Today I'm writing about how memories play into the collecting and selling of vintage items. I'm the oldest of 11 grandchildren born to my Nonna and Nonno.
Here I am at age 4 in my cream brocade and squirrel collar dress that my grandmother bought for me. Even then I was dressed in what is now vintage and boy do I wish I still had this dress!
My Nonna and Nonno lived in Garrison, New York but once a month went into the city to collect the rent on the apartment building they owned in the Village. We'd go to the apartment building and my Nonna and I would go floor by floor collecting the rents and the tenants always had a toy or orange, lime and lemon slice candies for "the little princess." My Nonno would talk to the super finding out what was going on in the building while we were doing this. Once the rents were collected and the visiting was finished off we would go.
The routine was to go to John's Pizzeria on Bleecker Street in the village for lunch. My Nonno would give me quarters to put in the juke box and I always played "Peppino the Italian Mouse" by Lou Monte. My Nonno would blacken the top of the pizza with black pepper and to this day I still blacken mine the same way. There's nothing in the world like brick oven pizza. After lunch we would head home to Garrison and I always fell asleep in the car tuckered out from too many orange candy slices and blackened pizza.
Fast forward 33 years to present day Dingmans Ferry, Pennsylvania where I run my vintage clothing store "Born Too Late Vintage." I'm out and about in my usual fashion and I stumble across this new without tags wool suit from the Elaine Starkman boutique in Greenwich Village.
Memories bombard my mind so I buy the suit and take it home to start my researching. However, I find there is very little on the internet about Elaine Starkman other than Mary Travers from the group Peter, Paul & Mary worked for Elaine Starkman at her boutique in the village. Over the next year or two I search the internet on and off for more information holding the suit until I know more about Elaine. Over time I find auctions of leather sandals that Elaine Starkman made and jewelry that she made as well. Elaine Starkman also had one of the first art galleries in Soho.
A friend named Scott was able to provide me this information, "Elaine Starkman had a boutique in the Village (149 Bleecker) in the early sixties, and she moved up to Lexington (between 64th and 65th Streets) in 1966 or so because most of her client base lived in that vicinity.
Leather goods were a Starkman specialty; the shop made leather pants to order in several styles (the most popular being the diagonally-zipped "peon" pants, which took about two weeks for delivery); they ran around $65 in the early sixties. Other Starkman offerings included such chic sportswear as velour separates in purple, ruby red, deep blue and black and pull-overs with drawstring hems. Prices were all over the board: from about $7 for simple tops to $35 for summer dresses and going all the way up to $200 or so for suede and leather sportswear ensembles."
Once I had this information I was able to list the suit I found almost 2 years prior, satisfied that I knew enough about Elaine Starkman. To my surprise the granddaughter of a friend of Ms. Starkman's contacted me in the last several months to ask me what I knew about Elaine. So I corresponded with her a few times to tell her what I had found over the last two years. She was able to tell me that Elaine Starkman is still living and doing just fine. So my adventure into the world and fashions of Elaine Starkman have come full circle.
My next foray into Greenwich Village boutique fashion will be about Fred Leighton's shop and my fashion connection with him. Until then think green and buy vintage. Save the environment one vintage outfit at a time!
Born Too Late Vintage
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