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A Possession Obsession: Bill Indursky

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Bill Indursky, founder of Vintage and Modern - a leading source for vintage finds online - is a proponent of great design and great curation. Indursky's site has become addictive to the highest echelon of tastemakers, boasting the best quality products that all share one common characteristic: uniqueness. Here at MRKStyle, what's unique has become an obsession with us. Uniqueness usually translates to something with a story, and V&M manages to feature incredible narratives every day with its vast array of vintage items from around the globe. Indursky himself has his own obsession - his Father's belt - an accessory that's worth far more than 1,000 words. We chatted with Indursky on this item that is no doubt a glimpse into the man himself...

Bill Indursky: I am an obsessive collector. As an architect, designer, and web entrepreneur, I love order, taxonomy, data sets, facts, and statistics. I have always thought of myself as an archivist, but I fear that is just my own justification for my true hording nature. Maybe, like all creative rebellious children, I am going against my parents. They were very progressive but not very sentimental – especially about objects. My parents moved several years ago for their retirement and threw out what little heirlooms they could have willed (or donated) to my brothers and sisters. I was lucky that raided my parent’s closets years ago before heading to college or I would have no family memorabilia. I believe in fate, and running one of the largest vintage, antique, and design sites on the internet today, V&M, was no accident. It dangerously fuels my collecting addiction and creates the new “family heirlooms” that I missed growing up.

How do you live with your heirloom?

One of the few items I saved from my family comes from my dad’s closet. My father was into belt buckles his whole life. My favorite was a buckle from when my dad was sixteen. He belonged to a gang called The Sharks (I know it is cheesy, but it was 1955 after all). His gang found itself in many rival fights and the weapon of choice back than was - you guessed it - a leather belt and heavy buckle. I know it is a little perverse to covet a weapon. I still own it today and hangs with my other belts. He got rid of all his other buckles.

Who in your life has most influenced your personal style and taste?

I attended the University of Cincinnati where I studied architecture, ceramics, furniture design, and fashion. Soon after I graduated, I got a job in fashion design and was asked to be part of a judging panel for the fashion design senior projects at my alma mater. On the panel was iconic American fashion designer Anthony Muto. He headed the fashion house Albert Nippon, which was a powerhouse in the eighties. He had his own line and he and Karl Lagerfeld often competed for the same jobs. He lived an exciting bohemian West Village life in the sixties and seventies, among some of the most influential artists of our time. He and I became close friends and Anthony acted as my mentor. He even found the apartment I live in today in Chelsea. He has had the most lasting impact on my life and design aesthetic. I learned, “New York restraint and practicality. And chase your dreams – dream bigger.”

A close second was one of my first boyfriends. He was much older than me, from a wealthy elite Milan family and also lived the most colorful life. He owned a hot night club that still is tops in Milan, was a famous London DJ and even had a number one hit on the radio in the early nineties in Germany (David Hasslehoff eat your heart out). He was best friends with some of the most iconic gay designers and artists and he opened that world of creative possibilities up to me. Keith Haring, Boy George, Gaultier, Depeche Mode and so many others were people who I hung out with when I was with him in Milan. He was known for his “trashy-chic” style and that aesthetic stays with me the most. It also explains my outrageous clothing today. I have been teasingly called the Gaga of Antiques!

Fill in the blank: Whenever I look at my longtime boyfriend I can’t help but smile.

He is sweet and saintly. He grounds me and makes me laugh each day with some small new silly word, phrase or obsession of the moment, usually pop culture derived.

What’s the best part of your day?

I am a total creative night person and never mind staying up all night. But the time I get most creative thought done is in the shower. It is the only time I am alone, not making decisions and doing something mindless enough to concentrate on other things. Being a thoughtful creative being is always the best part of my day. True creativity happens so little, as we don’t have “space” for it in our lives with all of modern day pressures.

Describe your ideal day...

I always have packed my life full. I believe we all could pass away at any moment and that we need to live our life and not be a spectator or put it off for later. I've worked anywhere from one to three jobs at the same time since I was in high school, so my ideal day is for me to stay in bed for hours (a true luxury) and watch mindless TV one hour after another. TV is my escape – it transports me into another world.

What is your favorite place to shop for antique/vintage pieces?

Of course I shop my own site, V&M. With 17,000 items live on the site, there is always so much that I miss and am constantly surprised that we have this or that. I also act as a dealer on the site myself, so I hunt for treasures everywhere. One of my favorite non-V&M places to shop are the lesser known small auction houses. They have some real steals – which I bring to and resell on V&M!

What was the most memorable gift you’ve ever given or received?

I must admit I am not a big gift person. I think that most adults buy themselves anything they really want and that if people don’t like what you get them it is so awkward.  Shopping for others is very hard.  I love making people gifts that have meaning. I did it my entire life growing up. My most memorable ones where shadowboxes; one for a friend returning from serving in the army during one of America’s wars, the other for my mentor, Anthony. I could not resist making him a Saint Anthony shadow box. He is religious and spiritual. Most of my early adult life I could not afford much of anything and it was a way for people to know that I cared enough to make them something, regardless of how little I had.

What was your last purchase that you believe will mean something to you ten years from now?

I have been writing a book on Danish American artist Emil Carlsen (1848 - 1932) for the last several years. I was able to obtain an original work by him extremely below market value at auction. The painting was pitch black from a house with a serial smoker. I cleaned the painting and it now is worth ten times what I paid for it. It is one of my most favorite things. It represents so many things I believe in.