So many people love fall – while I dislike the idea of temperatures plummeting toward winter, I do love the sights and flavors of fall, particularly those involving Halloween – you may have noticed that I love to dress up and a costume is, for me, dressing up to the fullest! I happened upon Kitschy Witch Designs earlier this year and essentially everything on this website is what I imagine as lovely and fun imagery around the Halloween season, taking inspiration from literature (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the Wizard of Oz), pop culture (Disney’s Haunted Mansion ride), and vintage notions of magic (fortune tellers, magicians, and the hallows eve itself).
Kitschy Witch Designs features the fabric, clothing, bag, and jewelry designs of artist and entrepreneur Stephanie Buscema, whose designs are fun, whimsical, and vintage-inspired. From the website:
“My mission is to create unique collections of items you won’t be able to find anywhere else. Items are made in small limited edition batches, with our custom fabrics and clothing being printed and sewn here in the USA.
All art, textiles and designs are created by me in my home studio with real paints, paper and pencils, using traditional image making methods to create just about everything you’ll find here. Carefully curated and of course, made with the utmost love and care, KWD is most definitely my passion project. My hopes are you’ll find a few things here that will make you smile and bring a little magic into your life!”
I am absolutely smitten with the latest collection inspired by the Wizard of Oz – once you’ve been Dorothy in a community theater production of the musical, you basically never need to let that go (is what I am telling myself). If 1950’s silhouettes are not your bag, there are plenty of other items on the website with more universal appeal – totes, clutches, makeup bags, scarves, jewelry, and sunglasses – which can be used year-round. I know for some people Halloween is a state of mind and I think Kitschy Witch expands upon that to glorious effect.
This past weekend, I attended the Hawkeye Swing Festival in Iowa City, Iowa. As far as dance events go, the University of Iowa has an ideal setup to run a weekend of dances and workshops, with a student union that has both a giant ballroom with a stage and an attached student-run hotel, where the event attendees can stay. Everything you need is within walking distance of the venue/hotel – shops, restaurants, bars, fro-yo, pie shakes…mmmmm, pie shakes. Ahem. Needless to say, I had a fantastic time dancing, meeting new people, and listening to some sweet music over the weekend provided by the all-star bands headed up by Bria Skonberg, Solomon Douglas, Chase Garrett, and those Seattle darlings, The Careless Lovers.
But what about the vintage? While Iowa City did not turn out to be the vintage Mecca I had hoped, it was certainly a lesson in vintage hunting, which is that vintage can be found just about anywhere, you just have to look for it. I photographed just about every swing-era item I could find, and some 1950’s dresses – my partner in crime, Beccy Aldrich, and I had a fun time scouring these stores and I am proud of our efforts. What is waiting to be unearthed in your corner of the world?
Our first stop, after sleeping in, was for brunch at the Hamburg Inn No. 2, which was recommended to my by Andy Nishida (foodie, dancer, alum). On the outside and inside it looks benign, a typical local, greasy spoon, but then you look closer at the menu and see tons of good eats, then there’s a chalkboard listing 20 different delicious pies, THEN you see in the menu that any pie on that delicious list can become a shake! The line at Hamburg Inn No. 2 was not to dine in, it was full of college students waiting for their shakes. And rightly so, it’s a fantastic way to have two desserts in one and, with it only available in size large, is an ample meal replacement. Beccy, my husband Lucian Cobb, and I split a chocolate bourbon pecan pie milkshake and it was divine.
We sent Lucian to the hotel for a nap and headed to our first stop, the White Rabbit, a wonderful little eclectic boutique with a selection of gifts, handcrafted items, and new and vintage clothing. In the back of the store were a few racks of vintage clothing and Beccy and I each found wonderful plaid 1950’s dresses (both of which were too small for our respective waists, meh). That was the extent of danceable vintage, so we ventured out to locate the next shop…
…which was a consignment shop called Revival. As far as consignment shops go, Revival is very hip and was packed with shoppers. They carry consignment and new clothing, as well as a couple of racks of vintage clothing, new and old accessories, gifts, and some other lovelies, knick knacks, and a cake plate of cupcakes for sale. Beccy found the only pre-1960’s item, which was a cheerful yellow 1950’s dress, which also ended up being tiny. They had some fantastic sunglasses, reminiscent of 1930’s sunglasses, and a lovely umbrella, but little else that would interest Lindy Shopper. Onward!
Our next stop was Ragstock, which I was warned is a chain store and we were not likely to find anything early 20th century here. They were right, however, Ragstock had a huge selection of generic Keds in every color and the sales clerk gave us a great tip on another place to try, so we ventured…
…to Artifacts, which was an antique store with some vintage clothing and a lot of cool other stuff. If I had larger luggage I would have come home with two Art Deco era cake carriers. This is the only store where we found swing era garments, one gorgeous 1930’s velvet suit/dress and a faille late 30’s/early 40’s dress in crimson with rhinestones. Deflated that the red dress was too small, I consoled myself with cheap bakelite bangles, which I purchased at a fraction of the cost of bakelite at other vintage/antique stores. They even had a collection of bakelite scottie dog pencil sharpeners which were, oddly, more expensive than the bangles. Rare? I have no idea, but the bangles were more useful to me anyway.