Written by A Wild Dove | Photographed by Eric White
Who knew that when Richard Ives came to New York to study art, he would create one of the most iconic vintage boutiques in the world? We certainly didn’t, but we’re so grateful he did.
Richard is what you’d call a fashion triple threat - he began his career styling before becoming fashion director at Bloomingdale’s. He’s also known to design clothing. If that weren’t enough, he opened Pilgrim New York as a place to house the most forward vintage from top designers around the world. We’ll let Richard finish the rest, because each detail of his story - much like the most fabulous Junya Watanabe frock - is just too too good...
Richard! We are obsessed with your store and your vintage finds. Can you describe your journey and how Piligrim came to be?
I came to New York to study art and worked at the Met and the MOMA as well as a few galleries in SoHo. A friend at the Met was a stylist and asked me to assist her. I didn't even know what that was, but was interested in both fashion and photography. My first time assisting on an editorial was for French Vogue with Arthur Elgort. The models were Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista. I freelanced as a stylist and began working for Bloomingdale’s as fashion director. I could still do editorial while working there. I worked for many magazines, mostly European, and photographers like Richard Avedon, Deborah Turbeville, Patrick Demarchelier, Glen Luchford and Steven Klein. I worked with designers like Donna Karan, Isabel Toledo, Tracy Feith and Charles Nolan. I also designed and made clothes, which was really helpful when working closely with designers. I worked on the first home collection for Donna Karan, making many of the samples myself. Pilgrim first opened in 2006 in Woodstock, New York. After selling my home on Shelter Island, Woodstock was the tester store for New York City. We sold vintage clothing, art, and collectibles. We also used it as a gallery to showcase both NYC and local artists. I first introduced the Pilgrim women's collection there as well.
Wow, you have quite the fashion legacy. So onto the clothing. Tell us, how and where do you find your pieces?
We source everything through dealers mostly European and occasionally will buy at auction.
Meghan Douglas | Photography Michael Thompson | Styling by Richard Ives
Trish Goff | Photography by Patrick Demarchelier | Styling by Richard Ives
Cindy Crawford | Photography by Patrick Demarchelier | Styling by Richard Ives
How do you decide if a piece makes the cut?
I'm super critical, since we've become a source for designers and their teams, I only want interesting or iconic pieces.
That totally comes through at your store. Only the best. And how do you stay balanced in this crazy industry?
I use to have a house in the Caribbean, which was a great escape. Now I just use gym and mini escape weekends to deal.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party and where would it be?
My dream dinner was actually last summer at Isabella Rossellinis house in Bellport. I styled the dancers for an art performance at her farm and was invited to her home for dinner afterwards. Conversations about David Lynch amongst artists and the most delicious Swedish food! I rode back and had the best conversation with a curator from the Pompidou Centre. It was a magical night.
Artist - Lia Chevaz | Photography by Ira Lippke | Styling by Richard Ives
Amazing! Tell us, who’s your fashion icon?
Fashion icons are all the usual suspects, but Debbie Harry is my all time favorite. And many of the people I've worked with over the years. Indre Rockefeller has supported the store and worn my collection. She's always eclectic and modern. We have a lot of Comme des Garcons and Yohji buyers who always look amazing.
Is there a piece that got away?
I can't even begin to think about it, so many. Many Junya Watanabe pieces. I do remember a Dior evening dress that was spectacular, but I buy for modern wardrobes and that doesn't always include couture or evening pieces.
What’s your most favorite piece ever?
Brian Bennett, my business partner has bought some of the most amazing pieces of costume jewelry. So probably a couture necklace from Christian Lacroix.
Ahh, SO GOOD. What’s your favorite fashion moment?
Stephen Sprouse's store in SoHo. He was the first American that did cool high design. Also the first time I went to Comme des Garcons in SoHo in 1986. I was awe struck. Maybe my first show in Paris, Chloe by Karl Lagerfeld. It so ethereal and the girls were all goddesses! The first show I styled for was Tracy Feith. It was at some stripper bar in Times Square. The whole collection was the Nudie Show. My sister Lisa, who was a dancer, was in it too!
We would have loved to see that! Lastly, what makes you fly?
After many years still being excited by fashion and design. Dressing my customers who tell me how great they feel. The specialness of vintage and how it resonates with young designers. Sharing all the stories behind how things were made and the quality and craftsmanship that no longer exists.