Old is the New New

In a heap of run-of-the-mill vintage stores, one South Side store stands out, lending class and distinctiveness to the second-hand clothing scene and serving as a place where the fashionista and the frugalista can unite. Located in Pilsen at the corner of 18th and Halsted, Deliciously Vintage is everything the name implies: decadent sensory overload of the material variety. Visitors are greeted by the sight of geometric black clothing racks filled with garments organized by color. A pile of vintage handbags including a Dior purse, Fendi satchel, and a Louis Vuitton pocketbook are neatly fanned out on a low table. A crystal chandelier hangs from a white, pattern-stamped ceiling. Candy-striped pink walls, exposed brick, gilt mirrors, and a large baroque sofa all lend a salon-like feel to the boutique.

Owner Lawrence Roach, or Law, as he is called by his associates, could very well be André Leon Talley’s svelte younger sibling. As a frequenter of the New York runway circuit and a stylist for both fashion editorial and the red carpet, Roach knows his stuff.

He first started Deliciously Vintage as a hodge-podge clothing collection from his freelance styling job. After meeting co-owner Siobhan Strong on a reality TV show (she the contestant, he the stylist and judge), the two decided to collaborate, opening Deliciously Vintage a year and a half ago. The pair scour estate sales both locally and nationally for pieces that will fit perfectly into their store’s collection, and the care that goes into their selection is apparent, with each item of clothing unique, yet on-trend. Many dresses are altered or shortened to give a modern twist to a vintage garment. “Our ideal client is a very fashion-forward girl. She wants something that is very reminiscent of who she just saw [on the runway] like Marc Jacobs,” Roach explains.

Pretty little things fill the store: short black dresses lined with gold, a classic Gucci trench, vintage Yves Saint Laurent espadrilles, and for kicks, a vintage Louis Vuitton soccer ball — a sight to make any vintage maven coo with delight. In spite of a smattering of big-name labels, many of the vintage pieces from less famous brands range in price from $30-50. A $200 Missoni tunic is flanked by equally beautiful $40 frocks. “We don’t like to focus on something just because it’s designer. We are not really a designer vintage store. If it’s gorgeous, we want it,” Roach says. “Of course,” he adds with a laugh, “Chanel I would never leave behind.” Though the majority of the pieces in the boutique are for women, men’s gleaming Prada oxfords peep out from the horde of stilettos and ballet flats.

On a Thursday afternoon, the boutique is noticeably quiet. Sales associate Konesha comments on slow business: “It might be different if we were located in a different area.” But Pilsen seemed like a natural fit to the owners. “Everything just fell into place,” Roach says. Pilsen’s Second Friday gallery events have boosted foot traffic through the boutique–oftentimes a few hundred people walk through Deliciously Vintage’s door. While the recession has doubtlessly hindered business, Roach has no plans to add an online component to the boutique. “A lot of people are surprised that we haven’t gone online,” he comments. “But at Deliciously Vintage we love when girls come in and touch the garment and try it on and fall in love with it. With vintage, every piece is made for one girl. We strongly believe that every piece has a home.” Some pieces are geared to a more specific audience than others; take a green vinyl jumpsuit with cut out sides, or a pair of leather shorts with batik trim that would make a pair of lederhosen envious.

The economic success of events such as Second Fridays aside, Roach says he will continue to promote Deliciously Vintage through special events, media exposure, and social media websites. “People aren’t shopping the way they used to,” Roach said, “But when you have a passion to do something, you work it out.” Deliciously Vintage, 1747 South Halsted, (312) 733-0407, dvchicago.com.

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