Vintage Fashion Gold Standard

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On a recent trip to New York I discovered New York Vintage, deep in the heart of Chelsea and Manhattan’s garment district, steps away from the 26th St/6th Avenue fleamarket where I had been happily browsing for $5 vintage hats.  This is a revelation in vintage fashion: an extensive collection of museum quality pieces, available for direct purchase (or in some cases rental), presented in a high-end but chic boutique environment.  It is probably the best vintage fashion boutique I have encountered – scroll to the end to see my top 10.

When vintage clothing of this quality and preservation is available, why settle for a mass-manufactured high street buy of dubious quality and origins? Even better, what if that piece came with a story and a few mysteries of its own?  High street stores have become adept at using celebrity branding to hype and sell limited edition products.  Shoppers seem willing to overlook the discomfort of a long queue in the rain for a chance to surge through the shop doors in a crowd and take their chances in grabbing a piece of celebrity magic at a bargain price.

The vintage clothing market is a world away from this.  Recently, when I admired a stunning leopard print coat on a very glamorous lady, she told me she had acquired it long ago from a vintage dealer she visited regularly and who briefed her on the age and background of the pieces she bought.  She had no plans ever to relinquish her hold on this coat – it was a highly valued piece of her wardrobe, as much for its story and uniqueness as for its look.

So does provenance matter?  A resounding “yes” according to no less authority than the Musee Galliera: “…Fashion is not just a matter of clothes as such: knowledge of their provenance or of when they were worn is often essential to true appreciation” they declare on their website20150614_155523Provenance is also an essential element considered by auctioneers – Didier Ludot’s Couture auction with Sotheby’s in July included a number of items owned by luminaries like Lou Lou de la Falaise and Barbara Hutton.  In London, Kerry Taylor’s specialist fashion and textile auctions regularly feature items with interesting provenance.  At their October auction, a 1950s Christian Dior grey satin and tulle dress once worn by Scarlett Johansson sold for £7,500.  Provenance need not always mean celebrity connections: at the same sale a 1940s Utility suit reached a world record price of £1700, bought by a museum, keen to acquire a pristine example, unworn and with the original shop tag.

20130622_102304_1If we all started buying vintage what is the role for costume museums?  Already the most adventurous costume institutes and museums are changing the way they operate, prioritising their collections to seek specific items but also using their holdings to educate the public about the value of Haute Couture and artisan workmanship.  The Fashion Institute of Technology’s Museum in New York even publishes a wish list of the things it hopes to acquire that includes 1930s couture as well as work by Azzedine Alaia; Alber Elbaz for Lanvin; Bouchra Jarrar; Nicholas Ghesquire for Balenciaga; Alexander McQueen; Givenchy; Haider Ackermann; Jun Takahashi for Undercover; Junya Watanabe for Comme des Garcons; and Proenza Schouler.

Now we hear that the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris will collaborate with H&M next year on clothing and accessories inspired by their archive.  The collection will launch next spring as the museum opens a new exhibition: Fashion forward – Three centuries of fashion.

So does this bring us full circle?  Vintage fashion moves higher up the value chain into curated collections with museum quality garments, museums move into the mass market attempting to attract young fashion enthusiasts through their doors.  If it drives interest in the skills, artisanship and sheer hard work that has produced extraordinary examples of dress over the centuries then that has to be a good thing.

So which are the best vintage boutiques?  Here’s my list but what do you think?

  1. New York Vintage, 117 W 25th St, New York – crème de la crème in my view, top quality and incredible stock. Paradise.
  2. 20151121_112904The Gathering Goddess, by appointment in W London or online – a beautiful and varied collection including mid-twentieth century US designers less well-known in the UK alongside beautiful 70s pieces from YSL, Chloe, Lanvin and others.
  3. Pandora, Cheval Place, Knightsbridge, London – really a designer resale shop and great for clothes from the last few years, especially Chanel and Hermes.
  4. Les 3 Marches de Catherine B, 1 rue Guisarde, Paris – No true fan of Chanel and Hermes should miss this place, the ultimate place for bags and accessories.
  5. La Boutique, 1045 Madison Avenue, New York – great range of stock from recent resale to real vintage and a broad range of designers. I’ve found wonderful Rochas (Olivier Theyskens) pieces here as well as a good selection of costume jewellery
  6. A Second Chance, 1111 Lexington Avenue, New York – specialising in Chanel and Hermes, a great selection of high quality stock, including some beautiful camellia brooches last time I visited.
  7. Michael’s 1041 Madison Avenue, New York – stock includes some real treasures – landmark Mugler jackets from the 1980s, a good selection of Comme des Garcons and some stunning shoes.
  8. Fara, 6 Upper Tachbrook st, London – in fact a charity shop but with Chanel, Hermes, Dior and YSL originals nestling alongside the 70s psychedelia. Great for a curious rummage.
  9. Bang Bang, Goodge st and Drury lane, London – good for pieces from the last 2-3 decades including the more conceptual labels – Yohji Yamamoto, Comme des Garcons.
  10. La Double J, online – truly inspirational website showing vintage clothes styled with flair and imagination. Gorgeous and never fails to lift the spirits.

