Any Vintage doll that knows a ‘Winged Eye’ from a ‘Smoked Eye’ should know and follow Slapback online!
Renee and her team have a GREAT Instagram feed that regularly leaves me pruning a pout at their gorgeous reproduction vintage delights.
On my recent trip to the Big Apple, I had to pop in to meet Miss DiDio to tell her I thought she was rocking it.
On a very stormy day in Brooklyn I found the store in Brooklyn (I took a wrong turn and crazy detour) and after marvelling at some dresses while Renee was finishing up with a client, she was chilling on her chaise.
For those of you that can, imagine two serious and intense, loud chatterboxes clicking well. Goodness knows how we found the steam but we must have chatted for ages. We had many things in common, being businesswomen, being creative, and our collective love of all things vintage.
Renee has a fascinating background in retail, she has set up stores before for other businesses, and felt that the time was right to begin her own venture, delivering exceptional customer service and styling advice all together as part of the SlapBack experience. She is also an active part of the scene out in the US, she described herself as ‘greaser’– to us twee brits, this girl knows a tonne about her Pontiac wheels, and can talk engines with the best of them. So if you cant find her judging a pin-up girl pageant, or running her pop up shop at a weekender, she will be under a bonnet talking oil and pistons.
Before long we were discussing my short time left in NYC, and planning a fun collaboration shoot together. It was time to embrace the waning summer nights in NYC, SlapBack’s very own shopgirl Ashley to model for me.
After some email planning over the next couple of days Ashley and I had agreed to style together a couple of looks and she was going to show me some of the best spots in Williamsburg to shoot at.
I got to the store a little early on the day of the shoot and was able to see Renee in full styling force whilst waiting for Ashley to get ready. Now I’ve shopped all over the world ladies. And I know what its like in Australia when you have a sales person wait on you who is on commission and they tell you that you look “bloody great” in everything to get a sale. I’ve experienced something like this across the US too. I have to say, it’s not at all like this with Renee.
She had a lady come to the store who had a legitimate styling problem. She had just dyed her hair a lovely green to blue fade, and she needed to be at a friends wedding that weekend. But, none of her clothes previously bought would go with the new do. I watched Renee click around the store in her heels, pulling 3-4 looks for this lady. Asking questions all the while she did this, subtly placing an item back on the rack, or reaching for another depending on the answer. It was like a choreographed dance!
At one stage the client pulled a lovely white skirt. Renee stopped, held her arm up gently and said, (read with a true Brooklyn accent) “Honey, the bride will kill you. You cannot wear white to a wedding!”
Sure enough with all of this exceptional service and styling the client fit into, and was blown away with the very first dress she tried on. It fit her perfectly, and it worked with her hair.
I only ever see store keeping like this these days in vintage places. If I love it, and that lady loved it (honestly she was so relieved her Wedding outfit nightmare was over!) then I know there are a tonne of women out there who feel the same.
Ashley had pulled a great slinky black Pinup Girl Clothing Monica dress styled with her own vintage shoes, a late 50’s vintage velvet bag, and we finished the look with a red vintage inspired turban, Earrings, hand mirror, shades, and stockings.
We headed a couple doors down to Rocka Rolla bar.
We then did a style change into this ‘Heart of Haute’ blue diner dress, underskirt, shoes, turban, and headed to Cafe de la Esquina at Wythe Diner.
As we were literally chasing the sunset to towards the water, we came across a very amenable gent in a beaten up Buick. We don’t know why he was there, hell! We don’t even know if it was his car. But it was facing the right way, and the sun was setting just behind it, and when I asked if we could do some shots he said (like James Dean) “Sure kid, Knock yourself out”).
So we did.
A little giggly from the Buick moments we cooled off with some ice cream samples and air con over with the friendly folks at Odd Fellows. This was such a great setting for the diner dress.
With a cool off and an outfit change into a tiki-look, we then headed to the streets of Williamsburg for a final killer shot.
Here Ashley is wearing a Heart of Haute Tiki Skirt, a Davey Crocket Tee by Atomic Swag, brown vintage Shoes, Renee’s handmade hair Flower, and a Suavecita Parasol.
Whilst shooting in true guerrilla style all over Williamsburg with Ashley and her friend Ruby helping out with styling details, and some really helpful iphone painting with light (you don’t get much more guerrilla than that!) I got to find out a little more about her too.
Ashley has been on the Slapback team now for about a year. With a creative eye in film-making and a passion for styling and vintage life she credits Renee for being a great mentor.
“Ashley brings a very Urban Pin Up feel to the shop. She is never cookie cutter retro, and always lends her street style into her customer styling.” (Renee DiDio)
As with all my trips to NYC, I have to say that this one did not disappoint. Yet again, I felt like I’d been to a whole new city, filled with great people. This is why I love the place so much!
If you are based in New York and would like to subscribe to my VIP Pear Pin-Up’s list, you will be the first to hear about the next time I’m in town, so we can shoot together!
I’d like to thank all the team at Slapback for their hospitality, next time, we are making more time for cocktails ladies!