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Designer and Fashion Star contestant Lisa Hunter shopping at the Vintage Fashion Expo in San Francisco.

The Vintage Fashion Expo last weekend was, as always, great fun and a shopping success. I found a Joseph Magnin 1970s patent leather handbag and a fantastic pair of navy and white leather gloves with ah … slits in the wrists. Really! I’ve never seen anything like them. But my real find was Lisa Hunter, contestant on the new fashion reality show Fashion Star.

I spotted Lisa conversing with another attendee and introduced myself. Friendly and ready to talk vintage fashions, Lisa agreed to take a break from her shopping and chat.

Lisa told me she got into vintage when she was studying fashion design at Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. One day she picked up a copy of the school’s newsletter and saw a help wanted ad for someone to work the Vintage Fashion Expo. She got the job and when she showed up on that first day, she was blown away by all the beautiful vintage clothing.  “I felt like I died and went to heaven,” explained Lisa sporting a retro curly bob hairstyle and a green plaid dress from her own line.

Although she had grown up watching old movies with her mother and loved glamour, vintage fashions were not on her radar. At FIDM she was thinking of designing clothes for tweens. But after working the Expo for three years surrounded by the best in vintage clothing, her whole fashion focus shifted.

Lisa says she came to appreciate all that vintage has to offer. “It’s classic and beautiful and it never goes out of style.”

After she graduated from FIDM in 2004 Lisa started her own line – Vian Hunter.  She now lives in Seattle, Washington and has a store where she features her own vintage-inspired designs as well as a selection of vintage clothing. The late 50s to early 60s is her favorite period.

At the Expo that day Lisa shopped for coats, suits, and fitted jackets for fall as well as dressy dresses. Seattle is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Space Needle and many of Lisa’s customers are attending the big 1960s themed party.

I asked Lisa what’s inspiring her these days. “The new longer skirt lengths I find oddly refreshing,” she says, “and eight inch hems.” Back in the day, skirts and dresses had big hems and Lisa is pondering that as a design element.

Hmmm … I like that idea.

For those of you watching Fashion Star you know that Lisa is a contestant and she was a winner on this week’s episode with Macy’s picking up her sleeveless pleated empire waist dress.

Congratulations Lisa and a big thank you for taking time to speak with Over Dressed for Life.

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