And the markets….

  1. 26th Street & 6th Avenue in New York – a double whammy here with an outdoor fleamarket at weekends opposite a covered market with dealers housed in their own space selling high end vintage. While there I spotted some amazing Chanel and Schiaparelli jewellery.
  2. Puces de Vanves and Puces de Clignancourt, Paris – Vanves better for a bargain but as ever, arrive early.
  3. Portobello road, London best on a Friday early as possible.
  4. Hammersmith Vintage Fair, first Sunday every month at Hammersmith Town Hall. Divine.
  5. Aix-en-Provence, go for antique clothing and textiles, crafts, antique watches. Best on a Thursday from early morning to dejeuner.

Gilded New York

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New York department store, Bergdorf Goodman has become legendary for its holiday window display and when this year’s display was unveiled on 17 November, it certainly lived up to the heritage of a store celebrating 125 years on 5th Avenue.

20151117_094328The display, on the theme of “Brilliant”, uses millions of Swarovski crystals, bursting with gemstone colour, to complement the equally starry fashion on display – a Marc Jacobs sequinned dress, a Libertine dress, a stunning lilac suit or evening gowns of emerald and ruby.  Next door Bulgari is adorned with a giant diamond necklace and down the street, Tiffany is sporting plumes of yellow and white diamonds.  No one does holiday decorations like these guys.20151113_161955

 

Even back in the era when Bergdorf was getting established, New York was gaining a reputation for gilded luxury as a small exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York displays to excellent effect.  It is an insight into the visual arts commissioned by the wealthy families of late 19th and early 20th century New York.  The objective for some was to gain entry to high society and a few failed spectacularly, their runaway excesses exploding like supernovae and consigning them to social black holes.

The jewels on display caught my eye.  Many were made by Tiffany (also sponsors of this exhibition) and feature stunning gems set into seed pearl chokers, art nouveau-style brooches, filigree and granulated gold jewellery inspired by archaeological discoveries of ancient Greek hordes.

20151117_094317If you are in New York, it is well worth the trip uptown to the higher reaches of the Upper East Side to check out these gilded ancestors of Fifth Avenue’s holiday displays.  Plus ca change.

The Portobello Pop-up not to be missed

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The Graceful Goddess vintage fashion pop-up shop at 199 Portobello Road in London is midway through its two-week residency and is proving to be quite a crowd- pleaser – in the time I was there last Saturday morning, there was a steady stream of visitors, some literally stopped in their tracks whilst driving by.

So what is drawing the crowds?  What makes this pop-up so interesting is the combination of three vintage dealers sharing the space, each with complementary collections.  There really is something for everyone here, whether you are an haute Chanel goddess, a McQueen glamazon or a Gucci geek.

As you go through the door you are faced with a couple of gorgeous Chanel 2.55 quilted handbags, with a rack of classic Chanel jackets a few steps away, and also a rather gorgeous pair of tweed knee-high boots.  Many of these items have provenance, having been owned by celebrity-clients or fashion industry insiders.  This is typical stock from buymywardrobe.com and very tempting it is too.  A friend is currently searching for the perfect, classic Chanel jacket and I have urged her to visit this shop ASAP.

20151121_112818There is also a great selection for an edgier taste, including some wonderful McQueen tailored dresses and a sprinkling of Alaia, including a very unusual black “ringmaster’s” jacket.  I also spotted a lovely 80s Yohji Yamamoto red and white oversized jacket – very now but also a piece that would not date.  Much of the McQueen stock comes from Graceland, a vintage business run by stylist, Grace Woodward.

