“Mad Men” may have gone off the air in 2015, but the renewed interest the show inspired for the aesthetic and style of the mid-20th century is alive and well. Just ask Judy Champion.
The owner of 2023 Mid-Century Modern Furnishings on Frankfort Avenue, she has been handpicking and selling vintage furniture, home décor, clothing and jewelry from this era for more than two decades. The shop is filled with shelves upon shelves of glittering costume jewelry, rows of handbags and delicate gloves ready for a night out at the gala or Derby, and figurines that are sure to start conversations as you entertain at your stylish home. Then, of course, there are the furniture pieces, which are built to last and timeless with their marriage of form and function.
“This is the type of furniture people pass down,” says Champion. “I think they’re selling better because of the good design and the classic quality. Most think of antique as old 19th century, but these are the new antique things.”
What you won’t find at 2023 is any Coca-Cola or Elvis memorabilia. Those icons are ubiquitous in the era, but the shop focuses on more unexpected treasures of the past. Many of the pieces come with interesting stories or aspects that set them apart from newer merchandise that is vintage-inspired but not truly from the era.
Take, for example, a glass bar ware set, whose thick glass is printed with recipes of popular drinks from the era. Sure, there’s the Manhattan that everyone today still knows and loves; but, there’s also the Saratoga, the New Yorker and the Bronx.
“Who makes those anymore? Stuff like that makes these pieces stand out,” says Champion. She adds that one of the things she loves about her work is that all of the pieces that come through her door have a history or story behind them.
While 2023 started out focusing on furniture, the store has expanded far beyond that. The early and mid-20th century is known as the heyday of costume jewelry, and the store reflects that. Shelves at 2023 are full of rhinestone and bakelite finds. (Bakelite, an early plastic, was famously beloved by Andy Warhol.) Customers often purchase these types of pieces in order to pair them with more modern or contemporary clothing for a fun and original look.
“Fashion rules have gone out the window,” says Champion. She gives the example that women once considered rhinestones to be an eveningwear. “It used to be you wore it after 6 p.m. Now you see it with blue jeans.”
Likewise, things that were once considered solitary pieces of jewelry are often now paired with others for a more contemporary, layered effect. That means that the store is a must-visit even for people who aren’t obsessed with completely recreating the “Mad Men” look in their own lives.
“We are pretty popular with brides now,” explains Champion. Brides looking for a fresh take on the traditional floral bouquet purchase handfuls of brooches in order to make their own, savable bouquet. Others are simply looking for fun brooches to give their bridal party as a unique gift.
Handbags also remain a popular item for the store, and over the years Champion has noticed that prospective customers always do one thing with the often sleek, sometimes angular handbags and clutches that ruled the mid-century day.
“They always have to make sure their cell phone fits,” she says with a laugh. VT
By April Corbin
2023 Mid-Century Modern Furnishings
2023 Frankfort Avenue