Dynamite Angel: Shoebox Soigné
“I have a rich fantasy life, I dress up to pick up Chinese food,” says Dynamite Angel store-owner and musician Carolyn Wallace, looking around her recently opened, 250-square-foot jewel box of a space in New Preston, Connecticut. As customers came streaming in on a perfect fall day, Wallace gave each one a quick run down on the “pre-loved and super fab items” in her clothing and accessories shop, followed by earnest congratulations when customers give closer inspections to her well-sourced finds.
Wallace’s boutique boasts a cohesive collection of dresses (Michael Kors, military style, $55), jackets (70’s-inspired patchwork mink coat a la Debbie Harry, $480) and a pair of chocolate brown Prada knee high boots (euro size 39, $200). It’s hard to say what will be in stock on any given day, but whatever it is, from an obscure designer or tagless item to an agnès b. tartan skirt (euro size 40, $65), it will be of the latest fashion. Wallace feels “It’s great if it has a cool label, but if it’s a lovely piece, I’m going to bring it in here. If it’s a nice design, it comes in regardless.”
The suggestion to start a store came out of necessity: Before settling in Litchfield County ten years ago, Wallace hopscotched around the country, and as an artist and musician amassed a collection of “gig clothes” she eventually needed to be rid of. At the urging of her husband, fellow musician and Washington Computer Repair owner Ray Paolucci, Wallace decided to channel her inner rockabilly diva, and love of music and fashion, into the sale of “pre-loved and dangerously cute” fashion. She started at flea markets with small booths and eventually graduated to a slightly larger version with Dynamite Angel in New Milford in 2010, and now to the studio apartment-size digs she has in New Preston.
Wallace is a spark of energy and Peter Stiglin from nearby Pergola makes it known she’s a breath of fresh air, and a welcome addition. “She’s amazing, such a great addition to our area. And have you seen it? She’s packed!”
In a room that can feel like it’s getting ready for a fashion shoot, with perfectly styled outfits hanging up and fuchsia walls mixed with crystal chandeliers and gilded mirrors, leopard fabrics mix with modern acrylic furniture in a contemporary version of what one would expect from Jayne Mansfield’s boudoir. It’s often with that edgier, rock and roller’s eye that Wallace finds some of her toniest acquisitions, like a Jean Paul Gaultier dress and a Roberto Cavalli blouse ($50), plus a serene mix of Vera Wang, Marc Jacobs, Tory Burch, with some Theory thrown in for good measure. Some item still have tags (we caught a Barney’s New York tag in the dress rack). There is and will always be a large amount of the tiny store’s real estate dedicated to jeans. At any given time Dynamite Angel carries a dozen different brands of denim, a sort of boutique within a boutique, the variety ranging from J Brand ($75), Diesel ($50), 7 For All Mankind ($75), to Joe Jeans ($50).
Wallace may have found her calling in what a friend of hers refers to as ‘Sophisticated-Funk’ and has happily traded in her four a.m. rock-n-roll lifestyle and hot pink hair for thrift shop finds, hot pink walls, and a more sophisticated, upscale style and turned Dynamite Angel into a well-culled collection of Gucci, Prada, Fendi, and Dolce & Gabbana, hang next to popular collections that may have escaped your hands, like last season’s Missoni for Target collection (jacket XL, $80).
Carolyn Wallace sighs and surveys her shop, saying, “I’m just so happy. I am doing what I love and meeting new people every day and finding friends,” referring to a pair of Dolce & Gabbana stilettos. —Dale Stewart
13 East Shore Road
New Preston, CT
Open Friday through Monday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.