REMEMBER WHEN

Byline: Nandini D’Souza

NEW YORK — The best part about walking into Amarcord, the East Village’s newest vintage boutique, is that you don’t feel like you’re walking into a second-hand store. There are no crammed racks or narrow aisles, no mothball smells and no clutter.
Owners Patti Bordoni and Marco Liotta were committed to the idea of opening an “Italian-style, clean boutique,” Bordoni says. “We didn’t want to do another rag store. If you don’t display something in a certain way, it loses its value and glamour.”
Ninety percent of the clothes, neatly arranged by color and all in perfect condition, are from European designers and range from never-worn Porsche and Yves Saint Laurent sunglasses, $200 to $350, to a hard-to-find two-piece Ossie Clark, $1,600. But not everything comes with a designer price tag. There are beautiful Pucci-esque blouses for $45 and three-year-old Versace shoes, straight off the catwalks, at $160 a pair. Right now, the demand for Eighties looks that were on the runways is translating into a run on the vintage racks, and Amarcord has stocked up on such well-known labels as Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier, Yohji Yamamoto and more. Liotta is most proud of 13 Roberto Cavalli leather coats, all from the same early-Eighties collection. Amarcord also has a selection of for-rent-only pieces, including several rare, never-worn Roberta Di Camerino sunglasses.
As Bordoni explains it, Amarcord is about her and Liotta’s “love for each other and for vintage.” Though they both come from Rimini, Italy, they met in New York. As a club kid in the Eighties, organizing themed costume parties, Bordoni always wore vintage. She moved here 10 years ago, buying American merchandise for an Italian vintage store, and later, working at the Annex Antique Fair and Flea Market, of which the pair is still a part. Liotta, also in retail at the time, came to New York on business in 1998. They met, fell in love and eventually started working together, she as the buyer and he as the salesman. After their success at two of the Metropolitan Pavilion’s Vintage Fashion and Antique Textile shows in 1999, they asked themselves if they were ready to move to the next level.
The two find their clothes mostly through word of mouth, often from personal wardrobes and a few select vintage stores in Europe. “We hunt all over the place,” Bordoni says. Sometimes they even find treasures in stores that closed years ago without selling all their goods.
When asked to name their favorite designers, neither can give a definitive answer. “There are too many,” Bordoni explains, as she and Liotta pull out piece after piece, describing each almost affectionately. “I just look at certain things, and I get breathless,” she adds. Indeed, her face lights up and she’s more than happy to point out the fine tailoring, lush feel and beautiful color of one of her favorite items in the store, a Seventies-era, Italian-made, cream mink coat with a psychedelic lining, $325, with no label.
She is the first to say: “We’re not the ultimate label hunters. There’s more to fashion than just brands.” She believes that there were and still are remarkable, undiscovered local manufacturers in Europe. “Everything is done so well, even if it’s not a famous label, it’s so worth it to put it out there and propose it,” she says.
Amarcord, in the local dialect of Rimini, the birthplace of Federico Fellini, means “I remember,” and the shop has been open a little more than a month. “Business has been good,” offers Liotta, with a broad smile, which really means that business has been excellent indeed. They find that New Yorkers, more than anyone else in the world, appreciate great vintage clothes. “There’s more satisfaction selling to people here,” says Bordoni. “They like to have more fun and like to be unique. They know how to mix the old with the new.”

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