The Secret Side of Hunter Bee
Jonathan Bee in back room at Hunter Bee in Millerton
Hunter Bee, the antiques store that opened last fall in Millerton selling furniture and folk-art objects that give a country house wit and soul, has a funky and fashionable alter ego. Co-owner Jonathan Bee, who was a club kid in 1980s New York City, has opened a shop-within-the-shop (“I call it our secret back room,” he says mischeiviously) that specializes in vintage clothes with a high fabulosity factor; it’s the kind of small boutique that peppered the East Village once upon a time when Madonna still shopped at second-hand stores (vis Desperately Seeking Susan, 1985.) One of his most devoted customers is the actress Kristen Johnston (3rd Rock from the Sun), who is a Lakeville weekender.
“I don’t use the word vintage,” says Bee, whose stock includes items like a circa 1995 Moschino silk dress ($200), a couture Randolph Duke red-carpet dress ($500), and circa 1988 Mary McFadden ball gown with jeweled sleeves ($175) that Imelda Marcos might have worn. He also has men’s clothes like a patchwork silk Todd Oldham vest ($200) and a gold Alexander McQueen suit ($600.) “This is about dressing to have fun,” says Bee, whose love of fashion is expresssed in his fine art work, which is on view in an insallation called The Garden of Eden Reclaimed at the Canal Gallery in Holyoke, MA.. “People think they have to be a certain size to wear these clothes, but I have tricks to make things fit.” He has filled what he calls his “secret back room” with shoes, boots, purses and other accessories that will no doubt cause a commotion in rural fashion circles.
You feel like you’re at a party when you’re shopping for party clothes in the back room at Hunter Bee.