Sunday, February 2, 2014

There Are Eight Million Great Looks in New York City

Some Are at The Manhattan Vintage Show

Since Jean was sunning herself in Florida, Valerie had to take full (!) responsibility for covering the first of the three Manhattan Vintage Shows this year, all the while dodging snowflakes, trudging through slush, and watching her eyelashes come close to freezing, as if this were Antarctica, and not a city of overheated buildings.  But if it's true that we must suffer for our art, Valerie's paid up in full for a while now.  Here's Valerie's report:

The booth at the entrance is a highly coveted spot.  So much so that the managers rotate the position among the vendors, and this time it was Another Man's Treasure, where we always find something.  Cute-As-A-Button Warren buttonholed me and said his CAAB wife Mika (at home with CAAB Biba) had instructed him to show me two items in particular.  I resist so many things so bravely, but I was helpless when Warren showed me the unlabeled reversible cotton coat above with the double-faced weave.  The look on my face reads 'oh dear, you've figured out my taste and I think this is inevitable'.  What you see here is just the easiest and least imaginative way to wear it.  I saw a picture in which Mika had styled it on herself, and she easily won the 'who wore it better' contest.  Well, it gives me something to strive for!  (When Jean saw Mika's shot of the coat on Instagram, she was going to call Valerie from Palm Beach, but stopped when she saw it described as "sold", so she literally laughed out loud when Mika later posted a shot of Valerie wearing it!)

I hadn't gone ten steps when I saw these shoes with stitched-on red leather toes in the next booth, Vintage Le Monde.  They're too small for my feet, but I fell in love with them.  I was immediately reminded of gloves that Schiaparelli made in the '30s.  (Jean says: File this under "great minds" & "fabulous fashion"! Hawk-eyed readers may recognize these whimsical Italian black suede wedge sandals  with trompe l'oeil toes and crimson toenails from Jean's 10/30/13 coverage of the Fall 2013 show -- that she attended with the Forest City Fashionista, since Valerie was under the weather.)

No, you wags, I'm not old enough to personally remember them.  I read about them in a vintage fashion book.  If you look online, you can also find black Schiaparelli gloves with golden claws at the finger tips!  OMG!

I hadn't gone much further when I ran into Heidi at Barbara Kennedy's booth.  Heidi must have one of those closets to die for, where every piece outdoes the previous one.  Heidi sewed the wonderfully graphic 1938 badge onto this sweater herself.

Heidi found this 1920s coat at Barbara Kennedy's.  Look at the fabulous bow closure and the flaring pleats at the hips.  But best of all...

click on this photo to get a better look at all the hand embroidery work on the sleeves.  I'm not showing you the lining, but Barbara lovingly relined the entire coat herself.  So many things we don't know about our vintage dealers!

In India, pink and yellow are common combinations.  Not so much in the U.S. (except in Palm Beach, as Jean can attest!), and more's the pity, because they work so well together.  Here's Denise (of Denise's Closet), showing how it's done.

I ran into Patricia Fox, who never ever looks the same way twice.  Here, we could be the spokeswomen for the color combo of black and red.  And for polka dot socks.

This woman was at Lofty Vintage.  Love her look.  The glasses are wonderful (Fabulous Fanny's, she said), as is the juxtaposition of stripes and dots.  Love the hair cut.  Love the Kamali coat.  Love the lipstick color...

When I admired this woman's fabulous shirt, she volunteered that it was part of the Maison Margiela line sold last year at H&M.  She said that as if I could have bought one too.  Well, yes, I DID see it there, but somehow I just don't think it would have looked the same on me.

This wouldn't be an Idiosyncratic Fashionistas post if no references were made to hats, so now seems like a good time to make a few.   Here's a hat fashioned completely out of buttons, from Columbia University Consignment.  It's about the size of a largish juliette cap.  All the buttons are the same size and shape.  The colors vary, but harmonize perfectly.  The underside has a circular band of the same buttons - standing up, not lying flat like these - that helps hold the hat in place on the head.  Masterful!  And so creative!

Later at Lofty Vintage I found Maki who, like the IFs, never seems to leave home without a hat, but all of hers are identifiably vintage. Maki's stand-out hat of red felt blossoms is probably from the early '50s.  Here I am going on about her hat and forgetting to tell you to check out the rest of her outfit (look at the sleeves on her coat!).

