Lâché et Occupé+ The Greedy Seagull= Pin-Up Queens.
Photographs courtesy of Giana Stanigar and Jessica Fechner
When you meet Giana Stanigar and Jessica Fechner however, you would see a perfect marriage. Giana and Jessica put their brains together and their love of vintage to launch ‘Pin-Up Queens,’ Astoria’s first authentic vintage boutique which launched late last year.
While both have independent businesses, ‘The Greedy Seagull’ owned by Giana and ‘Lâché et Occupé, owned by Jessica, both felt something was lacking; a space designed head to toe with vintage themes and fostering more personable relationships with clients who will visit the space time and time again. ‘Pin-up Queens’ has successfully accomplished both.
“I met Jessica in 2011, ” says Giana. ” I was visiting her to buy from her collection and learned that we were neighbors. We both had similar taste, loved the neighborhood and wanted a real brick and mortar store.”
They realized they were a good team with many different talents. They got to work to transform a disaster space into a vintage masterpiece.
Taking two separate styles to merge them into one took some more brainstorming. “We needed something to unify both businesses. We felt pin-up style embodied the spirit of celebrating sexy and embracing who you are and owning it,” says Jessica. Their goal is to create a positive feeling in easy-to-wear apparel accessible to all ages of customers. “The plan for the store design was to be modern but we ended up going for an old Hollywood look.” It was a decision which stemmed from a classic style dressing room they installed which later infiltrated the remainder of the boutique. Judging by the walls, couches and rugs, it is hard to believe that the boutique was designed independently from second-hand stores, fabrics and e-bay inspiration right in Astoria.
“It took 5 months to put it all together. I love the culture here. Queens is a Wild West!”
What makes Pin-Up Queens different? “The majority of New York vintage is a proliferation of the eighties. Everything you find in stores is from the seventies and eighties. We carry authentic vintage and try not to buy past the seventies,” says Jessica.
More importantly, they examine each piece and when necessary, make alterations or improvements to ensure durability. Sometimes, the design improvements take a different direction. Judging by the looks of the boutique, you can feel the tremendous personality of these two lovely ladies and their path to vintage.
Jessica, a fashion designer on top of her many talents loved her style icons. Courtney Love, Anita Pallenberg and Drew Barrymore’s style among a string of rocker chicks inspired her. Thus, she became a natural thrifter. Over time, she fell out of thrifting and saw tremendous value in vintage finds. After dabbling in different areas as a designer, she joined ‘What Goes Around Comes Around’ boutique and was able to learn more about the vintage business.
“The owners really had the best life. They would go on buying trips and come back with all these incredible treasures from heavy American denim and old western stuff,” says Jessica. It was further along the way, when Jessica decided to buy up the merchandise of a vintage dealer going out of business from her hometown and launched her fashion career. The name Lâché et Occupé exudes sex appeal. However, Jessica affirms that the name itself does not make logical sense to a French person. “I used to work with a Guyanese woman who had catch phrases for everything. When the boss was mad, she would say,’ ‘Honey, the Devil is loose and busy.’ I tried to translate it into ‘let go and be free.’ It works!”
Above, Giana holds up her favorite dress.
For Giana, collecting was nearly a lifelong trade. At merely twelve years old, she learned all about the vintage market, influenced by the pin-up and rockabilly culture in So Cal. As a proud Orange County native, Giana admits to being lured by Southwest Native American culture and fell in love with old seventies leather and turquoise pieces. Beyond the clothes, vintage became embedded in her soul. “My parents took me on camping trips and I took a lot of swing dancing classes and went to a lot of car shows. The crowds there were the vintage-wearing-kind.” Eight years of private sewing classes courtesy of grandma, Giana began thrifting and collecting in LA and redesigning clothes. She sold a large chunk of her collection prior to moving to New York. When she arrived to the city, she worked in art-history position and was collecting on the side. She launched her e-commerce site which took off pretty well. Giana had reached a point in her art-history work that she realized she wanted to move forward with her plans to work in fashion full-time. The ‘Greedy Seagull’ name was actually coined by her husband. Giana laughs, “When I asked my husband what animal I would be in another life, he said a greedy seagull because I am always stealing his food and collecting shiny stuff.”
Above: Jessica left and Giana right, chat with one of their favorite clients.
Both Giana and Jessica are among the best in their trade due to their years of knowledge and experience. Their keen sight for trends and their personal love for style shows. Jessica’s style changes one day from the next as she nicknames herself unrecognizable. She’ll sport flannel and a Fedora at one moment and vintage Yves St. Laurent pants the next. ‘Frantic accidents’ are her best styles.
Meanwhile, Giana loves the forties and fifties. She’ll style up in cute pins and dresses, her trademark red lipstick and rings you can ‘stab people with,’ and drift back and forth with rocker chic styles. What they have in common is a treasured accessory. For Jessica, it’s a pear clock Marc Jacobs vintage necklace from sixties. For Giana, it’s a black leather pouch she secured at a renaissance fair 15 years ago to carry rocks and ward off evil.
Above: Giana models her new collection.
What they predict for the future? “Vintage inspired design has been the craze lately so we make sure we follow it and pair it with our merchandise. Women tend to come back to us for more jewelry and dresses,” says Giana.
With no vintage presence in Astoria, Pin-up Queens, tucked away on a quiet block arrives at the perfect time. “We live here and love the neighborhood. We want to invest in the hood and bring more cool local businesses to the area. We plan on staying here for ever.”
© 2013 Fashioncouch.com. All Rights Reserved.