With the price of bakelite jewelry in the astronomical range, reproductions of this classic early plastic jewelry are a welcome commodity. I’ve found a few “fakelite” pieces via Forever 21 a few years ago and apparently Avon did some reproductions in the 1980’s, but both have been found in limited quantities. Classic Hardware was a sight for sore eyes, with a line of classic bakelite-style (called “Retrolite” on the website) pins, bracelets, necklaces, and rings that will give your vintage or reproduction dress the perfect finishing touch.
According to the website, “Karyn Cantor is the originator and driving force behind Classic Hardware and it is her personal vision that is reflected in every handcrafted piece. Her love of vintage fashions mixed with a strong post-industrial aesthetic is further influenced by art nouveau and dadaism. This striking amalgam of sensibilities, coupled with Karyn’s sense of humor has developed into her current line of accessories that reflect today’s sense of individuality, sophistication and spunk…Karyn’s tastes are eclectic and varied, running the gamut between rock ‘n’roll, punk rock, rockabilly and old timey music. She loves swing dancing, live music, travel, flea markets and playing the ukelele.”
She loves swing dancing! One can’t help but wonder if Karyn noticed all the unadorned lapels and necklines at dances and wanted to do something about it…
Here are some of my favorite “Retrolite” pieces from the Classic Hardware website:
The presence of vendors seems to be growing at larger Lindy Hop and Balboa events, presenting sellers with a unique opportunity to reach a targeted (and sometimes captive) audience. It can be difficult to fly into an event and not have the time to experience local vintage stores, or order online without trying something on, or maybe your dance shoes choose that weekend to fall apart. When the vendors come to you, the event becomes even more accommodating, convenient, and special.
As far as vendor lineups go, All Balboa Weekend this year has had the most vendors I have seen at any single event. Does this surprise the swing dance community at large, with Balboa dancers having a reputation for dressing up? Probably not. 🙂 There were three shoe vendors (four if you count the vintage store that brought some choice 1940’s pumps), a ton of dresses, hair accessories, bloomers, and a smattering of vintage goodies. Here’s a list of the vendors, in the order in which you would approach them entering the hallway of the event:
I’ve been singing Carol Fraser’s praises for months, but she has seriously outdone herself again. I don’t think I’ve seen that many bloomers in one place, with dozens of patterns in the My Heinies signature styles. Carol’s exclusive line of footwear from Worldtone, developed for swing dancers, is even more developed at this point and it was apparent that the styles available at ABW are targeted to be good colors and styles for dancers. I found the new shoes VERY appealing and was pleased to see that some of the focus group shoes had made the final cut. She also carried a number of one-of-a-kind styles – featuring more colors, patterns, and detailing – that were just breathtaking. I also noticed a number of follows sporting fancy hosiery from this vendor, both on the social dance floor and in competitions. Top it all off with one of the lovely hair flowers Carol sells and you’ve got a winner.
REMIX VINTAGE SHOES
What can I say? Remix Vintage Shoes makes the most drool-worthy reproduction shoes out there, with dance-friendly heel heights and soft leather galore. There are always a few new models and colors, as well as some shoes that may not be made anymore (i.e. Remix is looking for a new manufacturer for the Balboa t-strap, so if you’ve been on the fence get them NOW because we don’t know when they will be available again!). I had the high honor of having my vintage two-tone oxfords photographed by Philip Heath, the owner of Remix – perhaps there will be a reproduction made and named after Lindy Shopper? *swoon*
Shannon Sheldon is the mastermind behind both the execution of a flawless 1930’s fashion show and the line of adorable hair flowers known as Bombshell Baubles. Shannon personally tests each flower to make sure that, no matter how much your head shakes, the flower will not fall out. As someone who has abandoned flowers mid-dance because they simply could not stay in place, I salute you! Etsy store coming soon…
Flapperfly makes cute, crafty, and recycled items, such as earrings, hair accessories, fabric bags, charm necklaces, and has some vintage finds worthy of the cuteness of this vendor. I only wish I had seen Flapperfly’s wares out more often at the event, I feel that I am lacking in accurate commentary. Please check out her Etsy site for goodies, especially the sequin sparrow barrette, which is my favorite.
Loco Lindo saw some heavy traffic at ABW, and for good reason – their line of dresses and skirts are flirty and practical, made from an infinite number of crepe prints, both modern and vintage reminiscent. The best parts about this kind of crepe are the nod to vintage crepe fabrics (common in swing era clothing), the comfort and wearability of the fabric, and the washability – no dry cleaning necessary, just throw it in the washer and hang it up to dry. The crepe travels well, being somewhat wrinkle-resistant, which is good news for traveling swing dancers. I would also file these dresses under dance and work-appropriate, so there’s double duty potential. I picked up a lovely gray and white polka dot dress with smocking detail at the shoulders – it is so rare to find dresses with smocking – superb!
The staple of almost every swing dancer’s wardrobe, Dancestore‘s shoes are always well received at dance events and tend to be the anchor vendor with their vast inventory. I think I spent most of the weekend in their white mesh oxford. They were not at ABW the entire time, so I am afraid I am remiss of additional tidbits relating to the event or new products. I will use this opportunity to reiterate Teni Lopez-Cardenas‘ plea to make the trumpet skirt available in more colors (and sizes) – please! I’ve been waiting for years for the black trumpet skirt to be in stock in my size.