20151122_161450For those of us with a more eclectic eye, there are some truly beautiful vintage pieces from earlier decades, including some wonderful original Yves Saint Laurent – I spotted an original “le smoking” tuxedo suit and a very lovely pale blue mohair coat.  There is a rack devoted to evening gowns, so this is just the place to come to shop for Christmas parties too – I fell in love with a glittering Oscar de la Renta full-length shirt-dress (see picture) and a dramatic black velvet and white satin Malcolm Starr gown.  These come courtesy of Wilma Mae Basta’s Gathering Goddess vintage emporium – a source of really beautiful and highly unusual pieces.  You can be sure of finding things here that you will not see anywhere else: a 30s sequinned cape and beret, previously property of an Argentinian glamazon; or an exquisitely-made 40s slip in ivory satin and lace.

20151121_112843Then there are shoes – Manolo Blahnik and Charlotte Olympia among them; handbags; and jewels.  In short, this shop promises to solve your Christmas present buying for any female friend.  Though if you are anything like me, you will enter with the best intentions of shopping for presents and emerge with a few (ahem) presents for self…..

The Graceful Goddess closes its doors on Sunday 29 November, so be sure to visit 199 Portobello road before the goddess has left the building.

New York Fashion: An audience with Betty Halbreich

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In the world of personal shopping Betty Halbreich stands apart.  Personal shopping is generally the art of tapping into a client’s style, preferences and needs, helping them kit themselves out appropriately, perhaps also challenging them a little to experiment with things they would not otherwise have tried.  Personal shopping with the legendary Mrs Halbreich, however, is therapy for the soul.  On a recent visit to Bergdorf Goodman I managed to gain an audience with this style legend and found her to be every bit the genius that she is billed as.

To start with, she is charm personified.  As she ushered me into her white-walled office overlooking Central Park, she worried about how cold my hands had been as she shook them and about how cold her office was.  Her working space is a wonder in itself – the clean cold lines of the white walls are broken down by an Indian painting here, a clothing rail there, magazines, books, a row of orchids on the windowsill.  The environment is eclectic and indicates a broad range of interests.  In fact, as we started to talk, it was current affairs that was on her mind, not fashion.  Mrs Halbreich feels passionately that people should exercise their right to vote and if she had more time than her job allows, would campaign on this point.  Gun crime in the US, the immigration crisis in Europe, extremism, climate change are all on her mind and, as a child brought up during the Second World War, she worries that the world is again standing on the brink of global conflict.

We cannot put the world to rights so we turn to talking “shop” – literally.  She does not have a favourite designer but does admit to loving Jean Muir (“She really knew how to use a needle”) and feels that the designer never achieved the recognition that she deserved.  For hats she loves Patricia Underwood for wearability and Philip Treacy for his dramatic artistry and she loves a veil on a hat for the way it flatters the face (and she writes in her book* about her own mother’s love affair with hats).

Mrs Halbriech loves Uniqlo too – a slightly surprising but endearing admission from one whose job is selling some of the most expensive clothes in the world to some of the wealthiest clients.  Yes, this is a job with a window onto a world of privilege, but she also sees first hand the results of the rising pressure on designers to create more fashion, more frequently.  She feels there is almost too much fashion these days, with too much recycling of ideas, too few high quality textiles, priced too highly.

O20151114_151759ur time is drawing to a close but she insists on walking me out to the elevators and suddenly her instincts kick in and, with the fairy godmother’s twinkle in her eye, asks me if I have seen the Libertine collection and whisks me around the corner to see it.  She has read my style runes to perfection – in fact this very collection had caught my eye on the way in – and I love every piece of it.  I think she loves it too as she tells me about the Californian designer, inspired by Damien Hirst’s skull motif, all the while stroking an irridescent sequinned coat.  We pull pieces from the racks admiring them for a few minutes and I fantasize about being one of her clients, picking out one of these exquisite pieces to take home with me.

As with all dreams, one eventually has to wake up and as the elevator doors closed with Mrs Halbreich waving at me, I had no need to pinch myself for she had signed my copy of her book: “What a joy to meet.  Do come again.”  Oh yes please, but next time, the Libertine is definitely coming with me.

* “I’ll Drink to That”, by Betty Halbreich

New York Fashion: Virtue and Vice Part 2

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In global fashion, the Swiss do not have a great reputation. We think of dirndl skirts, lederhosen, embroidery and sturdy footwear.  Susanne Bartsch was not your average Swiss female and it would be hard to imagine her wearing any of these items, especially after seeing the items of her wardrobe on show at the Fashion Institute of Technology’s show, “Fashion Underground: the World of Susanne Bartsch”.  Though originally Swiss, it was living in London that Susanne Bartsch developed her fashion sensibilities and style, eventually transferring it to New York when she moved there in the 1980s, bringing recognition for many of the English designers she had come to know, including John Galliano, Vivienne Westwood, Mr Pearl, Body Map and John Richmond.

