Tag Archives: Laurie Gilkenson

Lindy Focus Vendors 2016

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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Merch!

One does not simply recover from Lindy Focus – even if you manage to escape the plague, reset your sleep schedule, unpack and do the mountains of laundry, there are still all the YouTube videos to watch, the photographs to see, and the new people to find and connect with on Facebook and all of this takes a bit of time.  As you can see, it is January 10 and I am just now getting to this post!

It was the best year for vendors yet at Lindy Focus, primarily because almost the entire main front lobby was converted to a vendor area, with the smaller lobby registration/vendor area remaining as a secondary area.  I posted a preview of the vendors before Lindy Focus, so I won’t go into too many details about the ones I have already written about, but there were some additions to that list I would like to highlight, then I’ll post all my photos:

  •  Mickey Fortanasce, who is not only an great instructor and competitor, but also an incredible graphic artist, created an entire set of playing cards using the likenesses of swing dance legends like Frankie Manning, Dawn Hampton, Jewel McGowan, Dean Collins, and many more to create and truly beautiful and unique piece of functional and fun artwork.  “For cutters and shufflers,” of course. 😉  Photos below, I’m not sure how many of these are left, but it doesn’t hurt to reach out to him to find out. (UPDATE:  You can purchase packs of cards at this link –> http://www.kellyandmickey.com/legends-of-swing-playing-cards)
  • Artist, writer, and dancer Irena Spassova was on hand with her adorable artwork, with prints and coloring books (!) to take home, as well as commission work offered at the event!  What a great idea to grab a coloring book and run back to your room for a little de-stress time mid-event.  I always see Irena with a smile on her face and her artwork is just as infectious.
  • San Francisco instructor Ann Mony has created a set of jazz step playing cards, which look to be great for both new and veteran dancers alike, for solo dancing or dancing with others or with a class, and there are already plans to expand the deck!  You could get a set at LF or you can order them on Etsy – follow Shimmytown on Etsy to get updates on expansions.
  • Ryan Calloway returned to Lindy Focus with his fantastic original jazz prints, featuring great dancers and musicians alike!  To up the ante this year, I spotted Ryan backstage making sketches, so perhaps we shall see the fruits of his artistry at LF 2017 – to tide you over until then, you can pick up a jazz print on his Etsy page.
  • Hilary Mercer of photography fame is also a seller for Lularoe – she was selling in the secondary lobby near registration before the Savoy Shop set up and was thereafter selling in her room, and I am aggravated with myself that I did not get a photo of her Lularoe spread, because it was rather impressive in magnitude.  Follow her for Lularoe on Facebook and marvel at this combination of stellar photographer and colorful attire, essentially match made in heaven.

I apologize tenfold if I have somehow missed someone or missed a detail, Lindy Focus was a wonderful and time-consuming 2 p.m. to 4 a.m. job for me this year, which kept me away from the vendor areas except when I was passing through – please let me know what may be missing and I’ll amend this post!

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These two lovelies are from the Savoy Shop and were quickly snatched up (by Laura Glaess and Bethany Potter, respectively)!

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At the Savoy Shop, I was like WHOA what even is this…

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…with similar sentiments on the tag, LOL.

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Fun accessories at the Savoy Shop

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Welcome, Saint Savoy and this parade of lovelies!

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Some colorful men’s shoes by Saint Savoy

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Hello, love…

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Laurie Gilkenson (aka Nina’s mom) held her own in a big part of the vendor area, with a mix of Dancestore shoes, vintage items, and handcrafted items she made herself!

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Festive and fruity earrings, handcrafted by Laurie Gilkenson

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Lindy Hoppers are moms, too – Laurie explained these were to be worn by infants to let people know that they are breastfeeding.

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Mickey Fortanasce’s fantastic original artwork turned into function beautiful decks of playing cards, featuring legends of swing dancing!

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The delightful Irena Spassova displays some of her artwork and prints.

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An entirely different, but no less entertaining, deck of cards created by Ann Mony.

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Blooms about at Chatterblossom!

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A bloom for every dress, no less…

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Headbands to keep everything in place with a spot of color.

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Need some Lindy Hop or jazz art prints in your life?  Here’s the man.

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Ryan Calloway draws epic dancers…

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…and musicians!

