Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Bold Italic

Written below is an article written about our store by Nicole Grant for San Francisco's Bolt Italic. It definitely gave the SF community a good taste of what we are all about; helping men and women dress to impress with classic elegance.

My quest: to become a 1939 bon vivant. You see, I'm hosting this party, and I want to be the one. The one Herb Caen would have written about in his column, society snobs would have gossiped about behind gloved hands and men would have ogled shamelessly. Striking like Jean Harlow. Exotic like Marlene Deitrich. Statuesque like Greta Garbo.
What's the occasion? A celebration of the opening of the World's Fair on Treasure Island, with all of its oddities: Willie Vocalite the robot, who talks, smokes cigarettes, winks and waves, Chinese puzzles that confuse even the most tenacious, a peek though the largest telescope in the world and an actual demonstration of that twisted novelty called Television.
The evening's sure to be downright decadent as ladies and gents raucously drown out any memory of the depression with gin fizzes and bootlegged absinthe, the piano keys are tickled mercilessly and opulent fashion is paraded about Le Club. And with the Golden Gate bridge having just been flung across the Bay, there's the feeling that anything is possible.
I'm going to tog to the bricks, dahlings, and I know just the person to help me.

Cicely is a woman who transcends. Have you ever met such a person? Who seems to be from every era and yet none at all? When I arrive at Decades of Fashion, her shop in the upper Haight, she's so girlish and earnest and spirited I can't begin to guess her age. Her green eyes sparkle under her cowgirl hat, and she talks with the authority and charm of a hostess.
I ask to see some cocktail gowns from the late 1930's and we wade through the Halloween crowd to the appropriate rack, hung with silky purple rouging, red Spanish ruffles and metallic georgette chiffon. After a moment of shuffling through the dresses, she lowers her voice to a husky whisper. "Would you like to see the back room?" The back room? Why, of course.
Brushing aside a velvet rope, we enter her cabinet of curiosities. My eyes adjust to the light and then widen to see a room so full of wonderment it could have only been created by the obsessive hands of a collector: a wall of hats adorned with strange fronds and flowers, enough costume jewelry to make a drag queen cry and a startling array of clothing, dripping feathers and knotted beads and taffeta ribbons.
We go straight to the evening gowns. Though they're packed together tightly, Cicely pulls out each piece with reverence, explaining the different occasions they'd be worn for. The dresses are floor length slinky numbers, cinched to emphasize tiny waists and tailored to cling to each curve. The backs of the dresses plunge low, and the draping mimics the geometrics of art deco.
Aha! I find "the dress." I can't rest though until I have a fur, and her selection is pure decadence. My hands reach out to touch floor-length fox coats, mink stoles, ermine jackets and feather numbers – looking like retired royalty ready to return to their thrones. I spot the soft hide of baby seal adorning a tiny clutch purse. Apparently no animal was safe in 1939.
I’m excited about my party outfit, but Cicely is somewhat of a purist. Unless I wear a rhinestone necklace, long evening gloves, a perky hat, some Mary Jane t-strap heels and a matching handbag to boot, I'm not going to cut it.

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