Monday, November 2, 2015

The Girl Can't Help It - San Diego

We're proud to introduce to you our Pink Collar Girl of the Month - Sparkle! She lives up to her name in every bit of the sense, with her shimmering platinum blonde hair and shining and sweet personality. Gail Higgens, aka Sparkle Moore, is the owner of San Diego's best vintage store "The Girl Can't Help It," with husband Jasja Boelhouwer. We have so much in common with Sparkle, from our platinum blonde locks, to our love of Miss Mansfield, rock 'n' roll, and vintage fashion. Sparkle prides herself in having immaculately presented displays filled with preserved stock and handpicked items, showering the shelves of her shop. 

A girl after our own heart, Sparkle truly is the epitome of a hard working Pink-Collared gal, with her successful business and fashion fans worldwide. Living the Pink Collar Life, Sparkle enjoys hunting for treasures to add to her archive of the most unique, glamorous pieces ranging from 1930's Jean Harlow style bias cut gowns, 1940's Joan Crawford style fitted suits, 1950's Jayne Mansfield style cocktail dresses and even 1960's Audrey Hepburn style little black dresses.  She has traveled the world, working with fashion and film royalty, as a true purveyor in glamorous goods, and has won numerous awards and features for her work in the vintage fashion world. 

Sparkle did not hold back, as she spilled to us the juiciest secrets and scandals, as well as her celebrity clients, all the way to details of Marilyn Monroe's personal dress sold at the shop. 


Sparkle & Jasja doing what they do best!

Sequins, satins,and shoes - Oh my
Q: Did your love of vintage bring you and your husband Jasja together? If not, how did you meet, and when did you decide to open your doors together in London? 

A: I already had my store and was also promoting the first new burlesque club in London called MORE THAN VEGAS ( named after my business name-Sparkle Moore & my partners stage name-Jake Vegas ). It was a weekly club, with a focus on rock' n ' roll and burlesque, and we were on the cover of all the top newspapers and magazines. We also had our own room at the launch party of Agent Provocateur's first perfume and the Theatre Museums’ Art of Tease in London. When Jasja was visiting London from Amsterdam, a mutual friend brought him to the club. Italian Vogue was there that evening taking photos for the club, and when I went over to see who the photographer was focusing her attention on-it was Jasja. We met that night 21 years ago! He started working with me on the store a few years after that-Jasja focusing on the menswear and bric a brac, and myself on the ladies wear. I come to the business from a fashion and rock n roll angle, and Jasja comes from a history and rock n roll angle, so yes, I guess it was our love of all things vintage that brought us together.

The cutest sign in history. If this isn't inviting, we don't know what is <3

Q: I'm sure there's many things you love about owning The Girl Can't Help it, but what do you look most forward to every day? 

A: I love the curating and display of all the amazing pieces; as I love being surrounded by the beautiful to the bizarre. But my favorite daily thing would have to be seeing the right item go to the right person. Firstly, their look of pleasure when they find a vintage item that fits, and secondly seeing each unique item on the human form. Obviously, every piece does not fit me, so I love seeing vintage brought to life, being tried on, and being able to see the detail,draping,shaping,etc that you cannot see when a piece is on the hanger. 

Q: We've all had seller's remorse. What is one item you wish you didn't part with, and how do you decide what to keep for your personal collection? 

A: In all the years I’ve been wearing, buying, collecting vintage; my personal style hasn’t really changed other than being more age appropriate. There are items I wore in my 20s that I wouldn’t wear now but I still collect and wear mainly 1950s clothing as that suits my body type. Before I had a store, I had a hard time parting with anything,then when I began selling, it was bit easier as I was still surrounded by the pieces every day. And now if I find something I especially have to keep, I always have an outlet for selling a piece of mine that I may not like as much as the new piece. I do collect Mexican hand painted circle skirts and Mexican silver jewelry as they are the mainstay of my wardrobe. And I have a special affinity for patent leather and quirky handbags. Leopard print is another keeper and luckily not everything fits me or there would be nothing in the store-ha ha- and the one piece I regret selling is a velvet leopard print stole when I very first started; and I’ve never found another.