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OH, HI CHLOE *attempts to hide crazy girl fangirl reaction to running into Chloe Hong*

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I was so excited I couldn’t take a photo of the men’s rack in focus.

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It’s all in the details…

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Because you can.  Thanks, Chloe!

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Seriously, the taste level here is so high. ❤

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I’ll leave you with one of Lindy Focus’ most stalwart vendors, the classic Forties Forward table of blooms!

 

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ILHC 2016: Trend and Vendor Report

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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My seat for the weekend’s evening festivities.

It was another banner year for the International Lindy Hop Championships, now in its 9th year, and full of life, energy, and joy that only swing dancing with people who love these dances with every fiber of their being can bring.

This year’s ILHC was very different for me than in previous years, primarily because I was only singing with Jonathan Stout‘s bands on Friday and Saturday night, whereas in previous years I had competed, DJ’ed, participated in the Yehoodi broadcast, and also sang, usually 2-3 of these at various times over the course of the weekend.  Consequently, I cannot say that I was in the ballroom as much as I had been in the past, but I received a request for a trend report, so I will tell you what I was able to see while I was there:

Trashy Diva: TD has been around for a while and there would always be a token dancer in a TD dress (usually Mia Halloran (as in the video below) or Valerie Salstrom), but this year the TD was out en masse.  As my gaze scanned the dancing crowd each night, there were numerous ladies sporting TD’s signature printed rayon dresses and it made my heart sing!  You all looked amazing – at one point, I happened upon a cluster of three women in TD chatting in the hallway and there’s nothing that makes me happier than fashion bringing people together.

Cropped tops: This trend was a pleasant surprise, seeing adorable cropped tops paired with everything from floaty skirts to high waisted trousers, and always impeccably assembled with the rest of the outfit.  Everything from right at the top of the waistband to about three inches above the waistband, so some were just a peek when you lifted your arm to turn and others were more intentionally part of the ensemble’s silhouette.

High waisted tapered leg pleated front pants:  Ubiquitous, for a second year in a row.  My distaste for this trend remains, but at least they all fit you well, no one looked uncomfortable.

Women in ties: Neckties, bow ties, and I think I even spotted a Continental – ladies, won’t you join me during OcTieBer?

Men: I’ve got nothing, it looked rather more of the same, except that well-dressed men are always in style.  Nevermind, keep looking amazing, don’t change. 😉

If you attended, I’d love to hear what other trends did you noticed while you were there – feel free to leave a note in the comments.

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May 15, 2016 Lake Buena Vista, FL Ashley Eckstein / Her Universe Photo credit: Preston Mack

I’m also going to give honorable mention to Diana Smith, who wore my favorite clothing item of the weekend, a black floral romper that, at a distance looks like it’s made from a a nice vintage floral, but upon closer inspection has Captain America’s shield nestled in the beds of flowers!  Click on the photo to make it larger so you can see the detail –  brilliant nod to the Captain America back story and the victory prints of the 1940’s.  Did I think to get a photo of Diana in this romper?  No, because I’m a terrible reporter and I think I got her in trouble during sound check because we were both working when I started geeking out about her romper…so you’ll have to settle for the Kohl’s model at right.  Unfortunately, this romper is no longer available at Kohl’s! *sigh*

There were not as many vendors at ILHC as in the past, and I particularly missed seeing Chloe Hong, but there were 4 vendors offering goods and services to the masses in the hallway of the event and they should be noted because they are noteworthy!

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Holding down the largest vendor space was Laurie Gilkenson (aka Nina’s mom) with both Dancestore’s line of dance shoes for men and women, as well as vintage shoes and clothing.  I noticed that Dancestore has a new colorway in their Aris Allen men’s wingtip, a nice brown and cream.  I also died when I saw that Laurie had several pairs of 1920’s shoes, just the loveliest things in satin that my feet will never fit into!  Also, vintage velvet…so many lovely things…

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Junebug Shop’s original designs

Across from Laurie was the Junebug Shop, the custom clothing endeavor of Anna Yergat, who had her designs on display, as well as a line of geometric beaded jewelry in just about every color – so you could order an entire accessorized ensemble at her table.  The Junebug Shop Etsy page carries Anna’s custom designs as well as some vintage clothing items.  Anna’s designs look romantic and dance-worthy, vintage nods with modern twists.

