Tell us a little about yourself.
I live in Chicago, in a neighborhood just outside of downtown called Wicker Park. I love my neighborhood! Within 20 minutes I can walk to 8 different vintage clothing shops and there are tons of restaurants, bars, art galleries and boutiques. I love seeing all of the street fashion. Good, bad or just plain confusing, I love seeing NEW fashion. Especially when it incorporates vintage items. I find it very inspiring. My next door neighbor owns a local vintage clothing store called Kokorokoko which specializes in 80's and 90's clothing. Seeing her shop and her perspective has really opened my eyes to new looks. My house is a circa 1880's Victorian which I decorate with 50's and 60's furniture. My dream is a mid century modern home, but there just aren't any around here. I sometimes think of moving, but nothing compares to this neighborhood.
What is your own personal style like?
My style is a mix of functionality, 1950’s kitch and glamour, and huge stacks of plain black t shirts and cashmere sweaters. My favorite pieces are 1950’s full skirt sundresses (with a thin sweater worn underneath or on top in the cold months) and novelty print skirts. I am seldom seen without a bandana or a ribbon tied in my hair.
Can you describe your process for selecting items for your store?
I know it isn’t business like, but I select items that make me laugh, smile or drool. If they do one of these three things, I’ll buy them even if I know that they’re not “of the moment”, I know that they will be eventually. I’m blessed with an enviable amount of storage space for a city girl.
How do you find and source your live models?
Where does a girl go to get anything that you can’t ship? Craigslist! My models, Red Hot Annie, Donna Touch and Maria May I are all members of Vaudezilla, a local burlesque troop.
Are there any challenges to working with live models?
I was lucky enough to find some beautiful women who are an absolute riot to work with. They bring life to the clothing in a way that a mannequin never could. Scheduling is the hardest part. Getting the schedules of 4 people to coordinate is a challenge.
What other blogs do you read that you think would be of interest to the vintage community?
This question took forever to answer since I get distracted reading and shopping!
Mary from Welcome to Deluxeville http://welcometodeluxeville.blogspot.com/ Has a killer home, garden and the most amazing luck at auctions.
Twila at the Mysterious Life of the Metropolitan Housewife http://living-vintage.blogspot.com/ absolutely amazes me, she has kids, sells vintage and her hair is always set and perfect.
My favorite by far is Yard Sale Bloodbath www.yardsalebloodbath.com words cannot explain the finds that are featured or the wit used to describe them.
What do you feel is the biggest misconception about vintage fashion?
A trend that I have been seeing more and more that turns my stomach is the word “vintage” being used as an excuse for poor condition. I am afraid that many new buyers are being turned off to vintage because of the low standards of some sellers.
Are there certain eras that you like?
I definitely gravitate to the 1950’s. I love the romantic, sexy, fun style and the cut just plain fits me better.
Which designer(s) gives you inspiration?
As much as I appreciate all of the heavy hitters in fashion Poiret, Chanel, Dior, McCardell, etc. what really gets me going is street style and subculture fashion. I love to see how real women reinterpret pieces from the past for their modern lives. How a stylish girl with little to no budget can take a bunch of items from different eras of the 20th Century and put together an outfit that is better than anything at the high dollar department stores.
What do you collect?
What don’t I collect? I could answer this question for pages! One of my favorite collections is slightly abstract, things from my grandmothers cottage, past and present. Growing up we spent every summer at my grandmother’s cottage in Door County, Wisconsin. The Little House was a trickle down conglomeration of furniture house wares, most dating to the 1950’s. My current couch and table are a salute to her old living room set. She had 2 beautiful California pottery leaf shaped wall pockets in the kitchen, I couldn’t stop there. My kitchen has about 35! A few years ago I went and photographed just about everything. I’m still on the lookout for a set of glasses with a particular leaf design.
When you aren't working on your store, how do you spend your time?
I spend as much time possible with my husband and 2 year old son. Weekends are spent gardening and walking around the neighborhood. During the week we love to visit Chicago’s museums. Our favorites are The Field Museum of Natural History, The Museum of Science and Industry, The Chicago Children’s Museum and whichever one is currently having a fashion exhibit. Of course, it doesn’t matter where we are going, I’m always peeking down alleys and scanning every scrap truck for treasures!
You'd laugh if you knew this about me.
Stashed in my closet, but not too far back, is a tidy little collection of vintage 80s Heavy Metal t-shirts. Embarrassingly enough, my favorite from the Texas band, Dangerous Toys, that reads “Sportin’ a Woody” on the back. I had one when I was 13, but it is long gone. I had to outbid quite a few people on eBay and spend way too much money to own it again. I haven’t worn it in public, but I do pull it out every so often to smell it. Band t-shirts just don’t smell like they used to.
Tell us about your scooter, do you ride it around shopping? Is the scooter you use in your shots yours?
Not anymore, my scooter obsession has faded with age and practicality. The scooter in the shots is my sister’s small frame Vespa. My pink Vespa Sprint 150 is in the garage with a broken cable. It is stuck in gear and too hard to push around to the side of the house for pictures. Sad huh? I went through a major scooter stage in college. It was the perfect accessory; it went so well with my Vidal Sassoon haircut and 1960s Mod Mini Dresses. I had a lot of fun, but I just realized that it was too dangerous in the city. I loved riding in the country, but due to the suburban Chicago sprawl, it was too tough to get there.
I have a soft spot for out dated and impractical modes of transportation. Besides the Vespa, I have a 1963 Lincoln Continental convertible, a pre-WWII Elgin bicycle, a knock of Stingray, and a couple Schwinn Breezes.
Thanks Nicole! Please take some time to visit her store, she's got some really cute items up right now.