The Four Seasons of Vintage

The Thrill of the Find

Looking for a vintage bag at Antichità Grossi, Naples

Hunting for a vintage bag at Antichità Grossi, Naples

I spent two weeks in early September in Italy, a country to which I traveled with a small suitcase containing three vintage purses. I feel compelled to reveal that after diligently visiting various vintage and consignment shops in Rome and Naples, I came home to Los Angeles with three more purses, a bracelet, a sweater, and a pin. When I travel to a foreign city, I always make time for vintage shopping. It’s not only a great way to explore different neighborhoods but one of the best ways to make new acquaintances with people who live and work in the area. Though vintage is not as hotly pursued in Italy as it is in the United States, you will find small shops with edited and very affordable collections of Italian designer brands, such as Missoni and Valentino. And for a fashion jewelry lover, the most unexpected and thrilling shop I visited was Fabio Piccioni, a bigiotteria in Rome. In addition to boasting an extensive collection of coral jewelry and sparkly tiaras, Fabio’s store is stacked floor to ceiling with all manner of costume jewelry.

Here below are the shops I visited and the treasures I found.

80s Genny navy leather bag, Blue Goose

1980s Genny navy leather bag from Blue Goose

Blue Goose Consignment, Monti Rome

A small corner of Blue Goose Consignment in Monti, Rome

70s Roberta di Camerino velvet purse; Flamingo Vintage

1970s Roberta di Camerino velvet purse from Flamingo Vintage

The friendly owner at Flamingo Vintage, Monti Rome

The friendly owner at Flamingo Vintage in Monti, Rome

Contemplating a vintage Missoni sweater at 31 Vintage Avenue

Contemplating a vintage Missoni sweater at 31 Vintage Avenue

A selection of vintage bags as 31 Vintage Avenue, Rome

A selection of vintage bags and clothing at 31 Vintage Avenue in Campo de’ Fiori, Rome

60s Trifari by Alfred Philippe 'Garden of Eden' enamel bracelet; Fabbio Piccioni, Rome

1960s Trifari by Alfred Philippe ‘Garden of Eden’ bracelet from Fabio Piccioni

Unsigned vintage brooch with multi-colored cabochons

Unsigned vintage brooch with multi-colored cabochons from Fabio Piccioni

Searching for a treasure at Fabio Piccioni in Monti, Rome

Searching for a find at Fabio Piccioni in Monti, Rome

A great selection of dresses and blouses at Nenton Vintage, Naples

A great selection of dresses and blouses at Nenton Vintage, Naples

Roberta di Camerino french calf bag, 1975; Antichità Grossi, Naples

1975 Roberta di Camerino french calf bag from Alex Grossi at Antichità Grossi, Naples

 

 

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Essays and Musings

In Defense of Fantasy

David Bowie Ziggy Stardust

David Bowie Ziggy Stardust

I can’t say for sure how many days I have been thinking about it, but recently, I have been thinking a lot about prints. I suppose it is the natural outcome of poring over images of spring and fall trends which have saturated my eyes with a print revival: gingham, floral, bohemian, 60s Mod, and 70s Ziggy Stardust. Prints used to belong to other decades, evoking powerful images of times gone by, but now they are unmistakably contemporary, worn as they are in a modern world where more and more people don’t have to get dressed or even leave the house to go to work.

In discussions about prints with people I know, I’ve observed some strong reactions that fall into the category of love it or leave it. For some, prints evoke a nostalgia for the glamour of past generations, serving to enrich the wearer. For others, prints are associated with heaviness, succeeding only in weighing down the wearer under a riot of color and patterns. In thinking over the question of prints, I keep coming back to one of the Italian words for pattern- fantasia– a word that anchors prints to the realm of dream or make-believe. Could wearing prints make you somehow less serious or realistic than someone who wears neutral solid colors?

Although I am no expert at summing up my style in two or three easy words, I have an image of myself as having a playful, classic look, with a wardrobe based on subdued pieces. And so, over the weekend I was stunned, when, while seeing my hairdresser, I heard myself singled out as a print wearer. I had never before regarded my wardrobe as welcoming of print, nor had I ever realized just how much print I actually wear until my hairdresser, a young man in his twenties, made the observation. Though recently I had gone so far as to try on various tops in gingham and floral, I hadn’t dared cross the line into actual ownership. But here was someone who had known me for several years and who saw me in a way I could not or would not see myself.

