Posted by Susan Hoimes on

The SF CHRONICLE STYLE SECTION has published "MDVII: GO BIG & BOLD OR GO HOME" an article showcasing MDVII's Susie Hoimes and her collection of vintage costume jewelry.  

As a girl in Kenya, Susie Hoimes picked apart vibrant flowers to make new patterns with their petals and made bead and grass bracelets with her Kikuyu maid.

Her father, a British tropical medicine specialist, collected rare books; her mother, a former dancer, exposed her to elaborate costumes worn on the stage.

Hoimes studied art at New York University, landed a real estate job and married a Greek financier, who moved the couple to San Francisco in 1989. They traveled the world for work and fun.

Her eye for the distinctive and an urge to collect led her to buy important Venetian glass, Spratling Mexican silver and haute couture costume jewelry by Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, Lanvin, Kenneth Jay Laneand others.

"I love beautiful things," she says.

In 1990, when she divorced, she opened her trove to the world at a Russian Hill shop she aptly named MDVII, at 1507 1/2 Vallejo St. (Extra credit for those who know the shop's name is 1507 in Roman numerals.) Vogue named the store one of the nation's most distinctive shops in its Best Dressed Special Edition in January.

Hoimes' clients include San Francisco philanthropists Norah Stone and Mary Beth Shimmon and celebs like British pop star Lily Allen.

The wares are sourced not from flea markets but from private clients across the globe, keeping Hoimes ever on the lookout for new treasures.

It's not all vintage all the time with Hoimes, however. Last year, she co-founded a "mindful glamour" jewelry line called BuDhaGirl. The bangles, bracelets and pins, sold online, are meant to inspire the wearer to pray or meditate when donning the item, to calm the mind.

But for those who want something tactile in the here and now, there's MDVII, by appointment only, at (415) 220-2583.

Costume jewelry 101

How to advise clients on what looks 'right': "My background is in fine art, so I understand what will look good on them, and what fits their personality."

How to get people to wear your big, bold pieces: "I'll have people say they can't wear something big. I say it's a question of how you feel. I get them to try it on. They take it and try it at home. If they don't like it, they bring it back."

How to wear bold jewelry correctly: "Definitely go for simpler clothing with dramatic pieces. Wear a fabulous black cocktail dress with wonderful earrings and your hair pulled back. I recently watched 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' again. Think simple dress and big pearls."

Price points: Jewelry ranges from $30 for an unsigned vintage bangle and necklaces to $8,000 for signed names such as vintage Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Coppola e Toppo,Christian Dior and others. Chanel has become expensive because of the limited supply of pieces by Madame Gripoix, who made the highly collectible and sought-after pieces of poured glass and recently passed away.

Carolyne Zinko is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail:czinko@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @CarolyneZinko

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