What’s Old Is New Again

Pocketbook’s 80’s Gianfranco Ferre chocolate brown nappa leather jacket

I sometimes think I have enough of everything and cannot possibly fit one more thing into my already overstuffed closets. But that’s never stopped me from looking, and as they say, there’s always “room for one more”, especially where vintage is concerned. It’s not just the thrill of the hunt, but the allure of the serendipity element inherent in shopping vintage. The anticipation of not knowing what you will find, the prospect of unearthing that perfect something you did not know you needed, but after spotting it, know you have to have it because it would really rev up your wardrobe.

There is also the one-of-a-kind allure. And even if an item is not unique, it’s certainly not mass produced like the Celine and YSL carryalls featured in Bill Cunningham’s column (“Upsize”) in The New York Times yesterday. I have tried to understand the herd mentality, where everyone is carrying the same expensive bag, or wearing the same shoes. I think It is all about security in numbers and lack of confidence in one’s own taste and instincts. (If everyone has it, it must be good, right?) While the pictures of all those women carrying the exact same bag may be great to illustrate Bill’s article, for me, it speaks volumes.  There is far greater joy in relying on, and using one’s own taste as a guide than depending upon the taste of others.

As I mentioned last week, one of my favorite destinations for scouring ‘one of’ vintage, is the tri-annual Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show at the Metropolitan Pavillion, which just took place this past Friday and Saturday (http://www.manhattanvintage.com/ ). Superbly organized by David Ornstein, his son Adam, and Maureen McGill, this “ultimate vintage shopping experience” is now in it’s15th year at this location, allowing more than 75 of the country’s “top vintage clothing and antiques dealers” to come together under one roof for 2 days.

I was there on both days and surprisingly, I did not spot anyone I knew on Friday, (that is traditionally the day when designers and their reps scout and shop). But on Saturday, Francisco Costa was there with his niece, waiting outside before the doors opened at 11AM. We chatted about a variety of things, all fashion related of course, and while said he wasn’t looking for anything in particular, he loves attending this show.

Francisco told me the 60’s and 70’s are his favorite decades for fashion, but also said the 30’s held great appeal for him. When he approvingly commented on my monotone black-and-white outfit, I asked what colors he had in mind for the spring collection (to be shown in September). He admitted he was feeling for color, but was not specific. When we entered the lobby of the Metropolitan Pavillion, he was immediately taken by the ultra chic vintage 60’s black Gucci dress on display, it was very Calvin Klein in its minimalist simplicity, and effectively accessorized with a gleaming silver modernist pendant by Pierre Cardin, also from the 60’s. (The dress was courtesy Daybreak Vintage, and the necklace, from Cherry Vintage)

 (By the way, this, and several other ensembles, were part of a special exhibit: “Out There Wear: Futuristic Fashions”, in celebration of the creators in the 60’s who thought “out of the box” and brought us “bold edgy, defiant” designs that generated the Youthquake).

While there were a few new faces among the nearly 100 exhibitors, I almost always find myself attracted to the ‘usual suspects’: those tried and true vendors who always attend the big shows in the city and whose booths seem to compel me to stop by, take a closer look, and all too often, open up my wallet. In many instances, many of these same people conveniently set up shop here in New York, or have websites.

These are some of the things that caught my eye this time around, in random order:

Vintage With a Twist’s chic and utterly timeless 70’s Marimekko coatdress in graphic ivory and black, ($350); the oddity of the funky 80’s jean jacket embellished with bottle caps; and the beautiful black raffia coat and unlined dress made in Italy ($450, $255), 914 924 5006; antiquelaney@gmail.com  (Elaine Klausman)

In addition to the aforementioned black Gucci dress on display in the lobby, Daybreak Vintage’s dizzying array of costume jewelry (rings, pins, etc.); the graphic vintage Etro man’s dinner jacket and Maureen McGill’s always wonderful selection of separates (some really natty blazers and great summer dresses, not to mention her 50’s and 60’s straw bags, whether in graphic patterns, strong colors, or chic natural versions (518 434 4312; daybreakvintage.com; daybreakvintage@gmail.com)

New/Found Vintage Concept Studio’s gingham checked platform espadrilles by Christian Louboutin ($300) looked right on and ‘new’ and guess what? They are (relatively new rather than vintage, anyway according to owner Richard Wainwright. I guess that explains the name of his company!) I also liked his cache of bold gold pieces from the 80’s, from icons like Lagerfeld, Lacroix, and Isabel Canovas (I loved the latter’s mouse earrings) (310 383 5939, info@newfoundla.com )

Veteran Marlene Wetherell’s well trained discerning eye is always on view in her stellar collection, and while she has great non label treasures, she is known for her designer pieces such as an utterly fabulous and iconic vintage YSL black tuxedo with large diamante buttons, bold gold modernist collars and necklaces from the 80’s, and her stache of vintage YSL scarves, all bearing the creator’s mouthwatering color combinations (Ms. Wetherell has a permanent shop at the Show Place, Gallerie 210, 40 West 25th Street, 917 225 0662, marlenewetherell@aol.com )

