Wednesday, December 31, 2008


One may think that all we do at HUVC is work……but NOT at the expense of missing a good meal! We all eat lunch together daily but when we have the time ( and plan it!), we organize gala breakfasts or lunches on our 50’s kitchen table. Behold, above and below! We also seem to be partial to the old adage “Who needs coffee to keep you alert when you can have chocolate?” We seem to always have chocolate around for clients, friends…..and of course, ourselves! It is cold and frigid outside ( brrrr!!!! ) as it snows but we wish everyone a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR AND A HEALTHY, PEACEFUL AND HAPPY 2009!!!!! Kristen is already getting into the springtime spirit with our “bumble-bee hat!!!”

Thursday, December 11, 2008



We wish all our friends and clients ( and readers!) a very happy and healthy holiday, and hope that our country starts on an upward turn of unity and gracious spirit, with each of us helping those less fortunate in these hard, economic times. We encourage all to participate in such local projects such as the New York General Post Office's "Operation Santa Claus", in which letters addressed to Santa at the North Pole get delivered. In December, there is a special room at the 32nd Street & 8th Avenue Post Office in which you can sift through hundreds of letters - usually from poor inner-city children - and pick one ( or two) to make a child's dream come true and buy him or her a gift and send it from "Santa". We also want to take this time to wish our interns, Jamie and Kim, continued success in school and grateful wishes for their help during their respective school internship programs with us. We loved having you with us! (... and Kim, we are excited to have you back next semester!!!)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Leonardo di Caprio & Kate Winslet

Helen went last night to a special screening of one of the movies we worked on, Revolutionary Road, which officially opens January 15, 2009.

Director Sam Mendes and actors Leonardo Di Caprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates, Michael Shannon, Zoe Kazan and David Harbour appeared afterward for a panel discussion. We started working on this film back in April of 2007 so it has been a long time in the making! In a past blog, we mentioned renting some clothes as recently as this past September for some re-shoots.

in order: David, Leo, Kate, Kathy, Zoe and Michael

Leonardo, Kate and Kathy sat next to each other….a kind of “Titanic” reunion. The retelling of the Richard Yates book is an emotionally grueling tale of what bubbles beneath the seemingly content blandness of 1950’s suburban life. Watch for Michael Shannon - a stage actor, he gives an Academy Award nomination-worthy performance in a breakout role!

Zoe Kazan plays the unusual role of innocent (or not so!) seductress, and we supplied her with a 1950's robe and a bra used just for that purpose! Interestingly, this recent Yale grad ( and granddaughter of famed director Elia Kazan) appeared in Come Back, Little Sheba and is now in The Seagull, both on Broadway ....and both productions we also worked on!

Cadillac Records, which seems to be getting a lot of press, opens this Friday on December 5. We are excited to see it!

In an amazing coincidence, the day Helen went to see our dress displayed in Bloomingdale’s window, who should just happen to be there at the exact same time of the day ALSO taking pictures? The film’s writer and director, Darnell Martin! Along with another crew member, she posing (on the right) pointing to our garment and credit on the glass window! We wish the movie great success!

Friday, November 14, 2008


Our Dresses Exhibited at Kartell, SOHO
In our ever-evolving eclectic client base, our newest assignment was to dress mannequins with "ruffled" edwardian and victorian evening gowns to match a hot new line of "ruffled" plastic chairs designed by Patricia Urquiola, introduced last night at a big press opening on New York's SOHO district!
Panels depicting black and white dancing period couples abounded, and our dresses proved an interesting counterpoint to the completely modern environment! Vive la Difference!!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


We were happy to have participated in the Early Show's homage to the 1950's and 1960's on Monday and Tuesday! Check out the CBS-EARLY SHOW link below to see the photos (check out our three 1950's and 1960's photos with our credit!)

