Photo and Interview By Kristin Gallegos
Ritual Vintage is my favorite vintage shop in NYC. And I am a huge vintage collector. The owner Stacy Iannacone is a friend of mine and she does an incredible job of curating the shop. Its literally a store full of dream items that aren’t overpriced. I sat down to chat with Stacy about her background and all things Ritual.
Kristin: Where are you from?
Stacy: I was born and raised in Vermont. My parents built our houses themselves on top of a mountain. I grew up with virtually no television or phone in a town of less than 300.
K: What is your background? (as in school or other careers/jobs)
S: I studied photography at Rhode Island School of Design. I have worked for myself since graduation in 2000. Before establishing my original vintage company Exquisite Costume in 2004, I assisted stylist Mel Ottenberg for 3-4 years. I met Mel while we were both at RISD and had some unforgettable formative experiences working with him.
K: When did you start collecting vintage and why?
S: I bought my first vintage dress in about the 4th grade at a yard sale for $2. It was a mid 1940s tobacco beaded crepe with buttons up the back. I can remember buying it completely clearly. I can picture the barn and the wire hanger it was on and asking my mom for the money.
Growing up where I did, there were next to no options for buying any kind of clothing. Vintage was almost a necessity if you wanted anything even remotely interesting. Pre-internet in Vermont, even getting a pair of tights was a big deal. My mom and I loved thrift
shops, rummage sales and the like. I honestly started buying it at these places to have an interesting dress up trunk, which when I think about it, definitely rivaled the typical play time trove of any kid.
I remember lots of 40s pieces, some silk kimonos a great aunt had brought back from Japan in WWII. There was a 1950s cashmere cardigan with velvet dragonflies appliqued on it that sticks in my mind. Around junior high I fell in love with 1920s period clothing. I wanted
something from the 20s so so badly, I looked in every shop waiting and hoping for something I could afford. Finally I found a brown velvet cloche for $25 and my grandmother bought it for me. I wore it for years, and I still have that too ! By high school I was full blown.
When I was a Freshman the older girls in my high school often gave me things they came across in shops or were handed down. These were such meaningful gifts to me. One senior gave me this empire waist 50s ball black silk ball gown with lace sleeves. I wore it to school. Another gave me a pale blue 1930s bias gown with a lattice work beaded back. I wore it for years. So I really can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t surrounded by vintage. I was as interested in old denim as I was in historical dress. In college I began selling it online. Around 1999. That is when I started collecting to sell rather than amassing for myself.
K: What is your favorite vintage piece that you own?
S: A 1972 Bill Gibb bumble bee print leather jacket and a Celia Birtwell floating daisy print Ossie Clark found by chance by my mom when I needed it most. Another Story.
K: When did Ritual open and how long has it been on Broome St?
S: I opened in 2006 as Exquisite Costume and changed the name to Ritual around 2010. I will celebrate 11 years in February.
K: What is the shop known for? Which eras do you specialize in?
S: My collection dates back to 1850 with a strong focus on pre 1940s fine and wearable clothing. I heavily specialize in the 1970s but carry important designer pieces from all decades. As long as the quality is high and it fits with the Ritual aesthetic , I don’t limit the selection based on era.
K: Who are your all time favorite designers and from what era?
S: Yves Saint Laurent got me into collecting vintage seriously. I loved the look and construction of his 1970s pieces, so when eBay was in its infancy I would scoop them up by the dozens. I loved the blouses and 70s knee length knickers. I was walking down Broadway in a pair and some girls walked by and I heard hem say “oh I don’t think so”. I was definitely on the right path ! YSL is the gateway drug for many of us I think. I also love the Americans. Galanos, Blass, Trigere. I love clothing that is as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside, and with these fine designers, you get craftsmanship through and through. That is what ensnared me with collecting Victorian. You have a whole world of stitching and construction before you get anywhere near the eye catching exterior. For myself and my everyday, Claude Montana is my guru. I have so much Montana in my closet. It is the most timeless elegant black clothing for a tall woman.
K: Who inspires you / who are your style icons?
S: I’ve never really believed in the concept of style icons. My interests and obsessions shift weekly. I dress for myself, no one else. My closet represents 100 years of fashion and I really wear what feels right in the moment. I’ve gone through periods of wearing a hat every single day and then just stopping. I’ll wear Romanian peasant blouses for two weeks and then switch to all leather. I wish I could point to someone and say HER but I don’t think I can. I admire strong characters and pull from them on different days or phases of dressing. I did dress like Kim Novak in Vertigo for almost an entire year once. I had a platinum blond up do, gray tweed suit , chiffon neck scarf and white cashmere overcoat. A friend wrote me recently and said OH !! I just watched the movie and there you were 15 years ago.
K: Do you have a web store?
S: I do ! My most updated listings are through my etsy store under Ritual Vintage and my website is also Ecommerce as well as press and other news www.ritualvintage.com
Thank you so much Stacy!