Photo by Rachel McGinn taken in Philadelphia
Bringing back my Profile series and I am beyond excited to restart with a friend through the Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum, Stuart Dyer Mesires. Her talent for and love of all things vintage has given us a mutual interest as well as great conversations about the history of fashion, a passion we both share. I know you will enjoy a glimpse into Stuart’s beginnings in the industry as well as a peek into her business Ladybug Vintage
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB
My first job in the fashion industry was working in New York City for a vintage textile swatch library. It was a library filled with swatches of vintage fabrics – prints, jacquards, yarn dyes, knits, etc. Designers would make an appointment to come to the design library at the beginning of each season to buy vintage swatches of fabric which they would then use to help them come up with color palates, design inspiration and actual fabrics that they would develop for their lines that season.
BRIEFLY DESCRIBE YOUR MOST RECENT OCCUPATION
In 2009, I decided to turn my passion for collecting vintage into a business and created, Ladybug Vintage – a collection of vintage costume jewelry, clothing and accessories focused primarily on the international glamour and country club chic eras of the 1960’s and 1970’s. I love the whimsy, insouciance, bold prints and statement jewelry from this time period – all of which can be found in the Ladybug Vintage Collection. Inspiration comes from fashion icons such as Lee Radziwell, Jane Birkin, Bianca Jagger and Ali McGraw – women with an innate sense of glamour and daring who could take one special piece – a scarf, a lariat, a gorgeous set of cuff bracelets – and create a completely effortless and individual look. I personally select each piece in the collection with this focus in mind. This is what sets Ladybug Vintage apart as it is not just a collection of random vintage pieces but a collection with a focused point of view.
Stuart at the Chicago Botanic Garden when she did their Antique and Garden Show
Some of Stuart’s extensive collections.
WHEN DID YOU DISCOVER YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION OF YOUR TALENT
I started collecting vintage when I was in grade school. My mother is an avid collector of antiques and I would often accompany her to flea markets, thrift shops and antique shows when she was hunting for treasures. I wanted to collect something too so I would look for things that I could afford. Vintage clothing and costume jewelry were items that no one really wanted at the time and the pieces were inexpensive – thus my collection began. I loved the fact that what I collected could be worn not just put on a shelf to be admired. By the time I was in high school I had a closet full of amazing vintage clothing and accessories.
Looking for vintage pieces at the Madison Bouckville Antique Show in Bouckville, New York.
WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD “MADE IT” EXPLAIN
When I was working as a swimsuit designer for Tommy Hilfiger, I felt that I had made it when one of the suits that I had designed was featured in the the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue being worn by Heidi Klum, 2001.
Another of Stuart’s designers for Hilfiger in Sports Illustrated, 2002.
A piece in the 1998 Japan Marie Claire on Stuart’s favorite beauty products.
HOW DID YOUR ORIGINAL PASSION BRING YOU TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW As I mentioned above, I have had a passion for collecting vintage from a young age. After graduating from a liberal arts college in upstate, New York, I moved to New York City to work for PolyGram Records. My passion, however, was for fashion so I started working for a vintage textile design company and taking night classes at Parson’s School of Design. I then embarked on an over 15 year career in fashion design which included working as a clothing designer for such companies as Tommy Hilfiger and Lilly Pulitzer. While working as a designer, my love of vintage continued and I often used vintage pieces as design inspiration. Nine years ago, I decided to turn my love for collecting vintage into a business.
WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN YOUR ALTERNATE CHOICE AS A CAREER….WAS THERE ONE An Archeologist.
BOOK: The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff
MOVIE: The Wizard of Oz
TYPE OF MUSIC YOU LIKE TO LISTEN TO: Rolling Stones, Stevie Nicks, Led Zeppelin, Spoon, Cage the Elephant and the Foo Fighters
LOCAL RESTAURANT: I love to try new restaurants but a constant, reliable favorite is Mon Ami Gabi.
HOBBIES: Drawing, painting, antiquing
HOME: Mixture of mid-century modern and antiques
WHO WOULD YOU HAVE AT YOUR FANTASY DINNER AND WHAT WOULD YOU SERVE: Andy Cohen, Derek Blasberg, Mick Jagger, Virgil Abloh, Pablo Picasso, Kate Spade, Sarah Jessica Parker, Patricia Altchul, Lilly Pulitzer, Oprah Winfrey, Jane Fonda and Miuccia Prada
I’m not a great cook so I would invite, Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) to cater.
FAVORITE VACATION SPOT VISITED AND/OR ON YOUR GO TO LIST: I love to discover new places. And wherever I find myself, I love to find places to shop for vintage. I just back from a trip to Grimaud, France – a small town outside of St. Tropez. I had never been to Grimaud before but I went there to stay with a friend. It is a gorgeous Cote d’Azur hillside town overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and the port of St. Tropez. One of the most fun things for me was finding a flea market in Grimaud that was filled with vintage treasures.
With her son, Xander in St. Tropez in June 2018
In Saint Jean Cap Ferrat
Visiting Heyward House, Bluffton, South Carolina.
FAVORITE WORK OF CHICAGO PUBLIC ART: My favorite work of Chicago Public art is a statue called, The Alarm. I have always been drawn to it. It is the oldest sculpture on Chicago Park District property. It was commissioned in 1880 and dedicated on May 17, 1884. When I did a little research on it, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the artist, John J. Boyle while from New York, had actually studied in Philadelphia (my hometown) at the Franklin Institute and at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and married a woman from there. Several of his statues are located throughout Fairmount Park in Philadelphia as well as throughout the city of Philadelphia.
HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED:As having been kind.
A FAVORITE RECIPE:
I love to make desserts (the best part of a meal!). Below is a simple recipe for one of my favorites:
5 oz of unsweetened baking chocolate 3/4 cup butter
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
HEAT oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13” x 9” pan.
MICROWAVE chocolate and butter in a large microwaveable bowl on HIGH for 2 minutes or until the butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and mix well. Spread into prepared pan. BAKE approximately 22 minutes. Cool completely and cut into squares.
STUART’S FAVORITE LINKS/BLOGS/INSTAGRAM/WEBSITES
La Double J, Tory Daily, @suzymenkesvogue, @tinaleung, @amandacbrooks, @ericapelosini, @martinamondadori, @kateschelter
Above photo taken by Rachel McGinn. All photos from Stuart’s scrapbooks.