Like the touch from a handsome man, some fashion designs have the power to send shivers down your spine. They are those one-of-a-kind gems. No one knows this feeling better than Shannon Hoey, owner of New York Vintage, one of Manhattan’s best vintage stores. With a collection of thousands upon thousands of magnificent vintage pieces from the most talented designers in the world, there’s no doubt Hoey has an eye for the fabulous. When she’s not collaborating on editorials with major fashion publications (W Magazine), supplying key wardrobe pieces for TV shows (Boardwalk Empire) or dressing A-list celebrities (this list is endless), you can find her cooking at home, shopping at cute kids’ stores or picnicking with her little ones in the park. Read on for an up close interview and list of Shannon’s favorite New York hotspots.
Jordana Longo: Who is your all-time favorite fashion icon?
Shannon Hoey: Icon is such a monumental word. There are so many people that have influenced fashion in a profound way, from artists to designers to socialites; so, I’m hesitant to single out just one person. However, I’ve been deeply touched by the works of Madame Gres, Cecil Beaton and Balenciaga.
JL: Is there a certain time period that really speaks to you?
SH: I’ve always been drawn to the 20’s. The elaborate workmanship and embroidery that defined that period of fashion also happens to represent the beginning of couture. The 20’s are a crucial inflection point in fashion history where movement, freedom and fluidity trumped rigid social roles and stiff garments. The idea of a woman in a flapper dress and goulash boots is very appealing to me because it represents a time when women were freed from the constraints of garments like corsets.
JL: Who are your favorite vintage designers?
SH: Charles James is, by far, one of my all time favorites. Balenciaga and Poiret are as well, but, James just does it for me. He’s incredible; a true artist and an authority in couture. Even more impressive, he did not have a formal fashion background and yet he is peerless in his technical perfectionism, cut and construction. It’s as if he sculpted his creations from stone. I think he’s just brilliant.
JL: What major changes have you seen in the vintage world since you’ve opened New York Vintage?
SH: I’ve noticed over the last two decades, it’s become more costly to the important vintage pieces that make up the fashion timeline. French couture fetches prices of $20,000 or more. There’s a greater awareness of vintage couture and vintage fashion in general. The prices have gone up on couture. It’s disappearing from collections and the pieces are being bought up by museums and private collectors. It’s equal to collecting a piece of fine art.
JL: Did you always want to open a store?
SH: I never expected to open a store. I’m an art historian by trade, who happened to be swept up into the fantastic realm of vintage fashion. The store was really a response to the rising demand for vintage couture in New York City. I’m a stylist and a consultant and had a bit of experience in sales, so I decided to just go for it. When we started off, my then boyfriend, now husband, helped me all the time. We were so busy. Between styling windows and attending auctions, he and I would be spackling the ceiling at 3am. That’s the part of New York Vintage that not a lot of people know about.
JL: Do you find it hard to part with some of the pieces?
SH: Yes! I get attached to some pieces, as if they were people. They have their own stories, their personal histories. Somebody loved them. Of course, I find it easier to let go of my favorite pieces because we sell to serious private collectors who are going to love them like I do.
JL: Do you follow trends?
SH: No, I source for clients. If I’m working with someone, I’ll collaborate with them on what they’re doing, what their sense of style is; but to answer your question, I don’t follow trends. I follow my instinct and my eye, that’s how I’ve acquired the collection I have. The pieces I choose have to speak to me as works of art. I’m interested in its history. How was it made? Is it as beautiful inside as it is on the outside? Is it a piece that changed fashion history? Fashion is cyclical and I prefer to deal things that hold historic value rather than things that adhere with the trend du jour.
JL: Is this similar to your buying criteria and how you select pieces for your collection?
SH: We’ve amassed such a large collection that it’s very specific in that it represents key moments in fashion history. We buy pieces for investment, or specifically for clients. We aren’t looking to simply acquire things. Every piece is hand selected, our collection carefully curated. Each piece is chosen, first and foremost, as art. Each piece has a story tell. New York Vintage is a vestige for people to be inspired, to collect and to immerse themselves in the history of fashion.
New York Vintage
117 West 25th Street 10001 / 1 212 647 1107
Photos above: Courtesy of New York Vintage
500 5th Avenue / 1 212 302 2677
Zara has the best kids shoes! I just discovered this recently, they’re really great.
85 Kenmare Street / 1 212 343 7301
Neighborhood: Chelsea / SoHo
Neighborhood: West Village