THE DEALERS OF NEW YORK: STACY IANNACONE, RITUAL
Stacy Iannacone, owner of Ritual Vintage and Ritual Archive, finds the sacred in dressing. The experience she provides is not only about shopping but about education, since her store highlights the history of clothes—then what’s great is you can carry that on with you into your modern life. When throwing on a garment that’s pre-1950 or even pre-1900, one can’t help but feel the special energy that these garments carry. Ritual is also a reminder that downtown NYC used to be a meeting place for creative minds and businesses.
Refashioner: Stacy, How did you get started?
Stacy Iannacone: I started collecting in the third grade! I really did. I grew up in Vermont and was collecting 40s dresses at yard sales. I just thought they were fascinating. Eventually, I went to school for photography to be a fine artist and upon moving to NYC was dazzled by the fashion world and went down that path.
It seems that the fashion world in NYC just finds you.
Yeah, I was originally a stylist’s assistant but I couldn’t deal with it, so I decided to open a store. I just loved vintage so much, and had so much of it and knew without a shadow of a doubt that I could do this really well. This upcoming week will be our 8th anniversary.
Congratulations! That’s a big deal in this city. We love your new store, Ritual Archive, on Mott Street!
Yeah, not many people know about it. The only reason I’m able to do it is because I’ve been collecting for so long and it’s begun to pile up. I want to sell old things so I can get new old things! That store is really special. Where else in NYC can you get something that’s Victorian for 20 or 30 dollars? It’s all about making things accessible, so they’re actually worn and loved.
There’s a part of the Refashioner manifesto that says, “Shopping is mystical.” There’s a ritual to it.
I agree that’s basically where the name of our store came from. Actually (a): I was stoned and I thought it sounded cool but, (b): Shopping for vintage IS a ritual. Dressing is a ritual. The making of clothing is a ritual. There’s so much ritual involved with fashion. It IS mystical
Speaking of mystical, who is this adorable little kitty friend of yours?
Waffles! Everyone is always like, “That poor cat. He’s stuck in this store all day!” They don’t realize that he owns this entire block and everyone feeds him. It’s like cat heaven. He has millions of friends and so much space to explore and cause trouble in.
There are two stylish cats at reFashioner as well. We’re so excited to collaborate with you! We can have cat dates!
You know I’ve been doing things on my own for so long but no man is an island. I think that having a collective of cool fashion people, you know a little more DIY would be a very good thing at this time downtown. We’re losing a lot of independent businesses down here.
Yeah, so many people in the industry are searching for something more real and independent.
I don’t know when was the last time I picked up a magazine or looked at a fashion show. I simply don’t care. It’s lost its way.
Yeah, well again that’s what happens when only a few huge corporations control everything. That’s why vintage is so important. The design seems pure. What time period do you focus on?
If you want something from 1850 to 1950 this is the place to go. Being able to see, feel, and wear things that were made 100 years ago is such a cool experience.I think people get a bit of an education when they come here in terms of materials and styles that were popular per decade. They may have not known the difference between Victorian and Edwardian when they arrive, but they’ll leave with a better understanding. There weren’t a lot of well-known designers pre-1960. I buy things based on eccentricity and attention to detail. We do have designer labels, but I like to keep it to more unique items with cool details, even if lesser-known designers make them.
Yeah, it’s so much fun discovering a new/old designer! It adds to the story of your clothing.
We just had a mini-obsession with Escada. And we had a ton of crazy printed stuff from the 90’s in here. So, I guess a lot of what I buy actually depends on how and what I’m feeling at the moment.
Yeah, I love that button print Escada jacket you have. It really popped out at me. At first I thought it was Moschino, which is a constant obsession.
Yeah, I’m not sure who was imitating whom really.
Lets talk your favorite pieces in the store at the moment…
I do have a special rack. It’s all pre-1950s and it’s all pretty amazing. I love more avant-garde draped historical pieces, like all these late-Edwardian cocoon type jackets. I like each piece here to have something that’s outstandingly special about it.
Is there anything specific you’re feeling?
This jacket with the fox fur with heads on it is probably one of my favorites. Isn’t it insane? It’s from the 1920s. Also, I recently got a brilliant velvet Saint Laurent blazer. I really only get his early stuff from the early 70s circa Le Smoking. I love an amazing high-waisted wide legged trouser paired with a fitted ribbed turtleneck. It has this whole Overlook Hotel vibe going on.
Without divulging your secrets how do you source all these very special pieces?
You know I’m a traveler. I’ll go wherever I get the call. I’ve certainty done trips where I literally knock on doors. I’ll go to a town and start talking to people and let the trail lead me. That’s really fun. There were many years, where I loved traveling by myself. I always have to leave New York to do this because the things I deal are really old and you need to literally look under rocks to find them. There isn’t a secret vintage warehouse I go to that’s just full of stuff from the 1880’s! I really have to look all over for it. I feel like pieces have more of a story to them, when you buy them directly from their owners.
What is your ultimate grail?
Maybe a trunk full of old Biba or Granny Takes a Trip. That 60s Carnaby street stuff. The 60s aren’t even my thing but it’s rare and it’s an interesting period of early boutique culture in fashion. They were dressing themselves and their friends and making these small runs of collections that were really groovy and psychedelic. It’s pretty rare to find at least Stateside.
Boutique culture is still so important: small business owners getting to know their clients. What type of person are you buying for?
We have a very eclectic bunch in here. You never really know what you’re going to get. Sometimes at the end of the day someone blows in the door and they go through the historical rack and find a bunch of 40’s dresses that they’re going to wear all over NYC. The woman I buy for has her own defined style and knows how she wants to wear these pieces. They don’t wear her. It wouldn’t be anyone in particular that’s famous, just people who know themselves and have defined taste.
It must be nice when somebody really gets it.
It’s easier for us too. I don’t want to have to talk someone into buying something they don’t feel comfortable in. It’s just nice when somebody understands what you’re trying to do and makes it his or her own. Sometimes people will see something totally unique and interesting in pieces that another would overlook. There are pieces that I’m totally sick of and I don’t think it’s my thing anymore and then the right person comes in and puts it on and says I’m going to wear this with dot dot dot and they look amazing. Thank god for them!
And we say: Thank God for Ritual. Thank you Stacy!
Ritual Vintage: 377 Broome Street; Ritual Archive, 167 Mott Street, Soho, NYC, tel. 212 966 4142
If you can’t get to Soho, Ritual’s Refashioner Closet is HERE…