Friday : 5ive with Doll Perfumier Rocker Dana Varon

Dana Varon photo by Georgia Kuhn
Dress with faux fur by Octopi
Dana Varon is, in her own words, a rocker, an actress, a fashion writer and an animal lover (that’s Jelly, her blind rescue dog, in the second pic, below). I’ve seen her perform, singing achingly sweet melodies with her signature

raspy voice as she accompanies herself on her cool white-racer-striped black electric guitar at nearby EV bars. “Momma’s Man,” the 2008 movie she plays Laura in, is out on DVD. Her blog Living DollDV serves as her sounding board for all things creative and she’s covered NYFW for Dossier Journal and She’s also the creator of Doll perfume oil, which is sold through her website and at retail venues like Grey Era Vintage, (psst! we told you about that a couple weeks ago!). And as you can see, she’s a living doll herself, which I can testify to also, since she’s my neighbor and friend in the building and is as sweet and adorable a doll-like individual as you will ever want to meet.

Jelly  with Dana; photo by Georgia Kuhn
Her first oil creation, Doll in Suntanned, has been on the market for just a couple of years. It’s one of my favorite scents, combining orange blossom with a grassy note that somehow smells sweet and beachy. Starry Eyed is her lighter scent, and as of last night, she just launched Grav-i-tate by Project Soulmate — her current collaboration with Love Broker/Project Soulmate‘s Lori Zaslow & Jennifer Zucher (matchmakers on the current Bravo TV show), at a party at the Union Square W.  Grav-i-tate has more of a vanilla-based top note scent with the subtle headiness of underlying musk.
We love Dana, love Doll and decided that, with the launch of her latest perfume, she had to be FashionWhirled’s subject for this week’s Friday : 5ive!

  What role does scent and fashion, play in your everyday life and when was that first moment that you knew you had become deeply involved in fashion (i.e., as a child or teen)?

Dana Varon:  Scent and fashion def play a role in my everyday life because to me they are both forms of expression, feeling and who you are. Everyone has a certain style (though I change mine often) and scent that makes them uniquely them; being a musician I always loved that fashion can help to get across an artistic view along with smell, think of all the great artists, they all had a look and you can imagine what they smelled like – ha. Smell is nostalgic to me and always was – as a kid I used to have those Strawberry Shortcake dolls with the colored hair (there was a blue berry one. too) and they smelled so good, loved those (apparently still love the pink/blue hair thing).

I also remember stowing away my mom’s Halston perfume and grandma’s Ambrose by Dana, ironically, in my bathroom cabinet – then as a teen I would come home and wash my hair again if it smelled like smoke or food, my old friends can vouch for this one! Also in my teens, I still wore those decadent perfumes, but started mixing wearing oils and balms and continued that until, well, now. I think that started from going to my friend’s country house near Woodstock to the little shops that had them and Grateful Dead shows, plus also having an affinity for the luxurious perfumes I was exposed to as a kid. Notice how I answered this fashion question with a scent answer, still obsessed with scent. Fashion for me first came from my mom who was authentically stylish & magazines that I used to read front to back as a teen, still do, just finished Harper’s Bazaar last night and LOVE mag is on my ottoman. My parents used to take my sister and me shopping in the city, old SoHo before it was so commercialized to Anna Sui, that flea market, etc., my mom loved Bloomingdale’s so I was there from when I was in a stroller. That all shaped me too.

FW:   Who is your fashion muse(s) and what importance do he/she/they play in your career as a perfume designer in particular and as a person in general?

Marianne Faithfull

DV:   Wow, this is a hard one for me because I have a bunch. You know I love the rock dolls – Marianne Faithfull, just adored her look with the bangs and sideburns and tailored pieces that worked so well with it all on her, Stevie Nicks with all of her lace and capes, platforms, rings and Courtney Love’s older dark bowed and baby doll look, plus her current glamourous clothing and line she is making – she is underrated with fashion. I also love Grace Coddington’s (Vogue) eye and her images have definitely shaped me. They are just gorgeous. Oh and Robert Plant.

Stevie Nicks

I just get inspired by so many every day – that’s partially why I started my blog. I am newly inspired all the time and document it there. All the music I listen to, all the images I see, experiences, places I have been/go indoors and out – they all help shape what I create. Scent is so nostalgic to me so usually it will start from me wanting to create something I remember, capturing the smell of a favorite place, time or thing, or to evoke a certain type of feeling. It’s all tied into one for me in my life.

FW:    If you could have any notable person – dead or alive – wear your Doll essential oil, who would it be and which scent do you think they would choose?

DV:  My mom. I think she would choose Grav-i-tate because she loved vanilla and a more powdery type of note or maybe Starry Eyed because she also liked clean and light. Though when she was younger she would have added Suntanned in there as well for it’s stronger sexier side.

FW:   What is, to you, your most impressive piece of clothing that you own now or have owned ever going back to the first fashion thing you can remember?

DV:  Right now,  I have these two vintage bustiers that are so beautiful, one is white covered in white lace flowers all over it and the other is a sort of halter strapped black Lolita Lempicka one. I also have this long purple velvet cape.

Lolita Lempicka bustier, possibly similar to the one Dana adores

FW:   What are your words to live by, for example, if there was an affirmation or quote  or sentiment for you as Doll the essential oil designer and/or as Dana the individual, what would that be?!

DV:   To be free, be real, follow your heart/gut & be kind. Try to do what you love, make & surround yourself with beauty and send it back out. I just want to make people feel good.

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

Summer Collective Kickoff at Grey Era

Thursday night saw a cool crowd gathered at Grey Era Vintage, the East Village vintage boutique helmed by Sierra Fromberg, as she kicked off her Summer Collective, featuring a slew of up and coming artists heralding from Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Noise Girl bracelets and necklaces from Chelsea Van Houten, Doll perfume oils from our friend Dana Varon, silver wolf or floating rings from Austin-based Margot Wolf and Gift Shop Brooklyn leather goods and accessories graced the 9th Street store’s elegant straight-on out to the backyard, floor-through shopping configuration. Collective cocktails were concocted by Amanda Dell, of Sisters Dell, and served garden party style.

Shopping took precedence for FW that night. We had to have us some Doll in Suntanned and a couple of the stunning-to-stack Noise Girl hardware nut bracelets that piled on perfectly with out chunky ID armlets.

Stay tuned for more about the boutique (for instance, why the name GREY ERA?!) after we sit down this next week for a one-on-one chat with the lovely Sierra!