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Something Vintage

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Two hundred years ago it made cozy underwear. Fifty years ago it was dressing the likes of Grace Kelly. Today, celebrating its 200th birthday, Pringle is still going strong. We give an exclusive preview of an exhibition which is set to tour the USA and Asia. By Gillian Drummond. All photos courtesy of Royal Museum of Scotland/Pringle Scotland unless otherwise noted.


A Pringle 1958 advertisement. Photo: S. John Graphic

Pringle of Scotland, celebrating its 200th anniversary this year, carries a name that’s synonymous with several things. There’s golf and the Pringle branded cardigans and shirts still favored by lovers of the sport. There’s cashmere, prevalent in the knitwear company’s garments. There’s the word ‘twinset’, coined by Pringle’s first designer in 1934. And there are Stella Tennant, Tilda Swinton and Ewan McGregor, just a few of the actors/models who have fronted the brand.


Tilda Swinton, the face of Pringle since 2009. Photo by Ryan McGinley, 2010.

Pringle began in 1815 in the small town of Hawick in the Borders of Scotland and went on to become a worldwide luxury knitwear brand. As part of its 200th year, the company has collaborated on Fully Fashioned, an exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. Soon to come to the USA, Fully Fashioned tells the history of a firm that began making undergarments and now has collections at the major international fashion shows. Pringle now has limited manufacturing in Scotland; in 2000 it was bought by Hong Kong-based SC Fang & Sons.

We caught the exhibition in Edinburgh. Here’s what we found out:

  • After years of making undergarments and hosiery, Pringle introduced the button-up cardigan in the 1930s (below). Like its underwear, the cardi had a deep waist rib and sides that followed the contour of the body.
pringleoriginal cardi

Pringle’s move from underwear to outerwear began in the 1930s. Photo by Gillian Drummond.

  • Otto Weisz, Pringle’s first knitwear designer, is credited with coming up with the name ‘twinset’, describing a short-sleeved vest and cardigan combo. He is said to have coined the term after seeing twins in a pram entering a Pringle mill in the 1930s (the company provided childcare at its factories to encourage women to work).

VOGUE USA cover with model wearing Pringle of Scotland, April 1955.

  • Actresses Grace Kelly and Sophia Loren were among the celebrities who wore Pringle during the ’50s and ’60s.
  • Pringle has been supplying underwear and outerwear to the Royal Family since the 1940s. Queen Elizabeth still wears a Pringle twinset today.
  • In 2010 actress Tilda Swinton – the face of Pringle since 2009 – designed a twinset for the company based on one her grandmother used to wear. It even includes darned elbows, which her gran had (see below).
  • Pringle’s largest outlet in Edinburgh was the Jenners department store, which still operates on Edinburgh’s Princes Street.

Jenners department store in Edinburgh, which was Pringle’s largest outlet in the city. Photo by Gillian Drummond.

  • Pringle designs in the ’60s included the ‘Kildonan’, a cashmere dress modeled for British Vogue by Jean Shrimpton, and a double-weight cashmere ski sweater (see below).
  • Pringle’s first women’s collection was shown at London Fashion Week in 2002, and its first men’s collection at Milan Fashion Week a year later.
  • Scottish-born ballet dancer Michael Clark and his dance company choreographed and performed three short dance films for Pringle’s 200-year celebration, featuring twinsets and a golfing cardigan, among others.
  • The autumn/winter 2014 collection saw head of design Massimo Nicosia collaborating with architect and material scientist Richard Beckett in a series of 3D printed fabrics and innovative new technology, including a cable-knit polo neck with nylon inserts (below).

* Pringle’s Fully Fashioned exhibition is at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh until August 16th. It is then set to tour the USA and Asia, although no dates have been set yet. For more information visit

Something Vintage

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Although we’ve had a merciful respite from the heat, the sweltering summer will soon be upon us. That got our resident vintage fashion expert thinking about how we used to keep our cool before the miracle of air conditioning. By Claudine Villardito

Me + Mo

The author and her sister keeping cool during their childhood in Chicago. Photo courtesy of Claudine Villardito.

