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Out with the New, In with the Old

by Joanna Williams

Out with the New, In with the Old

Photo: Joanna Williams

Joanna Williams shops for jewelry, rare furs, hats, and costumes like it's her job. (It is.)

SAN FRANCISCO – As the owner of a vintage textile studio in Los Angeles, I navigate the world sourcing fabrics for clients in fashion, interior design, and beauty industries. My clients use the fabrics as inspiration for product development — for example, re-imagining a psychedelic '70s geometric print as a contemporary dress or throw pillow.

I'll be the first to admit that it's a pretty sweet job. But there are also wild goose chases, price negotiations, and lots of schlepping. 

Every three months I travel to San Francisco, my personal vintage mecca in the U.S. It gives me a chance to do a good amount of sourcing. A recent trip coincided with the San Francisco Vintage Fashion Expo. Vendors from all around California set up shop with some of the most stunning vintage pieces you've ever laid eyes on. Everything from embellished 1940s dresses to exotic 1960s furs can be found under one roof. As enticing as a cornflower-blue, floor-length robe with an embroidered peacock on it is for my "personal collection," I have to focus on the task at hand: finding inspiration for my clients. The search is on for chinoiserie prints and Afghani embroideries, weird geometric prints and ditzy florals.  

I found plenty of geometric/floral mix prints and silk color-blocked embroidery, all right on trend with what's happening in fashion. And while I did not purchase a salmon-colored dress embellished with pyramid studs and gold embroidery, I filed it away as inspiration for the embellishment collection I'm designing now. 

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See Joanna's Little Black Book: Vintage Addict in San Francisco

Joanna is the founder and owner of Kneeland Co., a Los Angeles-based design studio specializing in vintage textiles that are sourced from around the world. She travels for the culture.

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