Tara Allison

Vintage Queen

Meet my first interviewee Tara Allison...

Tara has over 20 years experience in the fashion industry. Innovating, designing, forecasting trend and leading teams. She recently left as head of design at ASOS to have a baby and pursue her other lifelong passion, vintage.

Tara is the ultimate vintage queen, from her successful career in fashion, to her envious wardrobe and home. I thought who better to kick off my new 'Talking To' section.

With tips from her favourite vintage shops and how to style old with new. Tara shows us how to take inspiration from anywhere and everywhere, including the past.

Read below to see where she gets her inspiration from and a sneak peek into her home, where the magic happens!

Follow Tara @stokey_abode

Tara And Her Amazing Wardrobe

How did you start your career in fashion?

I started in the fashion industry over 20 years ago at Arcadia as a design assistant, mainly working on illustrations and designing prints for various high street brands including Topshop. Back then you would spend over a month or so researching, sourcing and designing a print, It would then finally hit the stores a year later!

Where do you get your inspiration from?

As passionate as I am about vintage a lot of my inspiration comes from discovering new artists, new techniques, new trends and collaborations. I am lucky enough to be in London where there is so much art  innovation on your doorstep. Luke Edward Hall is a hot favourite of mine at the moment. His cool linear illustrations have grabbed  the attention of big fashion and interior brands of the moment. His style is very much influenced by eclectic vintage but adds his own unique contemporary edge. I try and look at the now to decide what to use from the past.

How would you describe your style?

I’m a collector. I collect styles, ideas, trends, items, dresses. Sometimes I use them immediately, sometimes I sit on something for years in my wardrobe and then I use it in a new trend or in the home. Im an eclectic at heart and have a broad scope, I love shopping all eras and trends. The fun part is then getting it all to work together!

Beautiful Vintage Finds Mixed In With New

Favourite place to hunt for vintage treasures?

Vintage around the globe is incredible to shop for and it varies so much depending where you go. I love Italian vintage and also the Rosebowl in LA. Since having my baby however, I’ve been making the most of antique fairs closer to home. The UK has so much to offer, Kempton Racecourse has got to be my firm favourite and worth the punishingly early 5am wake-up time.

You can never match the tactile fun of sifting through antique shops and the satisfaction of finding hidden treasures. However, the likes of Vinterior and Selency (and not forgetting Ebay), have made the vintage market just a click away… dangerous!

Im also loving some of the home interior rental platforms which seem to be popping up, my favourite being Harth. I haven’t personally rented anything as of yet but its defiantly a worth browse if you’re into gorgeous, luxe, curated contemporary and vintage edits. It brings a new avenue to accessing great vintage and in doing so encourages a circular economy through re-using these pieces.

Whats your favourite vintage piece you own? Fashion and Interior?

Fashion wise it's probably my tiger pattern sheepskin coat, not only references two animals in one.  I lived in it last year and is still going strong for a second season.

Most of my interior pieces are vintage so it’s pretty hard to pick a favourite. My true statement favourite would have to be a large white enamelled palm tree lamp from the 70’s by Hans Kögl. It says calm and tranquil, rather than 70’s kitsch and makes a change from the modern brass versions that are in the market at the moment.  However I didn’t check the measurements properly when I purchased it on eBay and was pleasantly surprised how huge is was! (This has happened a few times, but unfortunately its been the other way round where items arrived teeny tiny.)

That 70's Palm Lamp
Old with new
Tile Love
Upholstered vintage bench

Whats your top tips for vintage rummaging?

I'm a big believer in doing your homework, its always good to keep abreast of your favourite things and whats new, whether its art, interior or fashion. You’re then fully equipped with your own personal aesthetic vision to cut through all the noise and find those perfect investments.  Follow your heart and your first instinct, it’s usually the correct one, (there’s nothing worse than walking away from something and then obsessing about it for the next few weeks.)

Online vintage shopping such as eBay is an incredible source and theres nothing wrong in cross costing anything you see at a fair before you purchase. You might just find that the hidden gem is sitting in someones basement for a fraction of the price.

Do you always have an idea in your head what you want when shopping vintage. Or do you go in open minded?

I’d like to think that I go in totally open-minded but I definitely have phases of being obsessed with a few things at any one time. It could be a type of garment/home-wear piece/furniture, detail or just a colour tone, It entirely depends on what I’m feeling for in that moment. It drives Mr A mad when we’ve ended up with another pink thing or another porcelain feline animal.

Reused Vintage Fabric Turned Into Home Accessories

Styling tip you live by?

Generally as a rule I tend to try and understand vintage in a modern context and mixing old traditional pieces back with key contemporary pieces.

Do you have any style icons?

Iris Apfel’s (the world’s oldest fashion icon) approach to vintage is incredible, there are no boundaries or limitations to her style and shopping. She not only has a unique maximalist eye for beautiful mismatched vintage, she’s become a leading figure in the fight against ageism within the fashion industry. A literal living legend. I love the way she shops, its all heart…Iris says "I love to dig and search and find. And if I’m shopping…You know, if it’s a piece of fabric, I listen to the threads. It’s not intellectual at all. The price is nothing. It’s the emotional content: I have to feel it in my gut. I don’t know how to explain it other than that." I fully recommend the documentary from a couple of years back.

Best Career tip?

Follow your heart.

Favourite Instagram accounts to follow?

My favourites have to be...

Kelly Wearstler - @kellywearstler

Luke Edward Hall -  @lukeedwardhall

Matilda Goad - @matildagoad


Tara's Favourite Instagram Accounts...

kelly wearstler
matilda goad
Luke Edward Hall

And we have come to the end of my first interview. I hope you've enjoyed reading and Tara has inspired you to get vintage rummaging.

Please like and share, its hugely appreciated.

Thanks, L x