While Gabriela Hearst‘s organically beautiful vision at Chloé gradually starts to thrive in Paris, back home in New York, she does what she does best. In the crowd at spring-summer 2022 show were Naiomi Glasses and TahNibaa Naataanii. Members of the Navajo Nation, they collaborated with Hearst on the woven swatches that were inset into the bodice of a sleeveless dress and the shoulders of a trench. Glasses organized the arrangement (she’s a graduate of the Creative Futures Collective, which is dedicated to empowering creatives from disenfranchised communities), and Naataanii, who is a sheepherder and a weaver, did the hand work, with the help of her mother and daughter. At a preview, Hearst said, “I like to make sure that what we do is good for more people than just us.” Her press notes put it this way: “Being able to create beautiful pieces that are desirable and at the same time that empower others is probably one of the most satisfying personal experiences.” She also worked with Manos del Uruguay and a Bolivian collective, Madres & Artesanas Tex. The former are responsible for a couple of gorgeous chunky runas, and the latter for pieces in a finer gauge multicolor crochet based on a swirling, abstract painting Hearst made with her children. The non-profits are her regular collaborators, but she also talked about helping a close friend through a mental health crisis, and incorporating the art her friend made during her crisis into the spring collection. The flower print pieces that are the result of that process didn’t make it into the show, but in the studio they looked bright and lively. On the runway, Hearst’s verve is sometimes smoothed out in favor of concision and clarity, a certain fashionable decorum. But those who know Hearst, or even just follow her Instagram, are familiar with her irreverence, her inner wild child. She makes a dignified suit, but she’s also a woman who loves dip-dye.
Gabriela Hearst delves deeper into the sustainable achievements of her Chloé residency, and it looks beautiful. Although I was not in love with Gabriela Hearst’s debut collection for Chloé, her next steps at the Parisian maison are promising. First, the direction of the brand’s Instagram, which is all about Zoë Ghertner’s raw, yet sensual photos of nature and female bodies – no aggressive product placement, no logo rebrandings, just idyllic visuals featuring poetic musings in the captions. Second, the resort 2022, which is a far better image of what Hearst vision for the brand really is. “We’re here on a mission,” she told Vogue, listing the impressive measures the house is taking to make its collections sustainable. If you came for the romantic mood boards and the classic tales of trips to the archive, this wasn’t it. “I haven’t gone to the archive,” Hearst said. “I feel like I’ve loved Chloé for so long and I have this idea of what it looks like. It’s not that I don’t respect what’s been done in its history, but I want the representation of what Chloé means to me to come out first.” Instead, the collection was an accelerated exercise in what we might discover to be our post-pandemic fashion mindset: What you wear is only as good as its social and environmental footprint. “We can’t deny what we went through on a global scale. Things are going to be different,” she said, referring to a cataclysmic year that shifted our understanding of environmental impact and made companies like Chloé – already on a sustainable path before her arrival – look to eco-conscious figureheads like Hearst. “Each collection is an opportunity to do it better,” she said. “I already did the least sustainable thing you can do, which is to have three kids.” In spirit, her proposal was geared toward those kids: the next-generation mentality Hearst says can’t come quickly enough. “We need to move out of the way and let them take over. They’re wired in a different way. They have a different perception.” In design, the collection’s Chloé-revering bohemian pragmatism reached out to generations somewhat older. Puritan-ish dresses were constructed in circular deadstock denim – with no metal, laser treatment instead of water, and recycled wood buttons – scalloped leather, and deadstock broderie anglaise. Linen trench coats trimmed with embroidered white edges demonstrated how Hearst might see a classic wardrobe staple through the instinctive Chloé lens she talks about. Blanket coats and fringed hand-spun dresses riffed on the hippie-esque references we historically relate to an eco-friendly wardrobe – not one for a cliché, Hearst likened them to techno dance parties. “Rave against the machine,” she punned, showing off a matching multi-color debut Chloé sneaker defined by its great, big stitches, every component created from recycled material. “I’m really attracted to product that feels handmade. I want to feel like a human worked on it.”