Gretchen Fenston (left), who wears vintage with great panache, made both of the two vintage-inspired hats shown here.

Isaac, one of the vendors, wore the most wonderful shirt.  It has a very large print, so the manufacturer couldn't cut it just anywhere (the way you could with a solid color shirt).  That adds to the manufacturer's costs, which is why you so seldom see prints of this size.  The colors are richer than they appear in the photo.  I want this shirt!!!

When I was nursing my broken ankle in November, Jean came here without me, and people asked her where I was.  This time I went without Jean, and people asked me where she was. Paradox's Theo, below, wanted to show her that he had adopted her custom-platform shoe strategy (but couldn't get his shoe repairman to add a saw-tooth sole).  I asked Theo to pose in such a way as to make his platforms visible.  Below, his response.  Just as a parenthetical, Theo in stocking feet has to be over six feet tall.  Heaven help the person who stands behind Theo at a rock concert. (Ahem.  Speaking here from years of experience.  We short people think tall people should be seated according to height, except in arenas with progressively raised seats that level the playing field.)

I loved that these Pucci boots feature not only color, but a print as well.  I stopped into a thrift shop the other day where there were racks and racks of anonymous, flavorless black shoes.  Come ON, donors!  Could you give away some colorful shoes, please?  And you designers, could you make a few more shoes in a color in addition to black?  Step out of your comfort zone, pleeeeeeeeze?

Tony Tiemeyer of Evolution showed off this coup: a Rick Owens boot of unimaginable shape and yummy leather.  I asked him to put his hand inside the opening of the boot so you could see just how wild it is.  And don't forget to notice Tony's Texaco jacket.  Evolution is based in Ohio, a fashion gold mine thanks to the collision of geography and history.

After a while it was time for a break.  Even the woman at the concession stand looked great!

Loved this lady's look too.  Wish I'd asked her to turn her head just an inch, so you could see what she's done with her fabulous steel-colored hair.

At Store With No Walls, I found these cut-off overalls with a fabulous air pollution theme.  The dealers and I were unable to figure out if it was printed or hand painted, but it's definitely one or few of a kind.  There must be a story behind this.  I found myself wishing they had the pants version, or the skirt version.

At Noble Savage I bought a... I bought a...  Well, sometime soon you'll see what I bought, if you can't guess.  In the meantime, check out Heather's dress with its designs of fish and women's faces (of course!), and Tim's green sneakers with black and yellow striped laces.

Elisa Goodkind of StyleLikeU can wear jeans with holes in them and still look better than someone wearing designer brands head to toe.

Here's the program for the show.  The photo stylist appears to have been channeling Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's.

And here's Zondra Foxx, who did her own version of the cover.

This Dutch jacket has a black base to which contrasting felt squares have been adhered using some secret method.  I've seen a few variations of it by now, never in my size, and never in my budget, but boy, is it FAB!  Some day.....  sigh....

There are eight million great looks in New York City. These have been some of them.  (With apologies to Naked City, which we kinda sorta just barely remember.

Any perplexed callow youth reading this can clear up questions by watching Naked City, a television paean to the gritty film noir of the period,  on Hulu.  Or watch the movie the series was based on -- which predates us -- on Turner Classic Movies and Net Flicks.)


  1. You did a fabulous job covering the show solo - a tough job, but we're glad you did it! So nice to see people that I've become acquainted with from the show, especially Heather and Tim from Noble Savage, Theo, and Denise, who looks so amazing in the pink and yellow (I could never pull that off). The coat Heidi got from Barbara is stunning, as is the black and white one in your last photo. Too bad it was beyond your budget, as it kind of screams "VALERIE"....

  2. In light of Valerie's comment about Antarctic conditions in NYC, Jean wanted to share her Snapple bottle cap "Real Fact" #803: "Antarctica is the only continent with no owls." Who knew?

  3. Thank you for being my eyes (and ears?) at the show. I went several years ago and was totally enthralled. The merch is great but the people watching is even better, as you've so wonderfully shown. That last jacket? A MUST-HAVE!! At the very least, figure out how it's done so you or someone else (maybe the ever-talented Deborah The Nutritionista ) can make it!!! Looks like a wonderful facsimile could be had by upcycling a blazer. The fit on that one though is admittedly too amazing. XXOO