Monday, June 15, 2015

Interview #2: Kylie B., Spiritual Counselor and Vintage Collector

To collect is to gather the things we find most fascinating, feathering our nests like magpies with shiny objects: souvenir spoons, baseball cards, Japanese woodblock prints, Stax records.  Usually, these things have had a life before they came to be ours - and often they will have a life after us, arriving in destinations unknown after we ourselves pass them on, hand them down, re-gift them, or leave them behind.  Does an object carry some of its previous life with it?  I thought Kylie might know.

Kylie, a PA during the day and medium and spiritual counselor the rest of her waking hours, has an impressive trove of vintage clothing so large it takes up an entire room in her flat in Adelaide, Australia.  When I met her many years ago, we were both brand new to London and living in a bed-bug infested hostel - each of us pursuing whatever dream had brought us to the city in the first place while scratching madly in the June heatwave.  Still, while I wilted in a sweat-soaked cotton heap, Kylie remained glamorous in leopard skin platforms, sequined capes, and  feathers, all purchased in tiny vintage shops and flea markets around the world.

She kindly gave us her take on object energy, Italian horror films, and the past lives of her favorite things.

As someone who spends a lot of time tuning in to the spiritual side of things, when you’re drawn to a particular item, do you get a feel for what its past life was?

Sometimes. I picked up this gold thimble recently. When you open it up it contains a sewing kit. After researching, I found these kits were made in Austria or Germany between 1900-1940's. I was looking at an old plate on a table which I decided not to buy, turned and looked elsewhere, but had an instinct to go back to the same table about five minutes later. In between that time two shop assistants had debated on throwing this out, and one decided to put a $1 tag on it - and there it was waiting for me. It has such a strong energy to it. It meant a lot to the lady that owned it and I felt I needed to give it a home to pass on to another generation. Psychometry is when you hold an object - it can be anything, but is commonly used with jewelry - and you tune into it and pick up information and history about the item.

Tell me about some of your favorite things. How did you acquire them, and what journeys have they been on since they became part of your collection?

This is my mama's wedding dress In her school case, and she gave this to me when I returned to Australia several years ago. The case was the one she used when she went to school. I also found a certificate in here that my Dad signed in 1959 agreeing to abstain from alcohol. Not sure how long that lasted...

Its a tradition with the women in our family to have this black leather initial clutch made from a leather-maker in Adelaide.  My mum has one with her initial, and so did my grandmother.  The other, brown suede one with an embroidered 'B' on it, I bought from a vintage shop.

This 1970s velvet leopard jacket has been a staple in my closet for over 15 years and probably the first item that really inspired me. I bought it from a lady that owned (at the time) one of the best kept secrets for vintage clothing in Adelaide. She had hordes of leather knee high boots from the 70s – nothing over $20! The owner was in her 50s and said she had it made for her when she was younger (guessing 1970s era).

I have a silk 1920s bed jacket with ostrich feather trim is from Annie’s Vintage Clothing in Camden Passage, Islington, in London. I went through a phase of wearing vintage bed jackets when I went out. I wore this one to death. In fact sadly the feathers are all darkened due to cigarette smoke.

This is known as the "Crazy Gray Coat Lady" coat!  I bought this gray wool and fake-fur coat when I first moved to London ten years ago to deal with the cold! I have two beautiful friends who have similar vintage coats. When I moved to a hotter climate I left it behind at their home so I had it on hand when I visited and to also share around with anyone needing something warm during their visit. I love being able to share vintage finds with friends. I think there is still half a Eurostar ticket in the pocket from whoever used it last. 

Do you have any future acquisitions in mind?

I think it’s a standard rule for op shopping: if you go in with a list, you will never find what you want and potentially close your mind to other beautiful things. I tend to be influenced by an image, maybe a movie, or an era. I’m loving the colour palette from Mario Bava’s 1964 movie Sei Donne Per L'assassino (Blood and Black Lace).

I think your home - full of older furniture and clothing - can give off a lot of history in its energy. There have been some beautiful pieces over the years that I have put back on the rack because of intuition telling me it’s not right. Of course, the opposite is discovering a garment that is 50-100 years old that feels like you have worn it all your life.

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