Category Archives: Vintage Style

shop spy: hotel de ville in los angeles

Hotel de Ville on Best Vintage Shops map by Finely Crafted
Illustration by Cindy Tomczyk

It’s amazing how many looks can be achieved with two lenses and a frame. Like our clothing, shoes, and hairstyles, eyewear evolves radically with the times. The Los Angeles optical company Hotel de Ville is dedicated to preserving vintage glasses and designing new silhouettes that salute memorable moments in fashion.

Hotel de Ville
Photo via Hotel de Ville.

Whereas a chain optical store may turn away vintage glasses or ask you to waive its responsibility for any damage, Hotel de Ville specializes in old specs. Its services include mending broken frames, making Rx lenses, adding tint and mirror coatings, and even creating one-of-a-kind glasses for the fashion and entertainment industries. It also has its own brand of vintage-inspired frames, like these:

orig_frames
Hollywood Boulevard and Newmar, two original frame designs by Hotel de Ville.

I’m inspired by the way HdV employees use their blog and Instagram feed not just for self-promotion, but as a visual record of remarkable eyewear. They post mainly historical images of musicians, actors, models, and even comic characters who, even if I don’t recognize them, tell me something about their era and story through their shades. This may be just a clever sales strategy, but to me it feels personal, as if true fans are swooning along with me over Twiggy’s avant garde glasses.

Photos via Hotel de Ville's Instagram feed.
Photos via Hotel de Ville’s Instagram feed and blog.

I was in LA last week for work, so I popped into the Beverly Boulevard boutique to snap a few photos and get my Tura cat-eye glasses adjusted. They’ve been sliding down my nose all summer–the blazing Atlanta heat must have warped the aluminum!

Salesperson Sylvia made a quick frame adjustment at no charge. While she coaxed my shades back into a head-hugging pose, I admired the small but glamorous showroom that evokes both an antique apothecary and a starlet’s dressing table. Follow me after the jump for photos of the interior and inventory.

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shop spy: city issue in atlanta

City Issue midcentury modern boutique in Atlanta; photo by Finely Crafted

As the only freestanding midcentury specialist in Atlanta, City Issue is Mecca for local Mad Men fans. A full-time vintage dealer since 2000, owner Jennifer Sams has enviable knowledge of the modern design movement and cross-country experience with finding exquisite pieces. I photographed her Inman Park shop and asked her to dish on topics to titillate the growing mass of midcentury style seekers: her favorite cities for antiquing, the best buys for starting a collection, and more.

City Issue midcentury modern boutique in Atlanta; photo by Finely Crafted

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modern ‘hood: morningside, atlanta

modern home in Morningside, Atlanta; photo by finelycrafted.net

It’s hard to believe Atlanta’s first Morningside residents were isolated suburbanites who rode a streetcar to work downtown. Today this charming neighborhood is a haven in the heart of the city, surrounded by shopping districts, restaurants, and condos. The typical M’side home was built in the 1920s or 30s out of red brick and stone, with Old World details like arches, leaded glass, and even towers, like this one below.

Home in Morningside, Atlanta; photo by Finely Crafted
In Morningside, a man’s home literally may be his castle.

While I love those special châteaux, my heart beats faster for the rarer midcentury and new construction modern homes–sometimes barely glimpsed beyond ivy banks and mature trees–on the hilly streets branching off East Rock Springs Road. They range from humble ranchers to custom contempos worthy of Dwell. Here are 10 of my favorites spotted on yesterday’s afternoon drive. All photos were taken by me from public property.

Modern home in Morningside, Atlanta; photo by Finely Crafted
I toured this 2013 home on Wellbourne Drive as part of Modern Atlanta in June. In contrast to the serious facade, the inside is warm, light soaked, and personal.
Midcentury home in Morningside, Atlanta; photo by Finely Crafted
Genius idea for typography fans
Modern home in Morningside, Atlanta; photo by finelycrafted.net
I like mixing foliage colors in my own yard, but a single green against a neutral facade is beautiful too.
Midcentury modern home in Morningside, Atlanta; photo by Finely Crafted
I like the little courtyard created by this home’s C shape.
Midcentury ranch in Morningside, Atlanta: photo by Finely Crafted
Peachy perfection

Click to see five more homes

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4 mobile shops to stalk

Mobile galleries roundup; photo by Small Room Collective
Photo via Small Room Collective.

