Even the die-hard St Barths regulars were surprised when I told them I found a vintage store. Don’t I always though? Some people have gay-dar; I have antique-dar. Or else very helpful receptionists at hotels, depending on the status of my resources and/or jet-lag. Linde Gallery is not exactly hidden but if you’re a lazy shopper you might miss it on the third floor of the Carre d’Or in Gustavia. And this is just one of four locations Claudia owns. There’s one in the Hamptons!
One room in the store in entirely devoted to men’s and women’s, tagless and designer vintage clothes, bags and belts, but what’s really special is the collection of vintage sunglasses. From Versace to Pierre Cardin, from the 60s to the 90s, Linde has two entire glass cabinets full of them, some more rare and wacky than others. The other room is stocked with Margiela, Rick Owens and Pucci. I know, interesting buying strategy! But in St Barths it works.
Luckily the island is not devoid of models either, so finding one to subject to my shenanigans was the least of my worries. My old friend Masha Rudenko was happy to oblige. “I love this word ‘Joosify’!” she cheered in her Russian accent. “I really love your unique taste, and I’m your big fan. Dress me up!” I hadn’t seen her in a few years but facebook has kept us in touch. She lives between Berlin and Los Angeles now and at 28 she is still modeling, and even more committed than before. “I was 18 when I started modeling. I lived in model apartments and had a real fashion model life: no money and late night parties. It was so much fun. But I didn’t know what I was doing. I stopped modeling for some time to study gemology but when I realized I had to pay for my own bills, I moved to New York where I met you! (I still have somewhere our karaoke videos together!) Now I take modeling very seriously; it’s my job.”
Unlike me – it was my first time – Masha has been coming to St Barths for eight years, to collaborate with local artists, and to “escape”. It’s her time to relax, see old friends, and let go of all worldly responsibilities. “From the moment I land I forget about all my worries,” she sighs.”St Barths is a very special place. The nature is so powerful. The people here are happy, easy-going, educated and respectful. And it’s island! So you’re away from everybody. You can feel the space. When you come here you will want to have this island in your life forever.” She might be right. There’s really nothing missing… Except a bridge?