Madison Avenue Couture

AN INTERVIEW WITH OWNER JUDY SCHNEIDER

Madison Avenue Couture

It’s amazing what two little words can do to a style-lover’s soul. When we heard “vintage couture,” we had to sit down with the woman responsible for finding these iconic treasures and delivering them to our Members. Here, Judy talks about her love for vintage and gives us an insider’s guide to shopping these must-have heirlooms.

Rue La La: We dream of waking up and owning a fabulous shop like Madison Avenue Couture. How did that come to be?
Judy: One day I decided to leave the corporate world behind and embrace something I always loved:  fashion. I would spend hours searching for fashion treasures, be it from current collections or from the past. I looked at the art of fashion and why certain designers have a place in history and why some of their pieces are truly special. I became a collector of pieces from certain designers and fashion eras. Initially, our shop sold only contemporary couture, but we found that many of our clients loved to add vintage pieces to their wardrobe. I will admit that I often don’t want to part with the pieces, as they are truly special. But, our clients share my pleasure of owning and wearing the pieces they purchase.

Rue La La: How do the fashion cognoscenti peruse your offerings?
Judy: We have a showroom and an online presence. Our showroom is accessible by appointment only, so we can focus our attention on one customer at a time. Since the space is also our office, photography studio, and warehouse, our visiting customers become absorbed in what we do. They love it.

Rue La La: When did you really begin to understand the power of vintage pieces?
Judy: Two instances come to mind. One is when I took the brown Kelly croc bag (it’s being offered on Rue La La) to Hermès for a cleaning, also known as a “spa treatment,” and several employees marveled at this little beauty that is almost 50 years old and in great condition. Another 50 years of wear is entirely possible. The other instance was when I took two Gripoix for Chanel brooches to Chanel to have a missing rhinestone replaced in each. Several Chanel sales people looked at the pieces, literally gasping. Chanel stopped using Gripoix pâte de verre around 1996, and I don’t think anything they use in their costume jewelry today can compare.

Rue La La: Talk to us about vintage “status.”
Judy: Like contemporary fashion, there is “high-end” and “couture” vintage, and then there is “low-end” vintage (many without their brand label intact). Pieces today that will become important vintage pieces in the future are likely to be those that can be identified with a designer.

Rue La La: Can you give some expert advice to first-timers in vintage and soon-to-be-vintage shopping?
Judy: Vintage or near-vintage clothing and accessories should be purchased like any other clothing (unless you are a serious collector). The most important thing is to buy something you like. You can purchase from vintage shops, which have selected pieces most likely to interest vintage shoppers and priced them based on similar items. Or, if you have time, you can venture into local stores and flea markets and try to find your own treasures. Today, most managers of these shops know vintage and price items accordingly, but every so often, some fabulous piece from a vintage designer can be found at a really great price.

Rue La La: With all these places to discover vintage or soon-to-be vintage fashion, we’re still partial to someone we know and trust…
Judy: For our clients, as for your Rue La La Member, buying from us has major advantages. We do all the legwork, and acquire the best that we find at the best prices. We ensure that the items are authentic and we have them professionally repaired or restored when needed. They are ready to be worn or carried.

Rue La La: What’s an easy way to incorporate vintage pieces into a modern-day wardrobe?
Judy: Wear a Chanel vintage jacket with a pair of today’s skinny jeans, or a 1981 Chanel Chicklet Sautoir with a contemporary blouse, sweater top, or dress. In this Boutique, you show a white and black Chanel jacket with a pair of skinny pants… it looks fabulous. 

Our Madison Avenue Couture Boutique opens Friday, May 21 at 11AM ET.

May 20, 2010