Time after time

A vintage shopper since way back, Charlotte Rust is at it again with a second store full of amazing finds.

Having closed down her K-Road vintage clothing store Fast & Loose in 2011 to work in art and costume departments in the film and television industry, opening another shop was the last thing Auckland’s Charlotte Rust thought she would do. Then in 2016, a trip to Morocco and Paris with her husband, Cross Street Market co-founder Tony Downing, reignited her passion
for collating covetable treasures. She sensed there was a niche for a shop that draws inspiration from both cities, so she set one up.

ABOVE Charlotte says she’s thrift-shopped since she was a kid. “My parents always had antique pieces
– out of necessity as much as aesthetic pleasure, as they were hand-me-downs or cheaper than buying new. Over the years, my taste has evolved; it’s been a journey from Victorian through to art nouveau, and now I’ve landed somewhere in the 70s.”

Babelogue is very much based on your own design sensibility, Charlotte – how would you describe the aesthetic? It’s quite hard to describe, because it’s a mix. I want Babelogue to feel like a second living area and inspire people to live with beautiful pieces regardless of their style. Probably the most pleasing thing for me is when people don’t realise everything in the store is secondhand or vintage. I don’t want it to look like a time capsule of any particular era.

What sort of stuff do you sell? Babelogue is first and foremost a textile store with some mid-century through to 80s décor and furniture. I’m particularly focused on stocking great lamps, as they’re so hard to find.

ABOVE Of the trends she’s seeing coming through, Charlotte says, “The 80s are definitely emerging as a fresh look; Memphis Group for the hardcore advocates, and soft pinks and creams that recall the Terence Conran style. I’ve always been a fan of 70s chrome, glass and Perspex, though that has its roots in the 20s and 30s, which I think keeps it looking quite timeless.”

Is it difficult to source the right pieces? It is and it isn’t. If you’re dedicated to hunting pieces down, you’ll generally find plenty. That said, it is a random process. You can’t head out for the day hoping to find some great chairs, because you might not find any – but you might just score a great table or vase. You need to keep an open mind. I find lots of extraordinary things all the time, and I relish every one of them.

Where should we look for interiors inspiration? I’m constantly inspired by Terence Conran’s books The House Book and New House Book; 60s, 70s and 80s interior design books; and Encens and Apartamento magazines. 1stdibs is an incredible online resource, although
the prices are over the top. Instagram accounts I’m particularly into include @ateliervime, @remixgallerydesign, @_roomonfire, @katandmaouche, @galerieglustin, @rhettmbaruch
and @karine_szanto_antiquaire.

ABOVE “Every rug feels like a great find at the time,” she says of her hauls. They don’t all make it into the store, of course: the Beni Ourain rug she bought in Morocco now lives at her place.

How should people go about styling vintage furniture and objects? Don’t go mad for one era as it just ends up looking clichéd. Stick to a limited palette, or at least a tonal one. At home, my colour palette is pretty simple, with an off-white base and lots of black. I have Afghan wall hangings and cushions for extra colour and I’ve honed my decorative items down to mainly pottery and tribal pieces. As for putting things together, I don’t have any rules – maybe clusters of three or some asymmetry in the way things are lined up, or not lined up, as the case may be.

Words Lisa Morton
Photography Larnie Nicolson

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