Watching as event coordinators converted a quarter-mile section of downtown Phoenix into a 1000-foot Slip ‘n’ Slide, I couldn’t help but recall my own attempts to stay cool during the hot and humid summers of my Chicago childhood.  Most afternoons were spent under a homemade water feature consisting of a kiddie pool and oscillating sprinkler while my sister jammed to the band Foghat and soaked her feet in ice water.  But when the temperature and humidity crept toward 90, we knew we could always retreat indoors where the air conditioning and lemonade were cold enough to turn our lips blue.

So how did folks endure the summer prior to the advent of air conditioning, which didn’t appear in residential construction until after World War II?  Although the wealthy could afford to travel to cooler climes (more on that in my last article), before the middle of last century most people’s comfort depended on the clever use of water, physics and fabric.

Though frozen water is an obvious antidote to heat, until the invention of electric refrigeration at the turn of the 20th century, ice required harvesting, carving and long-distance transport, all of which were costly to the average consumer.


An ice wagon helped distribute ice before electric refrigeration. Photo by Russell Lee via Wikimedia Commons.

Instead, liquid water was used in ingenious ways to cool homes, bedding and perishable food.  As those in hot, dry climes and Tucsonans with evaporative coolers know, a breeze blown through a wet medium delivers moist, cool air to the receiving side. Hanging wet sheets in doorways and draping moistened cloths over partially submerged bowls of food were two reliable ways to keep perishables – and the people who ate them – moderately cool.

Basic knowledge of the laws of physics helped too.  Turns out, the turrets of medieval castles and gables of southern plantations did more than just look impressive: they were exhaust mechanisms that trapped heat as it rose and then vented it from their rooflines. Conversely, subterranean outposts like basements and cellars kept contents cool and made such excellent repositories for fuel, food and wine that they are returning to favor among urban and rural farmers eager to escape the industrial food cycle.


Gables and turrets did more than look impressive. They were exhaust mechanisms. Photo by Caitee Smith Photography

Although it seems counter-intuitive, covering up with clothing has been one of humankind’s greatest defenses against sweltering heat.  As any Arizona rancher will tell you, the higher the sun, the longer the sleeve.

While it follows that covering the skin protects it from damage, covering it with certain fabrics also cools it.  Cotton, which breathes, allows perspiration to evaporate and has been used in warm-weather clothing for centuries (think togas and traditional kaftans). But another – wool – is less obvious and was used extensively during the Victorian era for “gauze weave” underwear, as it reportedly absorbed and then repelled perspiration. (Eww.)

The wide brimmed hat and parasol were ubiquitous Victorian accessories that also provided relief in the form of shade, but when combined with long gloves, a tight-laced corset and a minimum of six petticoats, they were likely of little help and explain why the “weaker sex” made frequent use of the fainting couch.

Interestingly, it wasn’t until home air conditioners became more ubiquitous in the 1950s that baring the skin by wearing 2-piece bathing suits and midriff-exposing tops during the heat of the summer became fashionable.

bcvintage bandeau

An early ’60s bandeau bikini top from Black Cat Vintage.

So as we celebrate (or bemoan) the unofficial start of summer, let us be thankful for automatic ice-makers, air conditioning and window tinting.  And may we know that if our compressors fail in mid-July, we will always have Foghat, the kiddie pool and cotton underwear.

* Just in case you thought the slipping and sliding were only happening in downtown Phoenix,  Slide the City is coming to Tucson in September.

* Claudine Villardito’s boutique Black Cat Vintage is online at

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Something Vintage

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Some people see a dresser as storage. Francine Smith of Hot Cool Vintage sees it as valuable horizontal real estate. Find out her style tips and, below, get a special 3 Story discount in Francine’s store. Photos courtesy of Francine Smith/Hot Cool Vintage.

Some people see a dresser and see storage.  When I see a dresser, I see valuable horizontal real estate. When I start to style a space, whether it’s a shelf, dresser or table, I use the same “formula”. Height + Color + Texture = Winning!!  Well, hopefully.  It might take a few tries but eventually it comes together in the end.  I usually start with color, grouping like ones together, then add in texture and height.  Plants and flowers are the cherries on top. Add them in at the end to complete the story.  Below are three different vignettes.  Let us know if you have a favorite.

