Trisha's vintage mecca closing after serving rock royalty for 43 years
A small but much-loved clothes shop frequented through the decades by rock-world royalty is closing its doors after 43 years.
Trisha’s Vintage Clothing in Wolverhampton has been the must-go-to shop for musicians appearing at the nearby Civic Hall.
Customers calling in for a leather jacket or faux fur waistcoat might well find Roy Wood or Motorhead’s Lemmy mooching through the same rails.
At the helm of the tiny emporium for all that time has been the eternally fabulous Trisha Uccellini, still a rock chick from her henna red roots down to her sparkly pointed ankle boots.
Despite being past retirement age, she is shutting shop not out of choice but to be with her son Marco, a website designer who has been diagnosed with a serious illness.
“I don’t want to go, I love this place, but I have to be with my son at this time,” she said. To speed up the move, everything is being sold at half price.
Trisha inside her treasure trove of a shopping experience
The shop’s location in Blossoms Fold, off Darlington Street, was perfect for a business specialising in rock apparel, but its proximity to the Civic was merely a happy accident, it turns out.
“I was very choosy about the location,” says Trisha. “It had to be in one of Wolverhampton’s lovely Victorian folds rather than the main shopping centre.
“It seemed to be in keeping with the vintage theme, although when I started out, I was selling all my own designs with only the odd bit of Victoriana.”
That was in January 1974 and actress Gabrielle Drake, who was appearing in panto at The Grand with Trisha’s musician husband Georgio, performed the official opening.
Actress Gabrielle Drake, sister of singer Nick Drake, joins Trisha at the1974 opening
Trisha turned to retail after years of touring with Giorgio in Europe, giving up a safe job in the bank to be with him.
She was bright, a former student of King Edward’s School in Camp Hill, Birmingham, where she grew up, but not academic, she says.
The family moved to Wolverhampton when she was 14 and even then there were signs that she was destined for a career in fashion.
Peter Green, legendary guitarist of Fleetwood Mac, knew who Trisha was
She was developing her own individual style, getting into trouble for wearing a dufflecoat over her school uniform on the long commute from her new Black Country home.
“I was a bit of a misfit at school,” she muses.
“Only beatniks wore dufflecoats at that time.”
Her years on the road with Georgio, who had his own band at the time, later joining 60s pop groups The Fourmost and Freddie and The Dreamers, sowed the seeds of her later career.
She started making stage outfits – flamboyant shirts and flared trousers – for her husband’s band, and then for other musicians on the gigging circuit.
“I used all kinds of unusual fabric, including, I remember, teddy bear fur – they were really outrageous.”
Carnaby Street, Kensington Market and Biba – Meccas of style on the emerging Swinging London scene – were all big influences. Young people flocked to her shop – there was nothing like it in Wolverhampton – but she couldn’t keep up with demand, eventually forced to give up making her own stock to buy in.
Keeping it authentic, in a pre-internet shopping era, she used to travel to New York and Los Angeles to buy her military jackets and Levi gear, trawling New York’s Greenwich and East Villages for classic vintage gems. Ironically I used to get a lot of American bands making a special pilgrimage to my shop for clothes that I’d bought in America,” she says.
Eventually she became as well known among the rock community as some of her customers. She was amazed to find that Peter Green, legendary guitarist of Fleetwood Mac, knew who she was.
“He fell down the step into the shop and I asked him for his autograph. He said: ‘So the great Trisha wants my autograph?’"
His signature – he signed his real name of Peter Greenbaum – is one of dozens in a well-leafed autograph book still kept under the counter.
Famous bands to grace her boutique over the years have been Whitesnake, W.A.S.P., Skindred, Steel Panther, Echo and the Bunnymen, Dead Men Walking, the list goes on.
“Lemmy used to come here for military jackets, all of Motorhead did,” she says.
“Duff McKagan of Guns ‘N’Roses was here, and Steve Vai. KK Downing used to come in for clothes for his wife.”
Dave Hill, of Slade and Johnny Marr, of The Smiths, are also on the customer roll of honour.
“It meant I always had free VIP tickets for all the concerts,” she says.
Since word of the shop’s imminent closure has got round, customers, who over the decades have become friends, have been calling in with gifts.
Trisha says: “I’ve grown up with them, and their children and grandchildren have become customers. It’s been emotional, quite overwhelming.
“I always said I would stop when I woke up one morning and felt I didn’t want to do it anymore. But I’ve never felt that, it’s always been a joy.”