05 September 2007

panda head interviews...

stacey ditata is owner of the remix, a vintage clothing shop that recently made the move from the del ray neighborhood of alexandria to capitol hill. if you never made it over the bridge to check out the amazing racks of 40s skirt suits, 50s party dresses, and 60s brocades (and more! so much more! and i should know - i worked at the del ray location for over a year!), do yourself a favor and head over to the new digs this saturday night for the grand opening party. stacey will be the one decked out in what will most likely be the most amazing vintage frock and jewelry of the night, and YOU'LL be the one thanking her for bringing the remix this side of the potomac.

how would you describe your personal style, and to what extent is it reflected in your store?
My personal style is very classic. My body (and my soul) love to melt into my beautiful collection of 50’s strapless, velvet cocktail dresses with the big poofy tulle underskirts. Or my tailored 60’s suits with googobs of beading. That to me is beauty. I guess that is reflected in my collection here at The Remix: a lot of texture and embellishments, classic styles from all the decades - the 40s through the 80s. I think I appeal to that customer with classic sensibilities (not that I don’t appreciate a little sass and some funkytown in my Remix collection, which you will find downstairs). But yes, I do think "classic pretty" is always in and that an opera coat is a fashion necessity! That sense of style is the first thing you experience when you enter The Remix.
did you always want to have a shop? how did the remix come to be?
No, my earliest creative achievement was at 5. I kept my first fashion design sketchbook and I used to draw dream clothes. I came to DC to be a fashion designer of all things...in the 80s in DC??? Needless to say, I found other employment in retail but in a creative position as a window designer for Woodies at Metro Center. My fashion design skills were transferred to designing environments for clothing as a visual merchandiser. I did that for 13 years. The Remix came to be as a response to my frustration with shopping vintage shops, which tended to be cluttered and visually undisciplined . It drove me crazy! I wanted to lend the sophistication of my retail expertise to the industry. I felt that the clothing deserved a better stage.
how do you go about choosing pieces? do you take current trends into consideration?
My experience as a window designer allowed me to develop skills in choosing the best item out of a huge multi-level department store to best represent a current trend or statement; to literally be able to stop traffic and provoke someone to run into the store impulsively! That skill has made me very good at "wow factor" and highly discriminating as a buyer in choosing the best quality and most iconic vintage items out there. I have to admit that I am one of those people who refuse to purchase the audio tape when I go to an art gallery opening - I like to view art and fashion through my own perceptions and experiences. But, yes, I usually check out a magazine but mostly after the fact just to congratulate myself on my own fashion intuition. I can usually feel the trends before they happen. And say, "Darn that was my idea and look I have a whole rack of it!"
what are your favorite items in the shop right now?
My favorite items are by far my coats. I love coats. I personally own over 35 myself. I think The Remix has the best coat collection in the whole wide world. I start to collect them for the shop in the spring and by the fall I am stocked with great quality cashmere, tweed, leather, fur-trimmed and wool coats! My favorite coat now available is a 60s suede swing coat with optional belt and huge chinchilla collar. Awesome and Wow! If it fit me, I would have kept it. But I know it is meant for some other glam girl (letting go and sharing are philosophical skills one must learn as a vintage shop owner).
how did you choose your new location? did you consider anywhere else in the city?
I always had a really good feeling about Eastern Market - I really identified with the artistic sincerity and bohemian integrity of the vendors. The area had a lot of soul and I always said if I moved The Remix to DC I would move to The Hill. My real estate broker did try to sway me other areas like Adams Morgan and Bethesda but nah, I felt my purpose was to help develop fashion retail on The Hill. I have been told I am a little bit of a "revolutionary," which I find humorous. I guess I do like to be on the edge. What artist doesn’t?
any advantages to being in DC?
The advantages of being in DC are huge! The client base is highly dynamic - indicative of a big city. Suburbia tries not to be suburbia but sadly, always ends up being suburbia. Suburbia was historically created in the 50s to create a "safe community to live" to escape the real and sometimes dangerous pulses of city life. This tends to work against fashion (the woman you sold a stylish cocktail dress to three years ago, you see today pushing a stroller with an infant trailed by a toddler in a Big Wheel. You know its over!). In DC there is so much diversity, culturally and professionally. People in a city want to step out of the fashion safety zone. There is lots of family stuff but lots of other stuff too! I love it!
what's your take on DC style, in general?
From a wide-eyed 20 year old who came to DC to be a fashion designer in ’84, I see DC has developed tremendously towards a unique and expressive style. Although inherently conservative because of the political and governmental office limitations, there is a strong desire to break free of the monotony of the grey and navy suit and find your Fashion Self - especially on The Hill. I sold a funky printed poly mini dress to a Hill staffer this June. In response to my question of whether she would wear that to work, she replied, "Heck ya, and I work on the floor!" Now, I watch those boring CNN newscasts just to see some crazy printed poly dress flash across the screen. Then I will know I am a true revolutionary and that I have done my job to influence fashion on The Hill!
anything you'd like people to know about the remix that you're not usually asked? As all of us journey through our professional lives and experience various jobs that help shape us and develop us, The Remix has been a professional opportunity that I created for myself and [was] inspired by my creative life experiences and creative yearnings — theatre, literature, philosophy, spacial design, visual art and history - all wrapped up in a shop that sells vintage clothes. I hope visiting The Remix will give all creative people the confidence to define themselves in their own professionally unique and creative way. In fashion and in life!

interview: morgan. photos courtesy of stacey ditata and remixvintage.com. the remix is located at 645 pennsylvania ave SE, so get get going over there.

2 Comments:

Blogger Candid Cool said...

I really find your interviews inspiring. Keep it up!
-h

11:20 PM  
Blogger DC Goodwill Fashionista said...

Love the blog, Morgan, and love the new store, Stacy! The coats you've picked out there are quite phenomenal and I'm with ya on building a collection. Had to buy an extra rolling rack just to hold my vintage and thrift outerwear. Keep up the great work ladies!

7:41 PM  

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