I first discovered Suzanna Ford Carafano on her eBay store during a particularly obsessive vintage moment in my life (maybe three years ago), where almost everything that she posted sold for maybe $300 after savage bidding wars. I guess you might say the former fashion journalist gets what girls want to wear. Now the owner, stylist and designer behind Spanish Moss and American Gold, Suzanna has a legion of it girls dying for her boho hot wares from Erin Wasson to Daisy Lowe and Rumi Neely. With style names like ‘gold dust woman kimono’ and ‘paint it black bells’, it’s fairly clear we’ve entered the Delorean and gone back to the time of Marianne Faithful and Exile on Main Street.
Read on to get to know this vintage genius with a penchant for Stevie Nicks, R.Kelley and maxi skirts. Check out her American Gold Spring 2011 Collection in the slideshow above and get in on some vintage action on Spanish Moss.
Wheres your home base?
Right now it’s split pretty evenly between Los Angeles and Nashville.
Tell me about how you came up with the name Spanish Moss?
Im really into the American South, Southern Gothic literature and road tripping through that part of the country as often as possible. Ive always found the spanish moss that drapes and hangs off live oak trees so haunting and magical.
How did you get started in selling vintage?
My move to the border area of Texas was a huge transition period in my life – I’d had several “career” jobs. When I moved to the Texas desert for a short time, I was completely ready to quit the rest of the world and start over. The rest is history!
What are your secrets for finding great vintage pieces?
Traveling a lot and not buying something just because its vintage. Make sure what youre buying is either really special and unique or on-trend leave the rest.
What pieces are hot in vintage right now?
Kimonos, velvet burnouts, shearling coats, faux fur, old band tees and anything leopard.
You have so many great retro pics on your blog? Which old school ladies are you loving right now?
Thank you! Evelyn Nesbit, Anita Pallenberg, Jane Birkin, always Stevie Nicks, Marianne Faithful, Pamela Des Barres, Francoise Hardy, Emmylou Harris
Suzanne with some “it” chicks.
What are you reading right now?
Wiseblood by Flannery OConner.
If you had to explain your style in x + x + x = me what would it be?
Stevie Nicks + 90’s Drew Barrymore + Maria Schneider inLast Tango in Paris + 70s all leather B-movie motorcycle babe = me.
Which designers do you find yourself buying often?
For the store buying, we love Katheryn Amberleigh and Charlotte Ronson shoes, Shakuhachi and Style Stalker. For me personally, I love Bess & Lindsey Thornburg and Alexander Wang for basics.
What are the best resources for scoring a great vintage piece? Is there a city/state that is surprisingly awesome for it?
Oregon, New Mexico, Los Angeles and Nebraska tend to be consistently amazing.
Can you pick your best vintage score ever?
A gold-studded Carolina Herrera velvet motorcycle jacket.
What prompted you to launch your own ready to wear?
I was tired of not finding the kind of pieces I wanted to be wearing. I was also tired of so many new designers producing cheap clothing overseas, made with bad materials that just fell apart or faded immediately after washing. I wanted a brand that was American made, unique and held up to the test of the time like vintage clothing so we startedAmerican Gold.
Tell me about your design process for your line American Gold.
I collect so many vintage pieces a year and mark parts of them that I like, whether it be a plunging neckline or a sleeve, and then save them. I collect images on my desktop of old vintage photos I like that inspire me and have a sketch book with me in my purse at all times. Afterwards, I combine and rework my ideas, nail some designs down, buy fabrics and trims, and meet with my production girl, Breanna Lee, who is amazing! Ive never even threaded a needle, so Im not so very informed when it comes to production and talking about different kinds of seams.
A little lace.
Whats your favorite piece from American Gold’s Spring Collection?
Our Spring collection is out very, very soon and my favorite pieces from that are The Awakening Cape, The Voodoo You Do Dress, White Wing Dove Dress and the Let it Bleed Bell Bottoms.
Tell me about some of your celeb fans. You have a lot of them!
Erin Wasson, Daisy Lowe, Peaches Geldof, Scout Larue Willis, Frances Bean Cobain, Sky Ferreria, Ruby Stewart, Emily Faulstich from Wildfox, Krystal Simpson, Rumi Neely. All of these girls have amazing style and I’m honored to be a part of that!
Spanish Moss bf Daisy Lowe
Would you ever abandon the vintage aspect of your business?
Never ever. Vintage is my favorite thing on earth.
If you had a theme song what would it be?
R. Kelley’s Remix to Ignition. Just kidding kind of.my favorite song right now is John Lennons Stand By Me, but as theme songs go I guess Id have to choose Wildflowers by Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt.
It’s gone for now, but I hope it stays gone for good:
Trend forecast? What do you see coming back?
I think were in for another 70s and 80s bohemian/western revival, which of course is fine by me.
Are there any girls currently whose style you really admire?
Abbey Lee, Gillian Zinser, Erin Wasson, Shae Acopian Detar.
Erin Wasson in a Spanish Moss vintage dress
Do you have a fashion uniform?
I suppose when Im lazy my tried and true is a simple white Alexander Wang tank, my black cotton fishtail maxi skirt, my Led Zepplin studded motorcycle jacket, Katheryn Amberleigh booties or Maurie & Eve Motorcycle platforms and my suede fringe bag. Lots of turquoise jewelry.
Your idea of fashion heaven?
Any gas station gift shop in New Mexico or Arizona that sells turquoise, 90s southwestern ponchos, tacky motorcycle tees and dream catchers. Scout Willis told me her mom has a huge warehouse in Idaho filled with vintage collections. I have a feeling that might be my fashion heaven.