When I enter a vintage store, it usually takes me about five seconds to know whether my experience is going to be a bust or a bonanza. I recently tried to put my finger on how I come to that snap conclusion.
Right when I walk in a joint, I scan the racks for favorable prints and color schemes (floral and graphic prints in seventies-era hues such as rust, mauve, peach, and plum tend to catch my eye), as well as look for interesting shoulder shapes (sharp!) and fabric textures (I’m currently digging on artisanal-looking woven wool pieces that have natural fringe). I glance over the bag and boot sections (I care less about shoes, for some reason) and make sure the quality is up to par (no faux leather, please). And I always look for an extra-tall rack that might hold jumpsuits, which are my weakness. (Just ask the crew at the Williamsburg location of Narnia Vintage, where I bought two last Friday.)
I was looking for the (apparently long-shuttered) Daryl K outlet store on East 6th Street, in the East Village, a few weeks ago when I happened upon Nomad, Katie McDonnell’s vintage store. Unbeknownst to me, she and her righteous stock of women’s clothes and accessories and textiles took over what used to be Daryl’s space last year.
Once through the door of Nomad, it took me even less than my normal five seconds to know this place is a keeper.
Katie carries vintage from a lot of designers and quirky brands I love—Norma Kamali, Bill Gibb, Issey Miyake, Vivienne Westwood, Koos Van Den Akker—not to mention an amazing range of lesser-known (but no less creative) labels, mainly from the sixties through the nineties. Nomad’s racks are thick with bibbed and tucked smock dresses, languid jumpsuits, and slinky maxi dresses, not to mention some “complicated” pieces from Japanese designers. There are shaggy eighties sweaters hanging next to what must be 100-plus-year-old Bedouin jackets, girly metallic swimsuits from the thirties beside appliquéd coats from the seventies.
A veteran of several big NYC fleas, including the Antiques Garage and former 26th Street market in Chelsea, Katie manages something in her store that I always respond to when I’m shopping: She strikes the perfect creative balance between “mainstream” and ethnicwear, true antique pieces and newer vintage, and clothes for both casual and formal occasions.
In short, pretty much everything she has is totally my jam—especially the patchwork Koos coat she currently has on the rack (above). Apparently, I almost missed my chance to try it on: Georgia May Jagger—one of Katie’s many stylish celebrity clients—was admiring it a few days before I did.
Nomad Vintage, 208 East 6th Street, East Village, NYC. Wednesday through Sunday, 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. and by appointment.
For more information, visit www.nomadvintage.com.
Photos: Courtesy of Libby Callaway