Thursday, December 12, 2013

Style Edit Spotlight: a.a.higgins trading company

It's getting chilly-er in these Cincinnati streets, and we've been on the hunt for stand-out jackets and coats!  Luckily, we stumbled upon the a.a.higgins trading company!! Created by V. Jaffe, the a.a. higgins collection is a tribute to Astoria Higgins, a fictional button heiress! Learn more about her story, here!
SE: Where does your inspiration for the pieces come from?
VJ: My inspiration can come from anywhere....oftentimes it comes from a piece of jewelry or a jacket....but I have been known to be inspired by a television show, or a totally unrelated item...perhaps a vintage car or house...wallpaper is a big hit for me, as is history....I can catch a glimpse of a PBS or History Channel show and find myself imagining War Era women, their roles, their stories....their loves....and I come up with characters, stories, and imagine what they might have worn. I've recently moved from military to "ladies lunching" looks, then on to lace and jumped to Hollywood styles. Most recently I saw a few shows dealing with preppy times...boarding schools, trust funds, historical East Coast families.....saw a vintage Varsity Letter on an online auction and poof!....I started imagining characters in schools in the 30's, 40's and 50' I'm working on a collection of plaids and school pins and chenille letters.....I worked through a similar inspiration with Edwardian and Victorian Eras.
SE: Where are you favorite places to shop for the fabrics and accessories for your jackets?
VJ: I, like many of you, have been a collector. I collect things....lots of things. I found long ago that collecting these things is not only fun if you appreciate them as individual items, but even more fun if you can put them all together and see what "comes of it". Now I do that with what I call “found finery”. I collect magical trinkets, buttons oozing with history, fabulous furs with stories to tell, colorful scarves emblazoned with art, unique and collectible jewels, memorabilia and trinkets, and far more....I put them all together with jackets and search for magic! 

The hunt is maybe the best part. That, and the gathering. Roaming antique shows, flea markets, vintage shops, thrift stores, and meeting those who haunt them as well...that is fun and addicting!

Or maybe it's the mixing, matching and assembling...holed up in my “busy room” surrounded by vintage block type drawers filled with buttons, hardware, jewelry...racks of repurposed jackets...that's even more addicting!

Sometimes I gather a few accessories that inspire me....then search for the perfect jacket. Sometimes the jacket inspires me to search my favorite haunt for the finishing touches! Some take hours to pull together....some I have to "back burner" and may take months to find "just the right piece"!

SE: Are you happy to work with the client's vision as well as your own?
VJ: I've really only done this a couple of can be fun for both parties, but it usually takes longer to make everything work. Since my jackets are "one of a kind", and one size does not always fit all, a client might find her "perfect jacket" in the wrong size. In this case I'll venture out to create a "similar" feel in the right size. It might even wind up better than the original piece, sometimes even a bit "personalized". I'm open to trying this more...

SE: Tell us a little about yourself. Are you from Cincinnati? Have you always worked in fashion?
VJ: I am originally from Cincinnati. Many of my early memories are of dressing up, hopping on the bus with my mother, and shopping downtown....back in the days of movie theatres and ice cream shoppes on Fountain Square, and multiple large  department and specialty stores....when the Downtown shopping corridor was THE place to see and be seen shopping. It is probably no surprise, then, that I went on to work for a couple of these retailers, in fashion sales and merchandising and as a buyer of Contemporary Sportswear and Accessories.

After a long career in retail, merchandising, fashion, design, and marketing, I stepped away for a while to raise a family. Around 2010, having done that and then finding myself in a “shifting” nest (certainly not empty), I knew I needed to plug back into the workaday world, but on my terms. After a year or so of uninspiring search, in the Fall of 2011 I had an epiphany…..why not create my own world filled with adventure and wealth, something from the glamorous times of the past, and tie it all together with merchandise! So, I gave “birth” to Astoria East Coast button heiress (my daughter is a button collector....buttons are so historical and SO interesting!).

Astoria is everything I always wanted to be....she is the "sultry siren" in the movies of the 40's, she is the "gal" in the tailored khaki safari skirt suit, traipsing through the jungle with Tarzan (of course, lines of others were tagging along carrying her trunk loads of many more fabulous suits, appropriate for such travel), and she is the "hopeful romantic", dreaming of pining away in satin, fur, velvet and tulle. With the new interest in such tales as Downton Abbey, Mad Men and "everything vintage" it seemed like a fun direction in which to take the business! 

Want to get your hands on a  a.a. higgins coat? Check out the Facebook Page or Etsy Shop

(PS. Many of the coats are out for holiday events but will return a.a.'s Etsy site on Monday.)


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