Staff members Kristen, Kim, Nora and Nora's sister Mina all went to the show Tuesday morning decked out in our 1960's hats, and had fun posing by the period cars parked outside. Nora and Mina even wore 1960's dresses from their own collections! Inside the studio, they had a ball watching the taping, enjoying the Four Tops ( who told them they loved their hats!!!) and seeing Barbara Eden ( "I Dream Of Jeannie, ) Dawn Wells("Gilligan's Island,") Barbara Feldon ( "Get Smart") and Kathy Garver ("Family Affair.") Dave tried to channel his inner "Fifth Top" when he borrows one of the Four Tops' pink suits to he singing "I've got Rhythm?" Julie in 1960's clothes to the left, a view of the inside of the TV studio to the right!

Friday, November 7, 2008

OUR CLOTHES ON CBS NEWS 11/10 and 11/11!

Just a short note to let everyone know that the CBS EARLY SHOW female anchors ( Julie Chen and Maggie Rodriguez) will be wearing our 1950's and 1960's women's suits on the Monday, November 10th and Tuesday, November 11th broadcasts! Hopefully they will not chicken out about wearing our period hats along with the clothes (smile) !!! Monday is: salute to the 50's and Little Richard perfoms! Tuesday is: salute to the 1960's and the Four Tops perform. If you look closely on Tuesday, you might catch one of our staff ( or 2 or 3 or 4!!!) in the audience dressed in period finery one!

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Bloomingdale's exhibits clothes ( including ours!) from the upcoming film "CADILLAC RECORDS"

A few weeks ago, our staff was invited to a dress rehearsal of MASTERBUILDER at Irish Repertory Theater starring James Naughton ( and of course, our beautiful Victorian clothes!!) We got a lovely playbill credit and therein lies the problem: we are always delighted to get credit in playbills, magazines, films, etc. but sometimes it backfires! There are those multiple emails asking " I saw your name in (fill in the blank!) and I wonder if you could tell me how to get a brown spot out of my grandma's dress?" ... and of course, those calls from curiously deep-voiced men about wanting frilly, feminine bras and corsets in size 48 chest. Aren't people aware that our items are one-of-a-kind vintage pieces? Today we received a call from a nice Texan man who saw our credit in "House of D" and begged us for a pair of white bell-bottoms in his size. Last Friday we got an obscure email about a movie we were credited in back in 2003:

Hi there

I just had a quick question... In the movie The Notebook, in the scene where Noah and Allie are dancing in the street she is wearing a pair of brown leather espadrilles with wedge heels and cloth ankle ties... Can you tell me who makes


Until November 10, catch our display in Bloomingdale's windows ( Lexington Avenue side) of principal clothes from the upcoming film "CADILLAC RECORDS" opening in December!!! One of our many 1950's dresses worn in the film by Beyonce ( who actually made an appearance at the store!) is exhibited , along with a credit line on the window.

You might recognize the dress from a previous blog in which my little Belgian cousin models it with a fur stole! Can calls for that exact dress be far behind? Now we are outfitting the CBS "Early Show" anchors for 3 period segments the week of November 10th. Monday will be 1950's, Tuesday will be 1960's, etc. Since we will be listed on the CBS website and our name might be announced on the air, we expect a few calls asking for the dresses and suits in an assortment of sizes. Sigh.

Would that instead, people would see our credit and call to ask " My family has owned a house for generations and generations and all the clothes have been stored away since 1860. Are you interested?" Now, THAT would be heavenly!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

VOTE VOTE VOTE !! A history of your right to vote

As people do better, they start voting like Republicans - unless they have too much education and vote Democratic, which proves there can be too much of a good thing. Karl Rove

Two hundred years ago, you rarely were allowed to vote unless you were white, a male and owned land, which meant that in some areas, more than 85% of the adult population could not vote.

