Vintage clothing dresses up the city
by Evan Grossman, Reporter staff writer
Feb 24, 2000 | 1357 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bernadette Cooper is a woman of many dimensions. She's traveled the world over. She has her friends shop for clothing for her in France. She has gone platinum producing movie soundtracks and working with big-name artists like Bette Midler and Salt 'N Peppa. And now, Cooper is hawking a fresh collection of vintage clothing in Jersey City. "I've always been into fashion," Cooper said last week. "This is my hobby." On the racks of her newly-opened store, Museum 68 Vintage, located at 68 Mercer St., Cooper pulls through thick bunches of coats, leather jackets and a Gucci suit from the 1960s. As hanger after hanger squeaks when she moves them on the rail, Cooper shows "fabulous dresses" and vintage velvet tops "that would look great on you." She pulls out price tags that never seem to read over $100. "My clothes are like affordable, gourmet clothes," she said. Ties dangle from racks in the center of the store, while fedoras and bowlers dot the windowsills of Cooper's time warp of fashion. The store carries clothes from the roaring 1920s and pieces from the 1960s reflecting the peace, love and happiness. The Superfly funk and flash of the 1970s is also represented. Location is as important to Cooper as the store's wares. Madly in love with the downtown area of the city, with its neighborhood atmosphere and the historic brownstone homes, Cooper thought it was a prime spot for a vintage clothing store. "I wanted to do the neighborhood right," she said. Originally from Los Angeles, Cooper signed her first record deal when she was a fashion-minded 21-year old. Since then, Cooper has been a singer and more recently, a record producer. After a life in show business, living in the hills of Los Angeles where Cooper claims to never have known her neighbors, the songwriter moved to Manhattan. Working for Atlantic Records, Cooper moved into a spacious studio in Battery Park, but never fell in love with life in the big city. To her, Battery Park was as dull as new clothing. "They bore me," said Cooper, who has partied with Lenny Kravitz. "My friends were telling me, 'You should come to Jersey City. It's really cool.' " Cooper moved to the city, felt an affinity for the area and bought a brownstone in 1996. Since then, she moved to her current residence, upstairs from her store. Living above the store enables her to keep writing songs and to open the store each afternoon. Cooper will spend the morning and afternoon working on hammering out songs for some of the biggest record labels in the business. When her work is done for the day, she opens the doors to the store downstairs. Cooper said that she and her handpicked helpers abroad pick out all of the clothes for the store. The display of the clothing is aesthetically important and she sometimes changes the window dressings three times a day. "I buy what turns me on," Cooper said. "This is just another reflection of me. It's like I'm opening up my closets for everyone." Most of the clothing comes from estate sales, where possessions like furniture and clothing are awarded to bidders. "I'm always pushing past people looking at furniture so I can get into the closets," Cooper said. Garage sales are also a goldmine for Cooper, who will frequent Beverly Hills for used clothes. "They throw out some really great stuff," she said. Comparing the downtown area of the city to the West Village in New York, Cooper sees big things for the future here. "I think this area is up-and-coming," she said. "There's something about the vibe here." The store is open Tuesday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. and on weekends from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. It can be reached at 915-1818.
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