Evidence of Sparkle's leopard obsession 

Q: We're all three platinum blondes, and your hair is as sparkling as your name! What are your tricks to your perfectly platinum long locks?

A: I was very lucky to have thick curly brown hair from my Italian heritage and I think that’s what has kept my hair so strong all these years. As contrary to many a hairdressers dismay, I do nothing special to maintain my hair. The color is bleached out in a single process, there is no tint applied, and I use a fairly common shampoo and conditioner for color treated hair. And I curl my hair with Babyliss professional heated rollers.

 She knew she had to show this gown to The Pink Collar Life <3

Q: We absolutely love the name "The Girl Can't Help It," as of course Jayne Mansfield is our ultimate beauty icon. What are some other icons of glamour that inspire you and what has been your favorite dress that Jayne has worn? 

A: The store is named after Jayne Mansfields’ film THE GIRL CAN’T HELP IT, and of course the song by Little Richard; combined with my friends always saying-the girl can’t help it- about me because I had a collection of collections! The white dress with the diamond shaped illusion midriff from TGCHI is one of my favorite Jayne dresses, and the white dress with the sheer sides and practically illusion everything she wore in the 60s in her stage show! Other inspirations are Rita Hayworth,Hedy Lamarr, and Lucille Ball. Lucys' wardrobe in I Love Lucy is envious!

THAT dress.
Rita Hayworth
Hedy Lamarr
Lucille Ball

Q: You have had clients of fashion and film royalty. Tell us about the exciting experience of this, and some of these pieces that you sold

A: When people ask if I miss London, (besides friends), one of the only things I miss is the interactions with the designers and stylists and film and fashion world that is at a minimum in San Diego. I loved the designers who shopped with us that you never knew what they were looking for in a particular garment, like John Galliano, as it could be just a dart, or the way a certain fold draped. And then there were the designers who would buy a garment and I would see the exact piece in their next collection, like when Prada did copies of Mexican skirts. Sometimes when on a buying trip I would unintentionally end up with a theme- like sheer blouses or 40s draped dresses or chiffon skirts; and it was interesting to see what the designers picked up on. They all shopped with us- Missoni, Prada, Dior, Kenzo, Stella McCartney, Ralph Lauren, etc. Some were nice and the interaction was a learning experience for us and them, and some were despicable and try to secretly take photos so they didn’t have to buy it or scoff at the prices as if to say we’re the only ones who can charge thousands of dollars. When Agent Provocateur was first starting up,they would buy vintage underwear from us for inspiration. and resale. We also sold to most of the major Hollywood costume designers who I guess would rather fly to London,rather than drive 2 hours to San Diego!!! And have had pieces in films worn by Lauren Bacall, Sophia Loren and Kevin Spacey among others. 

Prada - clearly inspired by the 1950's and 1960's 

Elizabeth and Georgia Jagger would come in every Xmas and buy presents for the whole family-western shirts and 30s negligees for Jerry Hall and funny things for Mick Jagger. And Adam Ant,who I’ve known since punk days came in one Xmas eve and bought $5000 worth of presents and paid in all 5 pound notes. It was the day before he was arrested for waving pistol around a pub,so we thought it was all going to come back! 

Mary Mc Cartney (Pauls' other daughter-a photographer ) bought her wedding dress from us and was a regular customer for 40s dresses; Kate Moss, Immodesty Blaize, Eva Green, Paloma Faith, Kiera Knightly, Whoopi Goldberg, Anne Hathaway, Charlotte Olympia all were customers. Thanks to the internet, some still are. 

One of Immodesty’s purchases, a 30's silver lame bias cut gown, was later put into a charity auction where we bought it back, and then was purchased from us by SD’s own Dottie Deville! Kate Moss’s purchases always have a more rock n roll bad girl edge which ranged from lurex dresses to punk t-shirts. we were always hiding Kate from the paparazzi in our dressing room. Charlotte Olympia is very into vintage hats and always looked the epitome of glamour.. Liza Minnelli came in with David Gest, her now ex husband who turned out to be one of our most bizarre and regular customers. He would always start the conversation with-Do you have any pictures of Chinese girls with herpes!?!?

