When I met Justin he was dressed to the nines, fedora-clad, wearing vintage shoes, and walking around Newport with an old Pentax 35mm camera.  I knew I had found a friend and kindred spirit.  I think he left his heart in 18th century America, which explains why he has spent the last 5 years working at living history museums in New England.  I was blown away by his intellect, his curiosity and his intense commitment to understanding and teaching others about the past, so naturally my jaw dropped when he told me that he decided to forgo a traditional education and left highschool as a sophomore to jump right into his trade.

He worked for four years in the wardrobe and agricultural exhibit departments at Plymouth Plantation and was also a colonial role player, so in addition to acting like a pilgrim all the time, Justin designed, made and sourced period costumes for his fellow villagers and was responsible for garment care and maintenance.  Picture this gent, dressed similarly to the above photo, running 15 loads of dirty 17th century farm apparel at Ye Olde Pilgrim Washing Well (this is actually what the laundromat in Plymouth is called) and probably darning 10 pairs of worn out socks at the same time!  Currently, he works as the Director of Historic Interpretation at the Coggeshall Farm Museum in Bristol.

Remember when I said I loved how Adriana’s sunglasses had a story behind them?  I guess I have a thing for friends who think of accessories as wearable and meaningful tokens rather than mere things from a store.  Justin brings the spirit of the past, impeccable craftmanship, and a less-is-more attitude to his style that I just couldn’t help wanting to photograph the minute we met.  The inside of his ring is inscribed with the words: “many are thee Starrs I See/ yet in my eye no Starr like thee,” and is a reproduction of this 18th century English ‘Posy Ring’ (after the french word poésy, meaning poetry) at the British Museum.  He made his scarf himself, and he can make you one too if you ask!  It was handwoven from worsted wool with a ‘goose eye’ twill pattern and three very subtle, deep indigo stripes at each end.  And that feather in his fedora came from a Narragansett Tom Turkey at the farm.

I can’t wait to attend Coggeshall’s maple sugaring weekend in February with him; I’ve heard about this day since I was a kid and always wanted to go!  For information about the event, click here, and to find out more about custom weaving work (he makes blankets too), email Justin directly at justin.levi@ymail.com

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