John Dorr, a wealthy member of the Rhode Island legislature, declared that it was wrong that his state’s poor were denied the vote and in October, 1841, he had a clandestine meeting with other state delegates to draft a state constitution giving the vote to ALL men over 21. Six months later the vote for governor was split down the middle: the wealthy landowners, who eventually elected their choice for Rhode Island’s elite governor, Mr. King, and the losing “People’s Party” who choose Mr. Dorr.
In June, backed by supporters (and 2 stolen cannons!), Dorr set out to disarm what he called the “illegal” new government under Governor King. Alas, his attempt was countered by 1,500 armed supporters of King’s government and defeated, Dorr was tried for treason and went to prison for 2 years, after which he was pardoned but eventually faded from public life. His cause was continued by others, and states began to drop the property-ownership requirement, though Rhode Island did hold out until as late as 1888.
By the Civil War, nearly every white man in the country could vote.

By law, the 15th Amendment gave African-Americans the right to vote in 1870, but Jim Crow snatched away the right by demanding poll taxes and literacy tests. The so-named “Jim Crow laws were state and local laws enacted mainly in the Southern and border states of the United States, between 1876 and 1965, mandating segregation in all public facilities such as restrooms, restaurants, public transportation and public schools. Those laws were finally overruled by 1965.
By law, people of African-American descent in Mississippi had been allowed to vote since 1868, however every Southern state seemed to find a way to keep African-Americans away from the voting booths. Some were forced to pay ½ a week’s salary before they could register, while white people only had to sign their name. In 1964, only 6.4% of the black population were registered to vote.

Bob Moses, a transplanted Harvard-educated New Yorker, came to Mississippi in 1961 as a civil rights worker. Helping to direct two black men to the local courthouse one day who wanted to register to vote, all three were attacked with knives and were told in no uncertain terms that the courthouse was closed for the day. At a mass meeting Moses held later, he declared: "The law down here," he said, "is law made by white people enforced by white people, for the benefit of white people. It will be that way until the Negroes begin to vote.”
Moses eventually became one of the leaders of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and headed a voter registration project, going door to door to try to get people to register to vote. Every week, SNCC workers were beaten and arrested and in 1963, bullets even tore into a car that Moses and two other organizers were in. After 4 years, the drive only yielded 4,000 new voters.
Searching for a way to both lessen violence and expose Mississippi to more national attention, Moses recruited 900 volunteers from the North for a project that became known as “Freedom Summer,” which got attention when 3 civil rights workers: James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner (one black and 2 white men - one from my alma mater, Queens College) suddenly disappeared after being released from police custody. Their bodies were found only after J. Edgar Hoover reluctantly directed the FBI to find them. In the process, the FBI found more bodies of missing black Mississippians, whose disappearances had not attracted public attention at the time.
The following year, a tired Bob Moses moved back North, frustrated with the slow pace of progress, but that summer, with Northern liberals further up in arms about increased Southern racism, President Johnson finally signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, to enforce equal access to the ballot in the South.

Though Lydia Chapin Taft became the first legal woman voter in America and voted 3 times in colonial Massachusetts between 1756 and 1768, by the 1800s women in the United States had few legal rights and did not have the right to vote. The exception was New Jersey, where women actually voted until 1807. Due to a particular phrase in NJ’s 1776 state constitution, New Jersey women were granted the vote if they owned property, since the constitution read “inhabitants,” without qualifying either sex or race. Married women, however, were not allowed to vote since they were not allowed to own property, so the law only applied to unmarried women and widows.

In 1807, women, “aliens and persons of color, or negroes” lost the vote and voting became only the privilege of only white males.
Though women such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott had been campaigning for the woman's right to vote since their 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, it was generally believed that women were biologically unfit for politics. One Massachusetts journal decreed “Housewives, you do not need a ballot to clean out your sink spout”.
Susan B. Anthony joined the cause 4 years later, and was eventually arrested for casting an illegal vote in the presidential election of 1872. She was tried in court and fined $100 but she refused to pay. The suffrage movement made slow progress, with Washington State being the first to give women the vote in 1910, California in 1911 and Kansas, Oregon and Arizona in 1912.
Alice Paul, a Quaker woman with a PhD was impatient. In January, 1917 she started campaigning in front of the White House with banners and at first, President Wilson was cordial, even inviting the protesting women in for tea. When the US entered WWI, the pickets became an embarrassment, and in June the protesters started getting arrested. Alice Paul was jailed in a Virginia workhouse for women with other comrades for demanding that American women be given the vote. She began a 7-month prison term, launched a hunger strike and was immediately put in the psychiatric ward and force-fed through a tube in her throat.
Wilson now had a major public relations problem on his hands and was forced to pardon all the jailed suffragettes he imprisoned. Two months later he came out in favor of a suffrage amendment to the constitution. January, 1919, the bill passed the Senate and on August 26, 1920, women were granted the right to vote.

