3 Reasons Vintage Furnishings Should Make Your Wish List

Listen, we all want the pandemic and all of its problems to pack up and move it along. We’re tired of talking about it, reliving the worst moments of it, and suffering from the consequences of it it. Whether real or imagined, there are aspects and impacts whose reverberating effects continue. Supply Chain issues create delays and increase costs. Real or fabricated? Hard to say in some instances, but if your heart is set on something new, you are likely going to pay for it.

Oomph . Manhattan Stretch Console . lead time 20 – 24 weeks. Fully customizable $5700.

Supply Chain is your number one reason to consider vintage – even if the vintage isn’t terribly old. Whether its 20 years or 200, came from your grandmother’s dining room, God rest her soul, or a tag sale – appropriately named with its dolls displayed with missing limbs, and blenders that need just a simple part to get it operational again – but amidst the broken bobbles and bits you just might find an old chair, upholstery stained, wood frame chipped that could be transformed into something great. If it’s got good bones – give it a gander. You can pop it in your car and your more than halfway home to creating something cool in roughly half the time it would take to have your custom “new” piece delivered.

OrlysChic.com . Link Taylor. MCM Dresser. $1295.

There are shops that will spray the piece for you if you aren’t a DIY’er, or make your way to Etsy and you’ll find loads of enterprising, yard sale hunting enthusiasts that will do it for you, and custom paint it in the color of your choice.

Sotheby’s Home: In the style of Milo Baughman $5500.

Reason number 2 – the cost of furniture has gone through the roof. Add to that inflation and an uncertain economic future/impending recession, and now isn’t the best time to buy furniture, or cars, or homes for that matter. Vintage and second hand sites for selling pre-homed pieces have proliferated. Chairish, Kayio, Sotheby’s Home, One Kings Lane, FaceBook Marketplace, and Etsy to name just a few offer something for everybody. From the high-design enthusiast to the utilitarian pragmatist on a budget, they have what you are looking for.

Tulip Table Knock-off that’s quite nice. $895.

Reason number 3 – come on, it’s too easy. Say it with me: Sustainability. Yes, we all need to do our part, buying vintage fits the bill beautifully. All that inherent energy gets me giddy.

Socially responsible savings that’s delivered with speed. Need I say more? What are your favorite sites or tips for shopping vintage. Do share.

Happiness is: An Hermes Flagship Store

I pulled open the heavy door and stepped inside onto the mosaic tile floor of 706 Madison Avenue.  My eyes swept the first floor as I tried to decide where to begin my tour of the Flagship.  It had opened four months before in October and I was finally making my first visit.  I inhaled deeply smelling a fragrance that I could not name, but smelled of money, old Hollywood stardom, and polished leather.  I knew it would not be the last time I’d visit.

So much of my seeing is done with the tips of my fingers.  A Do Not Touch sign an invitation to violate the wishes of the author, or to leave.  To abide the request, for someone with a desire as innate to me as the beating of my heart, can only be accomplished through separation. 

The curators of the collection had placed most of the objects they suspected the general public might attempt to touch behind glass.  There were long display cases on thin tall legs, shadow boxes for traveling exhibits and tall glass enclosures that housed the largest pieces – the signature Kelly Bag in its original stiff leather, no longer in use due to its easy scarring and lack of give – a lady shouldn’t have to wrestle with her purse to extract her wallet or keys, they should be given up to her as if a butler were balancing her belongings on a silver tray by the door as she prepared for exit.  They modified the design accordingly, minus the metaphorical butler of course.

There were trunks for travel and riding boots for bandying about the countryside on one’s thoroughbred, and finely stitched leather gloves of course.  While I appreciate the craftsmanship, the fine quality of the goods, the status that is bestowed on those that have the financial wherewithal, and refined sensibility to purchase the goods, that is not what drew me to 706, the new home of Hermes, it was the architecture. 

I feel the same way about museums of a certain caliber, the art is a bonus, as are the enamel bracelets, the sunflower yellow place settings – artistic jewels in their own right, the silk scarves, and the signature “H” belt buckles which over the years have become a part of my uniform, giving gravitas to whatever mass market find I have donned.  While I love art and believe that when you buy something from Hermes you are indeed purchasing a collector’s piece, I was there for the architecture, for the design, for the sublime pleasure of running the pads of my fingers across the curve of the limestone stairs that spanned four stories.  I traveled all the way to the top to stare at the oval dome with its expansive medallion skylight.  The plasterwork, the ingenuity of a Japanese artist, who created a collage of local trees, perhaps some they had seen as they strolled Central Park.

When I first spotted the technique on the wall inside the men’s third floor salon, which is housed in what was once the Bank of New York.  It was low enough on the wall for me to touch the stucco and fully appreciate its delicate beauty.  A 20,250SF, massive, yet welcoming store that would make the perfect setting for a first date, free champagne and salons in which to lounge are provided throughout.  The wall that supports the four story stair serves as a gallery showcasing over 300 works of art and objects from the family’s collection, giving a couple plenty to discuss as they lounge in teak wood framed chairs, with simple mint green leather cushions, that look beautiful but ordinary until you sit in them.  You’ll never want to sit in another chair again.

