Sunday, August 24, 2014
Amarcord: The Remembrance of Clothing Past
Last Friday evening, we celebrated the coming of the weekend in an unusual way at Amarcord Vintage Fashion in Soho. An invitation to a party in one of our favorite vintage clothing stores with some of our favorite people is already a treat. Add the temptations of bubbly, a 20% discount on purchases and a free gift, and how could a girl (or an old broad) ever say no?
As we entered, Valerie stopped in front of the iconic mural that graces the front of the store.
Monkey see, monkey do! Jean strikes a pose in the same great spot. If it works, don't fix it.
The Soho store has a treasure trove of clothing and shoes and accessories for men and women spanning decades. Discovering the jewels scattered all about is part of the fun. This beautiful delicately beaded evening bag sits next to a parfum flacon in the glass cabinet on the wall behind the cash register.
Emma, whom we first met working the Amarcord booth at a Manhattan Vintage Show, sports a chic Borsalino fedora, effortlessly making a style statement and showing us all how young women can wear hats too, without looking costumey. (That she is smart and gorgeous and has the most amazing skin doesn't hurt. And note the red lipstick, please.)
Eclectic doesn't begin to describe Amarcord's contents. In the men's section, below a Campagnolo bicycling cap, was an antique red metal truck. Having watched endless episodes of American Pickers' "rusty gold" finds, Jean thought this one was terrifically collectible. Check out the wide whitewall tires!
Below, Valerie sits next to our delightful camera-shy hostess, Patti, while showing off a vintage jacket by Asiatica. Years ago, Valerie met Asiatica's founders, Fifi White and Elizabeth Wilson, at a Tokyo flea market where they were buying antique textiles to make into some of the most inspired and inspiring designs Valerie has ever seen. All had to be made in accordance with the vintage fabric, which gave the designers some very interesting challenges leading to very creative solutions. Fifi and Elizabeth traveled all over Asia and brought back remarkable finds to make into stunning one-of-a-kind clothes. The jacket seen here is made from a casual pre-war kimono. When we were at the site of last Wednesday's post, we met a lady wearing a very interesting Asiatica jacket. (We know 'cause we liked it so much we asked her the brand name. We're so nosy!) She was visiting New York with her granddaughter and a friend who were interning for the summer in the city, and asked to photograph us.
Colin and his boyfriend stopped by to check out this arrow head shaped ring (left hand, middle finger). Friday was the night it finally went home with them!
When Jean first met Colin (right) on Emma's birthday at Big Bar, he was wearing a black and white striped Comme des Garcons shirt that he had paired with a pair of black and white striped shorts he'd made that day. His attention to detail was amazing, matching the width and spacing of the stripes so the two garments blended seamlessly. Jean is devastated that this photo turned out so dark (even after Photoshopping it) because you can't see the black neoprene-like shorts he'd designed and made. Unfortunately, you also can't see the detail in his partner's dark tie-dyed jumpsuit. Luckily, you can see Colin's red patent leather shoes and his friend's black CdG Mary Janes.
Speaking of red shoes, check out this red leather John Fluevog number. Very cool.
The other customers and staff were enjoying the evening as much as we were. The tall, gorgeous lady on the right was getting ready for a vacation in Jamaica.
Did we mention the adorable and friendly staff?
Valerie found this interesting print skirt whose pattern seems to be taken from Plains Indians' ledger art.
Here's a close-up, upside down, so you can see it better.
You've probably seen ledger art. Here's an example from the Montana State University Billings Library Barstow Collection, entitled Battle Between Crow and Sioux Warriors:
Amarcord's selections range from evening wear to dresses, slacks and blazers, and even bathing suits. Jean took a liking to this polka dotted maillot. Being realistic, she left it behind, but she wasn't able to resist everything. (More on that another time.)
At Jean and Emma's behest, Valerie tried on a black cotton 1980's Joan Crawford style blazer that fit her well and looked very Thierry Mugler or Claude Montana or Jean Paul Gaultier. Having just given away a couple of black jackets that showed promise but never quite delivered, Valerie splurged big time (for her, that is), and took home one that did.
Once the marvelous bubbly kicked in (that's redundant, of course - bubbly is always marvelous) and Jean started getting a little too interested in a catcher's mask, we figured it was time to call it a night. So we strolled a few blocks north to indulge in our new favorite treat: Van Leeuwen artisanal ice cream. Yet another form of heaven, all in one evening.
Since Amarcord sponsors these events nearly monthly, local readers keep your eyes open for the next one. We can't wait.
Did curiosity get the better of you? Did any of you say to yourselves 'hey, I wonder what Amarcord means'? If you say 'No, I figured it was named after the movie', well, yes, you're right about that, but why is it named after the movie? Wikipedia says: The film's title is a Romagnol neologism for "I remember". How's that for the perfect name for a vintage store?
And about last Wednesday's question: if you guessed Rockefeller Center, like our commenters Susan D and Forest City Fashionista, YOU'RE RIGHT! That's a Jeff Koons topiary, called Split Rocker. Click here for Artnet's commentary, as well as a video on Split Rocker.