AUTHOR/PHOTOGRAPHER Eliza Starbuck
Walking into Cobblestones, NYC, (on 9th Street between 1st & 2nd Ave) you get the impression that you’ve walked back in time. The radio plays golden oldies from the 1930′s and 40′s; racks of vintage shoes, hats, scarves, and much, much more carefully cover every piece of visual space. Delanee Koppersmith sits at her desk behind the old fashioned rotary phone, which she still prefers over any touch-tone phone, and especially over cellphones. It’s a vintage lover’s dream come true. If I had a walk-in closet, it would be Cobblestones.
Delanee has owned Cobblestones Vintage Shop since 1981. She’s a native of the East Village having grown up on 4th Street between Avenues C and D. As a collector, she enjoys finding odd New York City memorabilia, books on beauty, glamour, and entertainment. Her vintage shop specializes in the 1930’s and 1940’s era as Delanee has a special love of the simplicity, workmanship, and style of the times. She also loves the dignity, pride, and class that embodies the era.
Delanne is a member of that rare breed that doesn’t own a computer or a cell phone. She has never used an ATM machine and doesn’t have a tattoo. For her, the simple things were more important in the years past and she wishes that everyone could put Living back into life.
As a faithful customer and admirer of her shop and personal style for years now, I decided that she definitely belonged on the Bright Young Things’ Style Council. I asked her a few questions to get a better understanding of what style means to her.
Q: What are some adjectives or metaphors that best reflect your personal style?
A: I love classic clothes, anything sort of theatrical, but not too over the top.
Q: When in your life did you land on the style you express now?
A: I think I’ve always had it, my style has always been somewhat conservative, tasteful, lady-like, and what I define as simply-attractive, really.
Q: Is there a recent fashion trend that you find particularly compelling, that perhaps is not just the look of the week?
A: I don’t really follow the trends so much, I’ve seen shoes they have these days, and that’s not for me. I’m so entrenched in the old things I love of the 30′s and 40′s. It’s partially my enjoyment and love of vintage, but I think trends are really more for the young.
I don’t understand tattoos and I don’t understand people running around naked, you know, the girls that have their buns falling out the bottoms of their shorts. I think a woman is always more alluring when she leaves a little up to the imagination. Women are far more attractive when they are a little covered. And men should never be seen walking the streets of New York with their shirts off. It isn’t suitable, there’s no class. I just love decorum.
Q: What about when it’s really hot?
A: Then a mesh t-shirt on a man is okay.
Q: What defines good taste in fashion?
A: I don’t think being over the top is very good taste.
Q: So Carmen Miranda is out?
A: Well that was show-biz. She was playing her role. But I think being understated and classic is far more tasteful. I don’t think one needs to go nuts.
Q: Is there such thing as pure originality?
A: Absolutely! And I saw (pure originality) when I saw all those ladies in here with the little black dress. The fact that all those gals could make it different each time a new one put it on is wonderful. It’s interesting to see each one do their thing and how it reflects each of their personalities. Originality is the way one puts their clothes together through their closet and their outfits.
Q: What are your inspirations for the Cobblestones store collection? Many of the pieces in the stores bring to mind film stars of the 1930-40′s, is that a period you are particularly endeared to?
A: Yes, yes, and yes. 30′s, 40′s I love those periods of time. The women looked stunning. They’d walk into a room and wow! The sparkles, the gowns, so feminine, so simple, but stunning.
Q: What has been the single worst style trend in your lifetime that you’ve seen?
A: I don’t like the things that look like gladiator shoes, or the mummy boots (high heeled boots with a peep toe boots). They aren’t flattering and the women look so silly trying to walk in them, not feminine at all. You see the stars wear them, and I feel sorry for the women these days. I don’t think its attractive at all and the girls, well, they just buy what they see.
Q: What do you wish would come back from fashion history?
A: I think it would be really nice if women would wear hats and white gloves. I always see girls come in and they love the hats and gloves here, and I always mention it, and they all agree, but it hasn’t picked back up yet. Maybe if a couple start wearing them, the rest will follow.
Q: What piece of advice would you give the style challengers? Or anyone who is trying to get dressed, really?
A: Keep it simple.