Finally, the Vinspire Salon at ILHC was staffed by Destinee Cushing (hair) and Lani Barry (makeup), offering full services faces and quoifs all weekend, if you could even get one – they were so popular there was a wait list!  One could say that having hair and makeup done, either professionally by these two or by other means (self, friend) was also a trend this past weekend and rightly so – this is quite possibly Lindy Hop’s biggest and most broadcast performance opportunity of the year and it’s a time to shine, look vibrant under all those bright lights, and look and dance your best.

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Lani preparing for a new client and Destinee working on some curls.

And that’s a wrap!  I love coming to ILHC for the energy and the inspiring dances I see all weekend, there’s a little something here for everyone, even if you aren’t competing.  Sometimes it’s good just to take it all in.

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Geometric jewelry at the Junebug Shop.

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Vintage velvet must be the greatest snuggle fabric ever…sorry for the blurry photo, I was probably mid-swoon.

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1920’s shoes AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH

Lindy Focus 2015 Vendors

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

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Get your LF merch on day 1 or they will sell out on day 2!

In many ways I am still recovering from Lindy Focus 2015, the swing village that camps out at the Crowne Plaza in Asheville, with all manner of dancing and services that pop up to cater to a population that would prefer not to leave the hotel, lest they miss too much dancing, live music, performances, and classes.  To help with our self-containment of joy, 2015 saw service providers such as massage therapists, shoe repair, tailors, the Jack and Jill Salon for hair cuts and styles, a caricature artist in the lobby, and two hotel room pop-up restaurants (Midnight Di-Noshery and Taco Focus) to serve food after the main dance that were, after two nights, axed by the hotel administration and replaced with food trucks, arranged by Lindy Focus to fill the void and the empty bellies of the masses.

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I love the smell of retail in the morning….errr, afternoon.

There were retail vendors, as well!  Let’s start with the Savoy Shop, a mix of consigned clothing from campers, vintage and thrifted duds with dancers in mind, and the home of the shoe repair service at Lindy Focus.  Michelle Morrison has run the shop for the past several years and has this down to a science.  I love seeing things in the Savoy Shop one day, then seeing them on the dance floor the next!  I even spotted one of my own consigned dresses in the crowd one night and it made my heart soar to know it had found a wonderful new home.  Of particular note this year, the Savoy Shop offered the largest selection of tie clips I have ever seen in one place – surely something for everyone!

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Artist in residence Ryan Calloway.

Dance instructor and artist Ryan Calloway was on hand this year, not only throwing down in the Superheroes of Swing finals, but also selling his wonderful jazz dance and music prints, offering giant, colorful books of his prints to flip through while you chat with the artist himself.  Rather than having to worry about crushing your brand new artwork on the flight home, Ryan offered to ship the prints you purchase for free to your home starting on December 28 and ran the special through January 4 in case you decided you wanted a print after all.  If you missed out on decorating your walls with his signature style, you can order his glorious prints online from his Etsy page.

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A gorgeous feathered headpiece from Forties Forward

I’m going to give a shoutout to Forties Forward, making another appearance on this blog as my most prolific vendor – perhaps it’s because we are both from the Southeast and travel to the same events, or perhaps it’s because they have a great product and the get-up-and-go to make it to some of the best events in the USA.  I imagine they do a great business at Lindy Focus, particularly around New Year’s Eve, for the perfect fishing touch to an ensemble.  This year feathers were a trend at Lindy Focus and they offered some great feather options with sparkly jewels as the attachment piece, in addition to their signature blooms.

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Zoe’s hands at work.

Revive Fashions made, I believe, its debut this year at Lindy Focus, with the crafty Zoe Lechucita creating “custom made hair pieces, feather corsages, and tie pins” on site, while you wait or while you dance and come back to check on it later. 🙂  It was so great to see Zoe picking up the custom torch from Sharon Crawford, ensuring that you can have something custom made to match your ensemble for New Year’s Eve.

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This is the cutest, right?

Another newcomer to the vendor program this year was Juniper Jewelry Designs, the work of Maddie FitzGerald, who was interviewed this year for the Lindy Focus blog about her jewelry designs, so I’ll direct you to the blog post for everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Maddie and her jewelry.  Maddie’s sense of humor is evident in her notes left on the vendor table (see photo at left) and her collection is serious, with an extensive line of bracelets, necklaces, earrings, small and large, simple and intricate, a little something for everyone (as I like  it!). You can check out her work on her Etsy page, which is really only a small sampling of the large display she had at Lindy Focus.

