Friday: 5ive Featuring Grey Era Vintage’s Sierra Fromberg

Welcome to FashionWhirled’s newest feature, Friday: 5ive, where we pose 5 pertinent questions to our fav interview of the week and whose graphic design was influenced by our own lovely divine miss *m. Whaddya think? You likey?! Let us know and comment below!

Our premiere Friday: 5ive column debuts with Grey Era Vintage‘s owner and stockist extraordinaire, Sierra Fromberg, whom we had the pleasure to learn all about yesterday here. Major FashionWhirled thanks to Sierra for all the time she’s taken to chat back and forth with us. Now, get out there and go shop at her lovely East Village boutique. Grey Era Vintage is conveniently located at 435 East 9th St (between 1st ave and ave A)…you can come hang with FW before/during/after!

The fashionable Sierra Fromberg
Photo by Jamie Newman
Friday: 5ive

FashionWhirled:  what role does vintage play in your everyday life?

Sierra Fromberg:  vintage shopping as a shop owner is
one of my biggest creative passions.  i love everything about vintage shopping.  i love the hunt for inventory, scoring amazing pieces when and where i least expect it, but most of all, i love to see my customers happy when THEY discover something they love in my shop.  my wardrobe is at least 85% vintage at this point, so you could say i live the lifestyle i’m promoting with my brand.

FW:    who is your fashion muse and did they turn you on to vintage?

SF:     i would say the two biggest fashion muses for me are kurt cobain and courtney love in their 90s grungy prime.  his style to me is impeccable, which i know is sort of an oxymoron, since it was the last thing he cared about, but that’s what made his look so appealing to me at least.  the way he literally wore the same clothes for days in a row, how everything had holes and was so threadbare, the loose, baggy fit, that’s all SO my style too.  and courtney was such a babe!  she was the epitomy of a glamourous mess, and i ate that up as a teenager.  but she definitely put a more concerted effort into her style, which i appreciate.  she was branding herself as the grunge queen, with her babydoll dresses, patent leather mary janes and smeared red lipstick, and that, combined with her gritty songs, really spoke to the youth of my generation.  and stylistically both their looks still resonate and inspire after all these years, which says a lot about how smart they were at marketing themselves, even if they weren’t trying to, in kurt’s case.

’90s grunge icons Kurt + Courtney

FW:   if you could have any famous person – dead or alive – walk into your store and buy from you, who would it be and what do you think they would purchase?

SF:    i would love to have winona ryder’s character Lelaina from Reality Bites shop at the store.  she would totally appreciate every single piece of clothing in here.  for the winter i could see her with a sick pair of super worn-in baggy Levi’s, one of my perfect cotton tee shirts layered under an oversize men’s cashmere sweater (with some holes of course), and a pair of black combat boots.  in the summer she’d rock a floral maxi dress with the same boots and call it a day.

Winona Ryder as Lelaina Pierce in Reality Bites

FW:   what is your favorite piece of clothing that you ever have owned?

SF:    i don’t have a favorite piece of clothing, to be totally honest.  i tend to wear the same few things all year long.  but i do have a favorite piece of jewelry.  it’s the necklace i wear everyday from my fella.  he got it from In God We Trust, which is one of my favorite shops, and had it personally engraved.  swoon!

In God We Trust website image

FW:   in light of the meaning of Grey Era as the name of your boutique, if you had a  “grey era” saying of the day, what would today’s be?!

SF:    have FUN – it’s just clothing!!

FW:   kisses! xoxofw

Grey Era Vintage’s Sierra Fromberg: The Liquiteria Interview

In an alternate reality, Sierra Fromberg could be a poet. 
 In the reality we know and inhabit, this East Village boutique owner is a poet — a poet of the past. As a purveyor of vintage clothing and part of 9th Street’s ever-morphing vintage retail scene, Sierra imbues her East Village shop, Grey Era Vintage, with poetic elements, naturally utilizing flashback to its maximum capacity. 
Grey Era proprietor Sierra Fromberg, photo by Jamie Newman
The exposed brick railroad layout creates its own caesura of sorts, from the antique wooden bench out front to the fireplace to the backyard garden, in between  – pause – housing upcycled silk shells and camp shirts, long sheer on-trend dresses and floral maxis, denim cut-offs and long sweaters in an ode toward the ’90s. New jewelry designs like Noise Girl’s brass and zinc nut macrame bracelets and necklaces — couplets practically, the way they’re designed — play foil to the main characters of  contemporary vintage. 
The window of Grey Era’s adorable boutique 
I had the incredible luck to sit down with Sierra last week, as she treated me to

a Liquiteria juice, shot of wheat grass and the poetic mechanics of her life. What a lovely lady. This girl has a royal fashion pedigree. She literally grew up in the industry, interning at 15 at Elle magazine. She later landed a spot at Nylon, rocked publicity at a major fashion industry PR firm and assisted the fab stylist Lori Goldstein. At one point, she managed the East Houston vintage store A Little Wicked. And, here’s where the poetess part parallels so nicely: she writes — in a truly engaging manner, too! — posting about street style stars on Grey Era’s website, contributing now and then as a guest blogger to sites like The Beauty Bean and The Gift of Style.

