Vintage Fashion Expo Celebrates 20th Anniversary When he graduated as an engineer from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and later earned a Masters in business administration degree from Dartmouth College, John Maxwell never dreamed friends and
News-Antique.com - Feb 26,2008 - When he graduated as an engineer from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and later earned a Masters in business administration degree from Dartmouth College, John Maxwell never dreamed friends and fate would lead him far from his academic world. Next month, when this impresario turns 78, he and his partners will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Vintage Fashion Expo. From across the U.S.A. dealers and collectors of special styles meet to celebrate long-ago fashions. The next one, to be held Mar. 15-16, 2008, features 90 dealers and takes place at the Nob Hill Masonic Center in San Francisco.
In the beginning, Maxwell found himself attending antique shows in the south and east Bay areas where he knew folks who bought and traded antique dolls, toys and teddy bears. Being curious, he read books about collectibles and learned a lot about vintage clothing, but found little published about these styles; nor were they being exhibited, aside from doll clothes. He learned the country's only vintage fashion show took place in Massachusetts. "So let's start one in California!" said John.
The first Vintage Fashion Expo debuted January, 1988 at the Oakland Convention Center where some 50 dealers shared overwhelming success. Maxwell said at its end, "… some sellers actually carried out grocery bags stuffed with money."
He did 75 percent of the work in getting these events off the ground. "I'm not an expert on 'vintage' nor a collector or dealer; but I'm like the spider in the web, reaching out in all directions. I have so many contacts, be it about buttons, silk stockings, or anything else involving these fashions," John stated.
The establishment of Vintage Expositions, Inc. soon followed, formed to present five expos a year - three in Santa Monica and two in San Francisco. Each show sells out in advance.
Today, in addition to Maxwell, Vintage Expositions, Inc. consists of the following partners: Robert and Kristi Alvarez, owners of Blue Moon Antiques; Doris Raymond of The Way We Wore and The Way We Wore Pop-Up, whose inventory serves many movie customers and costume designers; Lis Normoyle and Fred Dueball, who were also dealers from the earliest days.
According to Lis and Fred, the best part of the expos is offering something to all shoppers. Prices can range from $5 for a piece of jewelry, to $5,000 for designer garments. Lis tells of a Chanel 1920-beaded flapper dress priced at $20,000. Shoppers may find rare fabrics to make their own clothes, platform shoes, dainty purses, hats defying description, Nehru jackets, bellbottoms - in short, fashions from Queen Victoria's time to the roaring 20s and clothes representing each decade through 1970s or the recent "retro style" craze. The website www.vintageexpo.com highlights this variety.
Plans for celebrating the 20th anniversary include posters and plaques honoring dealers from the early times. In addition, mothers will be admitted free at the May show in Santa Monica. It's a compliment to those involved that loyalty and camaraderie contributes so much to the expos' success.