Sunday, May 8, 2011

Rare Vintage - The Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show

Jean says: On Saturday, April 30th, Valerie and went with our friend, jewelry designer Sarah Basch, to the Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show at the Metropolitan Pavilion on West 18th Street. This venue is one of our favorite vintage shows and hosts a number of our favorite vendors. For the record, Valerie was up to her old tricks, wearing color. She looked so fab she was even was photographed for WWD! Click here for a look.

We met Sarah at the Armory at the SOFA show two years ago and instantly clicked. We became reacquainted when she returned to the States for the April SOFA show. It was interesting to gauge Sarah's take on an American vintage clothing show. Click on the photo for a closeup of one of Sarah's designs -- her wonderful cork necklace!

Just inside the front door on the main aisle was Lara Kornbluh's Icon Style booth ( which featured the most magnificent black straw Audrey Hepburn-Breakfast-at-Tiffany's hat. Valerie says: Both of us were immediately stunned by it, and neither of us needed to be persuaded to try it on. Trying on a hat like this is always fraught, though, because you may love it on the mannequin's head, and be very disappointed with the way it looks on your own head. As you can see, it's tall at the top, wide at the bottom, with two bulges in between. So it could overwhelm the wearer, or make her look more like a spectacle than a chic Audrey Hepburn look-alike.

Jean says: Let's just say nobody had to twist my arm to don the hat and vogue for the camera. Valerie adds: Mind you - and this is no exaggeration - we were still merely at the entrance of the show, not yet in the main hall, and Jean had already bought a fabulous white lace saucer hat not five minutes before she tried this one on. We both regret that we didn't photograph it, or her in it. And Jean's camera has gone to the Camera Hospital for rehab, so she can't take a quickie photo and do a quickie upload. But we promise you'll see it soon.

Valerie and I were introduced to Liz Baca by Ari Seth Cohen, who had attended the show the day before. I tried on a fabulous black jacket-thing by Belgium designer Ann Demuelemeester in her booth "The Goods! by Liz Baca" (lizbuzyladybaca I don't know exactly how to describe it, but picture a jacket cut off just under the armpit. MUCH smaller than a shrug or a bolero, it consists of just sleeves and lapels. Needless to say, I LOVED IT, so of course, it gnawed at the inside of my brain all afternoon. I left it on the hanger, but periodically returned to the booth to check out several other items -- including a killer multi-color Issey Miyake pleated skirt that Tim John hunted me down to try on. At the end of the show, just before we left, I went back one last time to check on the jacket-thing: It was still there! Liz gave me a very good price, so it went home with me. Valerie notes: we spotted vintage Issey Miyake on Liz's legs. She barely seems old enough to have a booth, much less to be traveling here from San Francisco to show. I wish I'd known as early as Liz what I wanted to do in life. Knowing what you want to do is a gift, just like being musical or having good people skills.

Back to Jean: Hannah Kurland (next to Valerie) is the proprietress of Marmalade Vintage on Mott Street in NYC. Why were we not surprised to learn that she and her daughter are friends of Liz Baca's? It figures these stylish dames stick together! It's like a style underground that spans the globe! Her daughter (in Schiaparelli pink) and I were both sporting our turbans and harem pants that day.

Jean says: We stopped by one of our favorite vendors, Jae Jarrell Gents & Fem Chic Vintage ( In honor of the previous day's royal wedding, Jae had a great morning coat on the mannequin inside her booth. Valerie says: Everyone was talking about the royal wedding, which had been the day before. Because we were both wearing and trying on hats, a few people asked if we were inspired by the show of millinery at the wedding. Ha! We were wearing hats before Kate Middleton was born. And, may we say, we watched some of the festivities, and while there were quite a few hats we loved, we also noted far too many women who clearly didn't have the hat thing figured out, and it looked like a number of milliners were perhaps in the wrong business.

Valerie continues: I stopped in at Antique Wardrobe, run by Jamie Viano and Sandra Skeffington out of Massachussets. I don't think I've ever seen anything later than the '50s in their booth, and much of their merchandise is turn of the century or older. I fell in love with this wacky animal print that someone made into a matching skirt, hat and bag. Sarah bought thumbnail sized vintage lemons and green olives on paper-covered wires. Originally intended for hat decorations, they were wonderfully realistic. Sarah's going to fashion them into custom-made one of a kind jewelry.

