Published: March 9, 2004
The heart of the Manhattan’s Fashion Center district came alive over the weekend of February 20-22 as the Seventh New York Vintage Fashion and Antique Textile Show and Sale took place. The show, conducted in the spacious lobbies of the New Yorker Hotel and meandering through several adjoining conference rooms, transformed the bustling center into a center of style that was bursting with color.
The event, now in only its third year (seventh show), attracts dealers and buyers from all around the country. A sure mark of the importance of an event can be measured in the distances dealers are willing to travel to offer their wares. This show had numerous dealers from not only up and down the East Coast, but also from up and down the West Coast spanning from the shores of fashion conscious Oakland, Calif., to probably not so fashion conscious Portland, Ore.
“This is the hottest shopping experience in town for designers, stylists and any man or woman who wants to pick up the best vintage and antique men’s and women’s apparel,” boasts the show’s creator, Shelia Fenney. At $20 a head for admission, this show ranks pricewise right up there with the best of them, and while it certainly is not of Winter Show caliber, the clientele never (or rarely) bats an eye. A huge crowd was on hand for the opening of the show with a special line for those that had prepaid for their tickets via the Internet. Shoppers at the opening ranged from young and fashionable girls looking to spice up their wardrobe, to the fashion conscious chic businesswoman, to designers.
Many of the dealers we spoke with just an hour after the Friday opening were already reporting hefty sales and all were optimistic with heavy weekend crowds still to come.
Vintage furs were attracting quite a bit of attention in the booth of Torso Vintages, Portland, Ore. The dealers commented that this was their first selling opportunity in Manhattan and they jumped at the chance to do Fenney’s show. “We packed everything up in boxes and UPS’d it all out here,” stated dealer John Hadeed. Numerous fur coats, handbags, hats and an assortment of other rdf_Descriptions were displayed in jaguar, ocelot and leopard, and they were attracting serious attention. The dealer also offered an original Rita Hayward-owned ballroom gown by designer to the stars Omar Kiam. The dress, from the 1940s, was a strapless model in a paper silk, encrusted in jewels and beads. Several Adrian pieces were also offered by the dealer including a 1957 dress, “from his last set,” that was made from more than eight yards of ponfrond print material. A pencil skirt and matching jacket, a trademark Adrian design with a military-type fit, was also offered.
New Hampshire dealer Carolyn Forbes offered a variety of materials ranging from Seventeenth Century bonnets with metal and silvered sequined threading to a Twentieth Century bridal trousseau of Charmeuse and lace. “I like to focus on ethnic textiles of the Nineteenth Century,” stated the dealer, pointing out Middle Eastern shawls and African blankets and clothing in her booth.
Men’s and women’s footwear from the 30s to the 50s were featured in the booth of Vintage Apparel, Oakland, Calif., with the dealer commenting that the majority of the pieces he offers are unique custom-made shoes. One such pair, armadillo men’s classics from 1948, had customers hovering. The dealer also displayed a selection of ladies alligator “springalators” from the 50s and a wide range of 50s men’s spectators. Prices ranged from a low of $250 per pair to more than $800.
Joe Sundlie’s Vintedge, New York City, offered a racy assortment including a Victoria Grey 1950s lace top in sheer black with cascading tails that carried a price tag of $650.
Mary McFadden displayed a selection of pleated chintz dresses from the 50s, along with a huge selection vintage handbags by makers known, such as Yves St Laurent, to makers unknown that produced the wide variety of ever-popular beaded bags. One such model, a black beaded cameo bag from the 50s, was a star attraction, while other models from the 30s were also highly sought after.
A wide variety of couture materials were offered by Monica’s Vintage Fashions including a collection from the Esther Maria Chapin estate, the great-granddaughter of George Washington’s sister. Monica Saggos, proprietor of Monica’s, has the distinction of consigning a dress from this collection to Doyle’s that established the world record price paid at auction of $101,500. Among the offerings this time around was Chapin’s wedding dress, circa 1890, a 40s wool baseball uniform, bodices and a rare ethnic men’s Moroccan costume with baggy pants, shawl and turban. One of the more unusual rdf_Descriptions that crossed the boundary from clothing into art was a 40s vintage robe in white with red stripes that was about as diminutive as a robe could be made for a 6-month-old girl.
Linda Reinhardt of It’s a Girl Thing, Merrick, N.Y., offered a selection of clothing ranging from pouffe dresses, such as the 60s Arkay pink party dress with white sash that was more than likely a prom queens dream come true, to a yellow hat emblazoned with red letters “64 Freshman” fresh from the good old days when hazing was a normal and condonable activity.
The next show will take place in October.
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