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Bianca Starr

Timeless Glamor

Sometimes the most fashionable look emerges not from a runway show but from the back of a closet. In these dark corners lie forgotten and hidden vintage looks that withstand and defy the fickleness of fashion. Bianca Starr, the latest vintage boutique to open in the Mission, features such timeless clothing and accessories from every notable decade.

There is a soft touch to Bianca Starr. Oversized pink tissue flowers hang in the window display where the afternoon sun casts a glow on the pink walls and blonde hardwood floors. Stepping inside the shop, I feel as if I am entering a cozy but expansive walk-in closet.

To my immediate left rests a shelf of designer shoes. A fuchsia pair of pumps by Evan Picone is a steal for $25 (Size 9). Nearby, a pair of brown leather heels by Salvatore Ferragamo retails for $45. My favorite is the calf boots ($40) by Acme. Boots may come and go out of season but they are a staple in any shoe collection.

A display case of high-end accessories, featuring a standout mustard yellow suede bag by Yves Saint Laurent, is just steps away. The handle is shaped into an ivory tusk that serves as a handle. The bag is in very good condition.

“If we wouldn’t wear it, we wouldn’t sell it” is Bianca Kaplan’s motto. As the owner, she ensures that her team curates items that are wearable, and each item is inspected and dry cleaned before it is displayed. There is care taken to all of the items in the shop. In fact, the musty smell that lingers at many other vintage shops is the only thing amiss.

Bianca’s entrepreneurial spirit emerged long before her dream shop had opened. She and her husband formerly owned and operated 222 Club in the Tenderloin. After selling the business and putting the night owl shift behind her, Bianca now books DJs only when there is an event at her store. Call in or check Bianca’s blog on the store’s website to see what is happening. She often posts information on events and special sales.

On my recent visit, it was 15 percent off all dresses. That meant a sleeveless cream fan dress was marked down to $46 and a cream baby-doll dress by Norma Kamali for Spiegel was a mere $22. There were a number of other classic finds such as a black sheath dress by French Connection ($34).

For those who are trend conscious of this Spring/Summer 2010, editors are proclaiming that military jackets and embellishments are “in.” Rather than buying the mass-produced pieces in current store collections, try the one-of-a-kind forest green jacket ($479) at Bianca Starr. It may be a men’s jacket, but after a bit of tailoring it can be a fitted dress worn with commanding presence.

Other great finds include a velvet blazer ($50), which can step up any humdrum pair of jeans. The bronze metallic leather jacket by Jordache ($60) is a cheaper option to the explosion of metallic looks that continue to dominate at equally blinding prices. Lastly, a double-breasted coat with a large boat neck done in bright turquoise ($175) has a heftier price tag, but if you want to pull off something bold 80s (sans the crimped hair), then this is the Reagan 80s excessive way to go.

No matter what era you favor, Bianca Starr is a good bet for capsule pieces from decades past. The inventory of high-end and unknown labels has something in common — it’s fashion that has been rediscovered from someone’s dark closet, and if you’re lucky, it can be yours to wear in plain sight.