But vintage clothing is her true passion. She’s shopped vintage and thrift for years — back to the days of the Upper West Side’s Alice Underground, a thrift clothes institution — and calls herself a clothing “stalker.” Her favorite fashion era is the ’90s, a time when grunge walked the runway to raving press as Marc Jacobs designed at Perry Ellis and Kurt Cobain still was alive. 
When she decided to open her own store — “I was turning 30, it seemed like the right time” — jumping into the moment just came naturally. After all, she bears a tat reading “this moment is your life,” a quote from Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom that holds special meaning for her. Sierra says she still can’t believe it’s almost been a year since she opened. “I put together a business plan last May, started looking for space in June, signed a lease in the middle of July, spent August building out the store and shopping for inventory and opened September 15th.” 
 Love the bench, it reminds me of Upper Rust, the shabby chic antique place down the block
She works. And her PR past comes in quite handy, as she supports the artists and designers she carries in her store, often creating boutique events to promote them. Recently, she and e-tailer Zaden Row hosted the Summer Collective fiesta, celebrating Noise Girl designer Chelsea Van Houton, Doll Perfume creator Dana Varon, Gift Shop Brooklyn, silver artist Margot Wolf, Zio & Sons, Deschain X Grey Era, and Love Nature NYC, replete with a special “collective cooler” drink created for the occasion by Amanda Dell, of Sisters Dell (see my earlier coverage here). Several Grey Era styles are featured on Zaden Row, too, a cross-promotion that serves Sierra well, as the site groups shopping by neighborhood, keeping the serendipity of the 9th Street boutique experience in tact. Sierra also employs her own sort of foreshadowing: as she puts you together, clasps a bracelet around your wrist, snaps a pic of the look, she’s practicing personal stylist-to-be, her future career, part of her five year plan, if you will.
 Summer Collective shopping party
Easily the title of a ballad or lyrical tome, the name Grey Era, derived poetically from Sierra’s philosophy of life, alludes to the fact that nothing is ever just black or white, that things, instead, are grey, in between and fluid. Which is fitting, especially when you consider the time frame of Grey Era’s stock; in most vintage clothing circles, the ’90s isn’t considered true vintage, so Sierra’s finds are clothes truly from a Grey Era, not modern, not old. Contemporary vintage. Another feature setting Sierra’s business apart: if you’re not ready to commit to an outfit, she will rent her goods, too. Mostly to stylists and editors, but hey. You never know. Grey areas, remember?!
I gotta say one thing, this stockist is driven. She’s training for her first marathon and is dedicated to running several days a week BEFORE opening and running her own store. She also has to make time to shop for replenishment goodies. Plus have time for the love of her life, Jamie, who’s been Team Sierra going on four years now (he took the fab pic of her above!). Check back with us here tomorrow when FW debuts a new segment, Friday’s 5, with Sierra as the premiere guest. Down the line we hope to get some great fashion tips from Sierra, too! Shout out a comment below if you’ve got any burning vintage questions and we’ll see what we can do.

We’re just gonna go with Sierra and the lovely boutique she helms as poetry in motion.

Another exterior shot, photo by Jamie Newman
 Interior shot by Jamie Newman

Hurricane? What Hurricane?! Happiness is… a Bright Summer Dress, Part III

Although the entire city is prepping for the worst as Hurricane Irene gets set to hit us tomorrow night, I think we all could use a little brightness, a little happiness in the midst of our hurricane hysteria.
And, voilà, Happiness is a Bright Summer Dress, Part Three.

Flash back to a party a couple weeks ago supporting local artists hosted by the lovely Rachael Rush and Courtlan Green, owners at East Village new and old clothing boutique, Rena Reborn. Her fun silk shift, above, was created by designer Ari Harris (you may remember his peacock feather maxi-skirt featured in the windows earlier this summer).

Another flirty, floaty bright and happy look, below, in one of the Rena Reborn windows.
And what have we here? Happiness is a bright summer romper! Viewed from the back on one of the Rena Reborn models that day.

My suggestion for the storm? Get your flashlights, batteries, non-perishable foods and flood gear ready today. Then, don’t worry, be happy: take time to throw on a bright summer dress and get ready to sit back and listen to the wind howl.
Good night, Irene.

Sidewalk Gets a Facelift

The bandages come off this week as East Village stand-by Sidewalk Café reopens after extensive renovations — after all, the place has been the go-to cool cafe society joint of the EV since 1985, the year I moved to New York City.
Sidewalkers wondered if the place was being shuttered forever after the restaurant closed this past winter, slated to open in late Spring. June came, then July. Sidewalk seemed a goner, like much of the old-timing EV (Mars Bar, anyone?). Finally work started in earnest a couple of weeks ago.  And voila!
The restaurant brings a new look and a new menu to the table, plus a whole new stainless kitchen, according to one of the owners.
Stay tuned. More pix of the new caged light fixtures, turquoise banquettes and general overall upscaling of an EV tradition.
Open mic nights get an expanded stage area and the fresh air dining al fresco remains Sidewalk’s calling card. 
Hey, after 25 awesome years of hard wear and tear, couldn’t we all do with a few minor “procedures?!”

