Nicole Jenkins of Melbourne, Australia. Nicole is the owner of Circa Vintage Clothing.
Circa Vintage Clothing placed fifth in the 2014 Lulu's Vintage People's Choice Awards for Best Online Vintage Clothing Store.
Since Nicole'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 a little about yourself. Hobbies, interests and work outside of the vintage world.
Vintage comprises most of my world but looking outside of that, I like to ride my bike, read books, admire architecture, listen to live music and visit art galleries.
What got you into vintage clothing? How long have you been collecting vintage clothing for?
I was born into vintage: my mum dressed me in second hand ‘30s florals and she ran an antique shop. We lived in Victorian houses and drove vintage cars – a fine appreciation of history and culture has always been important to me.
There were books about historical clothing in our library (my father was a writer) and as soon as I was able, I would pore over artworks depicting Elizabethan gowns and hand sew mini versions for my home made dolls.
I had a brief attempt at wearing current fashion as an early teen but in 1980, I fell in love with a polka dot ‘50s party dress and thereafter have dedicated myself to the pursuit of the perfect vintage frock.
How much do you incorporate vintage clothing and accessories into your everyday wardrobe?
For thirty years I wore mostly vintage every day but more recently my every day wear is a vintage style modern dress worn with a vintage petticoat (a must) plus vintage accessories: scarves, cravats, jewellery, handbags.
For events and special occasions it has to be vintage wherever possible.
What are your favorite eras of clothing for wearing? What are your favorite eras of clothing for admiring?
I rotate through the eras constantly but I’m currently loving the soft elegance of the ‘30s for admiring.
As to which styles I wear, my wardrobe contains boudoir gowns from the ‘30s, dinner dresses from the ‘40s and cotton florals from the ‘50s. My preference is for natural fibres so I rarely venture into the ‘60s and ‘70s.
What do you like about clothing from these eras?
1930s have a wonderful sense of unstructured femininity.
1940s are practical and flattering in a non-wasteful way. I love make do and mend and the limitations that rationing demanded.
1950s are classic and glamourous, especially the evening wear.
Who are some of your favorite vintage designers?
I love costume designers like Adrian, Edith Head and Orry-Kelly who dressed the stars in incredible gowns and tailored suits.
For fashion designers I love the surrealist designs of Elsa Schiaparelli, the plain and enduring wearability of Coco Chanel, the extravagant sensuality of Mariano Fortuny, the hyper-femininity of Christian Dior, the sculptural tailoring skill of Cristobal Balenciaga, the sexiness of Ossie Clark.
Who are some of your favorite modern designers?
The dearly departed Alexander McQueen was one of the most interesting of modern designers, with his creativity and use of unorthodox materials. I also love the artistic work of Philip Treacy and the amazing suits of Thierry Mugler. Galliano produced some incredible flower-like gowns for the House of Dior before his fall. Christian would have been proud. Issey Miyake does incredible things with fabric and colour.
What would be your ultimate vintage fashion find?
One day I would dearly love to hold a Fortuny Delphos, preferably in gunmetal grey, the silk as smooth as an oil slick.
I regret selling a hand painted silk ‘20s coat trimmed in monkey fur, by Paul Poiret but it’s gone to a very good home.
My ultimate would be one something important from Marilyn Monroe’s personal wardrobe: perhaps the simple silk dress she wore to marry Arthur Miller or the little black dress she wore to the press conference with Lawrence Olivier, to discuss “The Prince and the Showgirl”. The shoulder strap broke, almost causing a riot as the men surged forwards – that’s a special dress, I’d like to have that one in my collection please.
Is vintage clothing popular in the city that you live in?
Absolutely! Melbourne is a very vintage city, with a fine appreciation of history and culture. I’m from Sydney originally and I often get asked if I would open a shop there, but Melbourne is Circa’s home. Sometimes I fantasize about moving my shop to the UK though.
Who are some of your favorite style icons?
Marilyn Monroe is my number one: she inspired me to dress in the first era that I loved, the ‘50s and the fashions of the era suits her so well. While we’re talking about Hollywood stars, I adore Carole Lombard and Lauren Bacall.
For modern times I love Tziporah Salamon: you don’t have to be famous to be fabulous.
My current style icon is Myrtle Snow from American Horror Story: Coven. Played by Frances Conroy to perfection.
Style has nothing to do with being young or beautiful, or rich or successful: it can be in all of us.
What are your favorite vintage movies, music and television programs?
My favourite films are “Some Like it Hot” and “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” – ah, yes, a Marilyn fan. I’ll happily sit through anything designed by my favourite costume designers though, especially Hollywood Golden Era.
Thanks to Nicole for participating in The Style Council! To check out my recent picks of favorite vintage clothing items from Circa Vintage Clothing check out this blog post: Lulu's Favorite Finds from Circa Vintage Clothing 2014 Lulu's Vintage People's Choice # 6 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 March 21, 2014.