Julie’s Vintage slipped quietly onto Second Street in the East Village this winter. So quietly, in fact, that it wasn’t until Julie brought out tables to showcase her wares on a warm spring day that we noticed her nook.
Inside, you’ll find an outlandish hodgepodge of vintage dresses and retro-ish styled jewelry, surrounded by plumed collars and fantastical headdresses of plastic flowers and feathers. It’s the result of 35 years of discerning collecting and creativity, finally released to the market.
Until recently, Julie Erinc, the owner, was a lingerie designer. She kept a warehouse of eclectic vintage pieces and antiques accumulated on her travels– sometimes used for inspiration, like a 1920s porcelain lamp that became the pattern for a nightie, and sometimes to style her lingerie collections for presentations.
Now Erinc seems to be in a constant state of motion, refashioning her old stuff into brand-new pieces: creating antique replica jewelry molds; fashioning headpieces that balance “just right”; dyeing ugly cream-colored dresses; even searching the forest for young buck antler horns to turn into a necklace.
“Everything here is either vintage or vintage-inspired and recycled,” she said, pointing out her favorite pieces, like a fur collar with lace wings and beading. “We’ll find items and we’ll, what I call ‘de-frumpify’ it — we’ll redesign it and give more of a modern feel to it.” This might mean cutting off the long sleeves of a light-pink beaded gown with flower appliqués and ripping out the heavy lining to make it sheer and flowing. Or adding lace touches to a long tweedy vest. Almost every piece is embellished with some of Erinc’s creativity, from re-dyed tulle skirts with crystals sewn on the hem, to a Michael Jackson-esque purple military jacket with a fringe necklace, lace and pearls spewing off the shoulder pads.
And if you love stare-at-me headwear, this is the place for you– it’s like an Etsy shop come to life. Unicorn headdresses, flower garden toppers, crazy feather explosions– it’s all here and more. Sure, it’s still a while till the next Burning Man, but Erinc is already dreaming up one-of-a-kind pieces to fit the Italian renaissance theme this year. She also has a particular affinity for the 1920s so you’ll find plenty imagined Gatsby-esque pieces to grab for the next jazz age lawn party at Governor’s Island. Mixed in, she sells small pieces of refurbished furniture, like an 1860s piano stool with claw-feet, repainted red.
“It’s all about using your imagination,” Erinc says, surveying her collection. Of course, nothing could replace the recent departure of Patricia Field, but it’s comforting to see that East Village’s fashion eclecticism is well and alive.
Julie’s Vintage, 84 East Second Street, near First Ave.