This is a world away from mainstream New York fashion in the 1980s and 90s – the minimalist world of Calvin Klein, the elegant utilitarianism of Donna Karan, or the romanticism of Ralph Lauren.  These clothes sparkle, screech, snarl and twitter with the sensory onslaught of the jungle, albeit an urban one. What is striking is the sheer range of style on show here.20151114_111034

There is a gorgeous John Galliano corset dress, a draped column of midnight blue velveteen that could have come straight from an Edith Wharton novel.  Then there is a Vivienne Westwood baggy, draped tweed coat and dress from her Pirates collection, not unlike some of the tweeds worn by Gabrielle Chanel when she was first mining English country clothing for a female wardrobe.

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At the opposite extreme there is pure showgirl: My Pearl’s stupendous corset bodysuits and the ultimate embodiment of Thierry Mugler’s style in a sequin encrusted mermaid dress.

It was also interesting to see this mini kimono jacket, so reminiscent of Alexander McQueen’s designs but in fact made by a designer called Zaldy, now working as a costume designer.20151114_112444

This is a show about a fashion chameleon who drew designers and creatives into her orbit and helped to bring them recognition.  Like Isabella Blow in London, her personal style was powerful enough to be capable of showcasing some of the strongest looks created by designers operating on the edge where fashion meets art – Leigh Bowery, the performance artist was closely connected with the same club scene.  As muse, model, patron and fashion impresario we have much for which to be grateful to Susanne Bartsch, if not the Swiss as a nation.

Fashion Underground: The World of Susanne Bartsch is at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology until 5 December 2015 – if you are in the city be sure to see it for a pure burst of glamour inspiration.

New York Fashion: Virtue and Vice Part 1

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New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute is about to open a new exhibition showcasing the legendary style of Countess Jacqueline de Ribes (Jacqueline de Ribes: The Art of Style running from 19 November until 21 February 2016).  In the meantime, it has a tiny but interesting showcase highlighting the influence of renaissance patterns and textiles on clothes right up to the present day.

Fashion and Virtue: Textile Patterns and the Print Revolution 1520-1620, at the Metropolitan Museum, New York highlights the “virtue” displayed in the art of embroidery, practised by aristocratic ladies but also applied to some of the most prized and privileged textiles, used by kings and priests.

A20151115_120227longside some miraculously surviving pattern books, brocade bed hangings, gold thread embroidered vestments and lace altar cloths from the sixteenth century, we see their more modern descendents.  The juxtaposition of the twentieth century incarnations of these designs alongside their original inspirations is what is so interesting here.  We see early twentieth century, flapper style, lace tunics, echoing a renaissance altar cloth.

There is a rather gorgeous Russian dress, again early twentieth century, completely covered in embroidery and lace, echoing the embroidered samplers of the sixteenth century (pictured at the top of the page).

There20151115_120257 is even a Ralph Lauren cashmere ski jumper that harks back to sixteenth century heraldic motifs, with unicorns or griffins replaced by the twentieth century Navajo patterns and reindeer.

This is a little gem of an exhibition and an interesting perspective on some of the most common motifs of modern fashion.  It is well worth seeking it out, right at the back of the Met’s ground floor in its peaceful, sky-lighted room before it closes on 10 January 2016.

Fashion field trip: NYC

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New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology has one of my favourite fashion museums.  Their 2011 exhibition of Daphne Guinness’s wardrobe remains one of my favourite exhibitions, not only for the beauty of the clothing but also because it explored the way she expresses her individuality through clothes and pursues creative collaborations with designers like Alexander McQueen and Shaun Leane.

Now I’m excited to see their current show of Susanne Bartsch’s Fashion Underground clothing.  It promises to be a paean to club culture of the 80s as well as offering clothing by John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Jean Paul Gaultier and Rick Owens but I am especially interested to see the looks by Thierry Mugler as fashion today leans more towards that hourglass silhouette again.   I’m sad that I’ll just miss the opening of the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute show Jacqueline de Ribes: The Art of Style that begins on 19 November – it promises to be an irresistible peek into a dream wardrobe, expertly collected and deployed through a life of unparalleled style.  Instead, I’ll content myself with checking out the Met’s current mini show of Renaissance textile print samples.  Nerdy perhaps, but again, brocades and lavish textiles are very much of the moment again.