In the age of the online store, I appreciate the entrepreneurs who are keeping retail retro. Their mobile shops–converted trailers stocked with clothing, jewelry, home decor, and gifts–roll from town to town, finding customers where we live. I shopped two in Atlanta and one in LA this year and was wowed by the smart use of space, the stylish merchandising, the character evoked by the camper itself. Here I highlight four roving retailers and ask them to share stories and tips from their adventures.

Unless otherwise noted, photos are by the shop owners.

small room collective

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Husband and wife team Lauren and Travis may be cross-country roamers, but their mission is to make connections. They think of Small Room Collective as a gathering place where perfect strangers can feel at ease and at home. In June, outside Victory Sandwich Bar in Decatur, GA, this stranger felt comfortable and excited among the handmade art prints, stationery, soap, and jewelry on board. I bought a cast brass Fitzgerald Forbes bangle that reminds me of midcentury Brutalist work. I found out the couple lives in their Airstream, making their clean design all the more impressive since it fulfills both their personal and professional needs.

Me: What’s your favorite part about owning a mobile shop?
Lauren: I like the unexpected element of it, and being able to connect with new people and places. . . . We have to go outside, we have to explore, we have to make new friends, otherwise we’d go nuts!

Me: What’s your best story from the road?
Lauren: We had less than 36 hours to get to Louisville [from Denver]. Just so happens, we would be chasing a string of tornadoes, torrential rain and storms, speckled with some high winds. We were going 45 mph at this point in thick fog and not getting anywhere fast. It was getting dark outside, so we decided to stop at a Walmart for the night in Colby, Kansas. The winds became so loud that we were more praying for our lives than sleeping,  and we just decided at 4 a.m. that we’d try to keep going. The rains were fierce, and the trailer was swaying in the wind like a giant aluminum whale behind us. George was trembling and curled up in his storm position in the back. We noticed something amiss with our rooftop carrier and realized the wind had shoved it at a 45-degree angle. Nice. We struggle to get it straight again, the wind slamming the car doors open. After two episodes of this rooftop carrier situation along the stretch of the flat Kansas plains, a good dose of snail pacing, and some disgruntled mumbling, we made it through the worst of the storm. We eventually made it to Louisville, and actually made the event on time.

Me: What’s your advice for someone who’s thinking about building a mobile shop?
Lauren: Really understand the inner workings of the trailer itself, and make sure it’s sturdy and safe for a small stampede of wild buffalo to pass through.

Small Room Collective mobile shop

Inside Small Room Collective mobile shop

Inside Small Room Collective mobile shop

George the dog inside Small Room Collective mobile shop

Wood planters by Mavis Studio and rope necklaces by Have Company
Wood planters by Mavis Studio and rope necklaces by Have Company; photo via Have Company Instagram feed.

After the jump, see the stories of Coast to Coast Vintage, Very Hush Hush, and Popsicle Shop.

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shop like a happy camper

Vintage camping roundup by Finely Crafted; photo via the Wigwam Motel
Photo via the Wigwam Motel in San Bernardino, CA

I’m what you call “indoorsy.” But I married an outdoorsy guy who likes to camp and hike. In my husband’s version of camping, we’d surrender electronic gadgets, make long treks to waterfalls, and cook over a fire. On my ideal trip, we’d stay in a midcentury tepee with a parking space and wifi, shake cocktails at the picnic table, and upload snapshots to social media. He wants to go on a “real” camping trip this fall, maybe in the misty redwoods of Oregon, so I’m preparing in my way. I researched all the essentials for a rustic outing, like, you know, gourmet bug-repelling soap and a vintage pocket knife necklace. Enjoy the inspiration, fellow campers!

Vintage camping inspiration by Finely Crafted

Above products: campfire rubber stamp by Creatiate // vintage thermos from Modluv // bug repellant soap by Beekman 1802, available from Oakleaf & Acorn // vintage camp stools from Little Cows // campfire-scented candle by PF Candle Co., available from Summer Camp

Vintage camping inspiration by Finely Crafted

Above products: abalone pocket knife necklace by Astronette // wool mountain pillows by Three Bad Seeds // Pendleton wool eyeglass cases by Appetite // leather blanket carrier by Texturable Decor

Vintage camping inspiration by Finely Crafted

Above products: vintage sheer western shirt from Shop Exile // vintage picnic bag from Ruff by Margo // vintage enamel bird mugs from Finnish Treasures