Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Manhattan Vintage Show: Your Source in the Fight Against Normcore

We had the pleasure of dining with Sue Kreitzman the other night (a story for another time), and she said she had only just heard the expression NORMCORE for the first time.  Normcore is a unisex fashion trend characterized by unpretentious, average-looking clothing. Egad!  We're always very flattered when people who stop us in the street admire the way we dress, and as a result of our conversation with Sue, we can finally articulate why we are so addicted to the Manhattan Vintage Show and flea markets in general: this is the best strategy against Normcore for those of us on a budget.

Below, photoessays of vintage clothing and accessories and of fellow vintage lovers in the neverending battle against personality-free clothing.

Starting out with some shoes that fill us with nostalgia for our youth...

First these bicolor platforms from Screaming Mimi's.

And these hilarious round toed polka dotted shoes in unexpected colors from The House of Findings.

And one more shoe-related picture before we move on to other wonderful things. Jean found this whimsical red plastic necklace with little Dutch clogs at Sheila Strong's Fools' Gold ... and had to have it. See how well it goes with the rest of her collection.

Another Man's Treasure always has something that resonates with us.  Here, Meika shows two 80s pieces by Bonnie Boerer.  The left brings back memories of Patrick Kelly; the right reminds of us Yamamoto Kansai.

These bold and unique earrings are from Town Peddlers from New Rochelle.

Barbara Johnson showed a hand knit sweater by Hilary Smith.  What's great about the sweater is that Hilary used a flat yarn for the white ground and a fluffy yarn for the poodles.  Just figuring out how to do the poodles fills us with admiration for Hilary, but that she thought to use a contrasting yarn that makes the poodles look more poodle-y is just... well... she should get some kind of award for that.  (Actually, all the designers here should get some kind of award.  Some of them have.)

Courreges was way ahead of his time in the 60s, and delighted in using common materials in unconventional ways.  At Lorry Polizzi's, we found this Courreges dress with vinyl embellishments.

Regina of Vintage Le Monde had some fabulous jewelry.  The two huge silver cuffs were show stoppers.  Regina said they were worn by a woman who designed them to go with a dress she wore in the 1920s.  We thought they were Robert Lee Morris, but they predate him by almost fifty years.   Don't forget to look at the very modern necklace, bottom right, with the square in the half circle, or at the leather collar with dangling hammered spikes, or hiding toward the back left, the bracelet  circles that look like round books with their pages flung open.  (Double click for a better view.)

Karen McWharter's booth is always a treasure trove of truly unique and interesting jewelry and clothing that doesn't look like anyone else. This pristine handmade straw and cloth bag has such an interesting shape and is perfect for this time of year.

Masaka Ogura of Mingei Japan designs her own fabrics and incorporates them into traditional kimonos and more modern shapes like this terrific top with fans.

We stopped to chat with this nice lady and compared notes about favorite pieces and our mutual love of vintage.

And of course we couldn't not show you some great Issey Miyake from andArchive.   This light and airy cotton really needs to be pinned against a wall for you to get its full impact, but probably the owner wouldn't like us doing that.  This suit dates back to about 1986 or 87, when Issey Miyake did a lot of designs based on Indian material and Indian weaving techniques.  The zigzags you see here are double ikat woven designs, not printed, so a lot of expertise went into the weaving before the material was even sewn.  Wish we could give you a better look at the fabulous ikat bottom that goes with it, too.  Just take our word that we wanna take this home, if only to pin it to our own wall and gape at it.

In the same booth, we saw this amazing vintage Miyake jacket -- on the most beautiful vendor.

The Style Vault from Washington, DC had a great collection of colorful handbags -- just the thing for spring.

This silver Spratling bee jewelry from Treasure Trove was truly striking.

Not everyone could carry off this stylish black and white feathered hat at Stacy LoAlbo's Incogneeto.

And now, some members of the valiant Normcore resistance.

We can never show you enough of our man Dapper Dan, whom we've never seen wear anything that dates later than about 1960 (if that recent).  Dan should be a menswear stylist.

You think he's done a great job?  You don't know the half of it.  Here's Dan's pocket hankie.  That corner square you see in the center peeking out at the top?  With the deep blue tip?  That square was pieced in separately to make sure the blue tip would sit exactly where it was supposed to.   It's exquisite, but it hides in plain sight.

Here's Patti, a color trend consultant, wearing amazing blue glasses, and a fabulous hairstyle.

Certain individuals who obviously do not want to look like everyone else can carry off the vintage look without looking forced. Case in point: This young woman (who actually lives across the street from Jean but whom we never seem to see except at this show) can really wear vintage and capture the aura of the era.

This young woman also wears vintage with style and flair.

Here are Jessie and Hannah.  The editors of this post truly regret that we did not capture the true very purple color of Hannah's vintage felt hat, or its wonderful clam-like folds.

Amanda Dolan of Spark Pretty and her friend always manage to coordinate their outfits to perfection.  They were both wearing knockout Norma Kamali print dresses.

Valerie tried on this terrific black sand-washed denim jacket at Spark Pretty.

Yes, that's our card she's holding.  But don't look at that.  Look at her great glasses and hairstyle!

Two more fellow shoppers...

And another great hair style.

After the show, we stopped into Flute Gramercy on East 20th Street for a cocktail and to compare notes and catch up.

Most of the cocktails feature champagne (but of course!) and are quite tasty. After a long and amusing chat, we decided to leave when the younger crowd (almost everybody is the younger crowd at our age) started taking over.  We knew because the noise level - and the volume of the music - began to creep up.  Till next time ...  think about and heed Sue Kreitzman's warning: "Beige will kill you!"


  1. I would be absolutely MORE broke living in The City because I cannot just look..I NEED to buy. I absolutely love all the stylish shoppers. Thank you!

  2. YES! Normcore is a Bore! Your posts about the show make me so happy - I love seeing the regulars (Dan, Meika, etc.) and the amazing eye candy. I saw those amazing silver bracelets in the fall and wondered what the woman wore them with. The necklace with the square and half circle is a fab piece of wearable art.

    The denim jacket from Spark Pretty fits Valerie like a dream, and Jean's new clog-embellished necklace is a great addition to her already gasp-inducing collection.

  3. Thank You Ladies! You are truly an inspirational phenomenon. All the best, Mayra @The House Of Findings