Vintage Couture – Q&A with Vintage Couture Dealer Katy Kane

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katy kane

When it comes to vintage couture, Katy Kane has earned her fashion stripes. Katy Kane has been in the business of desirable and collectible vintage couture for 25 years. Her website, KatyKane.com, is an archival fantasy of stunning vintage fashion.  She has worked with auction houses and museums and has sold some of the finest fashion of the 20th century. Step into the mind, and the archives, of one of vintage fashion’s premiere dealers. Meet Katy Kane!

Debutante Clothing: You’ve been in the vintage and antique clothing business for many years. How did you get started?

Katy Kane: I grew up going to auctions with my Mother, so I guess that becoming an antiques dealer was inevitable. Thirty years ago very few people were interested in antique clothing, so I picked up gorgeous pieces for a few dollars each. Pretty soon I had more than I could wear so I opened a small shop, then a bigger shop, then an even bigger shop. I had a retail store for over 20 years.

DC: How has the vintage fashion marketplace changed from when you first started?

KK: When I first stared the clothes really were antique clothes, 1820′s dresses, gorgeous Victorian ball gowns, Edwardian tea gowns, Irish and Battenburg lace pieces, fabulous French flapper dresses, 1930′s bias cut lame dresses and the occasional 1940′s suit or dress. Couture meant Worth, Doucet, Callot Souers, Poiret, 1920′s Chanel, Fortuny, Babani and Gallenga.

maggie rouff

Maggie Rouff silver & gold mylar

DC: Have you always specialized in designer and couture fashion?

KK: No, I sold Victorian and Edwardian dresses, many were worn for weddings in the 1980′s and 90′s, country calico dresses, were very popular, Victorian petticoats were worn as skirts, 1920′s afternoon dresses and drop dead gorgeous 1920′s beaded dresses were also popular.

DC: What do you personally collect?

KK: I collect paper dresses from the late 1960′s. If anyone has the Rocket ship dress please call me! I cycle some vintage pieces through my closet from time to time, but I really am a dealer not a collector of vintage clothing. I only have 1 piece that I will not sell.

vintage paper dressescat paper dress

vintage paper dresses


DC: You now have a relationship with the luxury antique site 1stdibs.com. How did that come about?

KK: I was invited to join 1stdibs.com last winter, I do antiques shows all across the country and I am the only clothing dealer at these shows, so that is how they knew me and my reputation for Vintage & Couture clothing of the highest quality. The vintage section debuted July1.

DC: You sell most of your collection at trunk and vintage/antique shows as well as your site, KatyKane.com. What is the biggest difference, as a vintage dealer, between selling in person and online?

KK: There is really no comparison between the experience of selling in person versus selling online. Interacting with the customer face to face, seeing their style of dress, their coloring and size are huge advantages that make the experience more successful for the buyer as well as the seller. Once they are in the dressing room { I always have a dressing room in my booth} you can get a sense of what will really work for them, what will really bring out their individuality.

On the other hand online selling is so convenient for the buyer and the seller. You are always open, the stock is constantly changing, the overhead and labor are much less than at a show.

DC: How has this economy affected the vintage fashion market?

KK: The vintage clothing market has slowed down just like all areas of our economy. As sellers of vintage we do have the opportunity of providing the customer a superior product with great value, more bang for their buck, so to speak. Vintage & couture clothing quality and construction is far superior to most contemporary garments. The buyer has something totally unique, and it is the most chic form of recycling.

DC: What seems to be the hottest sellers for you?

KK: Anything unusual and out of the ordinary is the best seller for me, whether it is a rare couture piece or a funky handbag, a great 1950′s party dresses, a bias cut lame evening gown, a beautifully hand embroidered shawl, an Op Art piece from the 1960′s or an over the top cocktail dress from the 1980′s. The items that sell the best for me are the truly unique pieces.

vintage donald brooks feather dress

vintage donald brooks feather dress


DC: You’ve worked with several museums and auction houses. In what capacity do your work for them?

KK: I have worked with several auction houses that do not have full time vintage and couture departments. I have cataloged auctions and served as a consultant.

DC: When it comes to investing in vintage fashion, what advice can you give shoppers?

KK: My advice would be to buy the best piece that you can afford, quality is always better than quantity. I tell my customers not to buy a piece if they are not sure, because they won’t wear it and then they won’t come back to me as a customer.

DC: What is on the horizon for Katy Kane and KatyKane.com?

KK: Katy Kane hopes an amazing collection of beautiful clothes is on the horizon, followed by a group of lovely women who must own this collection. katykane.com is working on an Archive section for the site and will finally be adding a long overdue links section as well. Please email if you would like to link to my site!

vintage geoffery beene

vintage Geoffrey Beene dress

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3 comments

1 AngatDorotheas { 08.12.09 at 5:45 pm }

So cool to see you!!! Nice interview, loved reading about Katy (and nice write up, Sandra!)
Ang

2 Lucitebox { 08.16.09 at 9:19 am }

Once again–you’re the ‘go to’ source for the buzz on the best vintage out there. Thanks for sharing this excellent interview with Katy. The site is so inspiring!

3 Sandra { 08.16.09 at 11:10 am }

You are so sweet! Glad you all enjoyed it!

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