Nod to the 70’s


Interior design has been majorly influenced by the 50’s and 60’s in the last few years so you know the 70’s are up next.  Though I can’t say brown is my favorite color, I am grooving (yeah, I just did that) on this palate.  I also love that this vignette is a mix of cultures – Israeli art, West German pottery, Scandinavian brass.

Color: Browns and oranges

Height: The art is a great focal point but the vignette needs the pottery and the lamp to keep things interesting.

Texture: The pottery just oozes awesome textures.

Desert Modern


This was fun to pull together as it’s not generally a combination of items I would reach for first. I was looking for earthy, deserty, and modern.

Color: Earth tones, browns.

Height: The lamp and the bears are the key heights in this vignette.

Texture: … is everywhere!  The lamp, art, concrete cactus (from, saguaro boot, even the smooth finish on the bears, add dimension.

Modern Traditional


This vignette does not scream VINTAGE but it most certainly is.   All the pieces have some history, some more than others, but it reads as very modern and clean.

Color: White

Height: The lamp and the vase are anchors but the house is what makes it interesting.

Texture: Lamp, vase and cloth.

Any favorites?  Which one would you want in your home?  Any guess as to which vignette is still on my dresser?  Please leave a comment below.

* Some items are not listed as of this posting but are for sale.  You can check Francine’s Etsy shop or contact her directly at [email protected] with inquiries.  

* 3 Story readers can use the coupon code 3Story10 for 10% off any item in stock at Hot Cool Vintage.

Something Vintage

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We talk to stylist and creative director Sydney Ballesteros about her new online store Golden Goods Co.  All photos courtesy of Golden Goods Co.


A set of coffee mugs that is for sale on Golden Goods Co. website.

Sydney Ballesteros has been known up until now for her creative consulting and fashion styling. The Tucson-based Syd has been making a name for herself for her art of mixing vintage and modern in the looks she creates for magazines, stores and fashion shows. Now she’s branching out into e-commerce.

Her new website Golden Goods Co. includes a home collection, a wear collection and a handmade collection, which will eventually evolve into featuring small artisans with small batch products. There is even a “desert tots” collection for the mini desert dwellers. “It’s really an extension of my personal style and blog Golden Girl of the West,” says Syd. “It has a very ‘Desert Chic’ aesthetic. I want it to feel very personal and curated, a touch of something old or handmade that can be added to a modern home and lifestyle to add a fresh new perspective, the same as a piece of vintage clothing can.”

The tag-line is ‘hunted and hand-picked.’ Syd explains: “All of the items are carefully hand selected. They are all objects I would put in my own home and collections. I want people to shop at Golden Goods Co. because they love to rescue objects and give them a second life, they love the feeling of having that one-of-a-kind object in their home and they love the small things that make their home feel unique – things that make them feel happy to be around.”

As Syd sees it, vintage fashion and interior design often go hand-in-hand. They are usually an intertwined extension of one another. Most people who appreciate owning one-of-a-kind vintage clothing also feel that way about the decor and objects they keep in their homes, she says. That’s where Golden Goods Co. comes in. “I want people to come to the site with constant curiosity about what’s available and to know that it’s going to be good!”


One of Syd’s favorite items in the shop right now is a heavy set of pink marble bookends (pictured above). “These beauties are from the 1940s and exude that era of classic allure, but in such a simple subtle way that they become a versatile addition mixed into any style of décor. They are pretty much the epitome of desert chic. The marble gives them a timeless, luxurious, understated appeal. And the siesta figure is so iconic to the southwest,” she says.

* For more on Golden Goods Co., visit its website.

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Something Vintage

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Our resident vintage fashion expert is not so resident any more. A recent move from Tucson to Phoenix had her ruminating on how people used to travel. By Claudine Villardito

luisvuitoon trunk

Louis Vuitton cleverly circumvented travel restrictions with its rectangular trunk. Photo courtesy of Daniels Antiques

My recent adventure in moving my 3000-piece collection of vintage clothing from Tucson to Phoenix left me mystified as to how people traveled – whether for necessity or pleasure – in the days before the airplane and U-Haul truck. Though it hasn’t kept me from complaining about the cost of wardrobe boxes and professional movers, research into the bygone methods of travel and transport leave me ashamed of my lack of resolve.

