There’s a new kid on the block for this year’s Adelaide Fringe.
At the former Adelaide Central Bus Station, The Depot is set to comprise a series of spaces capable of catering to both small and large numbers of festival-goers and featuring themes that will be ever-changing throughout the Fringe season.
Promising surprise and intrigue, the new venue will host some of Adelaide’s finest pop-up restaurants and cocktail bar operators, as well as a retail element in the form of Thriftshop – Cassandra Liebeknecht’s homeware and clothing stall offering salvaged and battle-hardy vintage goods.
“If you love great vintage buys, you should have a look at what we’ve got,” says Liebeknecht, who is also the director of the Adelaide Vintage Expo. “I’ve just acquired 50 kilos of vintage items from Europe, which includes male and female fashion. People can pick up some really wild and wonderful, interesting stuff. There will also be some brand new stuff direct from the USA, like Bernie Dexter and Bettie Page, which have some really beautiful 1950s and 1960s dresses. My personal favourite item would have to be the more classic 1950s stuff, though I’ve just received some great boho maxis. I personally don’t do boho very well but I love these and they’re perfect for when you’re going out, seeing live music, eating out or just having a great time. There’s nothing better than chucking on a dress that is super-cool and psychedelic with amazing patterns.”
A collaboration between the Adelaide Vintage Expo and The Depot, Liebeknecht says Thriftshop is in line with the vintage theme of the new Fringe venue which itself is about to be a reclaimed space, “unloved at the moment” but not for long, as she puts it.
“I love that the venue is made of old shipping containers which have been salvaged and injected with new life. In relation to what The Depot looks like, it fits in with the whole vintage theme. The concept of ‘vintage’ is about breathing in new life into beautiful old items before they are thrown away. It’s about reclaiming them and re-loving them and turning them into something beautiful again. What’s the appeal about ‘vintage’? It’s unique! Since I’ve been dealing with antiques and vintage items, in my time I have not often seen something come along twice. If it does, it’s a very rare occasion. People that enjoy the Adelaide Fringe clearly enjoy alternative things – the entertainment, the music, but also the fashion and looking different. They don’t want to look like they’ve just walked out of David Jones or something; they want to dress like an individual. And the quality is so much better too most of the time – the fabric and the way things are made is so much better than what we get now from China, for example.”
According to Liebeknecht, who is also a stylist by trade, how one dresses is a direct reflection of personality and beliefs – your clothes say a lot about your personal brand.
“It’s important in that regard. What you wear is kind of what you give out to the rest of the world, it’s definitely a reflection of your personality. When people buy vintage, retro and second-hand items, they’re sort of buying what they believe in and have a love for.”
In that way, clothing and architecture are quite similar, as Dino Vrynios – Grieve Gillett architect and The Depot’s creative manager – adds.
“Architecture is based on the same principle in that you fill your house with items which reflect the things you love, your personality. Your identity should be reflected in both cases. As an architect, I hate the stereotype that all architects just wear black colours, for example. As a creative person, that doesn’t appeal to me. We made it so the idea behind The Depot is to have a temporal venue that will always be changing and evolving and being layered up as we go through the Fringe period. We have a slogan for The Depot: ‘You’ll never be the same again’, which is based on the idea that you’ll end up doing something on a night that you’d never normally get to do. It totally takes you out of your comfort zone, it’s a one-off. The Fringe Festival was basically born out of the same situation a long time ago – it was about shows that were not suitable for the Adelaide Festival because they were a bit off-beat and random.”
The surprising, the unexpected and the unknown are the concepts behind The Depot, Vrynios explains. While having a venue featuring shipping containers is cost-effective, it’s also a terrific way for helping define ‘space’.
“It’s the Melbourne laneway type of aesthetic. Out of these containers, we’ve created new doorways which may take you somewhere unexpected. There’s a grungy feel to it. Cassandra’s Thriftshop fitted right into the whole idea and we’d actually been looking for a retail element in the space. Being a vintage retailer, it made sense given the nature of the space, it was perfect. Every day we will have an array of containers which will pop up and they will never be the same each time you come back to the venue. Ultimately, the emphasis on recycled materials coupled with patron participation will enhance the experiential qualities of the space. The Depot promises the coming together of space and performance for a truly ‘one night only’ experience.”