Monday, May 05, 2003

"To Hell And Back":

Remember last week, when I told you I had grown tired of hearing the term, “Goddess”, in the wake of all the media attention surrounding the highly anticipated opening and gala celebrating the “Goddess” Exhibition at the Met? Well, in my effort to seek out things that were decidedly un- “Goddess”-like, I went straight to hell (well, Hell’s Kitchen, that is). You see, this past weekend was the opening of the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market, located on 39th street between 9th and 10th avenues.

This new destination for collectors and bargain hunters is the brainchild of none other than Alan Boss, who founded the world famous Chelsea Flea Market. When launched in 1976 on 6th avenue and 24th street, it was home to a mere 11 vendors, but now boasts more than 800, attracting over 600,000 visitors a year.

The Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market, which is open Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., is much smaller than the veritable Chelsea Market, and poses no real threat in terms of competition, but you can still find fresh farm produce, baked goods, interior design, antiques, arts and crafts, and of course, vintage clothing.

There were two dealers who caught my eye. One was Jamie Brown, whose booth exhibited a surprisingly elegant selection including a vintage Gucci gold chain belt, numerous Hermes and Emilio Pucci scarves (see photo), Pucci jersey dresses, and a wonderful long Pucci velvet printed skirt. He also had several pairs of size 10 Manolo Blahniks (see photo) in impeccable condition selling for under $200, a pair of black alligator boots by BCBG ($350), and a Fendi bag shaped like a vintage travel case ($425). By the way, Jamie owns a store called Kings Arms Ltd., located at 699 10th Avenue at 48th street. He is open by appointment only (212- 459 1024 ), email: kingsarms88@hotmail.com

The other was Pennsylvanian Sharon Baluta, whose booth grabbed my attention with her classically chic wicker purses, a nice selection of coats including a handsome Chanel - like oatmeal nubby wool cardigan style for $65. But the best part are her gloves (see photo). In a season where gloves are so important, it’s worth noting that she has a wonderful assortment in almost every color including metallic silver and gold and length (from short wrist length to opera length), ranging in price from about $2 to $30. You can easily acquire an entire ‘wardrobe’ of gloves for under 100 bucks! Now that’s what I call a bargain.

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