I also plan to take a morning to stroll around the garment district (6th-8th Avenues and W39th-W23rd Streets).  Though now a shadow of its former self, the streets are still wonderfully atmospheric, filled with flower and jewellery wholesalers and haberdashers.  This time, I’m on the hunt for hat embellishments to transform some recent buys and have taken note of Fashion City Insider’s report of Albertus Swanepoel’s top millinery suppliers.

Of 20151108_163036 course I’m looking forward to some shopping too and will be visiting some of my favourite vintage shops and, as holiday season is already approaching in the US, I’m hoping to be treated to some stunning window displays, for which Bergdorf Goodman remains pre-eminent.

As I pack my suitcase, I’ll be consulting Bill Cunningham’s reports on Manhattan street style for some inspiration.  New York requires a sharp, well-dressed look.  Black is essential, though this time I think a red dress or two will be going in my bag.  More to come, reporting on all this diverse inspiration – from club culture to holiday windows in a few blocks.  Manhattan has a unique fashion vibe and I love it.

Graduate Fashion Week: remember these names

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November 5th in London – Bonfire Night – commemorates a 1605 foiled plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament.  This year, rioting in the streets by the Anonymous group reminded us all of the serious origins of what is now a family party night.  The rioters never made it into Parliament this time, but the corridors of power were infiltrated by an even more eclectic and interesting bunch as Parliament celebrated Graduate Fashion Week.

As 20151105_201148police helicopters buzzed overhead, sirens wailed and chanting and shouting wafted on the river breeze, six talented graduates showed highlights from their collections as MPs, academics, retailers, media and assorted fashion luminaries applauded enthusiastically.

We saw cool menswear in hot colours and with a20151105_202121 certain oriental look from Ella Nisbett.  There was relaxed and highly wearable layering from Poppy Russell, one of her models dancing energetically down the catwalk as if to prove the point.

20151105_202229There was a gorgeous stripey knitted two-piece from Pippa Harries with the simple shapes of the 60s in a flattering cut – I’d wear this endlessly.  Rachel Siggee gave us minimalist menswear, beautifully draped and printed with super-sized photographic prints.  20151105_202415Hannah Wallace delivered a sport-themed collection of leggings, balaclavas and super-sized, super-cosy quilted jackets.

20151105_201525It was Melissa Villevieille’s womenswear that really got my heart fluttering though, in particular a stunning evening coat, encrusted with oxblood beading in stripes and falling neck to ankle in front but dramatically short in the back.  It was love at first sight.

For twenty-five years Graduate Fashion Week has been doing sterling work helping students from forty UK universities move into the commercial world.  It supports the whole fashion ‘food chain’ from the artisan (traditional needleworking, millinery), to the commercial offer (business support, sustainable and ethical manufacturing, PR, marketing, retailing) and the public presentation (editorial and catwalk photography, styling, art direction, illustration).

Their most eye-catching event is the annual Graduate Fashion Week, with a 900-seater catwalk show, awards and live events with some of the biggest names in the industry (Suzy Menkes, Hilary Alexander, Alber Ebaz, Daphne Guinness).  The charity’s day-to-day work, however, lies in connecting students with mentors, sources of commercial advice and support and, crucially, helping graduates with the networking to get themselves into paid work.

At the Parliamentary catwalk last week, Christopher Bailey, CEO of Burberry gave a heartfelt speech about how GFF support had enabled him to study and move into work: “Our future talent is the future of our industry”.

As a charity, they rely on sponsorship and donations to continue.  Chairman, Mark Newton-Smith called on retailers and other big brands present to donate £50,000 for bursaries to support talented youngsters that otherwise could not afford to study.  Let’s hope they do and that they and the volunteers, mentors and other supporters all continue to keep this valuable part of the fashion industry supplying the talent the industry needs.

Graduate Fashion Week 2016 5th – 8th June 2016 Shoreditch, London

http://www.gfw.org.uk

@officialGFW

Treasure-dresses

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Quiz time: what is this object? A pendant?  A brooch? An extraordinarily large single earring? A hair pin?

It is an epaulette – one of a pair of jet-beaded shoulder adornments.  Late nineteenth century dressmakers knew a thing or two about adornment, despite the rather sober and modest reputation of the age.  When it came to creating treasure-dresses with jewels and beading, there were no limits to their ingenuity.

