Something Wilde

History repeats itself in the new line Secrets of Charm. By Naomi Nevitt
"Feminine" is a word that gets tossed around a lot by Secrets of Charm designers Sharon and Estee Elkayam. But as evidenced by their obsession with everything vintage, the Elkayam sisters, who grew up in Miami and now live in Dumbo and the West Village, respectively, can't help but use the word that so accurately describes their most recent collection. "It's our own interpretation of feminine," Sharon says. Launched in 2004 as an ode to their grandparents and named after a 1950s etiquette book, each crepe de chine frock, flounced silhouette, and frothy neckline was inspired by their grandmother's "always very put-together and always very lady-like" style, according to Sharon.
Re-imagining garments of times past and translating them into city-ready designs, The Elkayam girls looked to Oscar Wilde and Victorian children's clothing this fall, fashioning wool tartan A-line skirts, black lace dresses, and Fair Isle sweaters fit for any Oliver in waiting. For spring, the line leaps ahead a decade to explore the look of '60s boho babes Marianne Faithful and Anita Pallenberg where the penchant for vintage takes on a gypsy edge, which translates to paisley silk chiffon sheaths, strapless empire waist minis, and tie-dye tunics.
But with their fourth collection under their belt, what's up next for the sisters who hope to eventually expand into accessories, lingerie, and even have plans to open a New York boutique? Studying up on more fashion history, which comes naturally for the duo who luckily inherited their grandparents collection of covetable clothes and fashion-art tomes. "I've been doing research at the Met fashion library on my favorite designers," says Sharon. "And there's still just so much to learn from gowns made by Madeleine Vionnet and Halston."
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History repeats itself in the new line Secrets of Charm.

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