Pop of Paradise: Chairish Debuts at Bergdorf

A visit to NYC hardly feels complete without a romp through Bergdorf’s. I love it’s location next to the Park Plaza Hotel because it always makes me think of Eloise the storybook written by Kay Thompson and Illustrated by Hillary Knight. Thompson was said to have fashioned Eloise after her childhood imaginary friend and alter ego. She lived large on the top floor of the hotel with her Nanny, her Pug named Weenie, and her turtle – Skipperdee. She wasn’t allowed to leave the hotel, but were she, I feel certain she would have absolutely adored Bergdorf.

Being on a budget as I am at the moment, we had to make haste through the main floors bag section, and head directly to the elevators and go all the way up to the 7th floor to dine at BG. My affection for the restaurant’s design hasn’t waned an iota since I first knocked eyes with it. Kelly Wearstler’s design is fantastic – if you admire a good molding, you’ll not want to miss her modern twist on an old classic. It’s diamonds galore.

While rushing to nab a seat in the pre-fashion week bustle I was stopped in my tracks. A preppy palette of paintings lined the corridor showcasing over 300 works of art from Chairish sponsored artists. Chairish for those not in the know is an on-ling furniture and objects d’art company similar to 1st Dibs without needing to be an heiress to shop it. You’ll still need to strategize and save because what they have on offer are not tag sale finds. I was thrilled to see them pop down from their cloud to pop-up at Berdorf – their very first foray into the physical world and wow did they make their presence known.

On view until April, if you’ve ever wondered what all the fuss is about, come and find out. Be prepared to leave with something you “chairish”.

Giving up the Ghost: The benes of being visible

“On-line dating apps have ruined dating and the opportunity for it to develop over time into something meaningful”. Violet – not her real name, said. She stood at the elevator bank, her rich milk chocolate complexion glowed with the dewiness of youth, her dark almond eyes framed in lush black lashes, her lips, which moved incessantly, were coated in a glistening peach hue. She held court to a sea of affirmative female shaking heads. They wanted more. They wanted validation that it was the app – not them. They wanted the belief that having more was not better. They wanted it to be eradiated. They wanted to be seen. They wanted engagement that required the social norms of proper introductions, greetings, and good-byes. When those good-byes were of the forever sort, they wanted them to come with the dignity of a face to face conversation, a thoughtful explanation, even a trite missive would do. When relationships end, there may be a lot to say about it, but it can be said simply- “I have enjoyed our time together, but as difficult as it is to part ways, I think that out there somewhere, a better fit exists for you and for me”.

“Ghosting” as the terminology goes for stopping all communication, is not ok. It is a digital sword that wounds the recipient. It’s your name forgotten by someone you’ve met several times, it’s the conversation with another who looks over your shoulder to ensure they aren’t missing a better opportunity for conversation with someone more influential, interesting, fashionable, or who all knows what else. It’s poor manners. In the end a fundamental part of our humanness, is the desire to be acknowledged, to be known.

All the talk of “ghosting” of not feeling seen, not being recognized for one’s worth got me thinking about my Louis Ghost chairs. Designed by Philippe Starck and manufactured by Kartell, these lucite chairs landed on the scene in 2002, which is a relatively short time to have reached iconic status, but reached it they have, and their visibility has a whole lot to do with our ability to see through them.

Designed in the image of Louis XVI’s Gout Grec Chair, it is the epitome of restraint. The irony being that XVI’s Neo-Classical style which followed XV’s was in it’s own right austere in comparison to that of Rocco, which was in fashion during his Grandfather’s reign. While historically interesting, it is not what makes this modern version innovative. The polycarbonate plastic is poured into a mold and out pops the chair in a single piece – astounding. It can be stacked six high for easy storage, it can handle a 300 pound person, and for plastic is incredibly comfortable.

It’s a small space wonder as its translucency allows you to see through it. It is both there and not there. It’s a modern day illusionist giving the appearance of space where little exists. I received my first Louis as a Christmas gift when I was still living in the North End of Boston. I coveted that chair, and it was out of my financial reach. $300. has now turned into $540. Ouch – icon status has it’s price tag. When I purchased my very first condo I got a second Louis, and then two Victoria’s – the Ghosts armless version, to accompany my small glass topped dining table. A veritable disappearing act allowing you to see beyond them, through the long flowing latticed curtains and out onto my private, ballast stone paved way, and into the great wide world beyond.

They have stayed with me, when I have gifted, sold, or left on the street so many other pieces of furniture that no longer fit into the style or the space of my next or new place. Louis and I have gotten very comfortable with one another, and while I am not opposed to comfort, a little excitement never hurt a relationship. It got me thinking about a change – the kind that doesn’t require me disposing of too much more of my income, and will allow me to see them in a whole new way. Dare I? I am considering having an oval medallion upholstered piece created to adorn the back of the chair, maybe a seat cushion too. Wherever did this idea come from? Divine inspiration, the muse? I dreamt of it last night – it seems fitting that it should come from some invisible force. Our quiet creativity is a wellspring if only we will listen.