Saturday, November 25, 2006

Today's Specialist Auctions interview is with Chris of Alley Cats Vintage. Chris is based in Virginia.

Viviene: I've noticed you have a lot of beautiful Fred Perlberg evening gowns. Why Fred Perlberg?

Chris: Fred Perlberg was a moderately priced design house starting in the early 1940's. I especially love his heavy satin gowns which were designed for bridesmaid’s gowns with the gauntlets and wide brim open crown hats. His gowns can be spotted s in many newsreels from the WWII era big band dances. The 1940s was a time when not much flesh was displayed and shoulders were more often covered than not. Later in the early 1950's Fred’s gowns became strapless and therefore sexy.

Viviene: If you had to pick a favorite era what would your favorite vintage clothing era be?

Chris: 1940's to early 1950's.

Viviene: Where did you learn all the knowledge you have about vintage clothing?

Chris: I’ve always loved "old" clothes, even as a child. I remember my Mother’s suits and coats from the 1950's (wish I still had them). I’ve been a fashion watcher all my life although not so much a fashion dresser.

Viviene: When was the first time you bought a vintage treasure and what was it?

Chris: When I was 15 years old I bought a box of depression glassware at an estate sale. I took it home as a gift to my Mother. She said ‘why did you bring this old junk home?’ I realized at that time my mother was from a generation who always had to make due with the old and she loved new things because it meant better times.

Viviene: If you could purchase any piece of vintage treasure what would it be?

Chris: Pairpoint, Bradley & Hubbard or Handel Reverse Painted Table Lamp.

Viviene: What makes a vintage piece a treasure? Is it the name, the age, the condition or a combination of all three? Is it sometimes just that a person wants it because of a memory from childhood?

Chris: Childhood memories play a small part but does not increase value, may run the bid up somewhat. Condition is everything and rarity defines the value.

Viviene: Chris' Specialist Auctions store, Alley Cats Vintage can be found at:

Here are a few of Chris' treasures:

Today at Specialist Auctions we are interviewing Margaret of the Artizania Vintage clothing store. Margaret is based in the UK.

Viviene: What made you decide to get into the vintage clothing business?

I started to organize and run a specialist antique Fair/Show for the UK Textile Society after graduating. I realized there was no specific event in the UK specializing in antique & vintage clothing, so I started my own event, as mentioned above. I had so many people, from all over the world, who could not come to the Fair/Show so they would ask me to source items for them - eventually I started to purchase items and put them on sale on my website and then on eBay - and I haven't stopped since.

Viviene: What eras do you specialize in?

Margaret: I used to specialize in antique clothing, but over the years have grown more and more interested in vintage clothing - as a result I tend to sell items from all eras and do not particularly specialize in any.

Viviene: What is your favorite era and why?

Margaret: I have two. I love the Regency period (early 19th century) and have a couple of dresses dating 1805-1810 in my private collection. In vintage clothing I especially favor ladies tailored suits from the 1930s & 40s - I think they have a style and quality sadly lacking in todays clothing. I have a couple of suits by Irene and Adrian in my collection - and a great many fabulous suits which carry no tags.

Viviene: How long have you been interested in vintage fashion?

Margaret: For quite a few years now, starting in the antique periods, collecting Victorian clothing - and more recently in vintage as well. My interest grew and grew, and together with a number of other vintage sellers on eBay, I was a founding member - and the first elected President - of the Vintage Fashion Guild.

Viviene: Do you think the English look at vintage clothing differently from Americans since England's history is so much longer than the United States?

Margaret: Yes, I think there is more a tendency towards collecting here than 'buying to wear' which is prevalent in the USA. I owned and ran an international antique Fair (Show) in the UK, specializing in antique and vintage clothing, for 10 years - by far the greater number of visitors were collectors and enthusiasts, though more recently there has been a growing demand for wearable vintage.

Viviene: Do you have a favorite customer story you can share with us?

Margaret: I had a buyer who became quite a regular, purchasing vintage clothing from me via eBay and my website. He favored the 60s period - particularly Ossie Clark - and I sourced quite a few items for him - he even flew over to visit my Fair (Show) one year. It was much, much later that I discovered he owned a very well known vintage clothing shop on Rodeo Drive, Los Angeles and sold to the movie stars! I'd love to know if any of my items ended up in the hands of someone famous.

Viviene: Besides your store on Main Street where else are you open for business?

Margaret: I have been selling on eBay since 1997, under the ID artizania, and am proud of my 100% feedback there. More recently I have also been selling at

Viviene: So come check out Margaret's stores at:

And here are a few lovelies to whet your appetite.

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Dingmans Ferry, Pennsylvania, United States
We are the owners of Mod Mary's Vintage on Etsy.