Every October, February and April or May, the Santa Monica Civic Center on Main Street holds a vintage expo where vintage fashion dealers from all over the country come and sell their most prized items at rented booths. The first time I walked in was a couple of years ago, and I seriously thought I was in heaven. That may seem a little materialistic, but for me the heaven I fantasize about would definitely include beautiful clothes of the past in mint condition…all for free. This last Sunday, on my second field trip here, I realized just how expensive everything was. Every item was out of my budget for the most part. Even if these items were free as they would be in my heaven, that would cause chaos and I don’t think heaven would be full of vintage fanatics throwing themselves onto a pile of old clothes screaming “That’s mine! Don’t you dare touch that!” Maybe “heaven” is not the right description.
As I window shopped sans any actual windows this last Sunday, I dreamed of owning certain pieces. A beautiful lemon mirangue brocade and taffeta dress from the 1950‘s, a faux leopard fur jacket from the 1960‘s, a pair of rust colored plastic heels from the 1940‘s. There were so much eye candy that I just wanted to photograph it all. Unfortunately, a couple of the vendors didn’t allow photos because according to them, many designers send out interns to these shows to bring them back inspiration. “This is our livelihood and they’re not here to buy anything. They are snapping photos and then they go and put that exact piece in their next collection!!!” one of the dealers selling designer vintage spouted out in clear frustration. I could sympathize with his irritation to a point, but I also know that in fashion, past trends are always being recycled. The past is inspiring, and whether a designer goes to a vintage expo to get an idea or goes to the library and checks out a book on the history of fashion, clothing of the past is allowed to inspire. As a vintage dealer, he obviously loves the look of preceding decades, why can’t a designer? These are not his patented designs. These are Chanel, Versace, and Dior’s designs to name a few. He doesn’t get to have a say in whether the vintage clothing he sells motivates the collection of any designer. As I walked out of the expo, I pondered over the vendor’s desire to only have his clothing arouse those willing to shovel out the cash for the $3,000 price tag. One more reason that the expo doesn’t come close to being heaven.
*Future west coast vintage expositions will be held:
Feb. 4-5; May 5-6; Oct. 20-21 (2012)
Santa Monica Civic Auditorium
1855 Main St. (@Pico)
Santa Monica 90401
Mar. 17-18 and Sept. 22-23 (2012)
San Francisco Concourse Exhibition Center
635 8th St. (@Brannan)
San Francisco, CA 94103
My outfit: Black leotard by Danskin; green lace skirt I bought on sale for $5 at Target; black knee high socks; vintage 1950's black patent leather purse; vintage 1960's snakeskin loafers.
Close-up on my 1950's patent leather black handbag I bought at the Rose Bowl flea market early this year.
Close-up on my 1960's black and white snakeskin loafers I bought a year ago from Slow on Melrose.
ITEMS I SNUCK PHOTOS OF AT THE VINTAGE EXPO:
Since I have been looking for gold pants for quite awhile...
...I had to try them on. They did fit,..if you call not being able to sit or bend over more than 2 inches fitting. In the bathroom where I tried them on, I dropped my purse and trying to pick that thing up was terrifying. I seriously thought I was going to rip the seam in the bum and be forced to purchase this $150 pair of pants that I wouldn't even be able to move in.