Boardwalk Empire’s big success bolstered a nationwide nostalgia craze, and the Atlantic City Antiques & Collectors Show will foster that fad with sought-after clothing and accessories from the 1920s — both on display and for purchase.
Maybe labeling the success of Boardwalk Empire as the sole catalyst in a fashion trend toward popular styles of the past would be padding the stats a bit, but there’s certainly a huge correlation. And this weekend’s Atlantic City Antiques & Collectors Show — the second since the northern New Jersey-based JMK Shows and Events took over a staple exhibit at the Atlantic City Convention Center — will have authentic items from the HBO hit’s era on sale and display, as presented by AntiqueClothier.com. The exhibit is entitled “Revisit the Empire Through Fashion.”
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“I am personally a big Boardwalk Empire fan, and the fact that the biggest show we do is in Atlantic City, where Boardwalk Empire is set in the 1920s, it just made sense for us to tie the two together,” says Allison Kohler, director of JMK Shows and the Atlantic City Antiques & Collectors Show. “All the vintage 1920s stuff has been very trendy for quite a while, so we just thought we’d play off of that with the 1920s fashion and accessories exhibit. We’ll have two of the original rolling chairs from the 1920s in the middle of the exhibit, and we have two people from the HBO show — the creator and the actor who plays Arnold Rothstein — coming Saturday for a meet-and-greet, which we’re thrilled about.”
Everything at the show is on sale, including the rolling chairs, but nothing, even purchased items, will be removed until the show closes for the day.
“I’ll bring more outfits than I’ll need for the exhibit, and if an outfit is purchased [Saturday] I can just change mannequins [for Sunday],” says Karen Brenner of the Maryland-basedAntiqueClothier.com. “The unique thing about the exhibit is that it will demonstrate various trends introduced by famous couture designers going into the 1920s and through the ‘flapper’ era. For example, the Ballet Russes and Orientalism influences of the mid and late teens, and the discovery and opening of King Tut’s tomb in the early ’20s, will be represented. The lingerie dresses are my personal favorite, so there will be quite a few examples of hand-made lace and floral embroidery on silk tulle. Also, an original French flapper dress with narrow beaded panels designed to ‘flap’ while dancing will be on display along with other beaded gowns, plus a few examples of vintage swimwear, bridal and men’s formalwear.”
Some of the premier pieces on display, according to Brenner, are a 1920 two-piece Peplos gown outlined with Venetian glass beads and designed by Mariano Fortuny; gowns by Parisian couturier Charles F. Worth; a lilac and lamé gown embellished with large multi-color and gold-metallic ribbon flower medallions designed by Lucile “Lady Duff” Gordon, the most popular British female designer of her era; and pieces by distinguished designers Irene Castle, the Callot Soeurs (four Parisian sisters) and the Boué Soeurs (two Parisian sisters).
The show will include guest speakers and appraisers (any item can be appraised for $5), and attendees can meet Lawrence J. Zinzi, a world-renowned Tiffany expert; Marvin Baer of Ivory Tower, one of the top experts in Oriental porcelain; and Amy Bergman, owner of Amy Bergman Antiques specializing in decorative perfume bottles. Additionally, there will be raffle drawings for $500 shopping sprees each day.
“One of the reasons vintage is just very, very trendy today is that it’s a good investment, because few things today are made as well as they were back then,” says Kohler. “Most of what was made within the last 25 or 30 years is made to be disposable, and products from the early part of the 20th century were made to last indefinitely. Even old buildings, I mean there’s some beautiful new architecture now, but everything was hand carved and hand painted and included an incredible amount of quality and craftsmanship back then that’s sort of lacking today, where things are churned out in mass quantities.
“Our nation’s tastes — in furniture, clothing and home decor — are becoming more vintage in nature, which is incredibly exciting to see,” adds Kohler. “We’re now finding all consumers, regardless of age, are looking for unique, one-of-a-kind items, which can be found with ease at antique shows across the country.”
JMK Shows came to Atlantic City last year, replacing the Atlantique City Expo that Ocean City private collector Norman Schaut started in 1986 at Boardwalk Hall (then Convention Hall).
“We’re very happy to have this show call Atlantic City home,” says Jeff Vasser, president of the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority. “Atlantic City has a long, colorful history and is now an exciting, modern destination with all the amenities visitors want. We provide a perfect backdrop for a show of this nature, and we welcome them to our ‘Empire.’”
As an added incentive for Boardwalk Empire fans, the HBO show’s co-star Michael Stuhlbarg (Arnold Rothstein) and executive producer Terence Winter will appear at the Convention Center during the show from 2-4pm Saturday.
Atlantic City Antiques & Collectors Show
Where: A.C. Convention Center
When: Saturday, March 19, 10am-6pm and Sunday, March 20, 10am-5pm.
How Much: $15, weekend passes $25. Early buy (9-10am both days) passes $30.
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