Civic auditorium holds its last fashion expo

Goodbyes can be bittersweet. This weekend, The Vintage Fashion Expo said farewell to the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium as the auditorium said farewell to Santa Monica.

The expo brings collectors and dealers of vintage clothing ranging from the 1890s to the 1980s to trade and sell their specialty garments.

Saturday and Sunday marked the end of the expo's visit to Santa Monica. Starting in October, the expo will be held at the Los Angeles Convention center indefinitely.

For the last 22 years, vintage fashion enthusiasts Fred and Elisabeth Normoyle have been involved with the expo, first as sellers and then as part-owners.

The Normoyles were less than thrilled about the relocation.

"We're very disappointed," Fred Normoyle said. "What's frightening is that the public doesn't know," said Elisabeth Normoyle. "They've gotten the word out there, but [the public] doesn't know this building is shut down." Kristi Alvarez, a part-owner and dealer, said she looks forward to the inevitable move. Alvarez said she believes the high profile venue will attract more designers and attendees to the event.

"This show has been going on for a little over 25 years and people don't always know about it," Alvarez said. "As it moves to the convention center, I think it's going to put us on the map."

Not just collectors and organizers have been unsure of what to think about the relocation. Event attendees were also polarized on the subject.

Bryan Duckworth, who has been coming to the expo for the last four years with his girlfriend, was unfazed by the relocation.

"We'll definitely go; we like coming," Duckworth said. "It's been a tradition for us."

Old traditions die hard — something that Andi Holcomb was all too familiar with. Holcomb, who was decked in all-period attire, is a vintage fashion enthusiast.

"1920s art deco is my passion," she said. "The finger waves, the clothes, the curlsI've always been attracted to that era."

Holcomb was unsatisfied with the decision to relocate the expo.

"It bothers me because of the tradition," Holcomb said. "It's the tradition of being in this building."

Fred Normoyle shared Holcomb's sentiment. "I'm gonna really miss this building; lots of good memories," Fred Normoyle said.

However, Holcomb said that once the expo moves later this year, she will make a single visit just to "check it out."

Enthusiasts, collectors and sellers all shopped, searched and haggled in pursuit of the best outfit at the expo this past weekend.

"I call it spontaneous show and tell," said Elisabeth Normoyle.

Amid the eclectic vintage fashions, she described patrons at the last Santa Monica expo as enthusiastic.

"Somebody I've never seen before comes in with a bag and I ask 'did you get something great?' And they whip it out and all the women are looking," Elisabeth Normoyle said. "That's what we want, a real pleasant experience."