Can you tell us how The Cherry Closet started out?
I actually came up with the idea – and the name - back in 2006 when I was living in Bath. There’s a very cool vintage scene there and I had been collecting vintage bags, shoes and coats since for years. I started experimenting with my own style a bit more in my early twenties and decided I’d love to source and sell vintage.
It wasn’t until my life took lots of unexpected turns and I had to really think about what I wanted to do before I set up the online boutique in August 2009. I had a degree in fashion journalism, experience at Fashion magazines, websites and in marketing and wanted to combine them. The catalyst? I spotted a hot pink 80’s suit at a flea market with an enormous satin bow on the back – like Lady Gaga wore in her ‘just dance’ video and I just thought – ‘That’s badass!’ How great to own a piece of fashion history that looks like something bang on trend right now….’ And thus The Cherry Closet was born!
Who or what inspires you the most?
Ooh – this list could go on forever, but I’ll keep it brief!
I find that the world of street style and fashion blogging has become a great influence, as there are so many stylists and stylish people out there, just taking photos and sharing their look – which often inspires me for photo shoots and outfit ensembles. I’m constantly inspired by old movies, film stars, fashion and art magazines, even old photos of my grandmother looking glamorous give me ideas!
David LaChapelle (fashion photographer and music video director.) I came across when I was 17 and just knew he would forever be an influence in the rest of my creative working life! I love music videos for ideas – they are so visual and striking.
A lot of items in the boutique are named in honour of inspirational stars, songs and movies that they remind me of. I also love the art work of Otto Dix and am inspired by modern style icons including; Chloe Sevigny, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Lily Allen, Marina and the Diamonds, Florence and the machine, Katy Perry, Gwen Stefani, Alison Goldfrapp, Paloma Faith…
What does vintage mean to you?
Ever since I was a little girl I preferred to be around things from the past rather than the ‘now’. I was probably the only child who begged to be taken to local antique fairs and charity shops rather than Toys ‘R’ Us!!
I have always loved fabrics, colour and styles from decades gone by. I’m not sure why, I guess they say some people have ‘old souls’ – and I’m surely one of them! I’d take a hand written letter over an email any day, despite having a totally digital job!
To me vintage fashion is both enjoyable and important. It helps you feel you are preserving a piece of history, and I think recycling clothes is more essential to our world than ever before. Personally, I would rather wear a one off unique dress than pay £50 for a high street version that I might bump into someone else wearing too, (probably looking better in it than me too!)
Don’t get me wrong, I do buy from the high street sometimes, but always end up buying ‘vintage look’ items anyway! I think mixing modern and old items is a great balance and helps you create a totally individual sense of style .
What's your favourite decade for style?
This is really tough! Can I say all of them? Ok, if I had to pick, I’d say both the 1940’s and 1960’s, maybe because they were so different from each other! I love how in the forties the dresses were cut, and women looked utterly glamorous despite the world being pulled apart by war – and shortages of money and fabric. It was an admirable age of looking both sophisticated, and down to earth.
I love the sixties because of the sense of freedom and excitement it meant for fashion. For the first time in fashion history dresses were shorter than short, bright, bold, eccentric and totally represented the expression of the decade. It really felt like people started to have fun with fashion.
What are your favourite vintage hangouts?
My absolute fave vintage hangouts are actually in Hollywood! LA vintage boutiques are like walking straight into someone’s bedroom from 70 years ago, so visual it feels like you could be on a film set. The Hollywood thrift stores I visit annually are tucked down alleys and you just never know what you’re gonna find! I bring back extra suitcases of vintage every time I go…
In the UK I like Boscombe, Bath and, of course, Brighton! Places in London are great too, but sometimes feel more like a tourist hubbub than a bohemian vibe.
What has been your best ever vintage find?
One of my team once came across a beautiful two piece handmade grey dress and matching jacket in an antique centre. The suit came with an original black and white photo of the woman who wore it for her wedding in 1957. That’s the kind of find that makes me very, very happy!
Also – the first time I went to LA I found several dressing gowns that were worn in the US soap opera ‘Days of our lives’ – beautiful sheer material with gathered mesh for shoulder pads!
Any tips or recommendations for vintage lovers?
1.Don’t let your grandmother, aunt, mum throw out their clothes! If I had a pound for everytime I heard ‘Oh I used to have one just like that…’ I’d be very rich!
2.If unlike me you DON’T like the musty smell that vintage can hold, either try getting it professionally cleaned, or one little hint is pop your item in a plastic box alongside two cotton wool balls dipped in vanilla essence protected in a plastic bag. Leave for a day or so – it really helps lift the smell!
3.Keep your eyes open. Vintage items often appear in places you least expect them too! Browse car boots, flea markets, eccentric charity shops in remote areas.
Where do you find all your pieces?
I regularly attend house clear outs, flea markets, antique fairs, charity shops, car boot sales and vintage fairs.
Once a year I go out to LA to visit my family there, and stock up on fabulous items! Since setting up the site and appearing in GLAMOUR magazine I get approached by a lot of women looking to sell on their own, or often their mothers items too, which is great. (To see some more of the Cherry Closets press click here.)
What fashion statement do you love/hate?
My boutique is marketed as a way to have fun with fashion. Our motto is: ‘ for clothing with character, that allows you to become one too’….I love the idea of playing up to a certain style, look or feeling. One day you could be rocking some gothic romance fairytale, the next could be homage to a country western star!
The thing I liked the least interning at big fashion magazines was some of the attitudes in the world of fashion – it can, at times, take itself too seriously. It’s not about the label you wear or the trend you are fitting in with – it’s about allowing yourself to let go and be whoever you want.
What is next for The Cherry Closet?
It’s a very exciting time for us, I think 2011 will be a big year! In the next few months we are opening our first high street boutique in Boscombe, Bournemouth, paired up with South West Artwork – which features contemporary artwork with a vintage twist, so it will be fun combining fashion and art in a visual space!
We are now appearing monthly at a vintage market in Boscombe also which is full of eclectic, artistic vintage theme fashion, home ware, jewellery and cupcakes! In the summer we are teaming up with Fishee Designs – a fabulous mobile vintage photo booth - on a festival tour which will be awesome.
We are planning some big events later in the year too – an art and vintage catwalk show, attending large scale community tea parties and will continue to sell on our boutique and ASOS marketplace.
Todays outfit is polka-tastic. I adore this vintage polka dot shirt from The Cherry Closet and it goes perfectly with this little fur collar from ASOS.