DeniseBrain tied for first place in the 2014 Lulu's Vintage People's Choice Awards for Best Online Vintage Clothing Store.
Maggie has so thoughtfully and thoroughly answered the interview questions that I am dividing her interview into two parts. Posted below is Part I. Stay tuned in the future for Part II.
You use your store to do fund raising for causes that you believe in. How many years have you been doing that for? Please share with us some of the charities that you have raised money for.
It means a lot to me to use my business as a way to let others know about and contribute to causes. Some that I’ve promoted since 2004 are Women for Women International, Feeding America, Conservation International, Red Cross Disaster Relief, Global Giving, Doctors Without Borders, Living Beyond Breast Cancer, Conservation Northwest and Save the Manatee Club. Almost everyone knows I am in love with manatees. Last year I was given the honor of raising money for a tracking monitor for rehabilitated and re-released manatees in Belize. I could not have raised the rather large sum of money by myself, but my customers came through, as they always do.
You are a professional French horn player. Do you wear vintage clothing very often when you are performing?
I sometimes wear vintage clothing while performing (when it meets the dress code for the concert) but I must say that it can really be hard on performance clothes, so I don’t always risk my favorite vintage. I like to have something vintage on every day, so if nothing else I’ll probably have vintage shoes or jewelry on while performing. I also have a collection of vintage clothing and accessories featuring horns.
I really enjoy your Themes where you pair images of you modelling your clothing and accessories and set them to music. How long have you been doing that for?
Thank you! I began to do those in about 2007. They started out as silent, but ended up with music. Here are some of my favorites: http://www.denisebrain.com/denisebrainthemefav1.html
You compiled the ever helpful VFG Fabric Resource. What other projects do you do or have you done for the VFG?
I have worked on the VFG Site Committee since 2007, and among other things this creative committee comes up with our weekly Fashion Parades and our spring and fall Vintage Inspirations. I am also looking after the VFG Fashion Parade page on Facebook. The Fabric Resource is a big ongoing project, one that I plan to be working on for many years to come.
What got you into vintage clothing? How long have you been collecting vintage clothing for?
I liked to raid my parents’ closets to supplement my mainly homemade wardrobe as a young teenager. In my home there were items dating from the Victorian era through the 1960s, a real trove...I loved mixing in unique pieces. I frequented the 2nd-hand and vintage stores near my high school in Seattle, ca. 1974-78, a great time and place for vintage. From an early age I thought of clothes as a way to express my (rather shy) self.
How much do you incorporate vintage clothing and accessories into your everyday wardrobe?
I wear a piece or two (or five or six!) of vintage every day. Many of my basic clothes are vintage, as well as stand-out showy items. As I type this I am wearing a 1980s black sweater knit pencil skirt along with an Escada blazer in bright pink cotton sateen from the same decade. I have a rhinestone comb in my hair that dates from the 1940s.
What are your favorite eras of clothing for wearing? What are your favorite eras of clothing for admiring?
I wear a wide range of vintage decades, my favorite being 1940s. I also wear a fair amount of 1950s, 60s and 70s clothes. I can admire any and all eras of vintage clothing, although I have a special weakness for the years 1912, 1939 and 1946.
What do you like about clothing from these eras?
I am very fond of the fit of pre-New Look 40s, which feels natural on me, and I also appreciate the colors, novelty prints, and interesting details. Late 1940s to early 60s full skirts usually flatter me. How does 1970s get in there? I like to have everyday clothing that I am not afraid to wash and wear, and 70s clothing can have great colors and prints.
Who are some of your favorite vintage designers?
Claire McCardell and Bonnie Cashin for dressing women as they would dress themselves, in dashing, supremely creative and beautiful designs in which you can actually move.
Who are some of your favorite modern designers?
Jean Paul Gaultier, Christian Lacroix, Miuccia Prada
What would be your ultimate vintage fashion find?
May I have 3 wishes? Anything by Paul Poiret, an original Dior New Look item, anything by Charles James. I always joke that I want Peace on Earth, because anything by Charles James is much farther out of reach!
Is vintage clothing popular in the city that you live in?
Spokane is not like Portland, but you do see vintage clothing popping up here and there. I often get positive comments when I wear vintage here.
Who are some of your favorite style icons?
Audrey Hepburn, Diana Rigg, Isabella Blow, Bjork
I would like to be as fearless and brilliant in my style as Isabella Blow, as fearless and enigmatic as Bjork, as fearless and cool as Diana Rigg, and as fearless and elegant as Audrey Hepburn.
Do you collect any other types of collectibles or antiques?
Fabric swatch books, my family’s photos going back to the 19th century, Chelsea Garden by Spode (which was my mother’s china and now is mine), ephemera from the pockets of my vintage finds, ticket stubs from events I’ve attended since I was 14.
Thanks to Maggie for participating in The Style Council! To check out my recent picks of favorite vintage clothing items from DeniseBrain check out these blog posts: Lulu's Favorite Finds from DeniseBrain 2014 Lulu's Vintage People's Choice Tie for # 1 Award Winner: Part I , Part II , Part III
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. I will be announcing the winners tomorrow!
If you are interested in participating in The Style Council please contact me at lulusvintagepdx (at) gmail.com
This post was originally published on March 3, 2014.