Fun, fabulous, fashionable and friendly are the perfect words to describe the owner of luxe Sydney-based vintage boutique Dolly-Up Vintage Emporium. Bringing a touch of old-world glamour, bohemian and retro styling to her loyal customers, the uber-stylish (and very gorgeous, I might add) Erin Paige Hutchings has a knack for finding unique pieces imbued with that 'wow' factor.
Stylists from all around Sydney flock to Erin's store, selecting one-off pieces in which to dress their celebrity clients. Most recently, Erin's vintage finds have appeared in editorials for Sunday Life, Cosmpolitan and Harper's Bazaar magazines - just to name a few!
NSS Editor, Michelle Larin, recently popped into Dolly-Up for a chat about everything vintage and more (plus a few cheeky purchases)!
Q: Erin, what inspired you to open a vintage clothing store?
A: I opened Dolly Up nine years ago. Vintage is my obsession! It's easy for some of us to follow our passions as there's a singular interest which calls out to us loudly; for me that was vintage, so I'd never really thought about doing much else.
Q: What vintage fare can we expect to find in store at Dolly Up?
A: Eclectic, high-end vintage ranging from the ‘30s through to the noughties...ahem. Ball gowns, day dresses, fantastic vintage denim...it might be a shorter answer to tell you what not to expect! That is, the banal! Most of our stock is polarising and for people who know their minds, however, I've been stocking a lot of minimalist pieces of late to freshen the visual pallet!
Q: What do you consider ‘vintage’?
A: I think the accurate term is anything 25 years and over but, for me, ‘vintage’ is a broader term. Anything ten seasons ago qualifies for me!
Q: Why such a love for vintage?
A: The craftsmanship of vintage pieces is almost unparalleled today, unless you have a seriously impressive disposable income! So I like being able to access quality garments with a reasonable price tag that I wouldn't be able to afford if they were being made new today at, say, Chanel or Ralph Lauren. It also caters to my competitive nature. I enjoy owning original pieces that I know next to no one else has in their wardrobes; running into another person wearing the same garment as you is never fun.
Q: Who are your favourite fashion designers and why?
A: I'm a huge romantic at heart so my favourites are the designers for Oscar de la Renta, Gucci's reinterpretation of the glam ‘70s, Valentino for their fearless romanticism, Dior when Galliano was at the helm for the perfect expression of audacious whimsy and Miu Miu and Robert Clergerie for footwear...oh and Sergio Rossi deserves a very honourable mention in that department too!
Q: How do you go about sourcing pieces for your store?
I had a back catalogue which would easily fill a store right from the start; since I turned 16…I think, much to my mother's horror! She threatened that if I continued to bring home bags full of gear from the Salvo's I could move out and secure my own residence. So I learnt to sneak them in (sometimes under big woolie winter cardis, ha!). As they say, where there's a will....
I've never ever bought in bulk. All pieces are hand selected by myself. My local opp shopping craze extended to the USA when I travelled over there with my partner at the time road tripping across the country with the band Almost Famous style. Our home base was in L.A., Venice Beach, which is a mecca for vintage fashion. I waitressed for $5 an hour plus tips and shopped like a person possessed. Even though I’m back in Australia now, I still make trips overseas and source from there.
People also bring things in store to trade, which is always fun. I love seeing what's been hiding in people's closets!
On occasion, I'll shop for specific clients or one of the TV networks. Sometimes the Sunday mags will need specific pieces for a series or specific ads and editorials and so I’ll source pieces for them personally.
Q: What’s your favourite piece in store at the moment?
My favourite piece in store right now...well, that's a hard pick! Possibly, the floor length rose pink crochet ‘70s ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ piece. She's definitely a contender.
Q: Describe your personal style.
My personal style defies description...not because it's especially fabulous (though it's a little bit fabulous ;-)), but mainly because it's intensely eclectic and broad in its expression. Many vintage enthusiasts are fans of particular eras and remain devoted to them, but for me, despite my partiality for the ‘70s, I'm basically a fan of all fashion. I own Edwardian jackets and Victorian cropped blouses (believe it or not) right through to silk 1920s blouses, ‘30s organza gowns and lingerie, 1940s war era wiggle pencil dresses and peddle-pushers through to Dior’s ‘new look’ 1950s full circle polished cotton frocks and ball gowns galore. I have 1960s fur and suede Almost Famous coats, original platforms, and ‘70s pieces are my absolute favourites, so myriads from that era (mostly ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ style maxi dresses in voiles), and I'm not averse to polyester. I love neat ‘80s jackets with huge puffed mutton sleeves and the gypsy style 'art teacher' smocks from that era....and then I love grunge too and the minimalism of the 1990s! I love it all and choose pieces that compliment my shape and style. Essentially, I love the concepts behind different styles and I know what works for my shape. That said… 1960s shift dresses I completely avoid, as they do nothing for me!
Q: Your most coveted vintage purchase is...
I have so many phenomenal pieces in my wardrobe I don't know where to start! A red and white wool striped Moschino couture jacket with dice buttons. A black pure wool Christian Dior original 1960s cocktail frock (designed when Michael Bohan was at the helm). It's numbered. I bought that in Edinburgh from an opp shop. They had no idea it was Dior and nor did I! I knew it was special, just not that special until I got out of there and looked at the label! My shoe collection is very dear to me...I couldn't live without it. Miu Miu, Robert Clergerie and Sergio Rossi are my firm favourites.
Q: What tips can you give our readers for purchasing and styling vintage pieces?
Start small with someone who knows their stock and how to style it. I think that's why we've been so popular; we take a very personalised approach and work with our customers piece by piece from selection through to altering each garment for their size and needs.
Failing that, take a friend whose style you crush on and ask for their advice; preferably someone who innately understands that everyone's style is different and doesn't insist on dressing you as a ‘mini me’ of themselves. Good styling is about letting go of your own ego and concentrating on the other person; their lifestyle, physicality and personality. That's what keeps people coming back to Dolly; that plus a concentrated attention to detail ;-)
Playing dress-up @ Dolly Up!
oR, Visit the store:
382 Cleveland Street, Surry Hills, New South Wales, AustraliA
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