Let’s Shop Vintage Manhattan– Throwback Thursday

In all “Throwback Thursday” spirit, I figured my love for vintage stores could come in handy. A haven for both shoppers with big wallets and thrifty budgets—Manhattan is a treasure hunt for vintage fashionistas at many locations. Whether you’re looking for more commercial, mainstream looks or a hipster vibe, each shop creates its own atmosphere and draws different customers to search the serendipitous depths of the stocked shelves. I took the liberty to hunt through these stores for you and report my findings so you can get a head start on your quest for vintage finds.

New York Vintage

New York Vintage

Walk into a dimly lit, small space filled to the brim with designer goods and you know you’re at New York Vintage. You’ll feel like a little girl playing dress up when looking at these pieces—the options are endless and some museum-worthy. Fabulous names from the past and present—think Chanel, Balenciaga, Norman Norell, and Dolce and Gabana—filled the clothing racks. Big brimmed hats, dazzling jewels, and tiny shoes stood out amongst the clothes. The associates were super friendly and knowledgeable about the clothing. For a vintage-seeker, this store is a dream-come true! Nothing is mainstream or bottom line. Every piece is hand-selected and stored with care to browse.  Featured in many magazine photo shoots, prestigious store windows at flagship stores in NYC—New York Vintage is the ultimate high-end store to discover hard-to-find pieces from names of the past. This store is for big budgets—not the thrifty shopper. Rachel Zoe’s version of heaven.

Neighborhood: Chelsea

Location:  117 West 25th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues

Online: www.NewYorkVintage.com

Victorian Chic

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Early 19th Century Boot

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A Fashion Institute of Technology student modeling Victorian-style boots in 2013

When Queen Victoria took reign in 1837, the lace-up boots were the hottest item in footwear. By the 1850’s the trend had evolved to suit both men and women—and almost 200 years later today it is still seen stomping down the streets. Amazing how some trends stick around as classics!

The Key to My Sole– Louboutin at Saks

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The red sole has been an iconic symbol on the tip-toes of celebrities and fashionistas alike—parading the streets with such sex appeal for glamorous women. Christian Louboutin knows how to make shoes that make a woman feel sexy—and it’s no surprise that Saks is opening a Christian Louboutin ‘salon’ at their stores now.

From the streets of Paris, to my very own New York City backyard—this video is fantastic—enjoy!

Put Your Best Foot Forward on Monday with Manolo Blahnik

A Foot in the Fashion Industry: Manolo Blahnik on Lifestyle and Inspirations

“Young man, do things. Do accessories. Do shoes,” the legendary Diana Vreeland advised a young Manolo Blahnik in 1971.

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 Such advice couldn’t have been greater to a creative artist like Manolo Blahnik. He had been going through a more confused time in his life, unsure of what creative direction to move in—and this advice sealed the deal. Anxiously, he moved forward and pursued the shoe-design field and created an entire fashion empire that did not exist before—adding couturier techniques and detail to ready-to-wear, high fashion footwear. Let’s take a peek into the artist’s views and muses.

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How did Blahnik become a shoe designer? “It was one of those accidents of life. I could just as well have been a milliner or fashion designer,” he said.  Diana Vreeland encouraged him to work on his footwear designs and to make it a reality—which in turn, created a new shoe empire that had never existed before he hit the scene. She told him to dump the costume design path, and to “concentrate on the funny little things on the feet.” And so he did just that.

Techniques behind designing shoes: “I’m not an intellectual,” he confesses, “but I am a voracious observer of people’s movements and attitudes in the past and now. I’m very curious and I belong to that group of people who use what they observe and let it come out through what they do.” Blahnik loves the past, reminiscent and idiosyncratic English style—which is why he claims London as his home base.

His fabulous clientele: “I design for confident women who know what they want.” When creating each individual shoe, Blahnik creates an imaginary scenario of what type of woman would wear the particular shoe. Whether it be a society woman in France that attends charity balls, or a woman that hosts dinner parties for her family on her back porch—he has each scenario dreamed up for the potential buyer.

Fashion mentor: “My aunt acted as a daily fashion mentor. I was so impressed by the way she carried herself.” She taught him how to hold himself as a sophisticated individual, and the ideals of elegance.

Favorite museum: Prado in Madrid

Energy source: Spoons full of sugar, literally. On a mere 4-5 hours of sleep a night on average, Blahnik is not much for food. He’ll open up a bag of sugar and get the energy needed to design such sweet, delicious shoe creations.

Practicality versus whimsicality: “Once in a while I try to design a shoe with an eye to practicality rather than beauty. It is always a failure. Then I do a whimsy, follow my instinct, and make a slipper of silk scraps and crocodile scales—and it sells.”

View of New York City: “I’m always happy in New York because I’m a medieval person and it is a totally medieval city. People live in towers and they come down to fight—for food, for carriages, to sell their wares.”

Well, isn’t that the truth?

No Grey Areas—A Black and White Summer 2013

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New York, New York—Coming from a long fall and winter full of neons and bright color-blocking—it’s time for a change as we proceed into a much anticipated summer weather.  Refreshing classics await the finish line at the turn of the season in black and white.

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Walking across Manhattan I’ve run into individuals rocking the latest in bold black and bright white—from striped pants to the prominent polka-dot combination. Think striking black blazers with white tees beneath. The colors read a sophisticated fashionista; a classic that will never go out of style.bw

The current color trend is not brand new; it’s simply being refreshed in a 2013 expression of dress. Black and white emphasis in fashion and in the art world started back in the 1960’s when one of London’s most famous artists, Bridget Riley, was inspired by the black and white Romanesque buildings of Pisa and the churches of Ravenna.  Once her art became well-known and popular in this decade, fashion designers began using her works as inspiration. Riley was angry that her art had turned into “rag form,” as she called it—but there was nothing she could do to stop the phenomenon.  In pop culture, the Beatles were frequently flaunting the classic black and white suits during this time period, which additionally made it widely popular. The mod look of London-esque bold black and white pieces are now a major part of fashion history.

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Bridget Riley, artist that inspired the black/white chic

Valentino capitalized on the look himself, and created what was known as the ‘Valentino White,’ in the late 60s. This collection catapulted him to become the “new symbol of modern luxury,” according to Vogue.

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Valentino White Collections, celebrated above

Fast forward to the Calvin Klein collections of 1990 and you’ll find a severe minimalism point of view with a no-frills attitude. Looser fitted clothes, with clean lines clearly inspired by the black/white contrasting colors of the 60’s don the runways of the 90s. The ‘Mods’ of the 60s are minimalists at heart, anyway.

Calvin Klein, 1990’s Minimalism (Photo courtesy of Love-Aesthetics)

Similar to the transition occurring now—the 80’s  brought bright, bold colors to the scene but designers moved forward by updating their lines with a black and white trend shortly afterwards.  And the fashion cycle continues to move forward, even now.

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 Looking at the trend today, wearers are portraying more of an edge than ever before.  A pure white sundress with harsh black combat boots. Severe-cut blazers and loose white t-shirts. Black leather leggings and flowing white tops. All individual looks that are unique, but cohesive in the color scheme which pulls it together for an updated black and white trend seen on the fashion scene.

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What is your take on the black and white trend? Tweet them @blairebrownNYC