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Fashion & Style
April 2014

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Fashion Trends & Tips - Designer Vintage Couture

Designer Vintage
Mixing the old with the new

While vintage pieces have long been a source of inspiration for many famous designers, the vintage look has become increasingly popular with today's fashionistas - mixing the old with the new to have the best of both worlds.

Read on to find local Chicago resources as well as national exhibitions for the best in designer vintage clothing.

Pictured above: Image courtesy of The Garment Room

Couture Queen:

Shoppers who like to experiment with high-end garments can visit Daisy Shop (67 East Oak St., 6th floor, 312.943.8880), where current and vintage couture make up its collection of over 1,500 items. Owner Barbara Nell, who likes to call herself the "Head Daisy," carries an astounding 167 labels, with sizes ranging from a French 34 to a French 46.

"We're the place to experiment with couture," Nell said. "We carry every couture label since 1940."

Nell knows her fashion. Perhaps that's why she has been selling couture to the fashion-conscious for the past 15 years, receiving merchandise from all over the world. That said, if certain pieces are not up to her standards, Nell has no problem rejecting them. That's good news for shoppers who certainly won't find knock-offs here - it's the real deal at market price. The well-heeled and those who aspire to be like them should expect to see names like Missoni, Valentino and Gaultier. While all sales are final, Nell said that everyone walks out looking good.

Every month there's a sale on one particular label. Look to find an upcoming one in August where ball gowns and cocktail dresses will be discounted in preparation for the opening of the Chicago Symphony. For those who cannot make it down to the Oak Street location, offers shoppers the convenience of purchasing online, complete with over 1,000 pictures of her couture items available for purchase.

A Modern Approach to Vintage:

For a new twist on vintage couture, Pilsen will soon have a new resident, creating options for the stylish who want something a bit different than the staple pieces.

Formerly just a showroom, The Garment Room (1747 S. Halsted St.; 347.581.7930) opened its doors in July 2008. Specializing in cutting-edge vintage clothing and accessories, The Garment Room will feature labels like Dior, Pucci and Chanel, dating back to the 1920s. Shoppers will find one-of-a-kind clothing, accessories and a special sunglass collection.

Owner Tiffany Nicole likes to think of her showroom-turned-store as a "modern approach to vintage," where she handpicks a collection of couture and one-of-a-kind pieces. Nicole reworks these pieces, making "the details pop," by reshaping and tailoring them to be more relevant for today's style. She has also spent time traveling the coasts, holding trunk shows in New York and Los Angeles. Here, design teams attend, including some from Marc Jacobs and Tory Burch, and buy her pieces for their own inspiration - all which reflect her point-of-view, aesthetic and personal style.

"I use materials that are there to preserve the vintage essence," Nicole said. "A lot of times the vintage clothes are off. I'm just making them more modern."

The Garment Room is not just a store for women, but there are also clothing options for men. A launch party for The Garment Room is planned for Friday, July 11 from 6-10pm

Pictured above: Image courtesy of The Garment Room

A Show Worth the Ticket:

Chicago fashionistas looking to travel for that rare find may be in good company.

The Manhattan Vintage Clothing and Antique Textile Show and Sale, located in New York City at the Metropolitan Pavilion (125 West 18th St.; between 6th & 7th Aves.), is not only a seasoned vintage buyer's dream with 90 vendors from the U.S., U.K. and Canada, but it's also a great place to discover that rare find in between celebrity designer sightings. Designers from famed lines like Betsey Johnson and Anna Sui flock to the show, seeking inspiration for their future designs, hoping that any one of the pieces they select to incorporate into their lines will be all the buzz on next year's runways - and inside New York's top fashion magazines.

"We are in the fashion business ... we deal in fashion," promoter David Ornstein said. "New York is the center of the fashion universe."

While most buyers are already fashion-conscious, from a fashion point-of-view the show is all about what's hot, and where those who seek the next big thing in fashion can find it.

While Ornstein says that current fashion is deep in the '80s right now, buyers can expect to find everything from bias cut gowns to Hermes bags, where prices can climb as high as $6,500. There are still plenty of deals; but just like the next big trends in fashion - buyers have to find them.

The Manhattan Vintage Travel Show will be held Friday, October 10; 1-8pm and Saturday, October 11; 11am-6pm Admission is $20. For more information and to join the VIP invite list, visit

Pictured above: Image courtesy of JD Multimedia and Manhattan Vintage.

Rock 'n Vintage:

Rock 'n roll and vintage go hand in hand at Silver Moon (1755 W. North Ave; 773.235.5797), which has its fair share of groupies. While the store has been around for 32 years, owner Liz Meyer, former stylist and wardrobe designer for Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, has taken the reigns for the past five years. The store, located in Bucktown, is split down the middle with vintage clothing and accessories and bridal gowns. In fact, Meyer is in the process of launching her own Silver Moon bridal label.

No one can argue that Meyer has an eye for fashion. She hand-picks fine vintage garments from the early 1900s to the 1960s, reminiscent of what can be seen in old glamorous Hollywood movies. She likes to select pieces that can easily be worked into someone's existing wardrobe.

"You're going to buy something that no one else has," Meyer said. "A piece of history."

While vintage bridal's popularity has grown over the past year, brides-to-be can work with Meyer or one of her designers by appointment, mixing and matching dresses with headpieces and veiling. Silver Moon's vintage dresses range in price from $500-$1,200, while the Silver Moon label dresses start at $2,000 and up.

Silver Moon also carries jewelry, handbags, shoes and antique home decor pieces, but those vintage aficionados can't help but admire the Vivienne Westwood. Those who are in-the-know may soon discover one of Silver Moon's best kept secrets - select vintage pieces from Steven Tyler's wardrobe that were worn on tour in the 1970s.

A little Hollywood at the Randolph Market:

The Randolph Street Market Festival (1340 W. Washington St.), a European-style indoor-outdoor market, also home to the Chicago Antique Market and Indie Designer Market, provides the fashion-forward with a mix of designer clothing. Here, both vintage and new, avant-garde designers are featured.

"It works well to have old and new mixed together," founder Sally Schwartz said. "People can buy a funky, new designer jacket and a costume piece of jewelry from the 1950s or cuff links from the 1940s."

Plenty of options exist for those looking to buy vintage clothing, jewelry, accessories, fabrics and materials. Over 200 vendors are invited to this event, held two days a month from May to October. Some of the dealers supply Hollywood's top stylists merchandise for celebrities like Nicole Kidman, Scarlet Johansson, Madonna and David Arquette, along with famous Hollywood set designers who incorporate the pieces in films.

Buyers can also find new designers who rework old fashion and jewelry to match today's latest styles and trends.

"It's a real style show," Schwartz said. "The people watching is second to none."

The Randolph Street Market will be open July 26-27, August 30-31, September 27-28 and October 25-26. Saturdays; outdoors 10am to 5pm; indoors 11am to 5pm; Sundays, 9am to 4pm; $10 admission; $8 with online registration at

Pictured above: Image courtesy of Randolph Street Market Festival (Indie Designer Market)

July 2008

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