This month's vintage lover is Cherie of Canada, pictured above in a 1970's Oscar de la Renta dress with enviable pink soled Alexander McQueen patent leather shoes.
Cherie is the owner of the online vintage boutique Shrimpton Couture
-How long have you been collecting vintage clothing for?
Years! I think my first vintage purchase was when I was a teenager
-What got you into vintage clothing?
When I was about 16 years old I discovered Vogue. I remember thumbing through and being drawn month after month to the stories that featured real women– you know, the ones who lived in big French Chateaus or some fabulous New York loft and raised millions of dollars for charities or headed their own little empire. They were always beautiful, wealthy and interesting and just happened to be intelligent and brilliant too. I was fascinated by the way they looked and dressed – I grew up in a small town and the woman I knew did not know about Chanel or Prada. You can bet I did! Even though access to labels at that point in my life was impossible, I knew that one day I would have a life where I could afford such clothes and maybe be a little like one of those women. In the meantime I scoured thrift shops and second hand stores to emulate the look as best I could on my budget.
Two things stand out from my early exposure to high end fashion. First, the fabulous women even back then had a mix of couture, ready-to-wear and vintage in their closets – though it was more often then not called “Heirloom pieces” rather then vintage back then. I still stand by this same mixture for my own closet and most of my clients at Shrimpton Couture have the same style philosophy.
Second, the irony of not being able to afford couture or designer early on is that I still became a clothing snob! Many vintage pieces are actually better made and are constructed from far superior fabrics compared to modern pieces, unless of course you go into very, very high end modern day couture, that for most of us is unattainable. So you can be a snob (a nice one) and wear the equivalent to couture when you choose good vintage pieces – how can you say no to that?
-What are your favorite eras of clothing?
20s, 30s, 40s, 50, 60s and the 70s. Ok, I know that really is too many eras and technically covers all of them but I don’t care! I guess I love them all because it is shocking how many truly overlap each other. People have a perception of what each era looks like and there are general rules for the basic styling that every era had, but it is fascinating how many styles run into each other throughout the different eras. It is more important to choose clothes that suit your body than it is to pin yourself down to a specific era. That being said I do have a bit of a week spot for clothes pre-mass manufacturing – I am in awe of the care and time that went into the construction of garments that were all finished and done by hand!
-What do you like about clothing from these eras?
Regardless of the era it always boils down to quality. Every thing I buy for me or my site is quality. I don’t do cheap and I don’t do disposable and I like to think I don’t do ugly.
-Who are some of your favorite vintage designers?
Ossie Clark for his unabashed sexiness. Malcolm Starr is a personal favorite of mine – I tend to gravitate on a personal level towards showing beaded pieces and his are some of the best. Fair warning though, some of his pieces are also hideously ugly. I am also a Hermes fanatic and love the older, leather pieces from the 30s and 40s. And I never ever underestimate the beauty and workmanship you can find in unlabelled pieces. I shop for spectacular pieces first, then for the name on the label.
-Who are some of your favorite modern designers?
I mainly wear Marni, Prada & Chloe pieces mixed in with my vintage. I love expensive shoes and like ‘em high, so I invest in shoes to mix in with vintage too – Louboutin, YSL and Dries are my current loves this season. A spectacular shoe is an easy way to offset a vintage dress and keeps it modern and fresh looking.
-What would be your ultimate vintage find?
Well, I am a greedy gluttonous vintage piglet, so my ultimate vintage find would be to be given the life-time collection that would of course be so huge it would fill a warehouse, and that collection would have been carefully cultivated over decades of collecting by some fabulous woman who bought couture and collected vintage her whole life. She would of course have been exactly my size. An entire collection of dress after exquisite dress spanning the decades…..my goodness, I think I need a moment to myself……..
-Where do you do the majority of your vintage shopping- garage, estate and rummage sales, thrift stores, vintage stores, online vintage stores or eBay?
Because I operate a vintage website and I am very, very, picky I personally select each piece. I have 2 buyers who bring me beautiful items that I then select the best pieces from and I have an extensive collection of my own that I steal from. I also travel extensively with My Guy and have shopped for vintage in some unusual places - Russia, Europe, even South Africa. I am not opposed to buying from other dealers either – I often buy and pay full price for a piece I love. I think vintage is worth every penny if you love it. But only buy pieces you love please! I shudder to think of pieces that people buy and then mistreat!
-Is vintage clothing popular in the city that you live in?
Yes – I think vintage is a global phenomenon now. I have sold to girls all over the world!
-Who are some of your favorite style icons?
I love women with strongly defined styles. I can’t say I have any specific names for this question. I have never been that type of girl who looks to anyone else for their inspirations. I think I tend to look around me and try to capture a look or feel that reflects the mood I am in at the time. There truly are so many fabulous woman out there now, and in the past, I think that it is a better exercise to try to figure out what will make you your own style icon and try to define yourself by that.
-Do you collect any other types of collectibles or antiques?
Handbags! I mentioned Hermes above but I also have a thing for fabric bags from the 30s. I also have a soft spot for these little Japanese painted clutches from the 1930s as well. Ok I have a thing for clutches period.
Does fine red wine count? I guess only if you don’t drink it right?
*Thanks to Cherie for answering our Style Council interview questions!
You too could be featured on Lulu's Vintage Style Council!
Just email me- lulusvintage (at) yahoo.com a photo of yourself wearing vintage (it can be a modern outfit accented with vintage accessories or a complete vintage ensemble) and answer my interview questions
This post was originally published on June 1, 2008.