Anyone who’s a fan of vintage shopping knows that the best vintage goods are worth traveling for. Truth be told, I’ve taken getaways dedicated to finding vintage home decor, furniture and, most of all, jewelry, to Paris, a city that’s a boon for vintage lovers, Barcelona and other places around the world.
But I’m lucky that I live in New York, which is home to some of the best vintage stores in the world and attracts people globally who come specifically to check them out.
Now, the lineup of options just got that much better.
The iconic Los Angeles boutique Chuck’s Vintage has finally opened an outpost in town. The store has a cult following and has influenced catwalks, celebrities and high street fashion for the past 15 years.
Chuck’s Vintage was founded by Madeline Cammarata, who unexpectedly died of a stroke last year. Madeline, who came from a fashion background, was a well-known model famous for rocking denim down runaways. She was discovered by fashion photographer Helmut Newton and thrust into the international limelight, which took her straight to the runways of Europe.
When she eventually settled back Stateside, she established Chuck’s Vintage in 2006, and it garnered a cult following almost immediately after opening. A diverse range of boldfacers such as Steve Jobs, Dolly Parton, and the English singer and songwriter Robert Plant descended on the Melrose Place store for their vintage fix.
Another fun fact: once, a world-renowned denim archivist entrusted Madeline with millions of dollars’ worth of collectible denim that quickly ended up selling— as did most items in the store since they were considered covetables.
Madeline may be gone, but her legend lives on with the help of her husband Vinnie. The Los Angeles location closed, but the brand has a new life on the Upper East Side.
With its laid back neutral toned California design, the boutique carries denim, dresses, tops, handbags, jewelry and, of course, denim, from brands such as Chanel, Prada, Gucci, Valentino—and the list goes on.
In an interview, Vinnie told me that Madeleine always used to say that Chuck’s Vintage was her imaginary world where she could live in a fairytale and not deal with anyone else.
“I’m proud that I’ve been able to bring her fantasy world to New Yorkers and visitors, who will hopefully appreciate that we are a fashion temple and a destination in and of our own right,” says Vinnie. “We always used to attract an international client in L.A., and I am sure that New York will be no different.”
173 East 91st Street, Basement, New York, NY 10128