Published: July 26, 2022
Reviews and Photos by Z.G. Burnett
STURBRIDGE, MASS. – After seven years of skipping the July Brimfield week, new owners David Brockman and Brian Cohen decided to open the Sturbridge Show to summer shoppers. Downsizing their numbers to only one function room of the Sturbridge Host Hotel, there was still ample stock brimming in the dealers’ booths ready to sell. With 37 sellers, there was also more than enough left after the first wave of buyers in the morning crashed into the venue. Despite the doldrums that often characterize the season, many dealers experienced a steady stream of clients who had not been able to attend in May, and if they did, returned to visit their favorite sellers and perused the stock of many newcomers to Sturbridge.
Every Sturbridge Show is different but it’s always difficult to choose which direction in the maze of booths to follow, and then not become distracted by something else once setting down that path. For fashion lovers, the phrase “kid in a candy store” comes to mind. This season’s installment was even more enticing, as many dealers expanded beyond clothing and textiles to include antiques and vintage goods. A few even focused solely on other categories, a new development for the historically fabric and design-focused show.
Susan Voake of Forget Me Not Antiques (Norwich, Conn.) was one such dealer, stocking her booth with a pastel-colored array of antique and vintage sewing notions, samplers and other goods related to the art of handicrafts. Many of them were deadstock, meaning some of the boxes were unopened and their materials had never been used. Voake has been selling since 2004 and was having a consistent day of business. “I’m happy that July is picking up again,” she said. And it was no wonder; for those who buy and sell antique and vintage fashion, knowing how to repair seam pulls and other condition issues is a necessary skill. However, finding the right thread or matching buttons can be a difficult task, making Voake’s supply a necessity and a complementary addition to Sturbridge.
Nearby was the booth of Sister Ray (Dover, N.H.), with Rachel Neveu and Kaitlyn King fresh from the Threadbare Show the day before in Sturbridge. Representing every decade of the Twentieth Century, and even a few decades before, Sister Ray’s stock was a colorful mix bordered by hanging quilts. Across from a rack lined with wedding dresses was a table stocked with fur accessories and original anti-nuclear power bumper stickers for $5 apiece. King found these in a school bus at an estate, “They would have gotten moldy if they stayed there longer, so I rescued them.” Next to these was a pair of what appeared to be beaver fur gauntlet gloves with quilted interior lining, selling for $85. “I want them out of the house!” Neveu said with a laugh.
Across the aisle was Cats On Quilts Antiques from Glennside, Penn., shared by Marin Kirksley and Ry Fillman. Kirksley’s half of the booth was piled with quilts of every kind, the number of which steadily decreased every time we passed by as buyers chipped away at her inventory. Fillman, whose resume includes cataloging at Bonhams and specializing in estate auctions at Andrew Jones in Los Angeles, offered an array of Americaa smalls, folk art and textiles that kept customers coming. This partnership was busy throughout the day and would continue their sales on the fields later in the week.
Another family team occupied the double booth of Vassar Girl Vintage and ARM Vintage, hosted by Kristin K. Boehler and Adeline Marfoglia of Buffalo, N.Y. The pair were surrounded by their wares, with Boehler’s stock on one side focusing on vintage American traditional wear, sometimes known as “Ivy style,” and Marfoglia’s side recalling a more bohemian way of life. Nonetheless, their offerings were cohesive, united by a fluorescent pink Charlie Brown banner that read “I need all the help I can get!” and was priced at $125. Marfoglia was Boehler’s daughter and assisted with her business for years before opening her own shop. “I’m a vintage nepotism baby,” she joked. This was the first time both were selling at the show.
A welcome Sturbridge veteran was Candace Coney of Scarlet Lady Vintage (Weatherston, Texas), whose setup was as glittering as her sparkly pink eyeshadow. This cosmetic choice matched Coney’s booth, which she coordinated in black, cream and pink tones to emulate a turn-of-the-century Parisian boudoir. It was easy to become absorbed in this fantasy and get lost in the Scarlet Lady racks, where the discoveries didn’t seem to end. In addition to garments from the Nineteenth Century onward, Coney offered antique lingerie, fabric samples, vintage feathers and even a few oil paintings. While inspecting the pigeon-front pleating of an Edwardian dress on one of her mannequins, Coney caught us out, “I see you getting fresh with her!” Her good humor was contagious, as always.
First-timer Katrina Demulling of Unpredictable Finds (Providence, R.I.) also arranged a shop-like atmosphere in her booth, stocking “about 25 percent clothes and 75 percent vintage and antique oddities.” Guided by this new initiative of the Sturbridge Show to include a variety of items, Demulling offered an impressive collection of vintage luggage that’s always handy for aesthetically pleasing storage, among other household goods and décor. Prominently displayed was a large antique woven coverlet, the origin of which Demulling was not certain, but believed to be Nineteenth Century. Although unsigned and with some minor losses to the fringe, the coverlet was distinctive due to the use of three colors that created the striped field supporting designs of cream flowers, fruits and eagles with shields. The coverlet was priced at $289.
Another eye-catching piece was a 1970s Frank Usher cocktail dress, offered by Amanda’s Attic Vintage of Richboro, Penn. Amanda Becan and Dan Todd are regulars at Brimfield’s clothing and textiles shows, consistently offering a range of vintage garments and accessories that could all be described as statement pieces. This sleeveless silver dress was no exception, with a black geometric pattern lined and dotted with small crystals that would catch the light wonderfully at any event. The dress retained its Frank Usher label, a defunct brand that was bought and revived by husband and wife team Max and Anne Bruh. Anne had fled Nazi Germany during the war and married Max in 1945, who supported her talent in design with his business acumen. Instead of changing the name, the pair reveled in the “glorious anonymity” that Frank Usher provided and rebuilt the brand into one of the late Twentieth Century’s favorite lines that promised timeless style at reasonable price points. Their garments are still highly sought-after today.
Chip Cordelli of Vintage Treasure Snack (Brooklyn, N.Y.) was another familiar face that promised similarly cheerful stock and was selling at Sturbridge for the first time. Aside from a charming French crocodile pajama case that initially caught our attention, Cordelli pulled out some of his favorite pieces. These included an embroidered Chinese duster that had once been a robe but lost its sleeves sometime in its travels and was selling for $170. On the rack next to it was a royal blue, almost purple 1930s or 1940s dress with a hook and eye closure on the front, as well as a metallic collar with actual metal strands woven into the fabric, priced at $110. Hanging behind these racks was a pair of antique Oddfellows vestments in excellent condition with all their original adornments, waiting for one of their Brothers or a collector to walk by.
Undaunted by the slower traffic of the July Brimfield week, the majority of dealers at Sturbridge were happy with their sales. Those who had never done the show before were excited about being exposed to the extensive network that showing in person at Sturbridge brings, which is only going to grow as the season progresses. We are excited to see who attends the next round of the Sturbridge Show, September 5.
For additional information, www.vintagefashionandtextileshow.com or email@example.com.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm