This post was written by Lindy Shopper.
This was a bit of an interesting year for vendors at Lindy Focus, in that few of the usual suspects were present, so the vending was made up mostly of DIY lindy hoppers, including endeavors by Lindy Focus itself. Lindy Focus offered a consignment shop for those who had danceable clothes and shoes to get rid of and for those who needed/wanted such items. I did pretty well in the selling department, so some of you may have left Lindy Focus with a Lindy Shopper vintage garment. 🙂
Noticeably absent was Dancestore and their signature Aris Allen shoes, a serious business faux pas, in my opinion – 900+ attendees, many of which (including me) were looking to buy or replace dance shoes. To make up for the lack of being able to replace dancers’ worn out shoes, Lindy Focus offered a shoe sueding and repair service.
Marathon dance event vendor Sharon Crawford of Creations by Crawford was on hand creating custom hair pieces, boutonnieres, and other elegant accoutrement for ladies and gents at her table, positioned next to the ballroom off the registration lobby. Sharon’s table was always open and always had a bevy of guests – from hairdressers to nappers to chatters, all were welcome to hang out. I don’t know how she got any work done, but I’d wager to say she’s the longest working vendor at Lindy Focus (as evidenced by the sunrise/survivors photo on the last day, she was probably working the whole time).
Forties Forward, one of my favorite hair flower vendors, was right across the hallway from Sharon, making sure that the ladies of Lindy Focus had all the hair flowers they needed. With the customary gussying up for New Year’s Eve, I’m sure they did well. Added inventory this year: false eyelashes. Va-va-voom!
Also a regular, Mike Thibault’s jazz and lindy hop prints are always a welcome sight. I love his selection, especially the new-ish one of the interior of the Savoy ballroom packed to the gills with dancers. If you haven’t seen what he has, definitely check out his website – Vintage Jazz Art – and pick up something inspiring to put on your wall.
Next to Mike’s table was a curious little table of notecards with photograph images of dancers with a sign saying “Dance Cards by DJ Stone.” Perhaps a few campers picked one up to send a note saying “Wish you were here?”
Finally, New York designer Nicole Lenzen not only had a lovely rack of dresses at her vendor table, she debuted her first collection of dresses and rompers for dancers at Lindy Focus in a glorious fashion show during one of the camp meetings, featuring some of your favorite female instructors as models for her designs. The collection was movement-conscious, high in twirl factor, and rich in textiles. The designer loves to work with fine fabrics, produced ethically and created into garments in New York’s garment district. Nicole hopes to have her website ready to take orders soon – she does custom garments as well as those featured in her collection. Nicole is a delight and I look forward to seeing her business grow and flourish. Check out the fashion show in the video below for a full view of the collection and also Jessica Keener’s lovely photographs.
I think a fashion show and debut collection must be a swing dance event first, if not a Lindy Focus first, no? Clearly we are heading in the right direction.
I’ll close by saying I really enjoyed being on a panel discussing blogging and social media with Rebecca Brightly, Michael Seguin, and Jerry Almonte. Everyone had thoughtful commentary and different insights based on our different experiences. Special thanks to Abigail Browning for inviting us to participate and giving us questions so that we actually had something to say. 🙂
6 thoughts on “Lindy Focus 2012 Vendors”
Awwww, I usually agree with you, spot on, Lindyshopper, but I found the fashion show woefully disappointing. I hope the designer might take this feedback into consideration. They are the same issues that I have with Modcloth pieces.
1) The hemlines were WAY to short! I can always hem a dress, but I can’t add to it! Not all Lindyhoppers are in their 20s. Ahem – I’m 38, and I don’t wear skirts above the knee anymore. And back then, ladies didn’t either! A dress can still be beautiful and long. If someone wants it shorter, she can hem it.
2) Some of the tops of the dresses required fancy bras. I HATE that.
3) Bubble skirts are not authentic nor flattering. The green one featured with the belt above is the only one that twirled correctly. Several of them ballooned out. Not cool. They should be princess seamed or paneled.
4) Also, the waist lines were too high and looked more like babydoll dresses instead of a woman’s natural figure. I love the idea of the rompers, but they looked sloppy and didn’t fit well. I understand that she may be trying to take a fresh look at old styles, but these didn’t do it for me. After almost 15 years of swing dancing and shopping, I know what silhouettes to look for – hourglass – and these did not fit the bill.
