Weekends spent in the city are a perfect time to visit the indoor/outdoor Greenflea Market located on Columbus Avenue between 76th and 77th street. Given the ongoing fascination with decorative accessories, (a trend that shows no signs of abating) one person I always make a point of visiting is Marjorie Mortensen, who was the subject of my Daily Fashion Report back in July 2004 “You gotta hand it to her” .
Marjorie Mortensen is one of the best (AND reasonably priced) vendors selling non-vintage accessories anywhere around town. On any given Sunday, she can be found at the indoor/outdoor Greenflea Market, located on Columbus Avenue between 76th and 77th streets, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., where she has been a fixture for about 20 years. You can find her inside the school building, and you can't miss her because she has the most dazzling displays.
This very interesting New Yorker - who studied literature and loves home decor as much as accessories (which she claims to "buy to sell" rather than to collect or wear herself), told me she was one of the co-founders of the Tibet Center on East 28th street more than 25 years ago, where she set up the first Tibetan Bazaar and taught Tibetan cooking. It quickly became a Mecca for such acclaimed visitors as James Beard. The experience got her interested in selling. As they say, the rest is history.
Marjorie is consistent in both her eclectic selection (there’s something for everybody) AND her great prices. And while she thankfully tries to stock certain things all the time (like her AMAZING surrealistic lip and hand pins), she certainly does her homework and you can be sure that the assortment will change every so often.
This past Sunday I was especially taken with her exceptional cache of oversized statement making plastic chains and beads (ranging in color, size, shape and priced from about $16 to $30). Some of which like the large mod inspired black and white discs could be used as a belt or a necklace; jeweled pins, pin on flowers, and of course, watches.
Among those items that really caught my eye were the enormous multi color stoned butterfly pin ($80), the jeweled floral brooches, the $50 oversized round faced watch with black elastic band and Velcro closing (Marjorie had Swarovski crystals added to the face), and the colorful, chunky and eye catching long necklace ($40) made of individually made beads of yarn and beaded fabric.
Marjorie’s current favorite (and mine) is the whimsical jeweled skeleton pin. Given the fashion world’s obsession with thinness (so hilariously captured in “The Devil Wears Prada”), I found this especially timely. And just think, by simply wearing this pin, you’ll have friends commenting how “you look like a skeleton of your old self” without even having to lose an ounce. Just a note,this is not recommended for Nicole Richie.
Standouts among the items she sells, which range in price from about $4 to $165 (for a rhinestone bracelet) include her incredible selection of silk and leather flower pins which come in every size, shape, and variety imaginable. She admitted she does very well with them, since she began selling those 6 months ago. Also catching my eye were her colorful and fanciful jeweled nature friendly dragonfly and butterfly pins (the large dragonfly sells for $32). By the way, the butterfly was used throughout John Ray's Gucci Men's spring/summer 2005 runway show in Milan - a butterfly print was used on some shirts and caftans, and butterfly pins accessorized chicly tailored jackets.
And I can't leave out her surrealist grouping of red lips that undoubtedly would have made Salvador Dali smile. Coincidentally, Marjorie told me she met Dali and his wife Gala in the late 50's through a photographer friend and frequently socialized with the couple in the early 60's.
But speaking of surreal, my 'hands down' favorite is her 3 inch rhinestone hand punctuated with perfectly manicured ruby red jeweled nails. It is one of the best buys in the city and the ideal way to make a statement.
She counts major fashion magazine editors, designers, actors, and "Lincoln Center people" amongst her loyal customers. My suggestion: run, do not walk!