“People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote - a very different thing” (Walter H. Judd -congressman from Minnesota 1943-63)  

copyright © 2008 by helen uffner

Friday, October 17, 2008

Musings at our Museum cum Test Kitchen

This week, NYU’s “first year” graduate costume design students came in with Maggie Raywood, (Associate Arts Professor and Costume Shop Manager) to study our 19th century clothes; specifically, 1865, a year which they will be studying for a FULL semester as a special project. Unlike the Metropolitan Museum which they would usually go to, we allowed them to actually TOUCH our authentic items, and the students literally turned dresses inside out to inspect the age-old construction up close. They stayed for over 3 hours, eying everything from men’s and women’s outerwear to corsets and hoops. Inspecting our bloomers, they heatedly debated the age-old question: did women prefer split drawers or closed drawers, and how did they manage when they, er, had to heed nature’s call? We enjoy having schools over and having renewed appreciation for our nearly 150-year-old garments. Helen used to lecture at Parson’s School of Design and always brought authentic items ranging from 1820 to 1970 for students to inspect and sometimes try on. While the NYUers were avidly studying, our interns Jamie and Kim were equally seriously immersed in a competitive taste test of Belgian cookie spread versus Israeli chocolate spread. Jamie holds up the winner while Kim, having no patience to try and find crackers, went directly to fingers!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hats Off To You A.K.A. The Blond Leading the Blond

We were in kind of a silly mood toda
y, writing up a huge ( and we mean HUGE!) man's suit destined for the dry-cleaner when Nora decided to have our Kim
 and Marietta put their slender frames into each of the pant legs and pose with canes, dark glasses and hats for a Chaplinesque moment!
At the same time, we were diving into the hundreds of vintage hats we have for sale and decided to do a hat picture with our other new wonderful intern, Jamie.
After we get out our "inner silly" we will have to gather our decorum in time to give tours to the students of Parsons School of Design and NYU the beginning of October.

Monday, September 29, 2008

There's Noah's flood, and then there is ours.........

Help! We started with a calm, sunny Monday morning, when Masha passed by our 1940’s section and noticed water on the floor. We looked up - water was gushing through a long crack in the ceiling from the upstairs tenant. We rushed to cover everything in plastic but ½ of the women’s suits and many of the dresses were already drenched. Our new intern Kim helped Nora and me (Helen) protect everything. Masha is now writing up the dry-cleaning list, which by the extent of the damage, we will assume will turn out to be just a tad shorter than War & Peace and probably cost more than the price of a modest 1-bedroom NY co-op.
As our hanger & plastic covering supplier said to us today: "You have dust, you have floods...what's next? famine?" We have actors come in tomorrow for fittings. We will tell them to bring umbrellas.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Fashion World's Little Secrets!!!!!

We would never give out trade secrets (!!!) but as a lot of "the industry" knows, a hush-hush part of our business is renting to fashion and accessory designers who use our items for inspiration for their future fashion lines. We have wonderful clients (whose names we NEVER give out!) and have had some amusing experiences:
One of our modest little 1930’s dresses turned out to be copied line-for-line, in the EXACT same fabric by a high-end designer. Its ultimate retail price? $1100.
Some designers actually ended up using OUR garments in their runway shows because they could not finish their own garments in time, and frantically called us to make sure we still had the original garments available so they could quickly re-rent them! Yet another of our garments was used in a news interview show to showcase an up-and-coming couture designer…only it was not his interpretation of our gown - it was actually OUR GOWN! To the designer’s credit, we were told ahead of time…so we just had to laugh. Our staff ( Nora and Allison, above) recently attended the fashion show of one of our favorite clients. We won’t give away the client’s name, but the photos show what a lovely cocktail dress ( in silver) was created after being inspired by renting our original evening gown (albeit now wrinkled in the above photo!).

