WE VISIT THE AMAZING FASHION ARCHIVES OF NEW YORK VINTAGE
A few weeks ago, we made an impromptu visit to New York Vintage, a huge store filled to the rafters with uniformly the best vintage clothing we have ever seen under one roof. We gasped and gaped at every wonderful thing we saw, and there were many wonderful things to see. Maybe we had a certain look about us, or maybe the staff recognized us from our business card, because we were invited to come back and take a look at their archive, which is usually reserved for stylists, costume designers, and movie and television professionals. The invitation alone was our version of Christmas in July.
We returned two weeks ago, and would like to share with you some of the wonders we saw.
We hadn't taken two steps in when we started ooohing and aaaaahing because there were dozens of wondrous hats at the door. We both fell in love with these marvelous feather crests. These are not antique, but were specially made to order for New York Vintage.
Now let's show you Nicki Minaj, who wore it first. And let's not even ask the magazine question Who wore it better? We already know that, but we're absolutely delighted to say we wore it too. We chose to wear ours widthwise, which shows you just how versatile and well made this headpiece is.
Just a little further in was this dazzling jacket dated "circa 1924". It has the very popular silver and gold thread of the time, and a theme of ancient Egyptian imagery rendered in seed beads and embroidery. Remember, King Tut's tomb made big news when it was discovered in 1922. Egyptian design fit right in with the art deco period. New York Vintage's owner and founder, Shannon Hoey, has a very strong collection from this period, and helped costume Boardwalk Empire and The Great Gatsby. (For Magnet Agency's great interview with Shannon, click here.)
Here's Paz de la Huerta wearing a New York Vintage costume in a still from Boardwalk Empire which we found on the New York Vintage website.
And you need to see some swoonworthy shoes from the period, too, don't you?
And staying right around that period, how romantic are these printed trousers from the archives? They are like something out of Scheherazade. One gets the feeling Leon Bakst could have designed them, and Nijinsky could have worn them.
Various period items scattered around the room, as if in a comfortable apartment, keep visitors in a historical frame of mind. Jean couldn't resist trying on this hand painted mask. Now we know what to rent if we're ever invited to a masked ball in Venice.
We were offered the opportunity to try things on. We don't have to tell readers how tempting that was, but we kept our try-ons to a minimum. We couldn't resist the hats, but we photographed most other items in situ.
Jean fell in love with this persimmon colored raw silk suit dated "circa 1905". It has very detailed seam work, not all of which is visible here, to flatter the body, and wonderful black and white target buttons in bone or horn.
We should also show you a selection of shoes from the 1940s. The colors and decorations nearly dance, even without feet in them.
Just as there were cases and cases of shoes (only a few of which we can show you here), so there were cases and cases of jewelry. Here's a smattering of that. We've chosen a selection of bold sculptural jewelry, but if anyone comes in needing a tiara, New York Vintage has a selection of those, too.
At the rear of the archives, we discovered a mannequin with an amazing display of large statement necklaces, each one more fabulous than the next.
We were ably assisted by the very knowledgeable and helpful Megan. We asked her to model a huge statement necklace for us (in carved ebony?) from the mannequin, and she kindly obliged. She did hesitate for a moment, saying she had not done her hair, but we suspect it is not possible to take a bad picture of Megan.
New York Vintage doesn't restrict its archive to things beyond our memory. This Mondrian swimsuit and futuristic beach hat with built-in sun visor look like something out of a James Bond flick circa early Sean Connery. Yeah, we wore stuff like this.
We also found current designers like Mary McFadden and Comme des Garcons. Here's a terrific Maison Margiela top we found, made out of kid gloves.
This graphic black and white striped faux monkey fur coat by Dolce and Gabanna is also available for rental.
But inevitably we gravitated back toward hats. (There's a surprise!) There were three that we both had to try on.
We loved this asymmetrical orange straw Pierre Cardin hat. It looks like Phillip Treacy meets Dr.Seusse. (Notice we each wore it differently.)
Needless to say, this purple velvet Yves Sant Laurent hat from the archives stole Jean's heart. It is guaranteed to bring out your inner Marlene Dietrich.
While specializing in clothes, the owners can't resist the occasional iconic furniture pieces. For contrast, we wore these hats sitting in a '60s egg chair, with typical '60s lighting in the background.
But we both fell in luuuuvvvvvvv with another of New York Vintage's special creations, a black leather cone hat that must have been a foot tall, but was so well made it easily stayed on our heads.
This tall conical hat is the cat's meow! It has a very Grace Jones vibe. When either one of us wins the lottery, we'll buy one and commission another!
When our visit to the archive was over, we wandered back downstairs, where more wonderful clothes and props awaited us.
Next to this deco mannequin in a feathered headdress is a yummy sleek pair of modern black platform sandals from Celine.
The art deco mannequin and vintage luggage create an atmosphere that screams glamour.
Nearby was this Alexander McQueen dress, whose expertly designed stitching gives it body and drama.
In the next room, we came across a marvelous screen in the strong colors and black outlines favored by Gauguin. You can see yet more astonishing vintage hats in the case at the left, and an eye-popping yellow lacquered chair peeking out at bottom right.
To close, we had to show you another photo from New York Vintage's press collection. Dating back to 2004, it's Beyonce for InStyle magazine.
We want to thank Shannon, Jon, Nicole, Jack and Megan for allowing us the privilege of looking behind the scenes. Everyone at New York Vintage clearly loves what they do. They were warm, welcoming, knowledgeable and enthusiastic.
Jon kindly took the opening photo, in which we wear a pair of matching Dior Resort sombreros, sitting in vintage matching chairs, and flanked by platform shoes which we remember with fondest nostalgia.