Omagh’s newest fair lady

Sinéad Slane is on a vintage mission. Set to establish, host and hopefully thoroughly enjoy this locality’s first ever pre-loved fashion and handcraft event, Oma Fair Lady at the end of the month, the local fashionista is aiming high when it comes to nostalgic glamour.

The fair, which will be the first of it’s kind west of the Bann and which is expected to draw huge interest from across the island of Ireland, aims to offer an affordable shopping experience for those people hoping to find that most elusive fashion phenomena: Uniqueness. A concept which is all too scarce in today’s world of the mass-produced outfit, uniqueness in the vintage arena is king (or queen).

More than that… Sinéad and her team of hand-picked and like-minded fashion experts have big ideas. They want to put Omagh on the vintage and retro map and have even suggested that Omagh Fashion Week might not be beyond the boundaries of possibility. For now, however, Oma Fair Lady at the SilverBirch Hotel is the place to be come Sunday July 31.

“Vintage is big in Belfast but it’s especially big in England and Scotland,” Sinéad explained. “It’s slowly but surely making it’s way west.

“We want to make this a regular thing and we’ll definitely have another before the end of the year.

“So many people sell vintage clothes on the side and this kind of event is perfect for them. So far we’ve over 20 confirmed stalls and we’ve another potential few.

“The whole purpose of this is to keep everything within the district. It would have been easy to have loads of people bring their stalls down from Belfast but we wanted to keep it local – though that doesn’t mean we don’t want buyers to come from Belfast.

“Omagh Fashion Week is definitely something we would love down the line. Omagh is central to everywhere, especially when we get this new road up and running. We want to put Omagh on the map.”

To qualify as vintage, clothes have to be over 20 years old. The scary thing though – unbelievably – is that that means ‘80s gear now qualifies as vintage.

The events co-ordinator continued, “Every dress or every piece of vintage clothing has a story to tell and for a lot of people, that is part of the appeal.

“Some people think vintage and they think old women, charity shops and smelly clothes – but that’s not what this is about.”

According to Sinéad what is currently for sale on the high street takes its inspiration from the recent explosion in vintage appeal. What is more, the real fun begins when you start to mix and match vintage items with new purchases.

Sinéad’s right-hand dressmaker Aisling Donaghey agrees, but for her, vintage and retro dress-making is a way of life.

A full-time dress-maker at Aisling’s Textile Studio in Carrickmore, the lady herself is presently flat-out adding to the already significant list of dresses which are set to go on show (and sale) at the forthcoming Oma Fair Lady. But for her, surely one of the stars of the show will be the ‘70s dress she recently discovered in the attic.

“I only found my mother’s wedding dress last Christmas and at the start I didn’t know what I had; I thought it might be a communion dress,” Aisling remarked. “I couldn’t believe how well it came up when I had it cleaned. It was a real find, though practically the only thing I know about it was that it was purchased in Belfast and the fact that it doesn’t have any tags would suggest it’s hand-made. It’s so beautiful and I’m so glad I found it.”

This summer’s inaugural fair will be comprised of three sections: Yesteryear Vogue which includes authentic vintage clothing and accessories (pre-1980s), revamped/reworked fashion and accessories and newly handcrafted bespoke vintage inspired creations by local designers; RetroChic Living: vintage and antique home wares, plus retro handcrafted décor, soft furnishings and home wares; and the Open Wardrobe – á la mode, previously loved clothing and accessories.

“We’re all really looking forward to it,” continued Sinéad. “And we’re hoping it’s a concept that local people will take to their hearts. This is all about bringing vintage to the west but we’re also trying to get the message across: Yes, it’s OK to be different.”

Oma Fair Lady will take place at the Silver-Birch Hotel on July 31 from 1pm until 5.30pm. For further information about the event or about securing a stall, contact Sinéad Slane at or telephone 07917 755 706.

Sinead, Aisling and the Oma Fair Lady vintage team would like to extend a word of thanks to everyone who gave of their time and skills to help bring vintage alive at the recent photoshoot and to Tattykeel House for opening their Ulster Garden Scheme National Trust gardens.

Source: Ulster Herald on 19th May 2011.