Avant-Garde New Yorkers Share What They Learned About Themselves from Their Closets

New York model Sarah Abney
New York model Sarah Abney | © Liisa Jokinen
Photo of Jill Di Donato
Fashion Editor23 May 2018

What does avant-garde fashion look like in one of the world’s most cutting-edge cities? These dressers, spotted on the streets of New York, personify avant garde; rather than kowtowing to commercial trends, they interpret them with their own aesthetic. Below, they share what they’ve learned about themselves from their closets.

Liisa Jokinen, street-style photographer and founder of the the NYC Vintage Map, knows a thing or two about vintage fashion. For 2018, rather than following a particular style trend, Jokinen has curated a wardrobe that’s entirely vintage. For this feature, she photographed some avant-garde dressers on the streets of New York City who also curate wardrobes from their vintage finds.

Marion, @marionyc

Spotted at ‘A Current Affair’ vintage fair in Industry City.

Spotted on the streets of New York City, Marion | © Liisa Jokinen

Culture Trip: What do you look for when shopping vintage?

Marion: I am looking for something special, a piece that has had a life already.

CT: What is your favorite decade to shop?

M: The ’60s and ’70s—although recently I am also intrigued by the ’80s. There is some pretty outrageous vintage to be found in that decade.

CT: What is your favorite vintage find and why?

M: Oh, there are many favorites. I found a Dior dress in a Chicago store once and the kid in the store didn’t even know what treasure he was selling me for $20. [Other favorites include] a red sequin jumpsuit, which my first vintage piece, a coat I bought in Milan more than 20 years ago, my collection of vintage jewelry—I could go on and on.

CT: Who is your favorite designer?

M: I don’t have one favorite designer, but recently found a great Bill Blass coat, a Pierre Cardin blazer, and a Courrèges bag. Vintage Balenciaga glasses are beautiful. Adele Simpson made some beautiful pieces, and Bonnie Cashin has great pieces. I also have a fondness for vintage Gucci and Fendi bags.

CT: What have you learned about yourself from your closet?

I learned that I like to play with clothes. I have fun with the way I dress by inspiring people to be a little more daring.

Lace, @thyckgurl69

Spotted at MoMa PS1.

Spotted on the streets of New York City, Lace | © Liisa Jokinen

Culture Trip: What do you look for when shopping vintage?

Lace: Suits and sets, unusual jackets, oversized men’s items, and silk scarves.

CT: What is your favorite decade to shop?

L: The ’70s, because I love the silhouettes, and I’m a sucker for a weird print and a synthetic fabric.

CT: What is your favorite vintage find and why?

L: This incredible green paisley Oscar de la Renta suit I found on eBay. It’s weird and fun, and I can wear it with sneakers and a T-shirt or dress it up for a wedding. It’s super versatile without being boring.

CT: Who is your favorite designer?

L: Gucci. I’m really into the maximalism.

CT: What have you learned about yourself from your closet?

L: My tastes change constantly! You can look through my whole closet and see every different phase I’ve had in the past few years.

Blake, @blakennotstirred

Spotted in Tribeca.

Spotted on the streets of New York City, Blake | © Liisa Jokinen

Culture Trip: What do you look for when shopping vintage?

Blake: That hidden gem, the best find, a piece that makes the hunt worth while. Right now, that could means a high-waist menswear trouser, a cropped children’s blazer a lá Thom Browne, an interesting bag, hat or a piece of jewelry.

CT: What is your favorite decade to shop?

B: All decades. Although recently my favorites have been a fusion of ’40s menswear and ’70s womenswear.

CT: What is your favorite vintage find and why?

B: In Tarpon Springs, Florida, I found a ’70s three-piece Yves Saint Laurent cashmere wool blend suit in light grey, perfectly tailored to my body as if it were bespoke. $17.99. I almost fainted.

CT: Who is your favorite designer?

B: It changes often, but I will always love (old) McQueen, Thom Browne, 1970s YSL, and Loewe. Currently, I’m obsessed with Gucci and the F/W 2018 collection of Carlos Campos; I want every single piece, male and female.

CT: What have you learned about yourself from your closet?

B: I cannot stop shopping. In all seriousness I am a lover of all decades and apparel. I love to mix decades and genders together creating an idiosyncratic silhouette and aesthetic which is my personal style.

Leigh, @pinkvintagehrt

Spotted outside the Manhattan Vintage Fair.

Spotted on the streets of New York City, Leigh | © Liisa Jokinen

CT: What do you look for when shopping vintage?

L: Because I have such a massive vintage collection I look for the pieces on my vintage shopping list. At the moment I’m looking for T-shirts, trousers, and maxi cotton dresses. I also keep my eye out for very special pieces.

CT: What is your favorite decade to shop?

L: The ’80s and ’90s but sometimes I am attracted to pieces from the ’20s, ’40s, ’50s and ’70s.

CT: What is your favorite vintage find and why?

L: Wow. I have so many. My favorite recent vintage was a straw purse from Omnia Vintage at the past Manhattan Vintage Show.

CT: Who is your favorite designer?

L: Being a fashion lover, I totally should follow designers a bit better. I love seeing Nancy Tran, Greta Constantine and Runa Ray during the shows.

CT: What have you learned about yourself from your closet?

L: Change is so good. I must have a zest for life, [which explains] all the color I tend to wear.

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