Western Migration 1886

Covered wagons measured just eleven by four feet. Photo courtesy of National Archives

Take, for example, the Great Migration to the western United States in the mid-19th Century. Before the introduction of the railroads in 1869, pioneers crossed half the country on foot beside their oxen, armed with only as many possessions as could fit in an eleven-by-four-foot covered wagon. Though their typical load was 700 pounds, five times lighter than the inventory I just moved (drat you, brocade!), voyages routinely lasted six months and claimed the lives of four percent of those who attempted the journey.

Nineteenth century European immigrants endured shorter trips but similar peril. Because the cost to transport an average-size family in steerage class cost over one-third of a European laborer’s annual income, few immigrants could afford more than the most basic accommodations. That left little room for their possessions, which would likely have been destroyed during the rocky voyage anyway. Nevertheless, those who survived felt fortunate since ten per cent of immigrants died at sea from cholera, typhus or dysentery.

Upstairs in first class, however, pleasure-seeking travelers experienced a far different reality. The colossal wealth generated by the steam and electricity industries left an entire strata of Americans, Britons and Europeans with a taste for luxury and the time to pursue it, both of which were satisfied by ocean liner travel. Unlike their third-class counterparts, first-class passengers had no financial restrictions and traveled with as much baggage as they saw fit, which sometimes included furniture. Their only constraint was that the curved lids of their steamer trunks could not exceed fourteen inches, a restriction cleverly circumvented when Louis Vuitton introduced the rectangular – and therefore stackable – slat trunk in 1855.


The dining room of the Hindenburg Airship. Photo courtesy of Collection

The epitome of travel in the early 20th Century, however, was an airship or zeppelin voyage, which was the preferred transport for a woman whose clothing estate I very happily purchased in 2013. While first-class passengers aboard an ocean liner might cohabitate with as many as 1000 third-class occupants, airships kept their numbers to a mere 70 passengers and the ratio of staff to guests at nearly one to one. Furthermore, though a trans-Atlantic airship voyage took fewer than three days to make, passengers were permitted only 66 pounds of personal baggage in their cabins and an additional 220 pounds in holding. That’s half what early American settlers brought in their covered wagons.

The smoking room aboard the Hindenburgh Airship. Photo courtesy of Collection

The smoking room aboard the Hindenburg Airship. Photo courtesy of Collection


A passenger cabin in the Hindenburg Airship. Photo courtesy of Collection

A passenger cabin aboard the Hindenburg Airship. Photo courtesy of Collection

While the luxurious appointments aboard ocean liners included balconied dining rooms modeled after French chateaux and exemplified Edwardian opulence, amenities on airships were comparatively sparse in keeping with the Bauhaus style popular in Germany at the time. Miles of chrome and glass accompanied white walls and austere chairs throughout the craft, which included a formal dining room, passenger lounge, writing room, smoking room (?!) and a bar where the kirschwasser cocktail was allegedly invented after the bartender ran out of gin.


The passenger lounge on the Hindenburg Airship. Photo courtesy of Collection

Despite the comfort in which they traveled, however, wealthy vacationers still assumed risk, as we saw with the Titanic and Hindenburg disasters. The moral of the story appears to be that human migration has never been without sacrifice, and that I should suck it up and be grateful I’m not walking to Phoenix beside my U-Haul. But I still reserve the right to wish I had a vintage Louis Vuitton trunk to put it all in.

(Editor’s Note: While we at 3 Story are in mourning over the departure of Claudine and Black Cat Vintage from Tucson, we’re happy to report that she will continue to write for the magazine.)

• Claudine Villardito’s boutique Black Cat Vintage is online at

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Something Vintage

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They don’t just carry things, they highlight, contain and elevate items. Francine Smith of Hot Cool Vintage on the versatility of trays. Photos courtesy of Francine Smith.

Let’s talk about trays.  Me? I love them. Big or little, metal or plastic. I can always find a spot that instantly looks better once I find the right tray. Trays highlight, contain and, most importantly, elevate your items.  Have a collection?  Need to organize?  Want to make something look just a little bit better?  Grab a tray.

