Wednesday, June 9, 2010

In Praise of the Charity Shop Find

In another life I would have been an archaeologist. For it's exactly this instinct to dig, sift, and brush aside that draws me again and again into the most unpromising of secondhand shops, not necessarily to find a great thing, but to pursue it.

It's frequently said that the rise of vintage and its plateau into fashion consciousness means that it's no longer possible to find great treasures in the secondhand arena--it all gets picked clean before you can get in the door. Largely this is true--the great thrift stores on Manhattan's Upper East Side, and London's King's Road, and elsewhere around the world are targets not only of cash-poor students and creatives, but also of fashion's kingpins, seeking inspiration where the punishing pace of the style cycle doesn't allow for quiet reflection with a sketchpad and fertile mind.

Nothing worthwhile in life is easy. Sifting for hours through lackluster garments is its own education, in fabrication, cut, embellishment. And in finding the small window between given styles and uplift of your unique self image.

It's exactly this education that allows you to pull from a crammed rack a sliver of fine color, or half-seen detail, that others might have brushed past. A reward, a find, the buzz that will keep you digging.

With this post, Fashion Preserve is going on hiatus . . . after a year and half of blogging, it's time to write another book. Thank you so much for your readership, and especially your wonderful comments. Best wishes with your own pursuits--and here's to finding and making the most out of the most unexpected of sources.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Calling All Swans: Margot Fonteyn's Odile Costume Now at Auction

OK, done swooning, but still a bit vaporous upon discovery of this marvelous costume from the Royal Opera House in London, worn by Margot Fonteyn, and labeled with her name [!!], when she danced the role of Odile in Swan Lake. She was partnered by none other than Rudolf Nureyev, which means traces of both permeate the gold-embroidered, black velvet bodice. It's being sold by Kerry Taylor Auctions, with a low estimate of £40,000, but can you put a price on owning a remnant of gods?

Before turning over to Margot and Rudolf for their pas de deux, it is worth mentioning that this particular Taylor auction holds many spectacular lots, and well worth a thumb-through if you are serious about your fashion history. More highlights will be posted throughout the week.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

If Carrie Wore Vintage Shoes . . .

Getting really excited here at Fashion Preserve Manor because tomorrow is a big night with the galpals. On the agenda: swilling strong cocktails, eating guacamole, and tottering a couple hundred yards on stupidly high heels to the local theatre to see SATC Part Two. Of course I've read the reviews -- but it really doesn't matter how bad the film is. Simply seeing the attempt to recapture the magic will be entertainment enough for this viewer. Also, it looks like the film will be packed with retro caftan-like maxis, which I love.

Anyway, the point of today's post is that Carrie famously mixes vintage with cutting-edge couture from the ankle up, and indeed helped spur the latter-day gold rush to unearth gorgeous old clothes on the part of the entire world. And yet this same character, who equally famously spends gaspworthy amounts on designer footgear, has never in memory been known to wear vintage shoes.

This seems peculiar. While I understand the potential skeeve factor at play with old shoes, many many vintage examples are in excellent new or nearly-new condition.

I think if Carrie were ever allowed to break free of the Choo and Manolo product placements and range into the vintage shoe realm, Charles Jourdan would be her go-to label of choice. Because these shoes are widely available, not terribly expensive, dead sexy, and cool cool cool. But maybe it's just as well these shoes don't get that kind of notoriety. It's nice knowing there are a few good vintage secrets left in this world.

(Charles Jourdan shoes for sale on Etsy, here, here, and here)