I was born in 1966, so my first fashion impressions were influenced by the end of the era of bohemian, free-love style and the beginning of the decade of disco glam. I remember loving my kid-friendly hot pants, mod dresses, and white go-go boots, even as a young girl always gravitating towards a more hippie-chic sensibility. I’ve carried these early references with me throughout my life, and I’ll always will be drawn to throwback fashion. Only one store in New York City truly captures the nuances of early 70s style: Chelsea Girl Vintage. Located in Soho, this amazing find has a distinct vision. Most vintage stores are a hodgepodge — rack after rack of clothes, a visual barrage of print and pattern, sensory overload! A hunter and peckers dream, but not easy to navigate for the newbie vintage shopper.
Chelsea Girl Vintage not only focuses on a more sophisticated 1970s look, but the store has several unique capsule collections that will be sure to excite even the most discriminating fashion girls. I immediately went to an entire rack of vintage fur. From stoles to capes to full-length coats, each item was more fabulous than the next. Good vintage fur can be difficult to find, as in most cases it looks worn and cheap. Not only are the Chelsea Girl pieces in mint condition, but owner Elisa Casas has an amazing eye for styles still relevant today. Now for the best part: most are under $400.
The next must-see collection in the store is the Diane Von Furstenberg dresses circa 1976. The owner told me she acquired the entire lot from a one quirky DVF collector whose father designed for Diane in the 70s. DVF can be so ubiquitous today, so how fabulous would it be to own a signature wrap dress in a pattern you will never see on another? Spring 2009 is shaping up to be the season of the jumpsuit, and Chelsea Girl has several of the original DVF numbers. If this is a trend you intend to embrace, then I say go vintage DVF or go home.
Another capsule that caught my eye was the kitschy yet chic collection of Moonbags. Designed by artist Patricia Smith, all of the bags are one of a kind. Each is hand-painted and laminated; some are embellished, and all make a real statement. Again, at around $250 for a special clutch, how can any It Girl go wrong?
Last but not least is the beyond fabulous jewelry from the 1960s. I think they are reproductions at only about $100, but who cares. The owner called them hippie meets mod meets disco, and I agree. My favorite was the Owl Pendant; the owl measures about 2×3 inches, so it will definitely be a high-impact piece.
Of course, the store also has amazing cocktail dresses, jackets, and blouses from the likes of Adolfo, Chloe, and Chanel, but the curated, themed sub-collections are the true showstoppers at this groovy Soho vintage outpost.