Sushi or not


These vintage sushi trays are just so incredibly versatile.  They can be used in any room… office, bedroom, bathroom, or a kid’s room.  They can be grouped together or used individually. Use a couple and keep the rest on reserve.  These are in a bright lemon which adds a nice pop of color.  I have a set of these in my bathroom and seriously considered hoarding this set too.  They can be used as snack trays (perfect for kids) but also look great on a nightstand, a desk or on a counter.



This is a classic mid century Danish modern teak tray by Dansk.  I have used this tray on my dining room table, on my coffee table and even in my bedroom to hold jewelry.  Very handy.   I grouped my teak pepper mill collection but I’ve also used it to serve hors d’oeuvres and as a table centerpiece with some flowers.  I’ve had as many as three of these in use at the same time.




In a previous life this was an ashtray.  Technically it still is but it hasn’t seen a cigarette in years.  Accented with 22 carat gold, this tray is just too pretty and cool to sit idly by.  Air plants are a great way of turning this overlooked and seldom used ashtray into something that’s functional and a distinctive piece of vintage home decor.

Keep in mind

  •  Large serving trays are great for liquor bottles, making a coffee station, TV remotes, or to hold a personal collection.
  • Smaller trays can be useful next to a bed, in the bathroom, in the office or on a counter.
  • Keep some extra trays on hand.  Great for serving or if a guest stays the night.  Also, they’re fun to have on hand if you like to change up your decor often.

You can see more vintage trays in Francine’s Etsy shop.

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Something Vintage

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The Big Heap comes to Tucson for the first time this week. The big what? Gillian Drummond reports.

the big heap collage

A collection of some of the items that will be on sale next week at The Big Heap in Tucson. Photo collage courtesy of The Big Heap/Lori Cowherd.

The organizers describe it as “a meandering village of uniqueness.” One of its visitors called it a “vintage Woodstock”.

The Big Heap is the baby of friends Mickey Meulenbeek , a gallery owner and interior designer, and Lori Cowherd, an artist and graphic designer. After meeting in their home town of Cave Creek, AZ, the two began the monthly Thieves Market flea market. Thieves Market has been named one of the best flea markets in the country by The Huffington Post. Then they started The Big Heap, a three-day curated event that brings together artists, pickers and dealers.

The Big Heap events in Scottsdale and Flagstaff attract vendors and ‘pickers’ from many different states.  This week it makes its debut at Old Tucson Studios on April 11 and 12.

Vintage has featured more and more heavily in their event, say Lori and Mickey, largely because they both like the mid-century aesthetic. (Micki is a former friend of Tucson-based mid century furniture designer Max Gottschalk).

Here are our picks of what to love at The Big Heap:


Aaron Voigt. This metal artist from Mesa, Arizona learned his welding skills from his father. He constructs his retro-style tin pieces – mostly robots – from machines, aircraft, cars and household fixtures, finding them at junk yards and swap meets. “The robots have the characteristics of an old tin toy,” he says, explaining their popularity with the public. His pieces sell from $25 up to $6000. Aaron’s work is currently on display at Terminal 4’s Mosaic Gallery at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. You can also find him at Popcycle in Tucson.

Redhead Sadie Vintage. Jenny Kuller describes her Phoenix boutique as “like shopping at your favorite grandma’s house”. She loves anything that reminds her of her grandmothers and aunties, from the early ‘60s and further back. She carries vintage clothing, accessories and jewelry.


A concrete planter with recycled bottles from Bottle Rocket.


Bottle Rocket Design. This Tucson company makes glassware, lighting and, now, concrete planters from re-purposed bottles. The planters are made from concrete with 75% recycled glass and molded using reclaimed plastic and Styrofoam molds. Read more about them here.


A piece from the Tucson Junk Girls. Photo courtesy of Tucson Junk Girls.

The Tucson Junk Girls. “They” are Sheri Gribbs of Reloved Junk, Kassandra Labonte of Painted Lovely and Julie Peterson of Junkaddicts. Three years ago they started fixing up and selling pieces they had been collecting for years. At The Big Heap, look out for some unique side tables and reupholstered chairs. They have a booth at 22nd Street Antique Mall and in April two of them plus a couple of other fixer-uppers open No4 and Company, a store in Green Valley.

