For one special Sunday each month, Old Fleas invades the Ballhaus Berlin. No, no, not geriatric parasites… Old Fleas is a market for mid-century clothing and accessories, proving that Berliners do wear more than mom jeans and beige duster coats.
Founded by burlesque dancer Honey Lulu and actress Lucía Vicente, Old Fleas is actually more of a love fest for vintage style than a regular flea market. You won’t find the usual flotsam and jetsam of secondhand castoffs. Instead, upmarket dealers sell bombshell wiggle dresses, snappy fedoras, feathered fascinators, and bright bakelite bangles. And there’s also cocktails at the bar, a photo studio, and a DJ spinning hot jazz. This Sunday, May 14th, is their first anniversary and we had a cup of coffee with Honey Lulu to talk about what we can expect.
How did Old Fleas get its start?
It’s always been my dream to have a vintage fair in Berlin. They have so many in London where I used to live, but here there was nothing of the sort. You know, a place where you could find all different dealers selling true vintage clothes. Then Lucía and I met at a show back in 2010. She asked me to join forces with her on the Vintage Berlin Guide two years ago. And she also wanted to have a regular event where vintage was being sold. So we approached the Ballhaus Berlin.
When you say “true vintage,” what do you mean?
For me, true vintage is everything up to the ‘60s and ‘70s. But mainly in the market, we specialize from the 1930s to early 1960s. That’s our main focus. But obviously, we are open to other eras. We’re not dictators.
What started you on the vintage journey? Did vintage come first or did burlesque come first?
Vintage came first. I started wearing vintage clothes when I was about 16 and my thing then was the revolution of the ‘60s. I was obsessed with the 1968 movement in Europe and the States. I also loved the fashion.
So you were a mod girl?
I used to be, yes. And then I moved to London in the ‘90s, I remember I used to go with a friend of mine. Her mum had a shop and she had really old stock from the ‘60s and ‘70s and we would go crazy over the flared trousers and things like that. I also love to find a bargain. I love the hunt.
You’re originally from Italy and there’s a lot of great vintage there…
The town where I’m from is a seaside village, it’s a fishing village, so there is no vintage. Actually, my aunt used to be a seamstress in the ‘50s and she has all these photographs of her wearing beautiful cute little frocks and everything super fashionable from the time, but she threw everything away. She said that she didn’t know anyone would be interested in those old rags!
So you started with the ‘60s but you’re more of a ‘50s girl now.
Some people are really set in their eras but I like to swing. Some ‘40s, ‘50s, early ‘60s. Big butt, small waist. I’m not a ‘20s kind of girl. I admire it from afar. It suits a different body type.
What I like about vintage clothing is the history. If those dresses could talk!
The thing is, it’s all backwards only in terms of style. Not in terms of culture, you know what I mean? “Vintage fashion, modern values.” That’s really important. Sometimes people ask, if you like vintage, do you think life was better then? I’m like, no. I’m glad I live in these times. Even if they are troubled times. We’ve come a long way and I don’t want to go back.
There’s also dancing at Old Fleas.
At two o’clock we always have a surprise class. Sometimes we have swing dancing, sometimes we have tango or Charleston. So every time it varies. This time, the dance class will be led by Selena from Swingspiration.
I really love how Old Fleas is an intersection between the burlesque community, the vintage community, and the swing dance community.
We have between 20 and 25 stalls of true vintage clothing and accessories. Then we also have food, which is important part because we love for people to hang out and have a good time. So we always have different food stalls offering homemade food from all around the world. And of course there is a bar, so people can drink and shop. And now, since we are outside, the legendary Alt-Berlin is open so they can also get a drink there. Also Lucía has a child, so for her it’s important that we have a kids corner so people can drop off their children to draw and play games, while they shop and eat and get drunk and dance. Another nice thing about the market is a lot of people dress up. It’s a nice occasion for someone to wear their fancy frocks.
Old Fleas Vintage Market
May 14th 11Uhr-17Uhr