Samantha Houck

Greenwich Village History Blog

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Digital Archive

For my digital archive exhibit I have decided that I would like to explore the 1985-1986 expansion of East Village style through the (then) growing popularity of boutique shops. I found inspiration for my topic while I was at my internship at the Special Collections Archive at the Museum at FIT this past Thursday. My current internship project is to make sure that the finding aid descriptions, scope and sequence of the FIT Collegiate Collections match with the contents in each box and folder and to add to descriptions if necessary. I came across a folder labeled “The East Village, 1986” which contained information regarding an exhibit hosted at the Museum at FIT. This exhibit showcased the then prominent and eclectic Village style of 1985/1986. Once I found inspiration I did a general Google search and found a couple New York Times articles related to this topic and more specifically to the designers’ boutiques and shops located in the East Village (mostly along East 7th Street). The article also made claims that uptown individuals were flocking to these boutiques with the desire for downtown fashion pieces. I want to explore the quintessential trends as well as the influx of designer run boutiques in the years 1985-1986. I want to provide my exhibit viewer with a snapshot into mid-80s East Village boutique fashion.

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Web Exhibit

The general topic for my exhibit will explore the mid-80s expansion of East Village style through the growth of downtown boutique shops. I will specifically look at the years 1985-1986; as there appears to be substantial amounts of evidence and resources regarding my topic. There are many newspaper and magazine articles published during that time discussing how many individuals who lived in Uptown Manhattan were traveling to Downtown, East Village area in particular, to shop and purchase off-beat trendy fashions from boutiques. In fact, this was such a fascinating concept, that The Museum at FIT even had an exhibition titled, “The East Village” that showcased fashion, art and design.

Despite the notion that East Village fashion had a “reputation for the outrageous” (NYT, 1985); the mid-80s brought around a new perspective and general broadened appeal. Many East Village designers and boutique owners expanded upon their collections and holdings to appeal to the masses – to both individuals from Uptown neighborhoods as well as those in The Village. In spite of their mass appeal, East Village designers continued to use unconventional materials to construct one-of-a-kind looks. A majority of these boutiques sprung up along East 7th Street between 1985-1986. This explosion of boutiques made East 7th Street a major shopping destination.

Many of the boutiques were designer owned and sold products specific to their fashion lines. Some of the notable East Village designers included: Keni Valenti, Ginnie Burke and Michael Jordan, Patricia Fountaine and Julia Morton. L’Age d’Or and La Coppia boutiques also find favor in the press.

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