Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Vintage Advantage

Yes, I know we're in a major recession, but a girl's gotta shop, n'est pas? So I'm here to help you stimulate the economy. How, you ask? It's simple, just think vintage. For one thing, you won't see yourself coming and going, the quality is (usually) better and there are bargains to be had if you know where to look.

My friend and I (another shopaholic) hit the Manhattan Vintage Show which is open to the public and is definitely worth the twenty dollar entrance fee. Hint: this is a two-day show, always held on a Friday and Saturday so it's best to go the second day (as many dealers reduce their prices, rather than lug stuff back home). For example, I snagged - wait for it – a GENUINE ALLIGATOR shoulder bag from the '50s for twenty bucks! My friend grabbed a darling vintage pin in carved wood for even less moola. Needless to say, we found a terrific '60s beaver-trimmed tweed suit from Martha's (a chic, overpriced designer boutique, now gone) for $185 and a stunning John Meyer of Norwich classic two-piece camel hair shell and skirt - think Michael Kors/Mad Men – for a measly eighty-five bucks. Also a terrific buy, the reversible mink paw topper at $175 from Angela's Vintage Boutique. Even more affordable were Connie Schwab's assortment of wool tweed pencil skirts from the 1960's. These ran $24 - $35.

Upcoming show dates in 2009 are February 6th & 7th, April 24th & 25th and October 9th & 10th. Check out their website, www.manhattanvintage.com for more info.

I happened upon another terrific resource for vintage/designer clothes and accessories. It's a boutique on Manhattan's upper west side called Off Broadway. Disregard the outside of the shop as it looks like any other middle-of-the-road boutique, but walk to the back of the store and lo and behold, it's a treasure trove of AFFORDABLE vintage clothes and accessories. Noteworthy, the range of YSL skirt suits, under $200, a chic genuine cheetah beret, a steal at $65 and a gorgeous selection of handbags, jewelry and shoes from top designer names. I personally drooled over a paisley coat by Oscar de la Renta that was tagged at $90, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Everything is in impeccable condition since the boutique works on a consignment basis. I don't want to name names, but some very well known celebs have been seen coming out of this shop. For more info, go to www.boutiqueoffbroadway.com.

Believe it or not, sometimes you can find some terrific stuff from street vendors. That said, Olivia Garay isn't just any old vendor. Her specialty is vintage jewelry and you can always find her on 3rd Avenue and 70th Street in Manhattan. Her business card states buy/sell/trade, and there's always something fabulous to unearth. Prices run the gamut but every piece is a collectible (you can always resell as costume jewelry goes up in value, unlike the real stuff). Want an example? The recent auction at Doyle New York where artist, Warhol muse and socialite Brigid Berlin and West Coast social star Ann Getty's costume jewelry and smattering of handbags went on sale. THE PRICES WENT THROUGH THE ROOF! How do I know this? Because not only did I attend the very posh cocktail party preview (where I got a chance to chat with Brigid and compare notes on our salad days and the high life, or at least what I can remember of them), but I sat in on the auction which was packed.

At Doyle New York:
Brigid Berlin and C&C Discussing Salad (Days)

Here's a sampling of the auction results: a group of five blackamoor pins from the '30s, estimated between $100- 150 went for 650 smackeroos, while a 1939 gold-plated metal cuff with cabochon and rhinestone flowers sold for $1,000. I had my eye on Trifari's orb pin in gold-plated metal set with faux pearls and colored stones (made in commemoration of Queen Elizabeth's 1953 coronation), that was valued at between $ 75-$100, but went for $325. C'est la vie… These pieces will only increase in value as time goes on, so investing in costume jewelry is worthwhile. You can't go wrong if a piece is signed. Names to look for include, Trifari, KJL, Jomaz, Gripoix, Chanel, Fahrner, Hattie Carnegie and Miriam Haskell, but there are many more great designers out there. Have fun hunting - great vintage costume jewelry is recession proof.

Jewelry Designers Robert Sorrell and David Mandel
Modeling The Latest in Human Accessories at Doyle New York

To check out Doyle's fabulous costume jewelry from the October 7th auction, go online at www.Doylenewyork.com.

Brigid Berlin Admiring Doyle New York's Latest Gold Lame' Mannequin
and Possibly the Jewelry, Too!

If you have any fabulous vintage resources, I'd love to hear about them. In the meantime, happy hunting, C&C.

Crap and Couture, Notes From the Back Row