More hair accessory cuteness, this time from Follow Fashions‘ Ohio based designer, Lisa Curry. As you can see from the photo, there are wonderful flowers and feather fascinators, in lots of color options, shapes, and sizes. I am particularly grateful to see the smaller flower options, for short haired follows, for embellishing up-do’s, and perhaps for use as a boutonniere. Special thanks to Follow Fashions for outfitting some of our 1930’s fashion show participants with hair accessories!
The token actual vintage vendor at ABW was Flower Child, who looked like they had been hoarding swing era goodies for us for a while, as there were some really choice items available for purchase. Things that stuck out in my mind were some great 1940’s cocktail dresses, pumps and wedges, bakelite jewelry at not outrageous prices, vintage sewing notions, a fairly substantial menswear and accessories section, gorgeous hats, and the 6 yards of 1930’s printed cotton the ladies brought for me to look at after I told them about some of my dresses being handmade. These ladies were diligent and stuck it out all weekend, into the wee hours of the nightly dances. Special thanks also goes out to Flower Child for letting the 1930’s fashion show borrow some of their accessories – such lovely things!
And those are the vendors! Stayed tuned for more possible future ABW-related blog posts.
I love vintage with a story – these pink satin 1920’s shoes were an adventure to find. If you’d like to own these beauties (approximately a size 5N, 9 inches long inside, 2.5 inches wide), they are yours for the cost of shipping.
So here’s the story: Raleigh/Durham dancer and advertising whiz kid Jamie Foehl invited the local dancers to be in a commercial set in the 1920’s for her job. On a very cold morning this past March we set out in cloches and derby hats for a farm in Chapel Hill, which would be the site of the commercial. I can’t reveal too many details about the commercial, but the farm itself was an interesting backdrop, with beautiful scenery, a lake, a giant catapult, a miniature horse, and enough horse poop to make walking around in Remix shoes very challenging. The owner of the farm came over to a group of us in vintage clothing and said “I’ve got some old clothes and jewelry from my husband’s aunt in the house that we’ve been trying to get rid of. Would you be interested?”
The answer is always YES, even if it turns out to be a bust.
This time, yes meant coming inside to a fire in the fireplace and a downstairs closet with hidden treasures. She pulled out the jewelry first, which was mostly 1960’s and 70’s stuff, but I did snag some MCM cufflinks for the Boy. I think the pink shoes were next and they were carefully boxed and preserved, in all their pink glossy glory. Next came the fur muffs (there were two), so Jamie and I each got one of those to take home. Finally, a WWII army nurse’s cape made its way out of the closet and into my arms. Now, I just have to find the rest of the uniform. 😉 There were also hats, but apparently the hats were in a closet in a bedroom where someone was sleeping (Jamie, any follow up on that?). Needless to say, it was a very successful day that ended with pizza for lunch and a bowling ball being catapulted across the field.
And that’s how we got these pink shoes…but what to do with them? They need a very special home, so I’m hoping someone reading this blog has tiny feet.
Lindy Focus continues to amaze me. This intimate regional event has turned into one of the largest Lindy Hop events, if not the largest, in the country. Michael and Jaya Gamble turn out a flawless event every year, with each passing Lindy Focus growing in attendance, quality, attention to detail, and sheer awesomeness. In spite of this year’s severe weather disasters and subsequent travel delays, attendees persevered, going by train, bus, delayed plane, or automobile, from far and wide, determined to make it to this Lindy Hop holiday Mecca or bust.
I was a bit disappointed when I walked into the lobby and saw that Dancestore was not selling their staple dance shoes. This left Lindy Focus with no anchor vendor and dancers without that valuable opportunity to try on dance shoes in person or replace any missing, forgotten, or destroyed shoes at the event. Dancestore, we miss you! Please come back next year!
My disappointment was quickly dispelled when Forties Forward began setting up a gorgeous display table at one of the dances. Forties Forward is the brainchild of dancers and designers Erica DeBlasio and Michelle Postles, offering vintage inspired hair flowers and pins, jewelry, hats, and handbags. It was all I could do not to hover and snatch up the goodies while they were setting out the hair flowers – just containers upon containers of colorful and beautiful blooms! The prices are great, at $5 or $7 a pop, and I can attest to the quality of the hair flowers, having purchased a white lily hair flower from Erica few years ago. Needless to say, I stocked up on flowers and anticipate clusters of flowers in my hair now that the supplies are plentiful.
In the lobby area I noticed that there were some very nicely framed prints of jazz dance and Lindy Hop illustrations and photographs. I didn’t figure out they were on sale until later in the event when I was standing next to them and the vendor, Mike Thibault, introduced himself and began telling me about the prints. Mike has set out to obtain the reproduction rights to these prints and others yet to be obtained and reprinted, researching their origins and the best way to reproduce these works. This is immensely important work in preserving Lindy Hop culture and I commend him for this great endeavor. Mike is currently offering two illustrations (“The Lindy Hop” and “The Big Apple”) and one photograph (“The Breakaway”). He is also working on locating a complete, original illustrated map of Harlem nightclubs from 1932, which I am most excited about purchasing. Best of luck to you, Mike – I’ll be waiting in line, cash in hand, when you find it and get it printed!
That’s all for today…still recovering from last night. Stay tuned for another Lindy Focus post on Asheville’s vintage clothing stores!