Friday, February 02, 2007

Today our Specialist Auctions interview is with Holly of Purse Diva Vintage and Purse Diva Couture.

Viviene: What attracted you to vintage clothing and when did this attraction start?

Holly: I'd have to say back in the 80s is when it started. I was, what was known then, a "quaker" or a "wavo" - mostly dressing in black but adding in shocking amounts of color here and there, Flock of Seagulls hair, the whole bit. I found this amazing priest's cloak from the 40s that I wore simply everywhere (which I still have, lol), and I went to Catholic! That started my vintage addiction. It really propelled into high gear a couple of years ago when I decided to part with a beloved vintage Gucci jacket.

Viviene: How does it feel to see your teenager wear things now that you wore back in the day?

Holly: Oh my, it is really shocking sometimes. Who would have thought my junior prom dress from 87' would be a major hit at the school 80s dance now...or when she wore my acid-washed denim jacket from the late 80s, completely decorated in colored pens, wow…Talk about strange to see your child in your items you loved so. It is pretty neat though.

Viviene: What's the difference in quality between vintage clothing and the off the rack items that most people wear?

Holly: My goodness, the difference is SO dramatic. I honestly had no idea until I started dealing in vintage the incredible difference. The style and particularly the craftmanship - it's just not there these days. I go shopping now and half the time am horrified at what I find…

Viviene: What is your favorite era for vintage clothing?

Holly: Oh dear...I can't pick one… I love items from each era. Dramatic 20s beaded flapper dresses, the flowing figure-friendly designs of the 30s, amazing 40s film noir type pieces, 50s rockabilly, 60s mod, 70s disco...I can't possibly choose… A lot of people do have a particularly favorite era, but I truly don't. I can appreciate and love pieces from all eras equally.

Viviene: Who is your favorite designer? Does it vary between purses, shoes, coats, pants, and dresses?

Holly:, that's a hard question… For handbags I HAVE to say Chanel. Actually, Chanel tops the list for all, I would say. Manolo Blahnik is another fav of mine, as well as Dior. D & G, St. John, and Seven for All Mankind make fantastic jeans. Juicy Couture, I love them as well. Their handbags are darling and their jogging suits are the most comfortable on earth..

Viviene: What designer that is around now will be the "have to have" designer in years to come in the vintage business?

Holly: I have to say, you will never go wrong with the old "stand bys"...Chanel, Dior, Gucci - they've been around forever for a reason. Their pieces are classic and "wearable", and I think in the future they will still be going strong.

Viviene: How did your designer store come about?

Holly: While I love vintage, I must admit, I'm a label girl. Love love love designer items. I was simply sick to death of seeing so many fakes out there on the internet and wanted to make authentic, quality pieces available to the public. Just about every piece in the store comes out of my own closet, purchased at reputable retailers. When I come across something that's not personally mine, I go through extremely extensive research to determine if an item is authentic. I really can't stand fakes, and it makes me quite sad to see so many sellers either selling them as outright fakes or selling them as authentic and screwing around the buyers.

Viviene: Have you always enjoyed designer fashion?

Holly: Actually, no. LOL! Back in high school and my early 20s I didn't really appreciate designer items at all, I just got what I thought was "neat". It wasn't until I fell in love with a Dooney & Bourke handbag that I realized wow, designer really is sometimes better! You can't beat the quality of a handmade bag - or jeans that have been hand-finished. You really can't.

Viviene: What designer influences you the most in the clothing that you wear day to day?

Holly: I'd have to say Juicy Couture. I do a lot of computer/at my desk work and I need to be comfortable. Most days you will find me in a Juicy velour jogging suit. When I go out though, it's a different story.

Viviene: You can find Holly’s stores at Specialist Auctions at:

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Today's blog is on a personal note. I live in northeastern Pennsylvania and I have a question. WHERE IS OUR SNOW? We've had a few dustings (less than an inch) over the last 3 weeks and my girls have had 2 snow delays. Languishing in the school schedule are 11, count them 11 unused snow days.

I long for the days when we would get a good old fashioned snow storm in my home town of Cold Spring, New York. We lived on Market Street in a 3 story apartment building. We would get ready for school in the morning and my mom would make sure I had my mittens and ski mask (the kind with eye and mouth holes only). Off I would trudge up the Main Street Hill up to Haldane school. It was freezing cold or so it seemed to me at the time and I would be layered with a jumper and blouse (these were the days when girls did not wear pants), tights, leggings over the tights and a warm wool coat. Add to that my mittens and ski mask and I was ready to do battle with Mother Nature.

Occasionally there would be a bully (David Vitanza comes to mind) who would dump me into a snow bank and then my knight in shining armor, Russell Kane, pulled me out and helped me get brushed off. Later that night as I related the story my dad taught me how to make a very hard fist and told me to punch David if he tried it again (those were the days when you could get away with teaching your kids to take care of themselves). The next day David was at it again and this time he got a hard fist in the belly. Strangely enough after that he never bothered me again.

Almost as soon as we would get all those layers of winter clothes off at school, our teacher would be sending us home to trudge back down Main Street. I'm supposing the reason for this was that if we did not come into school the school did not get their federal money for the day.

The walk home always took at least 45 minutes longer. On the way home we had time for making snow forts, snowball fights and some people with pocket money to spare would stop at Dazzell's five and dime store for a candy bar. Still others would opt for Palen's Rexall Drug store where they would mosey up to the soda fountain and get some Breyer's ice cream.

Once those important duties were taken care of we would continue on our way down Main Street and go into the "subway" (an underground walkway that went under the Penn Central railroad tracks) at the end of Main Street. After that we would walk up the two flights of stairs to our home on the third floor and strip off the now soaked snow clothing. We'd sit down and have hot chocolate and then play for the rest of the day. I remember my mom hanging laundry on the line out of the third story window with wet clean diapers thrown over her shoulder as she hung them out one by one (might that be what started the bursitis in her shoulder).

We moved away from Cold Spring when I was 10 years old but I'll always remember Cold Spring, New York, a wonderful place to be a kid in the mid 1960s.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

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 Specialist Auctions 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 and I am the moderator of the vintage and antique clothing section there.

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

And here are a few lovelies to whet your appetite.

Monday, January 29, 2007

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:

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