Besame Cosmetics has produced several of my go-to lipsticks for the past several years. One of the questions I sometimes get is how to find a good red to wear, since red lips are signature to many swing era looks, and Besame has become an easy answer because all of their colors are inspired by actual colors from the past, attached with the color’s year of inspiration, and most of their shades are a variation of red. The color is highly pigmented, the perfect matte, and is resilient and long-lasting. Even Agent Carter wears Besame’s Red Velvet, so you know it can withstand a lot, whether it’s a night of dancing or kicking ass.
A few weeks ago I saw a press release from Besame Cosmetics that they had collaborated with Disney to produce a Snow White collection, based on colors from the 1937 animated feature. Snow White is the first Disney princess, the swing era’s Disney princess, and I just so happened to have played Snow White in the Kindergarten play at my elementary school, so obviously I (and 6-year-old Lindy Shopper) was excited collection. To make it even more attractive, the entire collection comes in packaging that is the shape of a storybook, which contains the cosmetics, a guide on the actual colors used in the movie (because they researched the colors from primary sources at Disney), and instructions on how to get Snow White’s iconic look.
I apologize for the tardiness, but, as we all know, life happens outside of the Internet – always better late than never is the All Balboa Weekend vendor post, because ABW has, in my opinion, the best vendor aggregate year after year. This was my 10th ABW, if you can believe it, and the first one I couldn’t attend for the entire weekend, but I promise I crunched to maximize my time there and to give you this attempt at a comprehensive vendor post.
Before we get into the shopping, I have two things to note:
I was given the incredible opportunity to examine Genevieve Grazis’ performance clothing, including the famous Beach Clip dress, and was invited to talk about the dress’ construction and details in front of the entire event as part of Kate Hedin and Bobby White‘s presentation and demonstration of the dress. While everyone is gaga over the 11 godets that, combined with 1930’s satin, make this dress spin like a dream (and rightly so!), but my favorite part of this dress are the sleeves – a triple pleats, both front and back, along the arm hole seam with two piped seams straddling a panel in the middle of the sleeve. The result is a puffed sleeve created by divine architecture.
2. Coif magicians Destinee Cushing and Francine Amendola combined forces to form the Hepcat Salon, delivering incredible and pristine vintage hairstyles all weekend long. I know several people who will get their hair done and wear it for a couple of nights or most of the weekend so they don’t have to worry about doing it multiple nights and to keep it out of their faces, which I think is a great plan to maximize your ‘do and practical for a dance weekend with lots going on that you don’t want to miss.
The flagship booth at ABW is always Re-mix Vintage Shoes, who makes very rare appearances at any events outside of southern California. I know people wait until ABW to buy their first (or second, or 10th) pair of Re-mix shoes so they can try them on and see how the styles fit their feet. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see them all in a row.
Next in the lineup was Sweet Lorain, which is my favorite vintage shop in Cleveland. To call it a shop is really an understatement, it’s almost a warehouse, definitely a department store, and you can get lost in there for hours amongst the clothing, furniture, kitchen wares, records, Christmas decorations, and on. Of course, for ABW, they pull a selection of garments with dancers in mind from the 1930’s through the 1950’s so that you don’t have to do the digging, it’s already been dug out for you and is sitting in the hallway of the event. My story this year is that Andy Nishida and Rita Shiang (dancers and organizers of Richmond, VA’s Jammin on the James) had come to Cleveland a few weeks earlier for the World Congress on Art Deco and had scouted a 1920’s dress for me at Sweet Lorain. 1920’s dresses are hard for me because of my body type, so I was hesitant to phone in the purchase, even though Rita knows my size. I show up at ABW with this texted photograph of a dress and the owner, Redwin Lewis, knew the dress immediately, still had it, knew it would be perfect for me – and it was! Sometimes vintage shopping is easy and sometimes it takes a few steps to find a dress a home.
De Fils en Perles returned to ABW this year with even more intricate beadwork, much of it Art Deco-inspired. I was particularly smitten with the earrings this year, which were often made of an exquisite central bead with smaller embellishments and looked perfect for certain 1920’s and 1930’s ensembles. I am often overwhelmed by jewelry, so many beautiful small things at once, and I took some time to sit down and go through the earrings and really appreciate the detail that goes into each piece.
Retro Rosie made its ABW debut this year and before I even got to ABW, there was a buzz that a vendor was there selling Trashy Diva. I spoke with Miranda Scott, the owner, who runs this brick and mortar shop and an online shop, that most of her sales are online. I found this unsurprising, given the specialty nature of the garments (as much as I like to think we are the norm), and was glad she gave ABW a chance. She had several Trashy Diva dresses that are discontinued in most sizes, so secondary stockists are essential for the dress you may have missed (since they TD lines are selling out within days of launch, nowadays) and the chance to try things on in person. She also had a selection of Besame Cosmetics, another item that I can’t purchase locally to me, but that I see on the internet all the time on vintage blogs and it’s great to see the colors in person and be able to try them on, as well.
Jamie Sturdevant’s Chatterblossom booth is always a bright spot, with her cheery disposition, creative floral-inspired ensembles for each day, and a bevy of blooms for each possible scenario and outfit. Indecision abounds at this booth, as there are so many to choose from, so many outfits to match, so many beautiful pieces that you just want to come home with you. My favorite pieces this year are the giant lilies she acquired earlier in the year by chance, they are just so big and elegant, I want one in every color! Message her about matching one to your favorite ensemble, her Etsy listings are only the tip of the floral iceberg.
Finally, at the end of the hallway are the Flower Child ladies, who also do an amazing job of curating just the kinds of vintage goods dancers and swing era enthusiasts want, and also go back to their warehouse to look for items to fill specific requests. With new things brought back every day, it’s worth a gander multiple times during the event to keep up with what is in stock. My favorite item this year, brought to my attention by Jamie and ultimately purchased by Destinee, was a chartreuse 1930’s gown studded with rhinestones, featuring braided straps and a bias cut guaranteed to flatter the figure. Destinee wore it on Saturday night and, with her impeccable hair and makeup and a Chatterblossom bloom, looked like a legit silver screen movie star – or perhaps early technicolor, because no one should hide the color of this gown!
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.
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!
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…
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.
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.