On 7 November, Paris’s Palais Galliera will open a new exhibition to show case some of the most outstanding examples of this genre and from the first half of the twentieth century.  La mode retrouvée, les robes-trésors de la Comtesse Greffulhe offers a glimpse of the glittering contents of the wardrobe of the woman  immortalised by Proust as the Duchess of Guermantes in A la Recherche du Temps Perdu. This exhibition promises to tap straight into the vein of fashion romanticism.  It also casts an interesting light on a character who clearly understood the power of personal image in publicising good causes and whose life spanned a revolutionary period in fashion (1860-1952) .

The Duchess was a patron of the arts and science and, as the acknowledged leader of Paris society, she used her position to raise funds for her chosen causes and to support political campaigns.  She understood the power of personal image and used her rare public appearances to reinforce a near-mythical status.  Her wardrobe is therefore an haute couture dream and Paris’s Palais Galliera is now offering us the opportunity to come face-to-face with fifty models from some of the greatest couturiers of the time – Worth, Fortuny, Babani, and Lanvin.  We are promised clouds of tulle, gauze, chiffon and feathers; kimono jackets and velvet coats; oriental patterns, gold and silver.  As a pure shot of fashion escapism it would be unmissable but with literary and social interest it is a unique insight into a world of privilege, luxury, activism and patronage.

We have until 20 March 2016 to see it at its exquisite home at the Palais Galliera in Paris (which I highly recommend).  Then later in 2016 it will move to the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.

In the meantime if, like me you need some Galliera gorgeousness before your next visit, its curator, Olivier Saillard is about to publish a new book celebrating its amazing archive.  The Impossible Wardrobe accompanies the groundbreaking three-year performance collaboration between the Galliera and actress, Tilda Swinton.  Three unique performances in the Palais Galliera are recorded in three volumes. In The Impossible Wardrobe of 2012, the actress walks down a runway with a selection of historically and culturally significant garments from the past 200 years. In Eternity Dress of 2013, a garment is tailor-made in front of a live audience. In Cloakroom of 2014, Ms Swinton examines the special relationship between an item of clothing and its owner.

The Impossible Wardrobe is published on 10 November by Rizzoli (well, who else?).

La mode retrouvée, les robes-trésors de la Comtesse Greffulhe opens at Palais Galliera on 7 November 2015, running until 20 March 2016.  See their website for more information.

 

The Graceful Goddess

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A couple of years ago I went through a phase of buying lots of high street fashion: so much variety at bargain prices and no difficult choices to be made – if in doubt buy all the colours!  Like a sugar rush, it leaves you hungry again five minutes later. How many of those items are still in my wardrobe today?  Not a single one.

It does not take a genius to conclude that this is not a sustainable model, either for one’s bank account or the planet.  These days I’m more discerning: I shop to fill gaps or replace items; I spend on things I truly love; and I recycle regularly to charity, ideally on a “one-in-one-out” basis but this does take a level of discipline that I usually lack.

Increasingly I’m drawn to vintage fashion as a source of the exceptional and unique.  Vintage need not mean antique or historic – some of today’s most collectible items have been made over the last decade.  Finding these gems is not easy but that is all part of the appeal and the thrill of the chase certainly enhances the value I attach to my vintage finds.  It is always fascinating too to know when an item comes with a story or unusual provenance.

Next month London will experience vintage fashion in an entirely new way.  The Graceful Goddess promises a networking platform for women in the fashion business who care about sustainability, embodied in a series of pop-up shops and events.  It is the brainchild of two visionary women – Wilma Mae Basta, founder of the Gathering Goddess vintage boutique, and Grace Woodward, stylist and founder of Graceland Boutique.  They will be pooling their knowledge to support other women in the business and their formidable stock (think Alexander McQueen, Tom Ford for Gucci, couture Vivienne Westwood, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace) to give us all an unforgettable vintage fashion experience.

The Graceful Goddess will pop-up at 199 Portobello Road, London W11 on Monday November 16th until Sunday November 29th.  Vintage retailer, Buy My Wardrobe, will be there too and there will be in-store talks on vintage fashion, style and sustainability delivered by industry leaders.

London’s Portobello road is about to become an even hotter fashion destination.  Whether you are already a vintage goddess or if you are just tired of fast-fashion and looking for something different, don’t miss this.