In the Market Report: Vintage Shopping

It’s about “Time”

Miroslava Duma with her Charlotte Olympia clock purse
(Click on images for larger views)

I guess you could say I’ve got time on my mind; and it’s not only because next Saturday, we turn our clocks back. There’s a whole clock purse “thing” going on, and it’s caught my attention. I was recently struck by images of Russian fashion plate Miroslava Duma, carrying a graphic and whimsical Charlotte Olympia clock purse, during Paris Fashion Week. The bag, $1295, is completely sold out online by the way.

Marilyn Brooks 1980’s clock purse

Concurrently, there were pictures of Diane Kruger, who always gets it right from a fashion standpoint, carrying the same purse to The Bridge screening in Germany on September 6th. And last Tuesday, Diane Von Furstenberg accessorized with a kitschy clock bag (label unknown) when she attended Fashion Group International’s “Night of Stars” Galaxy soiree. I became obsessed and was on a mission to find a similar version, and came across images of a clock purse made by the Canadian designer Marilyn Brooks in the 1980’s ( According to the designer, the “Town Hall Clock Handbag”, was designed in 1986 and put into production in 1987. It’s a take off on the old night watchman’s clock that was worn over the shoulder and set up on the hip as he did his rounds each evening. Hers has a battery, so the clock actually works, which is an added bonus. I emailed Ms. Brook who retired in 2003, to see if she had any pieces left. While alas, she does not, she did say she was hoping to get her manufacturer to produce some more in the near future and would keep me posted.

Vintage shopping is one of my most favorite guilty pleasures and pastimes. I especially look forward to the Manhattan Vintage Show ( Held at the Metropolitan Pavilion, the most recent one was this past Friday and Saturday. (The next will be January 17th and 18th, and the Gentlemen’s Vintage Show will be November 15th). Now in its 12th year, and co-produced by David Ornstein and Maureen McGill, (39-year vintage veterans themselves), the show highlights clothing from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. But David, who has an informed eye and is knowledgeable in all areas of fashion, is especially adept at conception and marketing. He has been successful at merging the old with the new; bringing vintage into the current era, which is really what it’s all about.

Manhattan Vintage Big Chief print maxi skirt
Mara Hoffman Collection

One of his more inspired ideas this year was to involve Mara Hoffman, the New York City fashion designer who graduated from Parsons and attended the Central Saint Martin’s College of Arts and Design in London. She was asked to curate a collection which was available online from October 23 – October 25th.  Unsurprisingly, she was so spot on with her well-priced selections, almost everything immediately sold. Among the highlights: a 1960’s suede whiplash fringed skirt, $450; a 1980’s Christian Dior silk pants printed with the moon and the stars, $325; a 1970’s Big Chief print maxi skirt, $265.

In addition, long before the show, David approached Mary McFadden. He said he was struck by how “fresh” and modern her designs looked, and knew they would capture the attention of editors who would be attending. (In fact, they could not be more of the moment, considering we’re in a fashion cycle which is celebrating all that is exotic, ethnic, and global, rich embellishments, and of course, pleats, all of which are McFadden trademarks). David contacted Mary and asked if she would lend some of her iconic designs to the show, and while her immediate response was “Why?” they were in fact featured in an installation, “Cultural Modernist”, and prominently displayed in the large reception area of the Metropolitan Pavillion, alongside several of her books, accessories, and South African artwork.

She was also profiled and interviewed by Laura McLaws Helms, in the show’s catalogue. Here’s an excerpt:

“The spellbinding and intricate designs of Mary McFadden occupy their own place within fashion. Laden with historical references, McFadden found a way to blend a vast array of inspirations into designs that appear timeless. While her clothes resonated perfectly with the period she was designing in (1970s-1990s), the use of classical line and form has allowed them to maintain their wearability today”.

In the meantime, I almost never leave this show empty-handed. These are a few of the things that caught my eye (at a range of prices and for very different reasons). And not surprisingly, I found them in booths of dealers I’ve traditionally gravitated to:

Lisa Victoria Vintage wool jacket with crystal trim

Lisa Victoria Vintage Clothing
201 488 2824

Vintage cotton velvet Pucci cape

Augusta Auction’s amazing Emilio Pucci printed velvet maxi cape, and Pierre Cardin’s multi colored chiffon dress, both of which are part of an upcoming auction on November 13th.
802 376 9988

Judith Lieber gold metal bag

Lulu’s Vintage Lovelies’ gold Judith Lieber purse ($650) which almost looks like binoculars;  Stephen Sprouse 80’s black wool biker jacket ($650);  a pristine black wool Chanel jacket with pearl buttons and white collar and cuffs, $2500;  a racy silver Rifat Uzbek jacket, $350.
212 684 7193

Vintage wicker guitar bag from the 60’s

Deco Etc.’s vintage 1970’s straw guitar bag. Talk about a real conversation piece;, and how perfect for that boho hippie vibe that is so of the moment (not that it ever went away). It was priced at $950 but she said she would take $450!
212 675 3326; 347 423 6446

Vintage Roberto Cavalli green fox maxi coat

Karen McWharter’s amazing Roberto Cavalli 90’s dyed forest green fox horizontally worked maxi coat with insets of black snakeskin, approximately $1300. (I just had to try it on, as did several other attendees). And her 60’s faux leopard coat with faux leather trim. In a sea of faux leopard coats, this one stood out because of its flattering fitted shape and the black leather trim. Plus, the price was hard to beat: $125.
917 455 1002

Vintage maltese cross on a cord

De Jewels’ massive gold Monet Maltese cross $350, and an unlabeled version in gold with large white stones, on a black cord, $175 (very Dolce & Gabbana, or Chanel).
212 228 6445

Vintage iconic Winston Salem pants

Carla & Carla Vintage’s 1970’s Winston Fancy Pants. Unisex with a drawstring waist, in 100% cotton, they feature an iconic and graphic Winston cigarette print. Made by the Winston Company they have the label Winston Fancy Pants inside. With slogans and graphics being so of the moment, not to mention uber cool pajama pants, these could not look more au courant, $150.

Carla & Carla Vintage
917 751 6757

Vintage leopard collar

Evolution’s oversized leopard printed collar, which can easily be added to any top just by fastening it on. Leopard is always ‘spot’ on and this piece happens to be brilliantly practical, $125.
513 560 1983

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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