Julie Bergmans of Oregon City, Oregon. Julie is the owner of Fab Gabs.
Fab Gabs placed ninth in the 2014 Lulu's Vintage People's Choice Awards for Best Online Vintage Clothing Store
Since Julie's store is the recipient of both the 2014 Lulu's Vintage People's Choice Award and my 2014 Lulu's Personal Top 25 Vintage Clothing Websites I am dividing her interview into two parts. Posted below is Part I. Stay tuned in the future for Part II.
Please tell us your name and what city and state you live in.
Julie Bergmans. I’m a Portland, Oregon native. I’ve only lived in two homes my whole life – the house I grew up in NE Portland, my house in Oregon City, where I have been for ten years now.
Please tell us a little about yourself. Hobbies, interests and work outside of the vintage world.
I have to admit that the vast majority of my interests are vintage related. Perhaps the most notable departure from the vintage mold is that I attend Burning Man regularly. I just bought my ticket for my fourth Burn. I do wear vintage on the playa – only stuff that is completely thrashed already – and have actually run into another vintage seller (Simplicity is Bliss) there, so even that isn’t a complete departure. I’m interested in fancy cocktails, unique liquers and host lots of parties at my home, as well as planning occasional events in town.
What got you into vintage clothing?
Oh, so much at once. I grew up in a household of collectors – my mother and dad collected all of the Decoware apple set, my mother wore vintage hats and my sister and I were trained in how to behave in antique stores early on. Also, I would get up very early to watch AMC in the morning (back when it was all black and white, with a film conservator who spoke between films.) My seven-am’s were filled with Fred and Ginger and the “Road to ….” movies with Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour in her incredible sarongs. I was hooked.
How long have you been collecting vintage clothing for?
I bought my first piece of vintage that I actually remember at 14. I could walk to the nearest thrift store, Better Bargains, which was a wonderful, junky old place. It looks the same today, but of course, the treasures are gone. I started with the 70s, but by 17 I had found the 1940s. I fell out of wearing vintage for a few years as a young adult, but got rid of ALL my modern clothing a couple months before my 23rd birthday, and have been wearing nothing but vintage or vintage styled clothing since. (I’m 32.)
How much do you incorporate vintage clothing and accessories into your everyday wardrobe?
Well, I don’t really have anything else (except some reproduction stuff) so it really makes up the whole of my closet. I mean, I have some under used workout gear. This is not to say I’m fabulous every day. I actually have a few completely destroyed housedresses with tons of iron-on bondex patches holding them together that I tend to bum around the house in. I also like to work at my computer in bias cut nightgowns. Because I can!
What are your favorite eras of clothing for wearing?
I’m really a war-era gal at heart, but wear a lot of 1950s pieces, too. In my personal opinion, 1938/9 were the pinnacle of years in fashion, and if I had a smaller figure and unlimited funds, I might very well wear nothing but.
What are your favorite eras of clothing for admiring?
I am really in love with the mid-Edwardian era. The workmanship is incredible, but the lines of the clothing are more accessible style-wise than many 1800s pieces.
What do you like about clothing from these eras?
In reference to ’38-39, there is absolutely nothing I do not love. The colors! (Oh my god, the colors.) The flattering cuts, the sleeves, the amazing prints. The mix of both girlish co-ed styling and incredible wicked, sophisticated evening gowns. The look is smart and tailored, perfectly flattering. It’s often flirtatious or seductive, but never overtly sexual, like the bombshell clothing of latter years. As for Edwardian - I love the weight of many of the garments. Heavy silk satins, weighty beading, metallic tassels, exceptional wool. There has not been clothing of that quality available outside of couture houses since. The mix of textures and textiles is always stunning.
Who are some of your favorite vintage designers?
Can I just sing the praises of Adrian here? While other names exist that impress – particularly Schiap’s surrealist pieces during my favorite years in fashion, I can’t think of another designer that I find on par with Adrian in my heart.
Who are some of your favorite modern designers?
I very honestly don’t know how to answer this question. I don’t even know most of the names. I do happen to follow Zac Posen on Instagram, if that counts.
What would be your ultimate vintage fashion find?
An Adrian/Dali collaboration, specifically, the horse gown. I know there’s a name for it, but I don’t recall it offhand. I’m surprised that dress doesn’t show up in my dreams occasionally.
Is vintage clothing popular in the city that you live in?
It is, although a more casual style than I tend toward. However, we have more vintage stores per capita than LA or San Francisco (I’ve done the math.) And there’s a pretty solid little community of vintage collectors. I like to think I’ve even done something to help connect and grow that community, through my cocktail parties and other events.
Who are some of your favorite style icons?
Joan Crawford for fashion, Hedy Lamarr for hair and make-up, Kate Hepburn for casual days. I suppose Dita, too, although it’s terrible cliché, but it’s hard not to admire a woman who always is perfectly coiffed in this day and age!
What are your favorite vintage movies, music and television programs?
The Women, which everyone will have guessed by now. And The Wizard of Oz. All of the Thin Man movies. As for more modern pieces with vintage appeal, I believe there’s no more perfect comedy than O Brother, Where Art Thou? I will shamelessly watch even the shoddiest vintage period drama you put in front of me. Just finished Miss Fischer’s…. next please!
Do you collect any other types of collectibles or antiques?
I don’t so much collect as much as I simply live among those things. I do collect Bakelite. (Helps that my business partner also runs a Bakelite business… privileges!) But my vintage kitchen wares, while matched, are things I bought for my household, not things I bought because I collect bullet-handled kitchen utensils. My furniture is all vintage, but I bought it for the look of my house. I guess you could say I collect my vintage life, in little bits and pieces.
Thanks to Julie for participating in The Style Council! To check out my recent picks of favorite vintage clothing items from FabGabs check out this blog post: Lulu's Favorite Finds from FabGabs 2014 Lulu's Vintage People's Choice Tie for # 9 Award Winner
Stay tuned for Style Council interviews with all of the winners of the 2014 Lulu's Vintage People's Choice Awards, as well as Style Council interviews with my 2014 Lulu's Online Vintage Clothing Store Recommendation winners.
If you are interested in participating in The Style Council please contact me at lulusvintagepdx (at) gmail.com
This post was originally published on April 1, 2014.