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Mary Jane wingtip in a new color combo!

Last, but certainly not least, I was so happy to see Dancestore.com return to Lindy Focus, thanks to the efforts of Laurie Gilkenson (aka Nina’s mom).  At any event there are shoe casualties, and Lindy Focus is, perhaps, well-equipped to deal with some repairs, but sometimes there are catastrophic shoe failures that only a new pair will fix and you only have so much room in your suitcase.  At an event with 1,000+ dancers, it is critical to have a vendor like Dancestore.com present and on site, not just to fulfill wishlists and fill out shoe basics, but to turn a tragedy into a happy ending!

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I’m also going to insert a shameless plug for Beastly Beauties, who was not a vendor this year at Lindy Focus, but who made my feathered headdress that I wore on Ellington night – I am in awe of and eternally grateful for the efforts of this wonderful Raleigh-based designer.

And there you have it!  I hope I have not missed anyone, as I didn’t have as much time this year to shop and hobnob with all the sellers.  If I have missed anything, please let me know and I will amend this post.  Happy hopping and shopping, everyone!

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The mannequin display never held anything for long before it was snatched up from the Savoy Shop!

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A tailcoat and trousers ready for New Year’s Eve, at the Savoy Shop.

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This isn’t even all of them!  SO MANY TIE CLIPS

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Vintage and gently used shoes as the Savoy Shop.

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A color print for the burgeoning clarinetist in your life?  Artwork by Ryan Calloway.

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Who can resist a good Billie Holiday print?   Artwork by Ryan Calloway.

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Dancestore maximized their space!

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A luscious bloom from Forties Forward.

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Ties, hats, and blooms at Forties Forward.

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Feathers, fans, lights, and a screen at Revive Fashions.

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Ready-made blooms with sparkle at Revive Fashions.

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A necklace fit for a New Year’s Eve ensemble, at Juniper Jewelry Designs.

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Tree of Life pendants and clusters of beads and pearls, at Juniper Jewelry Designs.

ILHC 2012 Vendors

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

It was another glorious weekend of competitions, inspirational figures (young and old), and a celebration of movement to some of the hottest jazz in the US – I’m talking about the 2012 International Lindy Hop Championships, held in Washington, D.C. this past weekend. The swanky Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel was the swanky backdrop for this event and the bright and shiny decor only added to the vibrancy of the event.

Were there vendors? You bet! I only wish there had been more vendors, as it appeared that they were fewer in number from last year. The most noticeable absence was Carol Fraser and her army of My Heinies, fabulous shoes, and accompanying Model J Vintage that filled up a prominent space in the vendor area at ILHC 2011. As a consolation, I did notice that every follow who showed her heiny in a comp had it securely covered. 🙂

Dancestore’s newest version of the trumpet skirt, available in black, brown, and red – as of ILHC, not available on the Dancestore website.

Dancestore was there with an entire inventory of their staple shoes, but of serious note was the introduction of a new (wait for it)…trumpet skirt! While it’s not the trumpet skirt we know and love, it’s still a nice variation on the theme, with beautiful Art Deco-inspired seaming on the front. The twirl factor is good! The only con, in my opinion, is the material – it is a very stretchy/drapey jersey instead of the more substantial stretch suiting-type material of the trumpet skirts of my crusade. The new skirts are great if you want something to ball up and throw in your suitcase, but are not so good if you have hip, bum, or belly bumps, or if you want to tuck in your shirt. I am still eagerly awaiting the return of the more substantial trumpet skirt. In the vein of more substantial fabrics, Dancestore also had a fantastic new red wiggle dress (also not available on the website yet).

Next door, Laurie Gilkenson (also known as Nina‘s Mom), set up a table that was a mix of fabulous and/or quirky Nina clothing castoffs, fabulous vintage shoes, Mobtown Ballroom tee shirts, various DVDs from instructors, and anything else anyone else happened to want to sell. My favorite item on this table was actually the Mobtown Ballroom tee, which not only embodied the rebellious spirit of Mobtown, but also managed to be patriotic and historic – highly appropriate for an event in our nation’s capital!

