ALLIGATORS, OLD MINK AND NEW MONEY by Alison Houtte

ALLIGATORS, OLD MINK AND NEW MONEY

One Woman’s Adventure in Vintage Clothing
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A latter-day Secondhand Rose shares stories of her vintage clothing shop, her best finds and her family history in a memoir that shines with pure likeability.

The story is Alison’s, though she penned it with sister Melissa. A pretty girl who's darn nice, too, Alison’s first career was as a haute couture model in Europe and New York. Ten years passed happily and lucratively, but like most fashion models, she eventually had to find a second vocation. Here, she relates the story of round two. Her boutique, Hooti Couture, began on a lark as a partnership with a friend. The friend is gone, but the store remains, a repository of treasures dug up on scouting expeditions to estate sales and country auctions. Alison was bred for this game; her mother combed the Salvation Army store racks for “good” labels. Now she can spot a muddy old dress and know instinctively that after a little Woolite and some new buttons, it will go in the shop window and sell in hours. This determined optimism is paired with a gift for promotion, endowing Alison’s finds with a seductive, nobody-else-will-have-one patina. She extends this rosy vision to her neighborhood as well, frequently touting her Brooklyn home’s myriad charms. (Readers will not be surprised to learn that she is vice president of the North Flatbush Improvement District.) The relentless cheeriness is saved from being cloying by Alison’s frank assessment of her failures in romance and business, although she can’t ever be kept down for long. It’s a tell-all of a different sort; the intimate details of her relationships are left vague, but the strap of a handbag is analyzed with precision.

Vicarious pleasure for anyone who loves hearing about a great find.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-06-078667-1
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2005