After returning home from my appointment, I looked for evidence of my excess, and there it was, plainly on display in my closet: the many brightly colored and patterned vintage blouses worn happily over the years, the recent acquisition of striped shirts, floral pants, the checked blue and white Balenciaga knit bought on sale three years ago, the 80s fuchsia and green floral dress purchased last year, the vintage Ungaro black and white plaid jacket, the multicolored vintage Missoni knit jacket, the tweed suit I got married in in 2000. Why had I refused to acknowledge my affinity with prints?

In the 1990s, minimalism ruled in fashion casting a shadow over the extravagance of 1980s’ shapes and patterns. After graduating from college in the early nineties, I got the message that standing out in a print could hamper one’s chances of being taken seriously in the professional world. Bold prints and exuberant colors suggested the free spirited unruliness of the wearer. And so, in an attempt to blend in, I hid my love of prints and embellishment in a restrained wardrobe full of brown, black, gray, and navy solids.

I have to laugh now when I think about how unaware I was of this attempt at disguise that apparently fooled no one but myself. What makes the return of prints so attractive to me today, is that it is unmistakably modern for both women and men to wear fanciful dress without the risk of being tagged unprofessional. At last, in my middle years, I’m at peace with my youthful attraction to fantasia and all that it connotes.

Missoni vintage knit jacket

Missoni vintage knit jacket

Nicolas Ghesquiere for Balenciaga knit

Nicolas Ghesquiere for Balenciaga knit

Fall 2015 Ready-to-Wear Louis Vuitton

Fall 2015 Ready-to-Wear Louis Vuitton

Fall 2015 Ready-to-Wear Lanvin

Fall 2015 Ready-to-Wear Lanvin

Fall 2015 Ready-to-Wear Saint Laurent

Fall 2015 Ready-to-Wear Saint Laurent

Fall 2015 Ready-to-Wear Dries Van Noten

Fall 2015 Ready-to-Wear Dries Van Noten

Spring 2015 Ready-to-Wear Altuzarra

Spring 2015 Ready-to-Wear
Altuzarra

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Essays and Musings

There’s No Place Like Home

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Years ago, when my husband and I first bought our condominium in Los Angeles, I claimed one of the hall closets as my own. As a New Yorker, I couldn’t believe how many closets there were; my heart swelled at the idea of having one to myself. It was a practical decision more than a selfish one: the closet in question has shelves of various sizes perfectly suited for storing the odds and ends of a woman’s wardrobe. The knowledge that my shoe cupboard, as I came to call it, contains more than shoes may surprise some readers. In fact, it is really a scrapbook of sorts – an invigorating mix of past, present, and future – all rigorously assembled. It is a shoe shop, a glove shop, a fabric and ribbon shop, a millinery, a vintage boutique, a handbag shop, and a medical files storage unit, all confined into one cheerful space. My shoe cupboard enshrines the many things that I hold dear. In it you will find secured in boxes or fabric bags vintage fashion jewelry, silk scarves, Rodo clutches, vintage leather handbags, gloves, and feather scarves. Like a star atop a Christmas tree, my college diploma perches on an uppermost shelf.

Last night, in making arrangements for an upcoming trip, it occurred to me that most people collect postcards when they go traveling. This group breaks down into two categories: those who mail the postcards to friends and family from the place they are in and those who bring them home, storing them in a drawer for safekeeping. I fall into neither of these categories, preferring instead to return home with colorful shopping bags from small local shops or department stores. In my shoe cupboard you can find Barney’s and Saks Fifth Avenue’s special holiday shopping bags and Bergdorf Goodman’s classic lavender bag. A glance into my shoe cupboard and you can visit Christian Louboutin in Paris, Missoni in Rome, KaDeWe, the large German department store in Berlin, and Schostal, the Roman 19th century hosiery shop where the Italian writer Pirandello purchased his socks, as well as the Swiss shop, Friedlin in Basel.

When I’m feeling gloomy and need a reminder of the beauty of life, my shoe cupboard is the place I look. It floods my vision with memories of past adventures, while fueling the desire for prospective travels. Most of all, it reminds me of home.photo[3]photo[4]photo[8]photo[7]

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