Early 20th-Century Styles Influence Vintage-Inspired Designers

By Patrick Michael Hughes on November 13, 2012 2:02pm 

MANHATTAN — Everything old is new again — at least according to these vintage-inspired designers.

Pop culture's current obsesssion with all things early 20th century — from Broadway's "Chaplin The Musical" to  the hit show "Downton Abbey" to the release of "The Great Gatsby" next year — speaks clearly to the public's fervent predilection for that period's narratives and style.

Street Chic recently spent some time with two interesting entrepreneurs working in the paradigm of 20th-century authenticity and high style.

The busy Brooklyn-based designer Cullen Meyer, who works as the historical trends editor for the London-based fashion forecasting agency WGSN, is an avid collector of 1950s antiques and kitsch. His Williamsburg apartment is home to a vast and well-styled collection that's earned a feature in the New York Times.

Meyer said he was recently cast in HBO’s hit Prohibition-era drama "Boardwalk Empire," and has also returned to the world of fashion design with an exciting new neckwear collection.

His fashions are right on target with the trends we have been covering through the fall season — including heritage looks, graphic prints, die-cut felt and hand-pieced details that are characteristic of Meyer’s fall/winter 2012 collection.

Drawing inspiration from the early 20th-century railways, Meyer has incorporated playfully balanced details that evoke century-old workwear. Modern twists include a warm and resonant color palate, and his prints emphasize graphic details that touch on the old-world worker look. We were impressed by the variety of fabric weights, textures and sizes, particularly in the black and ivory graphics.

Over in the Garment District, Paradox Designs owner Bridgette Morphew has created a vintage design studio not just geared toward the collector, but also for the fashion connoisseur who is looking for timeless chic.

While Morphew’s clothing arsenal stretches from 1850 all the way through 1980, her keen eye for authentic motif and embellishments is thoroughly modern.

Runway-worthy pairings and styling is key to wearing Paradox's highly crafted originals. From boots, striped stockings and bold jewelry to fur shrugs and leather, this is not costume crass or dress-up from your grandmother’s closet. 

At a recent swank trunk show on the West Side boasting terraced river views, Morphew was busy styling an astonishing deep rose-tone brocade tunic with intricate beadwork and dark denim for an Estée Lauder Breast Cancer cocktail reception. 

Street Chic also took note that Paradox Designs was the insider source for the fashion-forward crowd attending the Guggenheim International Gala on November 8, celebrating the museum's recent exhibit "Picasso Black and White."

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