Ricky’s Don’t Lose That Number….1st Avenue and 7th Street

Finally, a Ricky’s opening practically next door to me in the EV….
Soon, I can get all the cosmetic + hair accoutrements, cute rain boots and sexy nurse’s outfits I want — oh yeah, plus all the A.J. Morgan readers I need — any time I take a stroll around the block. 
Just next to my fav hardware store, Saifee’s, where it’s just as easy to buy screws and nails as it is hostess gifts of Acadia wood.
What else do YOU love about Ricky’s?!

Happy Birthday to Vera of VERAMEAT!

The wacky world of VERAMEAT is taking a bite of the Big Apple this month. The East Village, to be exact.

We just happened upon the cool new East 9th Street boutique as the lovely Vera Balyura and her staff were hosting a hip birthday bash tonight for the jewelry designer, replete with DJ and store discount. At Vera’s side was her little mascot, the adorable Fred Meat, an Affenpinscher who is tinier than Mignon and waaaay cute.

I pointed out several necklaces and rings to Philippo — yes, hopefully with my name on them — such as the Presto or Lucky key necklace, the Vampire Duster (two-finger) ring, and the Beekeeper Centaur necklace, online. Anyone who knows me knows vampires and centaurs are two of my favorite things. Well, they’re a few of them….wink, wink.

Vera does a delicious narrative to accompany each piece on, delving into the history, the desires, the inspirations of a design. Click on and have fun. I highly recommend losing yourself in a few of the figments of her imagination.

Then go ahead. Take a bite out of grime. And beautify yourself, your surroundings with her eccentric and beautiful brass, copper, silver or gold oddities!

Professor Bad Ass kicked ass for Multiple Sclerosis Awareness

Professor Bad Ass, aka Kevin Stewart, played his third and final performance for Acoustic Affaire this past Tuesday night held at the new East Village bistro on Avenue B. 
Sekou Carradine and Richard Burroughs hosted the singer/songwriter, fashion maven and American shirtmaker the past 3 Tuesdays, bringing awareness to Multiple Sclerosis and providing a face to the disease.
Tuning up, below, outside the bistro prior to his second set of the evening.
Kevin played my top two favs from his personal repertoire, The Circus is Coming to Town and Bartender ….

….and from the first performance, regaling the packed room with life stories, deep growly velvet vocals and a heart-rending lyricism.

Our House is a very, very, very Still House

So many boutiques have been biting the bullet lately in our ‘hood, but hope truly springs eternal on our favorite block — yes, rebirth and rejuvenation abound on East 7th Street in the EV!
Entrance to Still House boutique
New to the nabe, Still House is still applying the finishing touches to its earthy, natural ambience, residing in the spot recently vacated by Lazio Studios hair salon, who earlier in the year expanded out to a second store front, that, well, sadly is no more.  
Still House proprietor/jewelry designer Urte Tylaite says she is organizing a community of artists within her “house.” As a name and a concept, Still House, she explains to me, symbolizes the struggles and successes of a group in general and her immigrant parents in particular, who moved here less than a decade ago from Lithuania. Her father built a new family house in Long Island from the ground up with his own hands, and the shop sobriquet is an homage to the calm, quiet relaxed feel of that abode. Obviously, Urte springs a very talented and creative family!

 The new boutique carries glass art, like the faceted vase, above, from Thaddeus Wolfe and the Hug lights on the shelves, below, from Kim Harty, who actually hugs her work while it’s cooling, wearing a fireproof suit, naturally. (I give her major props: one reason I never learned to blow glass was that I always feared I would reach out and touch the molten glass as if it were clay. Pottery has proven a much more forgiving medium for me!)

The lovely Urte also carries sweet little pieces of affordable pottery bud vases shaped like stones and rocks, cast metal objets like birds’ feet, above right, skulls or insects and 3-D postcards.

 Ephemeral jewelry in natural wooden cases is courtesy of Brooklyn-based Swallow and Jené DeSpain. Additional jewelry works, like the colorful rings, are by Silva/Bradshaw.

 The new shop between Avenue A and First will be open for business Thursdays through Sundays, 11 to 8 p.m., prime East Village shopping hours!

Hello? It’s Me…

Not that I’m focusing on death today. Far from it. 
As a matter of fact, I’m totally concentrating on being alive, loving life and visualizing all things healthy, happy & here.
It’s just one of those weird sightings — skulls talking on a cell phone? — that one comes upon; this one at the corner of Avenue A and 14th, where I believe there was a(nother) fire in the EV last year. 
Although, the visual does make me think twice about possible cell phone radiation and links with brain tumors. Oh, yeah, and I do have to throw in aneurysms and infundibulums. But, really. We’re not gonna think about those anymore. At least for another year. Whew!
Have a great Friday!