Spring Break From Winter

Spring Break From Winter

MiMi Yeh

Saturday, April 5, 2003 I had the chance to view the spring and summer collection from Arlington-based design house, VintageFresh. Indeed, it is a fresh, welcoming change from the sweaters and cardigans that we have been buried in since October. Unlike most collections making their debut, this was not held on the runway but in the old-fashioned setting of the Edwardian Tea Room. Offering over 100 different varieties of imported tea, this small room offered the ambience and coziness of parlors past.

This show was enjoyable not only for the unique touch that its designer Michelle Fournier brings by taking old clothing and updating it, but the informal manner in which it was conducted. Audience members felt comfortable enough to speak with the models, who strutted as gracefully among the tables as they would have on the catwalk, asking them about the fit and comfort of the clothes and shoes. We sipped tea, chatted, and admired the clothes as the models made their way around the room.

One common comment I heard from several of the viewers was their appreciation of the models and their “realistic look.” When I asked for clarification, a woman stated that she liked the fact that their figures were proportionate with what the average woman would resemble. She was not alone in her view that the fashion industry promotes the image of beauty as the boyish, skinny girls seen in magazines, a view that the general public holds responsible for the eating disorders that affect many girls these days. One of the models is UMB’s own Skyela Heitz, an art major from upstate New York.

Many of these treasures come from estate sales, auctions, and the closets of people who no longer have any use for the garments in question. By giving these secondhand clothes a second life, it’s a chance for the charm of another era to stay with us. Not only to these finds have a history to them, but they’re affordable as well. The skirts and tops range from $50 to $75, a steal when you consider the work that some of these garments require.

The spring and summer collection for 2003 features a variety of skirts ranging from knee-length colorful cotton print skirts to hand-crocheted ankle-length pieces with a variety of hues zigzagging around the length of them. All shoes were by John Fluevog and the purses were versatile enough to be worn with anything.

My personal favorites were the traditional Chinese dresses redone to add a bit of flair to their normally formal character. The austere attitude of a garment can be altered with a few stitches to make a sexy creation suitable for standing out in the nightlife. Ranging from $65 to $95 in price, you won’t find the usual heavy silk either. Expect cotton and rayon that will allow easier movement and, surprise, surprise, the original frog buttons.

Trunk shows such as these are generally the only place to find these clothes outside of appointments and parties held in private homes. VintageFresh has been hand-selected to participate at the Unique Boutique, a select gathering of designers specializing in fashion, accessories and design. Drop by this event on Friday, April 11 from 6-9pm or on Saturday, April 12 from 1-5pm at 8 Paulornette Circle in Andover, MA. Bring a friend and RSVP at 781-223-1422. For more information on upcoming events, visit www.vintagefresh.com.