Thursday, November 12, 2009

New York AND Chicago Vintage!!

Life has been a whirlwind and I'm late in getting this out but better late than never!

Over the past few weeks we did the Manhattan Vintage Show and the Chicago Vintage Show ....both were wonderful. We've been doing Manhattan for a number of years now and so far each show has been inspirational. Fashion and New York are synonymous so it's no surprise, that a show featuring the very best vintage would be embraced whole heartedly. Approximately 80 dealers come from all corners to sell their primo wares and for two days it's pure vintage heaven. It's all there.... under one roof, from historical couture to yester-years dime store ready-to-wear. The customers are always excited and happy...honestly, you would think it was a holiday, but what you may not know is how much of a treat this is for us dealers as well. Let me tell you all about it....

....My husband Bob has managed to squeeze everything into the van, all the clothing and racks, bins, boxes and bags... every last thing I packed and there isn't an inch to spare. I'm always amazed when he does this. I've spent the last two weeks picking the show, cleaning and mending, staging displays.... It's 2:00 am on Friday and we are finally on our way. The drive to NYC is 4 hours and it's a drizzly night. Thankfully the roads are nearly deserted and the miles stream on by. We enter the city around 6:00 am. In the dim light, before sun, the buildings have no color, just bluish shades of gray. The van is soon parked in a great space close to the loading area! auspicious beginnings.

Before we unload I check into the hall. An ocean of chalk marked spaces and empty tables belie the festivity to come. We are one of the early birds. The show does not start for another 7 hours but I like having this time to set my up my booth just the way I want it, taking time to greet the other dealers as they arrive. Elaine's son is coming home from Hawaii and Judy's puppy is such a scamp..... We have some good friends here.

The racks and boxes roll in and slowly the hall is transformed. We are all itching to see what the others have brought. I steal a few minutes to sneak a peek and fall in love with a pretty 1950s cashmere and fox sweater. I can't resist..... only one purchase though, lets see how the show goes....

An hour before the doors open I begin to feel the excitement. Time to put the finishing touches on the booth then off to the ladies room to change. The mirrors are crowded with hopeful faces...we wish each other well while plying lipstick and tussling with tangles.

David, one of the show producers hurries up and down the aisles announcing that we have 10 minutes left. A fellow dealer just took a look out the front door and tells me they are lined up to the end of the block. We both can't help but grin. It's going to be a good show.

Bob and I always set up in the back row. It's our spot and most of our friends are there. When the doors open there is a lag before the crowd reaches us but a few savvy customers beat the rush by starting with us. In the first couple of hours the shoppers tend to be a little frantic. They dart from booth to booth, often asking for specific items. A lot of the early shoppers are high end dealers and designers. For them this is business. They know what they want and don't take time to linger. This year there was a lot of interest in bias crepe dresses from the 1930s as well as designer clothing from the 80s and even the early 90s. They go for the artsy stuff rather than the classic looks. Loose and textured sheaths or tunics that could be belted. Flowing layers and dropped waists....dealers wanted jewelry that was big, bold and signed, gold rather than silver.

It's mid afternoon and the atmosphere has changed. The crowd is thick, but customers are taking their time. I love this part of the see....vintage attracts the most creative people. Sometimes I get completely sidetracked while watching the kaleidoscope of ensembles strolling in and out of my booth. Vintage is the common thread, mostly used to accent but sometimes as a complete identity. It's all good.

The shows are where I see whats Goin' on. Sure, fashion magazines feature vintage from time to time, especially if it's on a celebrities back and there are some great vintage bloggers and sites out there but nothing comes close to seeing whats actually happening on the "street". You get to see vintage trends in their infant stage. I make quick note of any non-trendy piece that gets tried on or picked up numerous times. Sometimes an adventurous soul will buy it, but often enough it stays on the rack until some future show where it becomes the thing they all want. This fall I had an 80s cocktail dress...simple black sheath with a riot of feathers on the shoulders. I can't tell you how many times that dress was taken off the rack, everyone loved it. I had another black 80s sheath with HUGE red satin shoulder accents. Same thing. The silhouettes had the same look. Simple and fitted in the body with exaggerated shoulder details. Both dresses went home with me... this time... but something tells me I should keep an eye out...

Most of the time though, people buy what strikes them or what's "hot" at the moment Highlights this fall were...big belts, long delicate chains with accents, funky boots...over sized tunic sweaters, 1950s shirtwaist dresses ( a perennial) , sequined sweaters.... all kinds of coats and hats (yeah!) and cool 80s handbags.

For two wonderful days I sold vintage, shared my passion, watched a never ending fashion parade and got to be with friends. The show closed at 6:00 pm on Saturday, customers hurried to make final purchases and requested business cards for items they had to think about. As the last person left my booth I kicked off my pretty show-shoes and slipped my aching feet into comfy old sneaks. Chatter about the show went back and forth as we we all packed up our booths. By 9:00 pm the van was loaded and our goodbyes had been said. Tired beyond description but pleased and content Bob and I headed out of the city.

.....two weeks later we did it all again in Chicago... a new show! Since that show is just getting off the ground attendance was not like New York but the promise was there. Chicago is a fantastic place, with it's own vibrant personality. The people are so friendly and of course style is alive and well. Trends were similar to New York and most importantly, vintage is celebrated. Although the crowd was new to us the enthusiasm was the same AND we were asked over and over to please come back next year. How could I not love that?

Well, we are home now and our next show is not until Feb. It's a long stretch but that will give me time to work on my poor neglected website AND Blog! So until next time, take care and thank you for visiting!!