The Vintage Contessa
6222 Richmond Ave. #540
Houston, TX 77057
Mon- Thurs: 9-4:30, Fri- 9-noon…
Imagine a website and showroom that sells only the best vintage and newer handbags, jewelry and accessories from the world’s most sought-after brands: Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Hermes and Cartier. Enter- The Vintage Contessa, owned by Donae Cangelosi Chramosta and her husband Rob. Awhile back, Donae worked for her family’s marble business. She would travel to Italy and France in search of not only marble, but fashion. After marrying Rob and while on their honeymoon in Portofino, she bought her first Hermes belt. Fast forward to when she was pregnant with her now eight-year-old daughter Bella, she was strolling down Madison Avenue with friends. They ventured into Hermes and it was there that she bought her first Birkin. She had always wanted one and had aspired to have that be one of her financial goals in life. It was not long after, that her husband’s jewelry and diamond friends were offering to buy the bag from her. That concept led her to start selling other bags, such as: Gucci and Louis Vuitton; later evolving into Chanel and Hermes as well. The newly-formed business was out of her passion and love for these coveted items.
The Vintage Contessa was launched in 2011. The name of the business was derived from her strong Italian heritage (her Grandparents emigrated from Sicily on a cattle boat and came through Ellis Island. Her Grandfather was a highly-skilled shoe cobbler.) Growing up, her nephews would always call her ‘princess’ and she thought that instead of using ‘princess’ or ‘queen,’ she thought that ‘contessa’ was a better fit.
So fast-forward to the end of 2015, when I had the pleasure of visiting the showroom one afternoon and found myself immersed in Hermes Birkin and Louis Vuitton Speedy bags. The showroom is a combination of Donae and her husband’s businesses. She mainly concentrates on the bags, some jewelry and accessories, while Rob sells watches, such as: Rolex, Cartier and Patek Philippe and designer jewelry like: Bulgari and Van Cleef and Arpels. The showroom features over thirty Birkin and Kelly bags, twenty/thirty Hermes bags, around one hundred Louis Vuitton and fifty Chanel bags. The oldest pieces in the showroom are a couple Louis Vuitton trunks date back to the 1890’s.
I really enjoyed my visit, as I was able to browse and take my time. The HUGE plus for me was when Donae said that I could actually get a Birkin from the shelf and hold it, etc. I mean seriously, who does that?! I know the Hermes retail store does not. Growing up, I’ve always seen and read about these bags in magazines, but to be able to actually HOLD and study the bags…just the icing on the cake! I also know that when I decide to buy my first vintage ‘Louie’ or ahem…Birkin… I will buy from Donae and Rob, because not only are they honest, kind folks running a small/local business, but they personally buy their vintage and newer inventory themselves from all over the world and they take pride in making sure that everything is 100% authentic.
To get more information (and to do some online shopping) on the boutique, go HERE. To purchase/get information on the book her co-wrote with her daughter called The Vintage Contessa and Princessa, go HERE. Be sure to also follow Rob via Instagram under “countdumoney.”
“I love the pieces that transcend time, like the Chanel 2.55 bag, that was launched February 1955 and it’s still a bag in 2015… Another true test I believe for a great design is how sought after it is. No matter if a girl is 18 years old or 80 years old, she comes in and wants to carry a Chanel classic bag.”
– Donae Cangelosi Chramosta