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Shareen Vintage

In an unassuming industrial building, tucked away behind rusting iron balconies, and up a freight-entrance style staircase lies a magical candy land of vintage style. Walking into a semi-residential apartment building, next to a whiskey bar, and across from several scaffolded sidewalks, the only hint towards the hidden glory that is Shareen Vintage are a few clothing racks seen through a window and a framed Hermes scarf in the stairwell and hallway. Sometimes a red ball gown can be seen hanging from a fire escape alerting potential-shoppers to a glimpse of what’s to come.

The surprise of this gem was such a shocker that I did not even know to bring my good camera – bear with the iPhone photos!

Once inside Shareen Vintage, it is as if I followed a leprechaun to a sartorial pot-of-gold.; as if a witch will snap her fingers and make this shop disappear, and I would believe someone if they told me it was ‘all a dream’. Talking to Shareen, she explains to me that she is most inspired by cinema and the ever-changing style of movie stars. From Bette Davis to Clara Bow to Audrey Hepburn to Brigitte Bardot to Sophia Loren or Diane Keaton, Shareen will have a frock to fit your decade. Shareen particularly loves the glamour of the nineteen-forties.

The shop girls act more like personal shoppers and best friends than retail workers. They offer me wine, pretzels, water, and dozens of other snacks. Together, my cadre of friends and I make this space our home for the next hour. Never are we felt rushed. We sit on blanket and sheet covered couches (ala your dormitory days) and wax poetic about who has the best hips, eyes, waist, and style for specific decades. We are empowered as we all change in front of one another, sans dressing room, admiring our own womanly bodies (celebrating and exposing ourself to our friends, not hiding). I feel about as liberated and open as I would if I were trying on my sister’s dress or my best friends jeans, in either’s closet.

A dress good enough for Daisy Buchanan to wear to a Gatsby soiree. 

Did I mention that Shareen, aside from amazing talent to collect, sort, and find unique vintage pieces, also repurposes fabrics, prints, and items for the “modern” age? Here are a few re-imagined dresses, some perfect for a casual walk through town square, others have been worn to weddings and to the Emmys.

The belts come in a bevy of colors from gunmetal smoke to a rustic brown leather. 

Shareen is bicoastal and bides her time between two shops in LA and one shop in NYC. Her mystical oeuvre and calming, honest, but stern spirit can be encountered every Thursday at 3 West 17th Street New York NY. Did I mention that most of her items are under $48 dollars? With over 2,000 pieces, there’s plenty of vintage diamonds-in-the-rough through which to sift. Step into her enormous and charming closet, you won’t regret it. Eclectic shops with their own life-force and personality, held in even older buildings are what keep me attracted to the ever changing nature of the creature known as New York City.

Image of Eighties Black-and-White Puff-Sleeve Party Dress, $38. Oleg Cassini Red-Sequin Party Dress, $44 by Melissa Hom, via.

Image of White Leather Fringe Jacket, $55. Big Fur Jacket with Leather Belt, $55 by Melissa Hom, via.

 

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Record Time

Step 1: Find a friend! I found Kimberley, she’s my go-to crafting buddy. If you have a friend named Kimberley, use her too. Go to your local thrift shop and find cake molds, bowls, or anything circular that is oven safe over 300 Degrees Fahrenheit. Our bowls were only $1.99. This object will be used to mold your record bowl.

Step 2: Continue shopping at your local Goodwill, or thrift shop to find inexpensive records. Ours were $0.99 each, however many places sell classical albums for $0.25 a pop. Be warned! Sometimes the most AWESOME covers actually have the least attractive records inside. Don’t judge a book (or record) by it’s cover. The inside is what counts (in life, and in record shopping), so open the package and the sleeve and see what the record inside has to offer. This is what will be on display in the end product.

Step 3: Preheat your oven to 250-300 Degrees Fahrenheit. Wipe down your record so it does not have extraneous dust – this will melt into the bowl. Make sure the record is dry. Place your record centered on an oven proof bowl. Place in the oven for no more than five minutes (it starts to let off toxic gas if left in too long) at a time. Open a window and ventilate. At five minutes (but sometimes sooner, use oven light to check if corners are dropping, melting, and bending) take out of the oven using oven mitts! Safety first! Remain calm! Don’t fret!

