Cocoon’s Sheila Teruty preps the runway for Femme Adorn III
The stylist and fashion curator, who co-founded Riverwest's Cocoon Room, will present the third installment of her vintage fashion show at The Hamilton Saturday.
She walked into the cafe wearing a muted brown vintage wool overcoat, with a splash of deep red-plum color on full lips and hair pulled back in an up-do that equally said “1940s” and “indie” style. Sheila Teruty, a wardrobe stylist, vintage fashion curator and photographer who co-owns Cocoon Room in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood, possesses the appearance of an ingenue, but is very much the sophisticate.
We were meeting to talk about “Femme Adorn,” the vintage fashion show she founded two years ago. This year’s installment, to be held Saturday, Nov. 23, at The Hamilton, will showcase her So Passe vintage collection alongside the collections of four other local apparel owners and artists: Amanda Mills, Sunshine Acid Designs; Michelle Eigenberger, Bolted Vintage; Maggie Solveson, BrownCowVintage; and Keaira Monique, Luxx Boutique.
According to Teruty, “vintage” typically refers to more recent fashion from the 1960s through the 1990s, whereas “antique” clothing and pieces date back 50 years or more. Each era has its distinct style, such as the 70s bell bottoms or neon colors to alternative rock of the ‘90s.
While some Gatsby beading and flapper-esque costuming may appear, the show will highlight BoHo, a Bohemian free-spirit style with a mix of hippie influence along with other classic vintage: designer labels with longevity like Chanel, repurposed and artistically embellished timeless treasures, and glam chic with remarkable details of tulle, lace, satin, and fur.
Teruty says each collection will feature 10 different looks, including three designers doing menswear, modeled by local “high-fashion” runway talent. Building on her experience from previous shows, working behind the scenes, and on the front end of organizing, Teruty’s excited about the caliber of professionalism everyone involved is bringing to Femme Adorn.
In time for the holidays, Femme Adorn showcases the possibilities for a one-of-a kind party-worthy outfits, unique accessories, or that “something special” gift.
“We’re fortunate in the Midwest,” Teruty said, “as it’s a great place to find affordable, readily available, and higher quality vintage compared to bigger cities.” Boutiques and thrift stores are growing in abundance in Milwaukee, such as Third Coast Style and Re.threads, in addition to Cocoon Room.
So how does one find great treasures? According to Teruty, that’s where passion and persistence pay off. “I’ve developed an eye for the right pieces and I’m not afraid to dig in deep and get dirty in bins of musty clothing. Details of a garment, such as zippers, labels, and fabrics, are all key things to look for to determine the authenticity of true vintage.”
Teruty tailored “Femme Adorn” to enlighten and entertain guests with an eclectic array of ideas where fashion meets art. Cocoon Room has much the same focus. Dedicated to enriching Riverwest and the Milwaukee urban scene, Cocoon co-founders Teruty, Amanda Mills (freelance stylist and upcycling fashion designer), and Rachel Buth (jewelry artist, creative, musician and photographer for Shepherd Express) opened their doors six months ago, inviting the community in for events like self-defense or salsa lessons, welcoming musicians, and filling the space with original art, collectables, clothing, and all things vintage.
Teruty’s main focus is her wardrobe styling and Etsy online businesses, but she also sees the Cocoon Room as smart marketing and a wonderful opportunity. She’s found an offline home for her growing vintage collection with the ability to keep the overhead low for all three of the owners. What started out as a store floor has evolved to be a place where customers and friends (new and old) come to browse, shop, hang out, and be inspired.
As we finished our coffees and concluded the interview, I asked Teruty about the story behind the name: Cocoon Room. Giving credit where it’s due, she explained, “Amanda Mills came up with it because we wanted a ‘cocoon’ environment… a cozy place for transformation” where one might worm their way in, stay awhile and emerge a butterfly of inspired beauty. A cocoon is also not unlike fashion. It’s a casing of spun silk. It may be rough or soft, opaque or translucent, solid or mesh-like, and come in various colors and multiple layers. “We’re told often,” she said, “that Cocoon Room is as much a place to meet, make connections, and be part of our community, as it is a place to shop.”
And that is just fine by all three of the owner-fashionistas.
“Femme Adorn III” will take place on Saturday, Nov. 23, at The Hamilton. Doors open at 9 p.m. with the runway show starting around 10:30 p.m. Prior to the fashion program, guests are invited to shop the vintage lines on display and enjoy libations including two signature $6 drink specials: The Femme and The Adorn, one a bourbon mixer and the other a champagne citrus cocktail. Prescott & Brandon of SIRIUS BOOTY will provide the music energy before and during the show. For more info, email firstname.lastname@example.org.