My Fantasy Night

By Jenna Autuori

Weekends in the Hamptons inspire the most wonderful dreams. It all started when my date and I drove traffic-free through Southampton and Water Mill, ending up in Bridgehampton where we stopped at Out of the Closet for some shopping, then dinner at World Pie, and we jumped back into the closets at Potot Op. Traffic-free in the Hamptons, must be a dream right?

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Here I am - rummaging through some fabulous finds.

Before we spotted World Pie I had noticed a vintage clothing store, well actually a Victorian house set back from the road, called Out of the Closet. I told my date that dinner would have to wait. Luckily he was cool with stopping for a bit and didn't fuss over my obsession with shopping.

I know most girls are probably crazy about fashion, but I'm a huge fan of vintage. I like the idea that a shirt or dress I'm putting on is like a costume that was worn many years earlier by some stylish or sophisticated lady. Thumbing my fingers through the racks I imagined where each item had been before and what story it would tell if it could. I felt like a little girl in my grandmother's closet inside of this store.

When I realized I was too mesmerized by all the new (but old) clothes I found in Out of the Closet I saw my date by the rack of vests playing with the white cat rubbing against his leg. He meekly looked up at me with a smile. I knew the right thing to do was to leave at that moment before I ditched him for the dressing room. I asked the clerk, an older lady in a red knee-length 50s dress, the days and times of the shop so I could return to shop to my hearts delight. I was glad to hear that it is open everyday from noon until about midnight (the owner obviously appreciates her shopaholic friends).

As we were leaving she told us about an event happening at Photo Op later that night. She said that we could attend as it was open to all and there would be free drinks and some music. Sounded like a good idea. I took a pamphlet and we headed to World Pie across the street.

When we walked into the restaurant I felt like I had stepped foot inside a Manhattan lounge - there was a bar to the right and cushiony tables to the left. I knew right away this place had a pretty cool vibe located in a scenic area on Butter Lane. The bar section was not that big but there was a separate room for dining and on nice evenings you can dine al fresco at tables with umbrellas just outside the dining room.

We took a table in the back room and were quickly greeted by a friendly waitress. We scoped out the other people dining and realized this was definitely a perfect date place and the families, children, and other couples set you up to enjoy a relaxing dinner. If you believe that the energy of other people in a room have any sort of connection to the way you feel, then World Pie definitely had a positive influence. Our waitress Roxinia asked if we were heading to Photo Op, not sure how she knew, but we actually had decided we were going to go there after dinner.


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Ellen (in black), Andrea (in red), and I hang out and fuss over vintage fashion.

Back to our dinner, I had the salmon and my date had the eggplant. Both were excellent and just the right size. We quickly finished our dinners and headed to Photo Op, just down the street on Tradesman's Path.

Shortly after our arrival, I bumped into the mother of the owner of the studio who gave me some background on the new place. Her daughter Andrea, a set designer who runs a company called Damage Studios in Brooklyn, went into Out of the Closet about a year ago to buy a dress. But she came away with more than a dress. She had an idea and collaborated with the owners, Ruth and Lucy, to build a studio for magazines with access to prop rentals and an array of vintage clothing to choose from, an ideal situation for the industry. Indeed it was because a year later Photo Op opened. Out of the Closet will supply Photo Op's Studio wardrobe and contribute a little bit of their own pristine vintage to fashion editors and photographers that wish to use the studio.

In fact, the SELF magazine cover for this November issue was one of the first to be shot at Photo Op. Also, super famous photographer Bruce Weber has booked eleven days next month! You may not know Bruce by name, but he's the genius behind many famous black and white billboard favorites, such as Calvin Klein and Abercrombie and Fitch ads. "If that doesn't tell you a little something about this place then I don't know what does," Ruth told me. I wondered who he would be shooting for and if he was planning on using any of these awesome clothes. Maybe I'll make a visit to the studio in a few weeks!

When we had walked into the studio I was unsure what to expect. However, I knew this was place was unique right away and not just any type of studio. This studio was huge with the whitest of white walls. These walls seemed like a canvas for an artist to design differently each day. Shelves lined the wall on the side of the entrance. Books and old collectibles, such as telephones, figurines, and even boom-boxes, like the ones I played with as a child, stacked the shelves from floor to ceiling. Couture white leather couches, black fur rugs, and a long black and white deco dining room table barely filled the spacious area on the first floor. I felt like I was on a movie set. I snuck up the metal retro stairs to walk through many more racks of quality vintage clothing. I spotted an exceptional short Escada plaid jacket that I knew would be so in right now.

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Guests caught in the act.

This event called "A Fancy Dress Party" indicated that it'd be okay for me to play dress up for a little. I noticed many of the other visitors downstairs were waiting in line at the bathroom with items in their hands. Every few minutes someone left the bathroom like they had entered a new era. So I tried on a few jackets and oogled at the pocketbooks for a good amount of time. When I returned downstairs, sans the Escada mini jacket, the hosts, Anne and Amanda Hearst had arrived. The famous heiress' to the Hearst media empire gladly posed for pictures. The Hearst girls and other socialites mingled while eating hors 'd oeuvres and sipping cocktails.

I spotted the lady from the vintage shop and she was happy to see that I had decided to stop by. "You looked very familiar before, are you the girl from Channel 55?" she asked. "Well no I'm not actually, but maybe I'll take that as a compliment," I said laughing.

She [Linda] told me that she was an environmentalist but spent her time helping at Out of the Closet because her friend is one of the owners. "Vintage is recycling," Linda told me. I realized this was very true and I was glad at this moment for all the designer-environmentalists of this world.

My date and I hung around Photo Op for a while drinking and playing dress up. Not the most typical date, but extremely fun I must say. The cheerful people and social atmosphere allowed us both to open up and let loose a little. It felt like we had broken into someone's penthouse and we were fully taking advantage of their good fortune and treasures. I gleefully searched for the most expensive fur jacket on the racks in the back room and sashayed around like Jennifer Lopez in "Maid In Manhattan". I truly felt like the socialite I knew I was meant to be. My date hit the catwalk in a navy coat-tailed Burberry blazer. He looked stunningly handsome, lucky me.

A few hours later I knew it was time to leave when I began calculating in my head all the items I wished to buy. I thanked both Ruth and Andrea for allowing us to share their fantasy with them. My date in Bridgehampton had truly been one of the best I'd ever been on and I knew he had felt the same way. This was fun and exciting and I would suggest to everyone out there to ditch the standard dinner-and-a-movie thing and try something new.

Next week look for me checking out live music in any number of restaurants including LeChef and 72 Main in Southampton and The Patio in Westhampton and maybe even singing a few lines during karaoke at Almondito.


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