Ms. Berta used to own an antique / vintage store at Galerias Lumière in Porto. Now reborn into a beautifully retro gourmet, design space quoted on most
tourist and “what to do in Porto” guides, these galleries opened in 1978 as one of the first shopping centers in Porto. Most of us growing up in the 80s remember the space as a movie theater with two cinema rooms (A and L). The cinemas closed down in 1997 and are now a parking lot, others businesses, like the store that sold all sorts of collectibles from coins to stamps to postcards and pocket calendars slowly died.
I started going to Ms. Berta’s store when I was in high school, which means I was mostly a window shopper kind of client until I built up the courage to get in and graduate into the browser / snooper kind. I was fascinated by the antique jewelry and lace gloves but the first thing a managed to buy from her was a 1960s handbag that I still own. This coral beaded jersey was bought on the last month or so before Ms. Berta closed her shop for good. I remember the day, I remember fragments of the conversation and that she had a friend and her grandson with her. Sadly I don’t remember the exact date. This was the first time I understood buying vintage clothes as creating bonds. It was her jersey. She had had it made for her and was letting it go. A piece of someone’s story that, unfortunately, faits a little too big on me. I’m also ready to let it go.
Sometimes you don’t need to go anywhere to travel
One of the most fascinating things about selling online is imagining the places where the people that have bought my clothes live and what kind of story is the one they are writing for themselves. I do not stalk my clients and actually have no idea of who they are apart from their name and address. In my mind what could or should be a simple commercial transaction, it’s like making a new friend. After all, someone is going to receive a little paragraph of my personal story.
Last week I sold my Versace Jeans “commedia dell’arte” shirt, it was part of my loud, take it all in, coming of age in the 1990s. It should, by now, have arrived in Apache Junction, Arizona. A full week of obsessing about this new wonderful name, of trying to picture what it must be like to live in this geometric promise in the shape of a city nested at the base of a Mountain called Superstition. For someone living in a small country, in a city where houses seem to support each other so they don’t collapse, the allure of the vast and harsh American West exerts all kinds of dreams of freedom by the way of shedding all constraints of a somewhat constrained life in a place that sometimes feels like a small box rather than a city.
The simple act of wrapping a shirt, getting it ready to be posted has triggered all these images of free space where the sky is as close to you as the ground beneath your feet, it has made me imagine what it would be like to drive down Superstition Boulevard and end up somehow at the Barleens Arizona Opry. My commedia dell’arte shirt is having a new life on a stage that in my mid is as grand and dramatic as it deserves.
I told this story to a friend and she said that it must a be sign of where I need to go next…
1- Elvis memorial chapel
2- shirt detail: mine
3- Superstition Mtn. (public domain) 1970s
DeGrazia Foundation, Reggie Russell, Buehman, Dick Frontain, Thomas Galvin
4- Welcome to Silly park by Xnatedawgx
When I was a kid I wanted to be an archeologist. Because of this I spent hours improvising excavation sites with sofa cushions in my father’s office and fantasizing about going to Egypt, while my apparent natural vocation was nurtured by history books I was not old enough to understand. I did not become some sort of post modern female Indiana Jones (Lara Croft had not been created) but finally made it to Egypt for work (totally unrelated to my childhood fantasies) in 2008.
I was in Alexandria for a conference for four days feeling as excited as the kid who had fantasies of breakthrough discoveries that would forever alter the understanding of history. I did discover a common history and felt small, humbled, ecstatic and privileged for having the opportunity to walk to the Bibliotheca Alexandrina every day, to wander inside, to imagine how the Ancient Library of Alexandria might have looked, to stare in awe at full reading rooms and the bookcases still longing to be filled.
Apart form a small bronze Egyptian cat statue, this was my only souvenir, I don’t even know what happened to the photos I took (I do tend to loose digital photos) but when I found this caftan yesterday, I’ve realized I don’t actually need the photos, I can still feel the incessant wind and the warmth and the blue, I can still remember talking to three small kids who wanted to have friends in different parts of the world. Better than a photo and it sure beats a magnet.
Last time I was in Johannesburg I met Rosemary at her vintage shop in Melville. I remember thinking that hers was the life I would have wanted for myself in the way we think of the lives of those who seem to be bigger than their own context. This very special Lady also made me feel like a “movie star”, as special Ladies tend to, regardless of who you are. Because of my two visits toReminiscence that year, I finally managed to open my little virtual vintage corner on Etsy and I’ve called it dreaming of Melville. It was my attempt at taming my vintage closet and living that life.
Being somewhat of an academic almost by birth / education / unavoidability, the temptation to think about what an ever growing closet means in terms of personal history/identity was too strong and the Closet of Errors was born, keeping dreaming of Melville as the name of the collection representing my imagined life.
photo via SA Venues
Honor thy error as a hidden intention
My closet (s) is a mirror of my current self, my former self (selves) my personal movies, my plans for extreme style makeovers and all the characters I did not get to play.
Most of the items in this shop are (have been) mine and tell the story of who I am, who I was and of who I will (most probably) not become. These are the mistakes that make up my Closet of Errors. They are all intentional mistakes and part of of various attempts at writing my own story, at creating personas, at playing with possibilities.
As most of our mistakes have consequences, so did my errors. I have no more space for all of them and while not having a minimalist, capsule wardrobe approach to life, I need to make space for a whole new set of errors.
I hope you find some errors to identify and experiment with so I can share the story and intention behind them and see them transform into new narratives.