High Valley Books: Vintage Fashion Magazines in Greenpoint
I had the pleasure of visiting High Valley Books, a store run by Bill Hall, located at 882 Lorimer St in Greenpoint. I found out about this bookstore accidentally while looking for old fashion magazines online. I wrote to the owner and he invited my boyfriend and I to visit his store.
Bill meets with clients by appointment only so I had to schedule in advance, but it was well worth the wait since he has an impressive collection of vintage fashion magazines and books.
My boyfriend, Allan, and I didn’t have much trouble finding the place; it’s close to McCarren Park and located in a typical Greenpoint row house. Bill kindly gave us a small tour of his archives, and it was clear that everything was in great condition and well taken care of. All of the vintage magazines were wrapped with protective plastic and arranged by company name. What was intriguing about the magazines were their larger page size and price, ranging from 60 to 70 cents.
The editorial design was very contemporary for its time, especially during the time of the space race between the United States and Soviet Union, which heavily inspired a futuristic “space age” look in the 60’s. While browsing through his collection I also found a huge selection of books on topics ranging from architecture and interior design to photography and graphic design, as well as obscure rare literature and post cards.
The experience of browsing through this store felt very personal. Although it was a store, it felt more like we were visiting a local relative who was allowing us to go through their attic. Bill gave us two seats and plenty of light and told us we could browse through anything we wanted and left us alone.
We were actually not just visiting this store at random. My boyfriend’s mother was late model Cathee Dahmen. She became quite successful in the late 60’s and he knew little of her modeling career since she never talked about it while he was growing up. It was by curiosity that we would check out High Valley Books for our own research.
We made a stack of Harper’s Bazaar’s and Vogues, dating from the years she was modeling and sat beneath the lamp. Flipping through dozens and dozens of these magazines looking for her was like trying to find Waldo. Once Allan found a picture and he kept finding them one after another. These were images of her he had never seen before so it was extremely interesting and exciting. He found her in a 1968 Harper’s Bazaar as well a September and October issue from 1970. She was also veiled in lace on the cover of a book called “Beauty Photography in Vogue” By Martin Harrison; Barry Lategan took this photo in 1974.
It was nostalgic to see her so young and this made him wonder what it would have been like to hang out with her during the late 60’s. It was like meeting an entirely different version of his mother.
Another person we were interested in was Antonio Lopez, a fashion illustrator who was extremely close with Cathee. They used to live together in Carnegie Hall, before the residential studios were relocated in 2010. We found Antonio Lopez’s illustrations in a “Fashion of the Times” August 28, 1966 as well as “Antonio Lopez: Fashion, Art, Sex, & Disco” by Roger Padilha and Mauricio Padilha which was published by Rizzoli in September 2012.
It’s no wonder that many fashion students and illustrators find High Valley Books useful, we certainly found what we were looking for. Anyone interested in getting a glimpse of the past can find it in the editorials and photos of these vintage magazines. There are issues of Harper’s Bazaar from the 1940’s, as well as issues of Vogue from the 1960’s – 90’s. There are also books on miscellaneous topics like philosophy and history from Sartre to Tolstoy.
Bill Hall was very kind to let us sit for hours looking through everything. I highly recommend this place to anyone interested in the history of fashion and culture or for anyone looking to check out a unique collection of out of print books in this Greenpoint time capsule.
High Valley Books
882 Lorimer Street
Brooklyn, New York 11222
Open by appointment/Phone: 347 889 6346