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

More movie openings and views from our windows

You've seen our place INSIDE, now take a look at some pictures we have taken of our sunset views: The Citicorp Building on the left, and the N train going by in front of our windows on the right. Lovely, right?
More past movie projects are opening! It seems some modern films we rented vintage touches to a while back are already advertising and FINALLY coming out!
New York, I Love You, which we completed last April, 2008 is an homage to our home town with a big star-studded cast. The Brothers Bloom, which we finished back in March, 2007 (!!!) is also generating talk around town. We were recently told that Phoebe in Wonderland, also completed in 2007 and designed by the brilliant stylist team-turned-costume designers, Kurt & Bart, is soon to open. Insider information! Revolutionary Road, another DiCaprio/Winslet film we ALSO completed in 2007 is finally set to open the end of December for 11th hour Academy Award consideration. They are still doing some last-minute reshoots ( they were in today for costumes) and plan on shooting a completely new conversational scene between Kate and Leonardo, only he is not available so they are only shooting HER speaking…should be interesting how it is all spliced together! Alas, we were told they cut out all the beautiful 1930’s scenes for expediency, but you can still catch some of our choice 40’s and 50’s clothes! We know the movie “The Women” is coming out and we can’t wait to see this updated version, but we have done several theatrical versions and are pulling clothes for yet another one in San Diego. A yet unnamed ( by us - we like to be mysterious!) new film called us today that might start pre-production at the end of September, when the designer flies into New York. We will give you a clue - it takes place in the 1960’s! Together with some items pulled for 30 Rock and for Road Show, the new play at the Public Theater, we are picking up speed for the Fall season. Road Show is only renting items for copying but we are curious about the play….1870’s skirts? 1890’s women’s jackets? Men’s 1915 and 1930’s suits? It is a mystery. Good-byes: Nikoo went off to start at Brown and Amanda went back to Queens College. We are saying goodbye to Allison, who is off to multiple countries (Greece, China, France) with the Martha Graham Company, though when she is back on the mainland ( in her case, Williamsburg, Brooklyn) and she is available when we are in a crunch mode, she will come in and help out. We will be looking for new people to join us at Uffnervintage!

Friday, August 15, 2008


Anabelle in Edwardian finery...Yasha proves the point that men can dress in women's garb too and look stunning!!!!
Yasha is excited about finally naming his friend so he
can take her out for a drink ( milk, of course, they are underage!)
Anabelle dons a leading-lady outfit for a future movie
release but is bound by the highest order of secrecy not to
disclose who it is to any of her friends!!! Not until the movie is released!
My (Helen's) adorable Belgian cousins came to visit and dress up ( if only we could fly them in regularly from brussels to model for us!)
We have whittled down the name-that-mannequin-head choices to our five favorites:
Thanks to all who sent in we have to vote for the winner!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