Step 4: As soon as you take the record out of the oven (it will be hot) work quickly (less than 20-30 seconds) to shape the object. You can use the bowl as a mold, and press the record inside. You can also roll the record as you would when making a megaphone out of paper (lower left hand corner). If you are sculpturally inspired, you can even freehand mold the record into different shapes, or stamp the melted vinyl with pattern. If an object is not folding or forming to your liking, place it in the oven to soften it again for another minute or so. The vinyl cools and dries EXTREMELY quickly – usually in under a minute.

Step 5: Place and show off your object. Here I am planning on using the bowl to hold candy near my bar! Kimberley is using her rolled record (in the previous image) as a sconce or a plant holder mounted to the wall. These bowls can be used as planters because of the hole in the middle makes automatic drainage! Since the item is so inexpensive to make, and takes such a short amount of time to form (some would say RECORD TIME, har har), I would recommend making a ton of them and giving them away to people you love as “just because” presents! What a unique and retro way to decorate.

P.S. All photographs by me.

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We’re Gonna Make it After All

The Mary Tyler Moore Show  was an American TV sitcom created by James L. Brooks and Allan Burns that aired on CBS from 1970 to 1977. It finished with 168 episodes. The show was revolutionary for its time because it was the first show to focus on a single woman who did not rely or seek to rely on a man in order to support her. Mary Richards was young, not widowed or divorced. She is a thirty something who chose to break off a two-year engagement and live a life for herself in Minneapolis. My friend Andrew Springer who works for ABC News’ Good Morning America and who also convinced me to write this post, explains, “Mary Tyler Moore was the first sitcom to chronicle the life of the modern, independent woman. Up until Mary, TV’s leading lady was  the raucous Lucy–goofy, physical, and always reliant on her husband. Moore was the opposite: intelligent, witty and single.”  Springer also explained to me that through the 1970’s network censors wouldn’t allow death on sitcoms until an episode of Mary Tyler Moore entitled “Chuckles Bites the Dust”. Chuckles, WJM’s in-house clown, was the first person to die in a primetime sitcom (the unfortunate victim of a hungry circus elephant when the clown was dressed as a peanut). This episode also garnered MTM an Emmy win.

(Images from Hooked on Houses and Wikipedia Commons)

Map of Mary’s Apartment and Set Description via MTMShow.com

Mary’s apartment is a veritable cornucopia of 1970’s ephemera. The apartment was not stagnant, and like a “real human being’s” changed as Mary grew, evolved, and styles shifted. During the treatment of the original script, writers knew that they wanted a “large sunny window”. In fact, for the time, the set description for MTM was one of the most stringent and complex for a sitcom. The writers believed that the apartment needed to represent a specific style of woman. Mary was as much the objects in her apartment as she was her witticisms and joke delivery.  The team that made Mary’s apartment a soundstage reality were MTM art director Lewis E. Hurst, Jr, set decorator Raymond Boltz, and coordinator of set construction Lloyd Apperson. It was important to the set designers to create a space that a “real life single woman” could afford. The room was designed to look like a studio apartment (including a small kitchenette), and was not to be filled with excess like Lucy’s fancy house that could not have been purchased on a bank clerk’s wages. According to Sandy McLendon, Senior Editor of Modernism Magazine and freelance writer for  Old House Interiors, “The real genius of the set was in the way it was dressed: Raymond Boltz’s choices for furnishings and accessories defined Mary Richards nearly as much as Mary Tyler Moore’s acting did. The room was anchored by two items meant to establish Mary as a solid person: an expensive new hide-a-bed in brown velvet, and a French provincial armoire that was the sort of thing a young career woman would buy as a lifetime investment.”

A behind the scenes photo of how the apartment was set up on the soundstage. It was actually quite small, like a real studio. (Here.)

Because of Mary’s character’s budget restraints, much of the apartment was meant to be curated via thrift shop finds: victorian chairs, an industrial sign “M” letter, a country French lavabo plaque,  wall mounted jewelry racks, empty glass bottles, second-hand plates, wicker chairs, pumpkin-shaped cookie jars, space age lamps. The amalgam of accessories and various accoutrements were meant to represent Mary’s personality, taking inspiration from Provincial France, Modernism, Futuristic styles, Victorian cabinetry, and other “academic” era. Mary was smart, she had a good eye, and the decor was meant to complete her character’s whimsical, kind, and multifaceted personality. This attention to set and the dedicated to character realism was seminal.

Where to Buy After the Jump:

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