* For more information and vendors, visit

Something Vintage

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Seeing as the 2016 Presidential election campaign seems to have already begun, we thought we’d turn our attention to First Lady fashion. Our vintage fashion expert Claudine Villardito reports. 


Can a razor-sharp wardrobe and political clout go together? Claire Underwood, played by Robin Wright in House of Cards, would say yes. Photo courtesy of Netflix.

Stupid Netflix. I can finally blame my obsession with House of Cards for more than lackluster work performance; it is now responsible for inciting a debate among my fashionable friends as to whether the actual First Lady could be taken seriously while sporting a wardrobe as razor-sharp as fictional First Lady Claire Underwood’s. Many feel such sartorial focus undermines the dignity of the position, while others feel that dressing with conviction conveys confidence and leadership. Naturally I have turned to history for guidance.

Unelected and therefore unencumbered by the Constitution, First Ladies have always been free to define their own roles within their spouses’ administrations. No matter how limited or far-reaching their involvement in public service, however, as ceremonial surrogates of the President, First Ladies have acted as unofficial National Hostesses since General George Washington was inaugurated in 1789. And for better or worse the First Lady’s wardrobe has been the object of fascination, admiration and derision ever since.

Harriet Lane (NFLL)

Harriet Lane scandalized polite society with her low bodices. Photo courtesy of the National First Ladies’ Library.

Dolley Madison (NYHS)

Dolley Madison in one of her feather turbans. Photo courtesy of the National First Ladies’ Library.

Widowed before his election, Thomas Jefferson regularly called upon Dolley Madison, wife of his Secretary of State, to fulfill the duties of White House Hostess during his Presidency. Though her sparkling wit and political acumen won her an honorary seat in Congress during her own husband’s administration, she is also remembered for her experimental fashion sense, which included wearing feather turbans. Harriet Lane, niece of the nation’s only bachelor President James Buchanan, was the country’s first philanthropic First Lady and is credited with creating at age 26 what are now Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Her clothing, however, eclipsed her impressive social agenda and turned her into a cultural icon: her scandalously low-cut inauguration gown dropped bodice lengths virtually overnight and became the template for Mary Todd Lincoln’s equally-shocking inauguration gown four years later.

Jacqueline Kennedy. Photo courtesy of

Jacqueline Kennedy. Photo courtesy of

The imitation of the First Lady’s personal style only gained traction in the 20th Century. Much to husband Calvin’s dismay, Grace Coolidge bobbed her hair, wore pants and played sports, making her the poster child for the uninhibited Jazz Age woman and producing legions of imitators. Mamie Eisenhower’s fondness for short bangs and the color pink so permeated the 1950s that one can hardly recall the decade without them. And of course Jackie Kennedy’s influence on American style can hardly be overstated: broadcast on the country’s new color televisions, the indelible image of her pillbox hats, sleeveless A-line dresses and oversized sunglasses represented the aspirations of millions of women and is still referenced today.

Grace Coolidge (NFLL)

Grace Coolidge was “the poster child for the uninhibited Jazz Age woman”. Photo courtesy of the National First Ladies’ Library.

So, does an aptitude for fashion dilute a First Lady’s—or any woman’s—social and historical legacy? Will we remember Nancy Reagan more for her $10,000 Galanos inauguration gown, her Hollywood credentials or her “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign? When we recall Michelle Obama, will we think of her law career, her work to combat childhood obesity or her affection for the clothes of J Crew and Jason Wu? The answer of course is “all of the above.”

But why aren’t we asking the same question of men? My suggestion: we should, because if dissection of the Presidential spouse’s wardrobe remains the pastime it has become, the first First Gentleman is in for a rude awakening.

• Claudine Villardito’s Tucson boutique Black Cat Vintage is open Saturdays 11 am–4 pm through and by appointment. Or shop online at

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Something Vintage

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Metals can shine even more when they’re paired with others. Francine Smith of Hot Cool Vintage explains how. Photos courtesy of Francine Smith/Hot Cool Vintage.