Photograph of the Savoy Ballroom

Mike Thibault set up a display of his wonderful swing and early jazz prints from his Vintage Jazz Art website. I noticed a couple of new prints, including a colorful print a flapper with a trombonist and saxophonist and (most notably) another print of a photograph of the Savoy Ballroom featuring a mob of dancers and Erskine Hawkins on the band stand. Mike said that he was working with the photographer’s son and that this relationship may yield some more choice photographic prints! We’ll definitely stay tuned, especially if there is more Savoy Ballroom and trombone player goodness to be had.

Forties Forward was on hand to make sure the dancers were appropriately and florally decorated. I have several of their flowers and they are some of my favorites. These gals know that the blooms need to stay relatively flat to be practical for dancing and for this Lindy Shopper salutes you.

Last, but most certainly not least, the adorable and incomparable Dawn Hampton was intermittently manning her own table of CDs and DVDs of “The Unforgettable Hampton Family.” Sadly, I did not get photographic evidence of this!

And that’s a wrap on the vendors, but stay tuned for two more ILHC-related posts. I hope events will continue to have vendors and promote Lindy Hop commerce amongst businesses and the participants who need/want these unique products. ILHC, see you next year!

ILHC 2011 Vendors

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

ILHC swag

I had the pleasure of dancing and competing at this year’s International Lindy Hop Championships, held just outside of Washington, D.C. in Alexandria, Virginia. The event was a unique mix of swing dancers, in varying styles of dance, from around the globe. I think the event is best summed up by saying that ILHC is where you can see all those people you see dancing on YouTube – but there’s nothing better than seeing it live, as a video can’t quite capture the energy these couples and teams generate or the dynamic in the room.

(I apologize in advance for the quality of the photographs, as I forgot my real camera and had to use my phone)

Dancestore in the house!

Like most large swing dance events nowadays, ILHC had its own set of vendors, most of which I would categorize as the “essentials” providers – shoes, bloomers, hair flowers, and vintage/vintage-inspired clothing. Baltimore-based Dancestore.com was there with a lineup of Lindy and Bal-friendly shoes, including their new pair of white wingtips, which look gorgeous in person. Nina Gilkenson‘s mom, Laurie Gilkenson, was on hand, selling shoes for Dancestore, as well as vintage odds, ends, clothing, and shoes from Nina’s vintage shoe collection. If you wore a size 6.5, it was definitely your lucky day! More photos below of this and the other vendors.

Forties Forward had an array of new hair flowers, since I last saw these gals, Erica DeBlasio and Michelle Postles, at Lindy Focus. My new favorite bloom was a giant white bloom, possibly a magnolia blossom, that was so large it could almost be a hat!

My Heinies, in grand fashion, occupied the largest vendor space, with racks of colorful bloomers in all styles, as well as a beautiful collection of dance shoes for men and women. I noticed a particularly lovely pair of men’s two tone brown wingtips that garnered a lot of attention from the leaders in attendance, as well as some new to-die-for red heels in the collection. I noticed a number of followers in the competitions wearing My Heinies…and some who didn’t, but that’s another story…

A letterman's sweater from Model J Vintage

Working the booth with My Heinies was Model J Vintage, the Etsy store of New York dancer Joy Grad, which specializes in “a lifetime of collectibles directly to you from my personal closets and new adventures.” She turned up the volume for ILHC, offering a collection of both dance-ready and exquisite vintage and reproduction items from her collection and from Carol Fraser‘s closet. I swore I wasn’t going to buy anymore gowns, but I couldn’t pass up a 1940’s gown made of green silk, with a chevron bodice and velvet bow – it was a triple threat and I didn’t stand a chance. 😉

Last, but certainly not least, Mike Thibault of Vintage Jazz Art set up a gorgeous display of his framed prints, which are simply stunning in person. If you have an empty spot on a wall in your home, consider filling it with a daily reminder of your awesome dance hobby…

Thanks to everyone who organized the event and to those sold their wares at IHLC! I hope to return next year!

Gilkenson swag

A most exquisite pair of heels from the late 1800's/early 1900's, with jewels on the heels

My Heinies at ILHC

An array of Heinies

Some delicious new shoes, courtesy of My Heinies

An adorable blouse from Model J Vintage

Joy showing off a lovely vintage dress

The gown!

That glorious magnolia-like blossom I was telling you about, front and center, from Forties Forward

The coy ladies of Forties Forward

The Vintage Jazz Art display