Vintage and Vogue

A short but sweet era

For those lucky enough to have been at the December 1st, Art Deco Bash at the SS Sicamous, it was a last opportunity to experience a production put on by Penticton’s Vintage and Vogue.

When Kerry Younie – brilliant buyer, stylist and costumer opened the store in 2008, it was with a view to it being temporary; three years at the most. On the evening of the Art Deco Bash in Penticton, Younie announced that after four years, December 30 would be the final day for the Main Street store.

Authentic vintage

Kerry has always been passionate about buying and selling vintage and high-fashion. She has the knack of being able to pull together the right outfits and accessories for a totally authentic vintage experience – where every detail works to create a picture from another era.

The Vintage and Vogue store was about quality pieces and in addition to selling directly to the customer, other boutiques from Calgary to Palm Springs also purchased extensively from her stock. Most of the store’s inventory was from the 1940’s to the ‘70’s, and Younie carried names ranging from designer giants such as St. Laurent, Balenciaga and Shiaparelli in addition to other, more obscure names such as Ossie Clark.

Grand affairs

Kerry’s second love was putting on big productions. When it came to art directing and costuming for numerous musical and theatrical events Kerry would pull together the right team to deliver a total vintage, musical or fashion extravaganza.

As Penticton reviewer Elizabeth Cucnik glowingly wrote of one of Younie’s Vintage shows at the Lakeside Resort, “Sitting in the dim of the audience, looking up on the bright expansive runway that serenades a train of glamorous, statuesque models, draped in the most exquisite, hand-picked vintage masterpieces, one can truly transpose.”

And transpose we did. Younie produced many fashion shows – all showcasing vintage, several of which were held at the Grand Ballroom at the Lakeside Hotel where the space allowed for grand runways nearly 100′ long.

A collaboration

Decisions to tackle some of the big productions often involved Younie’s trusted friend and associate, Geraldine Shockey who worked with Kerry in the Vintage and Vogue shop one day a week. Geraldine and Younie are like twins when it comes to intuiting what works together fashion-wise and they have a deep mutual trust.

If Kerry were entertaining the thought of pulling off yet another production, she’d ask Geraldine, “Maybe we should do this?” The answer was invariably “ok, let’s do it” and the pair would become completely embroiled in the process.

The ‘To Russia with Love’ production was an example where they were being asked by the producers of the musical ‘Chess’, if they would do a tie-in to the musical. Merging the singing and music from Chess with the edgy USSR fashion show, replete with stunning vintage furs – the production was a sold-out hit with Geraldine styling the show and Kerry directing the talent.

Fabulous and always for charity

Ever creative for both the event and the venue itself, Younie’s shows, which have always been for charity, have been held in a number of different types of locations. Last summer, Vintage and Vogue partnered with Maria Nordlund, an interior designer – to put on a fundraiser dubbed the Fashion Meets Architecture on the Bench show (FAB) – for the South Okanagan Childrens Charity. It was staged at one of Nordlund’s client’s custom-built homes on the Lower Bench Road on the Naramata side of Okanagan Lake and was an innovative collaboration that worked for both Nordland and Vintage and Vogue.

99 pairs of shoes

The December Art Deco show had 18 models with three outfits each and the FAB show had 20 models with five outfits each, which means, a lot of shoes… 99 pairs, in fact.

All of the shows require a huge amount of work but Kerry and Geraldine’s philosophy is that it is doable in a small town by bringing together people you know. On one show they raised $6000 for the United Way, a fact they are rightfully proud of.

Geraldine points out that a one-person, sole proprietor, ie. Kerry, in collaboration with a part-time employee (Geraldine) along with some unpaid family members such as Kerry’s daughters Michelle and Jessica, and husband Donny is what was needed to pull it off. Add to that, the models who were also volunteers and who might be known as the local realtor, kid’s teacher, or bank teller, and you ended up with an entire team, where everyone worked together to pull it off beautifully.

“Collaboration is key and Kerry lets you do your own thing – hair, makeup, music; it’s all layered and working together.” says Geraldine.

Landfill fashion

Kerry has a philosophy about today’s fashion that makes her love of vintage even more relevant. She refers to it as ‘fast fashion’ or ‘landfill fashion’ and both she and Geraldine believe that today’s clothes are costly in terms of the environment. Geraldine points to a book titled, ‘Overdressed, the Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion’ which refers to contemporary styles as disposable and she asks why we need three t-shirts for $10. The cost is also far too high when you consider the working conditions for the people making the shirts.

Politically, vintage fashion cannot be blamed for anything – even when there was a good deal of fur used in the mid 1900′s. That was too long ago to ascribe blame to anyone or any group in particular; one can simply enjoy the clothing and appreciate the benefits of vintage. As Geraldine says, “With vintage, it’s win-win, you get something unique in design, style and tailoring and you’re not taking anything from the environment. And it keeps it out of the landfill.”

What’s next?

Kerry is keeping the business side of Vintage and Vogue and she and Geraldine still have a good deal of their own vintage clothing, even though the store is no more.

Geraldine hints at what the future holds, saying “If I want vintage I can find it. The love of vintage and the hunt for vintage is still what we both love doing and it will be fun to spread that out for others as well.” Translation: Another Younie and Shockey collaboration… coming soon?

It will be a lot tougher pulling off a fashion show requiring 90 outfits, without a retail store, but somehow you just get the feeling that when she’s ready, Kerry Younie will have reinvented herself again and will deliver some new way to dazzle and entertain as that is what she seems born to do. Letting go of the store might just give her more time and energy to devote to her new incarnation.

And when that time comes, once again we’ll see models with that cheeky walk, slow and practiced and almost burlesque poses mid-runway; that camp Kerry and Geraldine collaborative signature, and we will know that the ladies are back in action.

article/photography by Stephanie Seaton

Hair: Jana Hill from Nogginz Hair Studio
Makeup: Denise Barnes
DJ: Adam Kereliuk– who has brilliant timing and is always exciting.