A Current Affair: Fashion History in the Bay

Burning incense sticks woke up your senses as soon as you climbed the metal industrial steps of the warehouse. Stringed fabric laced with flowers swung in the breeze from the gaping window. “A Current Affair” was scratched in chalk on a black board welcoming in each customer.

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This was the opening view of things. Behind it stood hundreds of more racks filled with the skeleton of fashion’s history. Each customer had distinct style, some in sunglasses ready for business (me), others in a floral frock with a shopping bag ready to fill. Needless to say, I was in my happy place.

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Rainbows of color and texture hit you at every booth. The ’60’s-’80’s where the the most popular on the racks. Labels that became a trend were Comme des Garcons, John Paul Gaultier, and Moschino. For accessories, a lot of Louis Vuitton and Gucci bags decorated the stands.

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This beautiful piece of luxury travel gear was at the front of Static’s booth. It’s woodwork and metal embellishments and latches told the story of it’s time. The magnificent thing about seeing tons of vintage in one place is seeing how products, brands, and the zeitgeist changed over the years.

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That was my purpose of going to A Current Affair. It wasn’t to necessarily buy a ton of clothing, but to see how clothing was produced and have an intimate moment with all of the decades of fashion present. Since I started working with vintage boutiques or became interested in the concept of vintage, I’ve been able to pick out a designer piece before looking at the tag.

The study of clothing and how it stands the test of time is a subject that is a bit swept-under-the-rug. No, fashion may not be everyone’s first pick as a profound interest, but it does tell the story of a culture’s history. World War II created a whole new system of production, materials, and design for soldiers’ uniforms and created a working class of women who needed a uniform of their own. Centuries ago, it was the men’s fashion that was in the spotlight. They had the huge ruffs around their necks and materials only royalty could get their hands on. Now womenswear and feminine silhouettes are dominating the industry. It’s a book that holds the intimacy behind our major worldly events.

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Obviously a modern design, this metal piping dress holds so much influence behind it. It could link back to the chainmail armor that soldiers wore in the medieval times in battle. The form fitting silhouette was possibly influenced by womenswear becoming more form fitting to empower the working woman.

This piece is more on the artsy side of fashion, but being able to touch fabrics, see the seams, and examine the structure of garments gives huge understanding of when a garment was made and how. Now, you see laggard department stores selling garments with a ripped seam or holes already in them on the clearance rack. It’s a bit shameful since there are pieces from the ’20’s and ’30’s still holding up. The message of “Buy less, buy quality” that Vivienne Westwood is famous for really stands alone here.

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Me in front of Mercy Vintage’s booth. Wearing a Zara top, Aldo necklace, Mercy Vintage shorts, Isabelle bag, and Steve Madden loafers.

I couldn’t help but splurge on two pieces. Shopping vintage is the only way I can get my hands on designer labels, so this time around I was looking for a Chanel blazer. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the color I was imagining, but that hunt lead me to this beautiful Comme des Garcons piece.

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It was the label’s collaboration with model and actress Peggy Moffitt. It’s beautiful wool blend fabric is form-fitting and bold. It definitely will be one of my statement pieces for the upcoming fall. I love how out of the box it is, and it is so beautifully off-trend.

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My other purchase was from Mercy Vintage (surprise, surprise!). This Celine sweater is going to be my “wear everywhere” sweater in fall. It goes with anything and the print seems very specific but is so versatile. You may see this sweater on the blog soon with my plaid shorts I’m wearing in the above picture!

I also was able to connect with more vintage boutiques in the Bay Area like American Weekend, St. Lightning, and Sis Vintage. Check them out for contemporary-looking vintage pieces, luxury designer pieces at a great price, and vintage bridal gowns.

XO- Alex

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