by Remy Pearce
The '70s and '80s have had so many recent revivals in the vintage clothing world, future anthropologists might be lead to believe that those two decades comprised our finest fashion hour. But once that polyester hangover has worn off, where is a trailblazer to turn?
We might suggest D/L Cerney, the quiet torchbearers for the classy designs of the earlier, more sophisticated styling of the mid-20th century. Housed inside two adjoining storefronts, this clothier evokes a more refined age when clothes not only defined a person, they could transform. Stocking their store with a virtual best-of collection of designs from the '40s through '60s, D/L Cerney have positioned themselves as leaders in the fashion aesthetic once held sacred by the "Greatest Generation" before they traded in their Borsalino hats and classy suits for goofy fishing hats and plaid pants to wear in Boca.
Opened by Linda St. John and her husband Duane Cerney almost 20 years ago, the store began as a place to sell off their collection of "unworn antique clothing." They specialized in duds from the 1940s to 1960s and, most importantly to Linda, "nothing after 1968." Gradually the owners began to incorporate their own designs inspired by their favorite vintage pieces, and, today the store is almost entirely made up of their own collection. Still, there are remnants of the shop's distinctively antique past--such as the vintage ties, bowties, hats, cufflinks, and both men's and women's swim suits (not to mention the small assortment of unworn vintage men's shoes, which include a stunning pair of Boy Scout's service oxfords with untouched soles).
The inspiration for D/L Cerney current designs comes typically from old movies and vintage photographs. "Our stuff is not trendy," Linda maintains. "This is not a store for label whores or people who care what Paris Hilton is wearing." Vintage fabrics have also provided a jumping off point for their line, and it shows with their men's shirts crafted from Irish linen and gabardine, and women's dresses made in gorgeous abstract and floral prints. The trimmings don't go to waste either: Linda crafts them into rag dolls with exquisite outfits and places them in the storefront (soon they'll be featured at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore). Linda emphasizes that with the midcentury styles, there is something to flatter every body type. "All of our clothes are really structured, beautiful garments," boasts Linda. They do a bit of custom fit work for clients who request it, but women should have no problem finding something that suits among the racks of adorable dresses, pants, skirts, and shirts that are seductively on view. Fad chasers might not appreciate the elegance of something like the Palm Beach Suit (a men's forties-inspired suit, high-waisted with full leg), but thanks to D/L Cerney those of us with more refined and sophisticated taste can still score on the classics.
D/L Cerney fine fashion for men and women, 13 East 7th Street, New York NY 10003, 212-673-7033
The '70s and '80s have had so many recent revivals in the vintage clothing world, future anthropologists might be lead to believe that those two decades comprised our finest fashion hour. But once that polyester hangover has worn off, where is a trailblazer to turn? We might suggest D/L Cerney