Jean says: Zandra Foxx is a fixture at the vintage clothing shows at the Manhattan Pavilion and Stella Pier shows. In honor of the royal wedding, a documentary called Diana's Dresses (following the fate, 15 years later, of the dresses auctioned shortly before her death) was running on TV the week before the show. Valerie saw it first and alerted me that Zandra makes an appearance in the show as an unsuccessful bidder for one of Diana's evening gowns. Of course, I immediately started surfing the cable TV channels in the hopes that the show would be repeated. My efforts were rewarded when I caught a re-run of the show and saw Zandra. At the Metropolitan Pavilion, she was wearing one of my favorites of "her" looks -- a big, overblown Joey Heatherton-style platinum blond wig, oversize glasses and bright red lipstick. She paired it with a black and white 1950s dress with ruffled shoulders and scarf, black with white polka dot hoop earrings and bracelets, white with black polka dot gloves, and pink hightop sneakers! (Valerie says: I'm not the type to watch Diana's Dresses, but it was late at night and I was channel surfing. It was either Diana's Dresses or body building...)

Zandra joined Valerie and me for a snapshot.

Lulu, of Lulu's Vintage Lovelies, taking a break and making the rounds of the hall, was easy to spot this vintage jacket. If you look, you can see the huge yellow spots are hats of the period. We had to show you both sides, so you could see how the print was maneuvered into just the right place in the front for pockets. Lulu said she had a hat she wanted one of us to buy. It can be scary when vendors try to predict a client's taste. What do you say if they get it absolutely wrong? But Lulu has great stuff, and we've bought a number of hats from her, so we happily promised to stop by her booth.

We met Heidi only the previous week at the Easter Parade, where there was a swing band that Heidi and a number of others were all decked out for. Here's Heidi in vintage again. We had to show you both sides of her jacket.

Valerie says: here's Tim in his newly purchased Mary McFadden white pleated skirt, newly purchased white saucer hat, his own Issey Miyake black pleated jacket, and an ancient Chinese black jade piece that he fashioned into a neckpiece. Jean referred to this hat as the one that got away, but she more than made up for it shortly afterward when we visited Lulu.

Jean says: It's true. I confess. I managed to bag not one, but two white coolie hats of my own. The first is in white lace with black velvet trim - from Denyse's Closet (denysescloset The second (right and below) is in feathers, from Lulu, of course (whose dainty little boot is just visible at the edge of the photo). When not at the shows, Lulu can be found downstairs at the Antiques Garage on W. 25th St.

Here's a closeup!

Valerie says: I came away with yet another hat myself, but - as with Jean's lace hat and truncated jacket - failed to photograph it. With 20/20 hindsight, we occasionally berate ourselves for not documenting these things properly for the blog, but at the same time we have to cut ourselves some slack. We come from an age where there was film, and it was on rolls, and we photographed sparingly because of the what if you took three pictures of the ocean and ran out of film just when a whale jumped out of the water mentality. Plus every photo had to be developed into a hard copy, which took time and cost money. Digitals are great, and we're handling the mechanics of them quite well. It's the psychology of abundance that we're having to adjust to!

These two girls, doing their hiphop thing, asked us if we were coming back from a party. The one on the left, who said her name was "Bob", had a sketchbook full of great drawings she was working on. She said she was 15 and that her friend was her older cousin. This photo seems a bit blurry. I'm hoping the train lurched while I was standing to take the picture, because the only other possibility is that the train was still and I was the one lurching.

The fifteen year old girl took a far better picture of us. Here we are, finally heading home, plugging our ears due to an unusually screechy ride.

Jean is wearing a turban by Amy Downs New York (from A-Uno); black Ensemble sleeveless vest; black and grey striped 3/4-sleeve Gap turtle neck; black linen harem pants from Soho outdoor street market; Trippen boots with geta platform; and Lux de Ville handbag.

Valerie is wearing an orange straw hat labeled 0 1/4 Junior, purchased at Isetan department store some 20 years ago; Pleats Please cap sleeved top, long sleeved green polka dot shirt labeled Peplum by Yoshiki Hishinuma, bracelet of porcelain carrots, acid green silk pants by Yoshiki Hishinuma and unlabeled blue cloth shoes.

Some of our favorite vintage vendors not already mentioned:
Angela's Boutique NYC (212) 475-1571
Another Man's Treasure NJ (
Billie Madley NYC (
Fool's Gold - Sheila Strong NYC (
Incogneeto -Stacy LoAlbo NJ (
Karen McWharter NYC (
Matinee Idol - Gene Elm VA (

Mark your calendars: The next Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show will be October 21-22, 2011.


  1. I am so in love with that feathery Hat! wish I live in NY....

  2. Love the outfit on Heidi--saw her photo along with Valerie's on the WWD site. Your hat collection is phenomenal and you wear them with such aplomb. I have always wanted to get to the Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show, and I am hoping to get to NY this fall, and will try to make it the Show (thanks for the info about the date). I definitely want to meet you two when I'm there!

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