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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Vintage: Fashion, Fabric, and Festivals

Vintage fabrics and clothing are a superb investment and a great green approach to adorning both your home and your closet. But how to find a great selection and good information about what to buy? Every year right before the giant Brimfield antique show in May, fabric collectors, designers, and artisan craftspeople gather in Sturbridge, Massachusetts for the only major vintage textile and fashion sale in the country. This year's show falls on Monday May 11th and is held at the Sturbridge Host Hotel. The show runs all day for one day, with a $20 early admission fee. The town is the perfect setting: with a colonial recreation village nearby, plenty of New England charm, and easy access from New York, Connecticut, and the rest of the Northeast, the show brings together experts on vintage textiles and fashions in one locale. Organized by textile expert and promoter Linda Zukas, the festival-like atmosphere is created by upwards of 140 booths of lace, velvet, silk, barkcloth and other upholstery fabrics, buttons, drapes, costumes, lingerie, tapestries and needlepoint. While the main emphasis is on fabrics and clothing, over the eighteen years of its existence, the show has attracted the cream of the crop of people whose stock and trade are similar items such as lampshades, quilts, beaded purses, dolls, hats, and even antique jewelry, wallpaper, and folding screens.  This is a great place to learn about what's available, to see what dealers are promoting, and to get information on how to preserve and use these materials in everyday life. Not able to get to New England this May? Shopping for vintage fabric and clothing has gotten easier with some terrific online sources.  Vintage clothing is one of the most sustainable approaches to fashion: while Victorian lace and bustiers may not be your style, there are plenty of dealers who sell beautifully preserved dresses, gowns, shirts, jackets, and even shoes from the 1920s on to the 1980s.   Luminescent silk dressing gowns, delicate lace overshirts, and hard-to-find designer overcoats are all a perfect fit with contemporary styles. Vintage items often run in small sizes, but some online sources carry a greater range, especially in designer collections.
One of the most extensive and easy-to-navigate sources, Vintage Textile will take you from the early Edwardian to the just-barely contemporary 1990s.   Next time you have a party or function to attend, spend a while browsing the amazing selections, from this black lace shift to this Trigere chiffon 1960s minidress covered in embroidered dots of metallic silver.  Whatever your tastes, you'll find high end items, well preserved, and easy to imagine in your own closet and wardrobe.

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