Friday, August 31, 2012

D. L. Cerney


Sadie Stein lets us know that, after selling hand-made, vintage-style clothes in the East Village for 28 years, the D.L. Cerney boutique is leaving 7th Street.

D.L. Cerney site

I talked with co-owner Linda St. John about the closure. She said it's not about rent, it's just about time. She wants to get out of town for awhile and focus on her art and writing, as well as her farming upstate. She hopes to come back to the city, but not to the East Village.

"Back in the 1980s and into the 90s," she said, "this whole neighborhood was just filled with creative people. Now, nobody's left. The way Rudy cleaned up the neighborhood was awesome, but now it's too clean. When did those French bistros end up on Avenue D?"

She said that people don't spend money on hand-made clothes anymore, they want to buy "junk" from the chain boutiques. "It's psychological propaganda. People are told to shop there, so they do. I've seen people come in here wearing these low-waisted, pleated pedal pushers, and they look so dumpy, I mean, in these pleated, slob-making pants. But that's what's in style, so that's what they buy."

Clothes in the 1940s and 50s, she explained, were made to flatter the body. Anyone can look good in the right clothes. "Let me show you a constructed garment," she said, pulling out a lovely dress with a Chinese lantern plant pattern, orange on blue. She showed how the stitching in the sleeves was made to flex, "So you can dance and not worry about tearing a seam." It was the sort of dress you could imagine Kim Novak wearing in Picnic, all innocent Kansas girl, but steaming for Bill Holden underneath.

The shop will be open through November, and they'll be running a big sale until the end. Women's dresses and blouses are 50% off and menswear is 25% off.

If D.L. Cerney does come back one day, it might turn up in Chelsea, where Linda dreams of "2,000 square feet of space, with a white picket fence and bales of hay right up front."


glamma said...

this store is wonderful, so sorry to hear they are leaving the village.

laura said...

i know the store, nice. the owner is saying the same a si have commented. "people buy what they are told to". as for dumpy "pleated petal pushers" havnt seen that. (made in china)? yes, in the past clothes did flatter the body. this little store reminds me of the boutiques in the EV, lived there in 1968-1970. there were many creative desigers, you could have everything custom made. leather wool silk the best!

JM said...

Oh, I've always loved this store. I have so many items I bought there, and they've all lasted for ridiculous lengths of time, some well over 15, 16, 17 years.

What a shame. Such a great place, but I can see how it's bucking the headwinds these days. Guess the only thing to do is go by there and buy a bunch of sale items to remember them by.

laura said...

may be nice to do a post on the remaining boutiques & small stores in the EV & LES.

my private coney said...

I've never felt I could afford her magnificent clothes but I'm going to splurge!!! I loved that shop so much. And good for her for choosing her art and writing!

Jeremiah Moss said...

me too--but i'm thinking, at 25% off, maybe i could get a shirt or something.

Shlumphuss said...

Sorry to hear they're closing, but they're selling men's pants for $180 and a jacket for $198 online. What regular person can afford that? $180 for a pair of pants? In this economy? Is this a joke? Is everyone who pines for this sort of shop secretly rich and I and millions of other people just don't know about it?

On top of this, the owner is talking about moving back the city and eventually setting up shop in Chelsea in a huge space, as if she won't be paying quadruple what she'd be paying in the East Village, and as if Chelsea itself hadn't been turned into Luxuria.

She might want to stay upstate and remain in her la-la mindset. And perhaps make men's pants that are a bit more, uh, affordable.

Linzi Carlisle said...

so true that clothes are made badly and don't flatter the body these days. so sad for this lovely little shop... but they have other dreams and we wish them well...

Anonymous said...

How sad... a real shame to see an old-world dressmaker vanish like this. I absolutely understand, however - constructing clothing on any kind of commercial level is a strain, particularly when you care about the quality of your product. I make a ton of my own clothes, and people ask me all the time if I take commissions - I refuse them, because the work is too damned hard, and I'd be in the financial red in no time flat. Much, much admiration for her efforts, and sharing her gifts with us.

Anonymous said...

Shlumphuss, she clearly caters to a niche market, one that cares about the quality of clothing. Cheaper items are certainly available, but examples of this caliber, and I mean in terms of craftsmanship and material, are rare indeed. They are also made on-site by caring hands that value a good reputation.

Frankly, opinions like yours are why I mentioned never wanting to get involved in commercial dressmaking. Quality clothing IS expensive, and rightly so. Naysayers like you have such a way of cheapening the efforts of such artisans, in favor of the usual clap-trap, or should I say "seamy", second-rate stuff found in Macy's, etc. If you understood tailoring, you would understand why there is a huge difference.

CDB said...

Losing a business like DL Cerney is so sad, Shlumphuss's attitude is a what is killing what is left of the fashion industry in this country. This is someone who rather spend $40.00 on a pair of pants that falls apart after 2 washings - what is the value in that? Why should clothing be cheaper now than it was 40 years ago-Nothing else is! The consumer has gotten spoilt (and completely misguided) by cheap clothing and at the same time expectations have been brought down to nil & Closets are overflowing with garbage that can't even be recycled for rags. I applaud DL Cerney for sticking to her guns all these years, and btw, Shlumphuss the last thing companies like DL Cerney want to do is add more garbage to this world.

CDB said...

It is a shame that DL Cerney is closing, I applaud her for sticking to her guns for all these years in spite of the pervasive attitude of those like Shlumphuss who'd rather spend $60.00 for something that falls apart in 2 washings. What is the value in that? Why is clothing cheaper than it was 40 years ago? Nothing else is! Today's closets are overflowing with garbage that is not even suitable for recycling into rags!
There are plenty of deceptively cheap places for Shlumphuss to shop if he want's to keep throwing his money away.
What galls him seems to be that small and specialized companies are that way for a reason & the last thing they aspire to is becoming another Zara or H&M and having Shlumphuss as a customer!

Unknown said...

These are incredible clothes.
Everything I've bought there, I"ll wear for the rest of my life.
They're irreplacable.

Anonymous said...

Sad to see this boutique business is so much a part of the history of the East Village! The storefront was quaint and quality of hand-sewn apparel you can never compare. This is an art unto itself...there was a time everywhere from LA to NY when a person bought clothing, it was crafted, NOT mass produced. And the tailoring was another story! Care and pride went into the design, choice of fabric, cutting and stitching. Men and women who bought clothing in the 1940s thru 1960s were lucky. Everything about clothing today gives all an appearance of slovenliness and an unfinished, unkempt look. Even the big designers have sold out and have everything made in China, where patterns are not cut well and fabric is made with poor quality fibre...WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO 100% COTTON or WOOL??

Rod Random said...

Top hat off to Linda and Duane (or Dwayne) and Suzie for all your
years in the E. Village when I lived there in the 80's and early 90's and even after.
I loved my chats with you guys. I wish you'd have sent a card or message to let me know.
I dreaded the day you'd close, your designs are the best! and only found out on this site.
All the best