with all the antique shops on it”.

What does Portobello mean to you?

Portobello to me is the centre of antiques in London. Its serious antiques, antique jewellery, little decorative things, vintage clothing – it’s all of that and a wide variety of characters, you know just interesting people. But it is becoming homogenised. Portobello is in grave danger. It is really tragic. In Paris, the Marché aux Puces – the only equivalent to Portobello market is protected and listed and so if an antique dealer leaves it has to be replaced by another antique dealer. Sadly, and I do blame the council for not taking more care as they could have easily implemented a similar situation, the market forces and greed seem to be the overriding factors with the deterioration; endless coffee shops one after another, the implementation of huge stores. I don’t dislike what they do but they are all over the city so why do they need to be on Portobello? It will become another Camden Passage – which used to be a vibrant antique centre but is now completely gone.

What can we do to stop that?

We definitely should try. We should probably have massive petitions. I guess we need to do more of them and the whole world needs to be canvassed. Maybe it needs an army of people not just going into the shops and talking to shop owners, but standing on corners and getting the visitors, the tourists and the residents. I think it has to go that far if we are going to try to impose on the council that what is left should be protected.