Immodesty in that gown

Q: What has been the most special or rare item that you've come across, and describe how you acquired it 

 A: I think one of my most special pieces that I’ve acquired has been an amazing draped showgirl burlesque gown that was so amazingly made, that I didn’t even know the skirt snapped off to the costume below until I was ready to buy it. Something like a piece Charles James would have made for Gypsy Rose Lee. It was found in New Orleans in a store that no longer exists. Another was a green 30's gown with hand painted square sequins hand sewn onto netting found at a Chicago vintage fair. And a third was a Carmen Miranda like one shoulder midriff top with matching slit skirt in tropical colors and sequins.

Q: If you had to pick an era, which decade do you love the most and why?

A: My favorite eras are the 30s,40s,50s- the years of Hollywood glamour and when all the famous designers were at their peak. Schiaparelli, Dior, Jean Dess├Ęs, Charles James, Balenciaga to name a few. And when all the Hollywood costume designers were just as famous. I could watch those old films for hours just to see the clothes!

Q: Lastly, you sold none other than Marilyn Monroe's lace cocktail dress from 1957 - Tell us the story of this dress! details, how you found it

A: I guess besides the items mentioned above, Marilyn's dress would have to be one of our rarest pieces. Marilyn Monroe's dress was bought from a customer of ours who was a collector. She wanted to go on a trip of a lifetime and offered us the dress. It was from Marilyn's personal wardrobe and not used in any films. It was given to her dresser on The Prince and the Showgirl while filming in London. It was a beige lace sheath with a straight skirt and an illusion midriff with a lace overlay top. Very simple, but very Marilyn. It was a showpiece in our store for years until another collector bought it, and it is now on display in her house in England.

Moving to San Diego has been a new learning experience as far as the vintage world is concerned and some compromises have had to be made. But as mentioned above a lot of my favorite London customers haven’t forgotten us thanks to the internet. Luckily there is a lifestyle here that has brought us a whole new clientele- from the Southern California burlesque world, pinup world, and tiki world. And of course, Disneyland! which I never knew was such an interest to the vintage world before we moved to Southern California. 

I’ve always worked in the fashion world while following my love of the rock n roll world. My involvement in starting the first new burlesque club in London led to me being invited to speak at The London Theatre Museum and the Victoria & Albert museum about the history of burlesque. I was a buyer for fashion accessories in major Ny department stores like Gimbels and Wanamakers and managed the mens department at Barneys. After being fired for being a square peg in a round hole!, I’ve continually thanked them for starting me on the road to independence as I’ve been self employed ever since. But that start in retailing gave me a great background for my own business. I was the road manager for Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers right after the Anarchy tour in London. and have worked with bands from Levi and the Rockats to Angie Bowie. I’ve hosted night club evenings in New York & London and been involved in punk, rockabilly, fetish, fashion happenings ever since. I’ve always been able to combine the two worlds, and make a living in alternative lifestyles and creativity.

Sparkle picked out this gorgeous pumpkin princess dress and 1940s's babydoll pumps

Continuing those passions, after I promoted the first ElVez show in London, Elvez played our opening party at THE GIRL CAN’T HELP IT in San Diego. And The Little Richards were formed by him just to play at our 1 yr Anniversary event. Our shop front is even featured on their new single. I’m very lucky to have a career in what I love and to have a partner who shares my passion and enthusiasm. Myself and Jasja will be featured on Angie Bowie Barnett & Rick Hunt RADIOSHOW on Nov. 12, 9AM, on talking about the adventures of The Girl Can’t Help It………..

I guess The Girl Can’t Help It!!!!

There you have it. The spectacle, the splendor, the glamour! Selling quality 20th Century vintage, The Girl Can't Help it carries everything you could possibly think of, and has some of the rarest collectibles around. You won't want to miss stopping by. Don't forget to Dial "G" for glamour!

<3 T & A

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