Join Gabriel Held On His Journey Through NYC’s Thrift Shops
Look at fashion through the eyes of Gabriel Held, an artist with a penchant for vintage treasures, and you’ll see a world of whimsical magic, where your wildest dressing-up dreams are just a swipe of a credit card away. “Being a less privileged student at the school where they shot Gossip Girl, I was always coveting some designer piece,” the New York City based designer, curator, and stylist said. As a teen, he wasn’t thrilled with the cheap, modern offerings. Gabriel Held wanted something iconic, something that might have appeared in an ad campaign or runway show. “Something that could have been worn by Edina Monsoon,” he said. Thus, Held began a journey through fashion history to fulfill his sartorial wish list.
“I like pieces that fit into a larger cultural context,” Held said. Archival runway Versace booties embellished with rows of Medusa heads and a heavy gold chain? He’s got ‘em. A silver mesh metal Versace minidress? You’ll find that in his closet, too. “They’re emblematic of the label,” he said. And they’re reminders of 1997, the year when the death of Gianni Versace brought the fashion world to a crossroads, and Held’s romance with fashion began.
Soon after Held began dating fashion, he got a job at high end consignment store in NYC. The highlight came when he got to help Patricia Field with costumes for Sex and The City. “And by that I mean, I got to fold them nicely in tissue paper!”
He continued building his collection, a constant mission for treasure that is also a journey through New York City: from East Village consignment shops like Tokyo Seven, to Resurrection on Mott Street, and throughout the surprisingly fruitful Goodwills of Manhattan (his two favorites remain a secret). He’s is not deterred by faux vintage (like brand new tee shirts that people label as ‘vintage’ to jack up the price) and garments that show their age through rips and stains. He hunts for bright furs in unusual colors (“Only second hand! Don’t come at me, PETA”), Dolce and Gabbana’s rhinestone-encrusted pieces from the early 90s, Dolce’s with religious iconography, and beat-up Chanel bags (“They have a great vibe when they’re really beat up — that’s part of Trashionista!”). But most of all, he loves those rare finds that are out of character for a designer – “I have a couple of vintage Alberta Ferretti pieces that are just insane.” For Held, the joy of vintage clothing comes down to the way every piece has a unique personality that could never be emulated by mass-produced pieces.
Aaliyah Wearing Dolce & Gabbana in Try Again
In that spirit, Held stopped buying for his own closet and opened Gabriel Held Vintage, a by-appointment shop in NYC. “I view my collection like an art collection. And you’re 99% less likely to be wearing the same thing as anybody else when you wear vintage!” He said. His visitors (including Charli XCX, MIA, and Willow Smith) get to celebrate fashion right along with him and play dress up with the master. His own shop and a collection any Trashionista would sell their soul for? Sounds like Held has it all, but not quite yet. “I may faint if I have the opportunity to own any piece of the 1999 Dolce & Gabbana collection! Aaliyah wore it in the Try Again video and Whitney Houston did in those great manic photos with David LaChapelle.” Keep on hunting, Gabriel.