It was hard NOT to notice Pocketbook’s 80’s Gianfranco Ferre chocolate brown nappa leather jacket (see lead photo) – with insanely over the top gold buttons in the shape of lions heads (the epaulets were also gold lion heads),$1200, as well as the selection of vintage straw bags (including one from Coach, another from Moschino, and one from late 50’s with brown leather trim, ranging from $65 – $125). Now that summer is coming, it’s fun to switch from leather to straw, but finding a really chic or distinctive looking straw bag, that does not look like a common beach bag, is not always that easy. Pocketbook (Susan Bergin, NYC Garage Booth #63, 215 813 6941, susanbergin@comcast.net )

I always find something at Lulu’s Vintage Lovelies. This time, my eye went to the huge bejeweled dragonfly pin by Larry Verba $295; the vintage starfish pin in gold with tiny pearls; the eye catching statement making necklaces and bibs; the decidedly deco embellished 20’s cap; a chic floor length striped cotton sleeveless shirtdress with a Bonwit Teller label; a black lace dress from the 50’s from the original store at the Waldorf Astoria; THE perfect pair of simple black suede pumps from England (under $100) and a fantastic black open work crochet pullover in heavy black tape ($275) Lulu’s Vintage Lovelies, Yardena 212 684 7193; nyluluvintage@gmail.com )

Deirdre Geary’s corner booth (De Jewels), is so crammed with bracelets and especially, necklaces, (on gold or silver chains in every length, width, size), they resembled a gilded ornate curtain. Her selection is dizzying, (ranging from $50-$500, with most in the $200-$300 range), but since it’s the springtime, the pieces that stood out for me were the nature themed necklaces with prominent frogs, butterflies, elephants, lizards, and giraffes, and turtles — whether plain, enameled, or bejeweled. And the enormous gold fish ($250) stole my heart. (212 228 6445 dgeary7@verizon.net )

Graphic silk scarves (over sized squares and oblongs) from the 60’s bearing iconic names like YSL, Chanel, Pucci, and Jean Patou never lose their appeal, and they were standouts at Honeysuckle & Hearts Vintage (approximately $140). (Oana Stan, 917 374 8400 honeysuckleandhearts@gmail.com & honeysuckleandhearts/etsy.com  )

It’s obvious why the Andy Warhol image of Marilyn Monroe affixed to Philip Treacy’s elongated clutch caught MY eye at Sarah Steinitz Paris, $650, right? (chic.sarah@hotmail.com & facebook.com/sarahsteinitzfashiondealer, 33 (0) 6 73 50 14 46)

Lofty Vintage’s quirky, eclectic selections are always displayed to maximum effect and always attract my attention. I was drawn to the funky 60’s hat; the over sized chain link necklaces in real tortoise and one by KJL in white resin, (or was it plastic?), $225 each. Also, the miniature Koret white straw bag with gold hardware and colorful yarn trim ($250); the whimsical straw bags (two, in the shape of a fish, and one, in black-and-white straw, shaped like a dog), and the dramatic, iconic, colorful and graphic pleated Issey Miyake caftan ($750) which was on display overhead. (Andrea Hall Levy, 646 705 6465; http://www.loftyvintage.com/ & andrea@loftyvintage.com )

I just had to try on Retrostop Vintage and Couture’s Christian Lacroix hot pink bolero with black pom poms and trim ($1200, 80’s or 90’s). I decided it would look amazing with black narrow high waisted pants (very Balenciaga, I might add) (215 579 1674, retrostop@hotmail.com &  http://www.retrostoponline.com/ )

The transformative nature of great, distinctive eye glass frames, which were on display at Duchess Art & Antiques (they specialized in frames from the 50’s through the 90’s in pristine condition) was not lost on Mr. Boniuk, the proprietor’s husband. He illustrated how quickly he can go from “Woody Allen to Eurotrash” in an instant by simply removing his nerdy horn-rimmed frames and changing to a pair of vintage Cazal’s (the iconic German label from the 80’s, featured in Michael Jackson’s MTV video, ‘Bad’, $500). (Vivien Boniuk, 917 710 1130, 212 645 1206)

Speaking of transformative, nothing changes the look of the wearer better than a hat, and I could not help but notice more than a few women trying on whimsical chapeaux. I couldn’t help but wonder if any of them were trying to find the perfect hat to wear to the upcoming Frederick Law Olmsted Awards Luncheon, at the glorious Central Park Conservancy, THE spectacular hat event held at the glorious Central Park Conservancy, always takes place on the first Wednesday in May, and this year, it is May 2nd.(http://www.centralparknyc.org/)

-Marilyn Kirschner

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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