We always delight in Nora's look du jour when she arrives at work and transforms herself for the day - here she is, Mormon girl cum Annie Hall cum victorian bloomer lass...Helen puts on her reading glasses to fully appreciate each new day's creation!
Uffnervintage crew at goodbye lunch!! ( from left, clockwise) Amanda, Masha, Nora, Marietta, Helen,Nikoo and Allison.
Amanda waving good-bye, holding her newly acquired 1960 fur-trimmed glam jacket just finished her internship with us - we will miss her!
(**written by Allison**)
Helen treated us all to a vintage-family tasty Turkish treat today for lunch!! Amanda stopped by for lunch and said her goodbyes, since her internship with us has ended and she’ll be starting school again soon. We took a lovely 15 minute walk over the Long Island City bridge to get to the restaurant, and passed by stores and territory I had no idea existed over our way. We all shared a large plate of fresh salad, eggplant salad/sauce, and separate entrees including a hilariously large falafel sandwich, as well as exotically prepared dishes of lamb, and chicken. On the way back, we passed by one of those huge dollar store-like shops where they sell cheap “silk” lingerie, sparkle flip-flops, and dish towels. A mix of us stopped in and made some quick purchases. Marietta found a black mesh back-rest for the office chairs that I think everyone seems genuinely in love with, so we may be making a trek back to buy a couple more and update our “office scene.” Some new films have been flooding in the past few days, and we may be getting returns soon from “My One and Only,” so business is taking off!

Monday, August 11, 2008

homage to the Olympics

OUR OLYMPIC ENTRIES: Marietta in the tap dance event!!! Helen in the hiking event!!! Masha, Nikoo and Allison in the red hat tossing event!!!!
Helen was in Mohonk Mountain House ( more like an estate!) on vacation and discovered her “inner athlete”….she brought her usual 3 books with her but never even cracked open one! A typical day would be a 7:15 AM naturalist-led kayaking trip and then a huge hike to the top of a mountain and then back down again to canoe around the lake. There was no stopping her! ( except for meals! Helen can skip reading but NEVER meals!!!) Employee news: Our terrific summer intern Amanda has left to get ready for college this fall and we welcomed back our equally wonderful spring semester intern Nikoo back as an paid employee for the month of August, before she goes off to Brown University. Masha leaves Thursday for a month in Russia to see her Dad, brother and friends. Marietta is back to help repair damaged clothes from “Amelia” and Nora is back from California tomorrow only to leave yet again for a family wedding in two weeks! Helen hopes to take out the gang for a goodbye/welcome back meal at a local Turkish restaurant this week. This week we have actors coming in for fittings for the two 20’s and 30’s films we have started on. These seem to be the “decades de jour” these days…….even a well-known clothing designer was in to rent 30’s gowns to copy!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Staff photos & current projects!

Helen peeking out from the Amelia wardrobe above, Masha measuring a returned suit and Allison mending ( who says you have to be uncomfortable while you work?)

the end of summer is
approaching ( and none too soon! We hate the heat!!!) and we thought you might want to see how we are faring.

As you can see, we continue to mend and check in our large 20's and 30's film Amelia starring Hilary Swank and Richard Gere, directed by Mira Nair - just in time for a gangster flick of the same eras that we are starting next week! We also hope to work on a 60's movie coming up - helen can just pull the wardrobe from her own closet ( NOTHING gets thrown out! )

On TV, if you are a "Mad Men" fan and watched their promos on all the morning talk shows, you would have seen our clothes.

FILM NEWS on our projects:

"Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants " Part 2 should be opening soon. It seems like it will be a modern-day flick but they rented everything from 1950's through 1980's - so perhaps their characters like to dress in vintage!

WATCH OUT for "The Changling," a 1920's era film based on a true story starring Angelina Jolie
Other recently completed projects jump ahead to the 1950's !
Keep your ears out ( it's a musical!) for "Cadillac Records." and film based on the real Chess Records, in which Beyonce plays Etta James, Mos Def plays Chuck Berry and Jeffrey Wright plays Muddy Waters...should be FABULOUS!

"Revolutionary Road" directed by the great Sam Mendes starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet ( sounds like a familiar starring duo?) is also 50's and should be out soon.

The shooting for "My One and Only" ( no relation to the Broadway show, which we ALSO worked on!) with Renee Zellweger has just been completed but we can only say that it is 1950's and that Renee was here for fittings and she is just a lovely, sweet person! We won't give away the plot until there is more PR about it!
Remember, we are still soliciting names for our new friend just click on the "comments" and tell us how you like the blog or if you have a brilliant name to suggest!