5) And if any of these required dry cleaning, that would be my final issue. Perhaps she consulted with swing dancers, but I’m not sure that she got a good sampling.
I would LOVE to see more designers designing for swing dancers, and I agree that this is a fantastic step in the right direction, but sadly, in my opinion, this collection misses the mark completely. 😦
I’ll try to address some of the issues you raised:
– Hemlines – it’s my understanding that these can be made to order, so you could get your wish. As to the “back then,” it was my impression that she was not making reproduction garments, just garments that could be worn dancing and for special occasions (i.e. New Year’s Eve).
– The remainder of the issues raised sound like personal preferences. Since she was not making reproduction garments, some of her details are outside of the box, but within the realm of dance-ability. While not all of her dresses could be worn with regular bras, most of them could.
– She primarily uses natural fibers, cottons and silks – so cottons can be washed, silks would have to be dry-cleaned.
Hi Lindy Shopper – that makes sense. Indeed, it is my personal preference, and I agree that all are danceable pieces. Thank you for the re-frame and context – that helps! 😀
I’m the designer so I just wanted to reply back.
Thank you so much for the coverage, and all of your above comments are completely on point.
I indeed value feedback and appreciate hearing it. Here is some additional information from my end.
1) First off, as Lindy Shopper correctly stated, I do not focus on creating reproduction or true-to-era styles. I may take vintage inspiration and often reclaim vintage materials (see http://nicolelenzen.com/about/case-studies/ and http://nicolelenzen.com/reclaimed-vintage/ for examples), but my designs are contemporary in nature.
2) On hemlines, I’ll take that feedback and perhaps introduce some longer skirts in the next styles I design. And yes, I do custom and made-to-order so am happy to modify length.
3) On bras, I completely agree with you, and do make sure to consider that. The fashion show displayed a mix of couture and ready-to-wear styles. Every ready-to-wear style that I sold at the vendor booth can be worn with a regular bra. Two of the styles in the fashion show have bodices with couture construction and built-in support in lieu of a bra requirement.
4) On garment care, I definitely understand customers wanting to be able to wash their clothes as opposed to having to dry-clean them. However, in choosing fine fabrics and construction sometimes drycleaning is the best option. I will certainly continue to keep that in mind, however.
5) On the bubble skirts, no these do not move as freely as a loose skirt, but many people really like the shape of these particular dresses (they are fairly hourglass and fitted through the waist) and the way the silk catches the light. Plus they don’t require wearing bloomers because the skirt doesn’t fly up in a revealing way. But yes, this is a personal preference design detail for sure, and as a designer I also like to offer variety.
6) On the rompers, these are meant to be fun, comfortable styles that can easily be worn for many functions without fuss. I wore one of the rompers during Lindy Focus and without ever taking it off, I worked a full day at the booth, then took a nap, then went out to dinner, and then danced all night, not even worrying once about being rumpled.
7) I wish you had come by the vendor booth to try on some pieces and make assessments/give feedback in person (or perhaps you didn’t attend the event?) Feel free to contact me through the email listed on my website with any other comments or types of styles you think are missing for the swing follower community. This is just the first collection! 🙂
Thanks and best regards,
PS – Images are posted here that show a bit more detail than the fashion show video http://nicolelenzen.com/evening-wear/
You found me! Thanks for adding to this, it’s sometimes hard to remember everything and it’s always better when it can come from the source. I am super impressed that you did built-in support on some of the garments. I have a really nice gown from the 1970’s (of all decades) that has some amazing built in support – perhaps the only gown I’ve gone without in – and I’m still not sure how it all works, but it does. Kudos to you!
Hi Nicole – thank you so much for your thoughtful response. Criticisms are not always easy to hear, but I’m glad that you seemed to take them in the spirit in which they were intended, recognized that they were a reflection of my personal preference, and didn’t take them personally. 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to further explain your design perspective (that helps me understand where you’re coming from) and for taking an active interest in designing for the swing dance community! I think that is really cool, and I am glad to hear that you intend to continue. I am also very impressed that you are so willing to be open to feedback and ideas! I concur with Lindy Shopper with regard to the built-in support concept. I will add you to my list when people ask me for places to find swing dance clothes. I didn’t get to attend the LF event this year, but I hope that I will be able to meet you at a future event! Thanks again for your work and for your reply here. All the best! 😀