Imagine the best of late-60s Couture minimalism re-fashioned as contemporary Ready-to-Wear using the best wool crepe and a flash of Liberty print lining. Imagine that this might just form the ultimate capsule wardrobe – the few highly edited pieces that could help you get through a week of business travel with hand luggage only. Imagine that you could actually acquire this perfect blend of couture design, modern manufacturing and the perfectly-edited suite of items.
If any of this sounds like the answer to your prayers, then you have William Blanks-Blaney to thank. The founder of WilliamVintage and globe-scouring haute couture hunter spotted a gap in the market and worked with Liberty’s designers to create a limited edition capsule wardrobe.
One evening at London’s Fashion and Textile Museum, William himself explained how it all came about and what inspired the pieces themselves. The most eye-catching of all is a full-length, sleeveless tunic, split to the thigh and modelled on a Maggy Rouff original from 1967. It is without doubt an “impact” item, whether worn with the perfectly-cut trousers from the collection or, more daringly, on its own (in the spirit of Penelope Tree at Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball).
The hottest item in the collection is the cape (now sadly out of stock), with a small stand-up collar and a dashing Liberty lining. There remain a few of the silk blouses in the hot pink Kaleidoscope print. Most versatile of all, perhaps are the knee-length coats and tunics – smoothly streamlined, loose enough to be comfortable day into evening and capable of being worn layered or alone. These are all the simple, stylish classics that should be in every business-woman’s travel bag.
Consistent with their quality and limited run, they’re not cheap but despite that, sales since the launch in October have been extremely strong – you can snap up the remaining treasures on Liberty’s website here. Even if you can’t find your size left or stretch your budget, the collection itself stands as a superb template for a perfect business travel wardrobe.
Blanks-Blaney is an extremely engaging speaker, even down to characterising himself as a “Frock ambulance chaser” for his activities in rescuing extremely distressed couture pieces from re-modelled destruction. He illustrates with a story about a visit to a Palm Beach shop. As he was about to walk away empty-handed they produced a bundle of fabric destined to be cut up for cushion covers. It turned out to be a ruby velvet cape, a Dior original from the AW 1954 H-line collection. Severely degraded from years lying folded in a drawer, he bought and lovingly restored it
He founded WilliamVintage in 2009 because he loved vintage fashion and felt there was a gap in the market for an edited, wearable selection of vintage couture classics. He has forged a business by accumulating an enviable range of beautiful clothing based on close observation and understanding of his clientele. He says that the thing that excites him most about his work is seeing a woman transformed by her outfit – her confident regard, the set of her shoulders, her erect posture all signaling a woman who knows she looks tremendous. Thank you WilliamVintage for reminding us what fashion is really all about.