A coquettish canine with warm, honey-brown eyes, Penny leaps to the door when customers arrive but plays hard to get when the spotlight is on her. It's as if working at Retro Active Vintage (5924 Magazine St., 895-5054; www.retroactivevintage.com) has led her to channel the spirits of 1940s seductresses like Rita Hayworth and Lana Turner.
Store owner Leslie Courreges found Penny through PetFinder.com, a pet adoption website. Penny (also known as Penny Lane) is a cayoudle: definitely part beagle, maybe part Jack Russell terrier, and Courreges isn't sure about what else. Perhaps because she's a mix of several breeds, Penny is particularly friendly with other dogs. However, she doesn't limit her affection to canines.
"Penny loves guinea pigs, the dogs Mack and Theo from next door and even my cats Jermaine and Atom," says sales associate Rachel Sumrall.
Courreges is an architect by vocation, but she's always had a penchant for retro fashion. "I've worn vintage since my teens and worked at Trashy Diva," she says. "When the former owner of Retro Active Vintage retired, I took over."
Opened in 1982, Retro Active Vintage is New Orleans' oldest vintage store and one of the only ones to carry vintage menswear. It recently acquired a collection of men's clothing from Neophobia after that store changed directions and became Loisel Vintage Modern (2855 Magazine St., 899-2444; www.loiselvintagemodern.com). Retro Active Vintage also procures many items through consignment.
Ball gowns, swimsuits, hats, fascinators, jewelry and costumes are included among Retro Active Vintage's clothing and accessories, and the items date back to periods ranging from the Victorian era to the 1990s. Courreges strives to offer vintage clothing in larger sizes to fit contemporary frames. "People have a view of vintage clothing as being so small, and that only a size two can wear it, so we make sure we get enough of the sizes that will fit the average person," Courreges says. "We have an email list for customers looking for a certain item or a certain size."
Customers come in for the duds but come back for the dog. "A group of girls who study ballet at New Orleans Dance Academy down the street come to see [Penny] every Saturday, so she has quite a following," Sumrall says.
My favorite things ...
• Helping with sewing projects
• Beggin' Strips
• My squeaky toy pig
• Schmoozing with customers