I can’t get enough of the glamorous vintage boutiques in Kansas City, especially Westport! It never fails….everytime I visit one of these stores, there is something to admire. Westport in Kansas City has a funky vibe. For me, it’s reminiscent of Austin. There are a few vintage and antique stores there and international cafes and taverns. …even a vintage record store. Wonderland is a vintage clothing and accessories store with a salon in it! It’s exactly what its name conjures–a wonder land! It’s a Vintage Unique Curio Salon. I interviewed the owner about the store and about a music festival that happens in Westport.
When did you start in this business?
I’ve collected vintage clothes for years.. since I was a teenager and I’ve always loved it. I worked at River Market Antiques and sold mostly housewares and gifts. I worked at another vintage clothing store for six years and at a location down the street for a year.
How do you acquire your vintage items?
We go to estate sales, thrift stores…People’s lifestyles change and they want to sell things they collected like bowling shirts. Women who have had babies don’t need vintage dresses that they’re not going to wear anymore.
In the midwest, KC, big houses, ….mom, grandma and grandpa live in a house for 30 years and have saved everyone’s prom dresses or all of their clothes and special event things. When she passes on or moves to a nursing home, the relatives get the house and they don’t want the items so they sell them.
Do you have a favorite type of vintage item that you collect and sell?
Every time period has a certain charm. There are so many people who buy vintage and antique things for different reasons that it’s really hard [to choose a favorite]. You don’t want to limit yourself.
…so you do a variety?
A variety, yes…I’ve had Edwardian things, Victorian things…they’re not super wearable but they’re beautiful and the construction is awesome. There are people who collect them or use them for costume sourcing, inspiration and to collect them.
I use some vintage items for decoration. I put them on a mannequin and just enjoy the artistry.
Explain what a vanity project is.
You don’t get paid for it. An ad agency does a spec project…a sample of something you want to sell to a company and they can say “yea” or “nay” to it. A vanity project is a spec project but it’s something a photographer has always wanted to do—shoot a girl in the snow in a white gown….for their own portfolio. Noone is paying for it, so they might rent a gown or fur hat or headpiece just to fill that. We rent to photographers which is a big niche.
You were telling me something really cool the other day about a festival that takes place down here in Westport….?
Middle of the Map Festival…a music festival in the third year. It’s finally hit its stride–it’s awesome! great people, lots of fun, everyone’s in a party mood. We had people from all walks of life. From all over the world! A Japanese band was in here buying great things. There were band members and stylists from L.A. buying things for bands that they work with. It’s a really cool event in April, I think.
Do you have a favorite vintage stylist? People know about some vintage stylists in the mainstream. Are there others?
I follow many on Instagram but follow make up artists more. I love Matthew Anderson; he’s Ru Paul’s make up artist. He’s one of my all time favorites. Being a photo stylist and make up artist myself, I like avant garde, editorial—that’s my kind of thing and vintage plays into that because you can use a dress from a different time period and make it modern. I’ve worked with lots of magazines here in town.
Anything you want to tell us about your store?
We like a lot of variety. It’s been brought to my attention that I like prints more than solids. Vintage is 20 years or older. 1995/96 is vintage. People think that’s unusual because we remember it. My grandma laughed at us when we wore 1950’s bowling shirts in the 80s. She’d ask, “Why would you want to wear that old thing?”
Do you do any special events?
I bet people ask to buy that mannequin all the time.
It’s for display.
Do you have a favorite quote that pertains to this passion?
My favorite quote as far as the store: “We are a store; not a museum. I don’t want things to sit here and have you look at it. I want you to buy it and take it with you; no matter how old or delicate it is or how interesting. I get to love it while it’s here, but….
You want it to find a home….
- I marvel at the condition of many pieces. They are a testimony to the great fashion of their era. It’s a fun challenge to guess the decade a piece is from. The powder blues and flamingo or coral pink of the 1950’s; the bold prints of the 1960’s and all of the suede fringe of the 1970’s—they are sights to behold! The disco ball of the 70’s and early 80’s is iconic and to me, eternal. This vintage shop owner told me, “Style is not negotiable” and he’s completely correct. The dictionary defines style as “a distinctive appearance.” To become “distinct”, one cannot settle or negotiate. “Fashion is fashion but style is style,” the song says. Maybe that’s why vintage stores are around today….because some things never go out of style.Wonderland Vintage Unique and Curio Salon
- Old Westport
- 307-309 Westport Road, Kansas City, MO 64111
photos by Gina Kingsley