One of my favorite ways to add a bit of vintage style to my home decor is by layering in metals. Brass is my favorite but I have a fair amount of silver and some copper sprinkled in as well. There is a lot of vintage brass out there and a lot of it is not very good. Just because it’s vintage does not mean it’s not cheaply made or mass produced. Be patient and be picky. Good vintage brass is worth the wait.

Silver and brass


Candle holders are a great way to add a bit of interest to a table. Brass adds a bit of the warmth silver adds the sparkle. It’s also handy when the candle holder doubles as a flower vase. These holders are different in metals and form but I think the general Scandinavian design aesthetic is what makes these two – the silver and the brass – work well together.

Bronze and brass


Snakes and saguaros just go together. A part of me thinks this shouldn’t work – brass/glass, high/low – but I like it. This grouping of a bronze Baccarat snake and a pair of vintage Saguaro sculptures reminds me of our local flora and fauna but not in the typical southwest fashion. The snake is a bit glam but the brass keeps it real.

Copper and brass



It’s kind of ridiculous how excited I get when I find small vintage items that I can re-purpose for air plants. These vintage enamel and copper salt cellars fall into that category. They can also be used as ring/jewelry holders. The oh-so-happy jumping-for-joy elephant adds a nice touch of drama and movement to a space. The lamp (one of a pair) is a favorite find and will have to be pried from my cold dead hands.

What about upkeep?

Polishing metals can be a chore. Each piece is different and some brass has a varnish on it, which makes cleaning it even more difficult. My go-to cleaner is Bar Keepers Friend. I prefer the liquid over the powder but both work well. When polishing, be careful not to take away all of the patina. In my opinion, some pieces should not be cleaned too deeply. The patina gives the piece age and dimension and once it’s stripped it can change the look of the piece. When cleaning, go light and proceed only as much as needed. Polishing (and repolishing) is not fun but the results are well worth the effort.

* You can find more of Francine’s collected items for sale at the Hot Cool Vintage Etsy store.

* Click here for more vintage stories and to sign up to our Vintage Friday newsletter.

Something Vintage

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When it came to designing this stage set for the Tucson Festival of Books, only a mid-century look and punctuation marks of colors would do. By Gillian Drummond. Photography by Lisa Harris.


How the stage will look when Noam Chomsky visits for the Tucson Festival of Books. Photo by Lisa Harris

Color, drama, mid-century style and punctuation marks come together in this set by Copenhagen Imports, designed for next week’s Tucson Festival of Books.

Which is fitting, since the set is for A Conversation with Noam Chomsky, a man whose career encompasses all of these things.

Professor Chomsky joined Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a Professor of Linguistics in 1955 when, still in his 20s, he was blowing the academic world away with his theories on universal grammar. He is still at MIT and still blowing people away, although in recent years it’s been more for his forthright political views, particularly on U.S. foreign policy.

The appearance on March 15 of Professor Chomsky – widely regarded as the father of modern linguistics – is expected to draw a crowd of thousands. Which is why Copenhagen Imports’ in-house designer Maurice Brantley made sure to pick something that would stand out on the stage of Centennial Hall, Tucson. He went for colors and pieces that pop like punctuation marks. “It will be a conversation rife with unexpected color and controversy. And better make it comfy and memorable too,” says Maurice.

The photo shows:

  1. Dotz screen, $999 by Elite Manufacturing
  2. Extra-supple City Easy Chairs in bonded leather, $399 by Kuka
  3. Indian-made cowhide ‘Christine’ rug with leather backing, $1176 by Linie Design, a pro-fair trade company based in Copenhagen
  4. High-gloss fiberglass Galan Side Table available in black, orange, red or white, $219 by Euro Style
* All items available at Copenhagen Imports, 3660 E. Fort Lowell Road, Tucson.

* See Professor Chomsky interviewed by The Nation’s John Nichols at Centennial Hall on the campus of the University of Arizona, 1020 E. University Boulevard, Sunday March 15, 4pm to 5pm. The event is being organized by the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, the Tucson Festival of Books and The Nation magazine. Tickets are free and are available on the day from noon at the box office. More info here.

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