As a lover of all things vintage (almost all things), the book Alligators, Old Mink & New Money: One Woman’s Adventures in Vintage Clothing caught my eye immediately in 2005 when it was published. Since then I’ve read it twice and could enjoy it again and again.
Written by Alison Houtte and her sister, San Francisco journalist Melissa Houtte, Alligators is about Alison’s journey from a childhood in Florida with five siblings to a high fashion modeling career in the 1980's to her current role as a vintage clothing fashionista. With a conversational and upbeat tone, Alligators allows readers to feel as if we’re tagging along with Alison on her adventures. We are as excited as she is when she flies from Florida to Paris and makes the rounds (called go-sees) looking for modeling jobs, often sporting a vintage Brooks Brothers suit she had bought at a Florida flea market.
When Alison shifts gears and opens Hooti Couture, we’re privy to all the details of running a hip and happening vintage clothing shop in Brooklyn, New York. We fall in love with the sisters’ mother and her taste for quality fashion at bargains prices, and it’s as if we’re peeking from behind the shop’s fitting room curtain when we read vivid profiles of nice and not-so-nice Hooti customers.
A practical addition is an appendix offering vintage shopping tips and care of vintage treasures. Throughout the book are charming illustrations, reminiscent of 1950s fashion illustrations, by New York artist Mary Coleman. This well crafted memoir is loads of fun for anyone who loves fashion and stylish storytelling. Check out the Hooti Couture website.