They say that fashion will never be 100% sustainable. A brand can do its best to keep things eco-friendly, but in the end, clothes are still being produced. But Duran Lantink‘s method proves the industry that there’s a revolutionary (and very witty) way of making fashion as wasteless as possible. His upcycling methods – repurposing unsold designer-label clothes in his pioneering, cheeky way – date back to 2013, but only now seem to fully resonate with a wider audience. Autumn-winter 2021 season is the designer’s first (of course digital) fashion show collection. “Basically, during lockdown, I had time to work with my assistant, Thibault, on all the materials I had left over from collaborations with stores and brands, and to come up with this, our first runway collection.” Thibault is in the show, wearing, in one of his exits, a swishing lemon yellow dress that is reconstructed from another dress which had been left over from Lantink’s collaboration with Ellery last year. The point was to give him free rein to recycle and give new life to their unsold inventory. Lantink pointed out to Vogue how he’s unpicked, restyled, and refashioned multiple piles of clothes lying around his studio which “used to be” garments by Balmain, Balenciaga, Prada, Proenza Schouler, Vetements, Marine Serre, and many more. “In the beginning, we started with stores to see how we could work with their deadstock to see how we could stop their clothes going into landfill. And that was the beginning of thinking how we could create a completely new form of business.” The collection is like an aethetical 2000s-style remix of sexy revealing, sparkle and sharp minimalism. There’s a zigzaggy sparkly dress – one breast out – remade from something unsold from Balmain, and naked illusion half-dresses sewn onto stretchy body pieces. A flash of a diamanté thong (made from recycled materials) is homage to Tom Ford’s Gucci 1997 moment, but with a Duran Lantink logo planted in the crucial place. Yet Lantink has also now come up with an ingenious plan for extending the buzzy fashion “moment” so that it can morph into potentially infinite new shapes for his followers. He announced the launch of a service on his new direct-to-wearer website. “When you’re fed up with something, you can click on two tabs. One, where you can resell. On the other, we will work with you to remake what you have to become whatever you like. So a coat can become a dress. A dress can become a shirt. A shirt can be trousers. Whatever you want!” People who are up for engaging with Lantink’s process are destined to be the happy recipients of fully documented online records of where their clothes originated, and how they’ve been altered over time: a personalized archive. That redefinition of being able to love and re-love clothes in a never-ending cycle restyled by a designer is something truly, truly innovative.
Louise Trotter‘s sustainable-meets-chic-meets-smart vision of Lacoste keeps on delivering with every season. Lacoste has the benefit of being a brand at the nexus of athleisure and luxury, offering pieces that are at once trop sportif and trop française. That’s a clutch position for a fashion house in these times. It also has the benefit of the well-dressed Trotter at its helm. She is the woman in a slouchy polo, mannish trousers, white sneakers, and aviator glasses that makes you pinch yourself in a jealous rage when you pass her on the street or are seated next to her at a dinner. Someone who is calmly unstudied, comfortable, and totally not try-hard. Suffice to say, Trotter has long understood the benefits of generous, easy-to-wear clothing with arty touches in the form of a funny, albeit small, graphic or the juxtaposition of sorbet colors. So when it came time to design Lacoste’s second collection of the lockdowns, she knew exactly what to do: “Capture the active lifestyle that we share today and that blurs between home life, work, and play.” The backbone of Trotter’s autumn-winter 2021 offering is Lacoste’s famous piqué cotton, cut into lively hued polos, but also groovy tracksuits and cardigans. Some are intarsia’d with crocodile claws and flaming tennis balls – sort of silly patterns Trotter found in the brand’s archive. They are all, she notes, unisex – as is almost everything else in the collection. If the varsity jackets and cool puffers read a little on-the-nose in terms of branding, Trotter’s continuation of spring 2021’s upcycled and collaged windbreakers, trousers, and coats offer a more cerebral take. The Lacoste archive is rich with both heritage inspirations and unused or vintage materials; Trotter has married them nicely in these upcycled pieces. They will pair well with the collection’s piqué tracksuits and cartoon colored pool slides. That’s exactly how Trotter would wear them. In a time when everyone is questioning how to dress, a sure-footed and stylish creative director with a singular vision is a good guide.
It’s no news that vintage became our (old) new favourite way to shop – especially now, during the global pandemic. Some consumers are thinking deeply about their carbon footprint for the first time, look towards a sustainable lifestyle or simply want a true, one-of-kind gem in their wardrobe. Although I’m selling vintage for years now with on Vestiaire Collective (find my page here!), I just now started buying vintage for myself. I follow plenty of vintage lovers and collectors, from the well-known ones (like Alexander Fury and Shrimpton Couture) to emerging names, and I feel constantly inspired by their knowledge and fresh take on wearable fashion history. There’s a whole huge splash of vintage shops on Instagram lately, but it’s really not just about having that 2000s Dior Saddle bag or a Jean Paul Gaultier tattoo top in store. A truly succesful, digital vintage spot doesn’t imitate anything else – the key is an authentic personal style, which sharply curates the new arrivals and drops. Below, you will find my favourite five Instagram feeds that sell the most exciting vintage fashion, from archival Prada skirts and over-the-top Blumarine dresses to hand-knitted vests and Anna Sui shearling jackets. And so much more, because brilliant vintage isn’t just about the tag, but the soul of the garment!
Olivia Haroutounian‘s Real Life As Liv is one of the hottest (and unique) on-line vintage shops out there. In her styling photos, the 22-year-old college student frequently wears vintage Manolo Blahnik kitten heels, ugly-chic Prada skirts and Anna Molinari velvet coats. She’s been a collector since she was 10 years old, so it was only a matter of time that she become a vintage seller. Now, her sales pay her tuition at the University of Houston, where she studies corporate communication with a minor in anthropology. Her brand new on-line shop is a treasure chest, including such finds as boldly printed Xuly Bet tops, Ozbek lace dresses, fluffy Miu Miu bags, a velvet Chanel evening dress or a cute Anna Sui hoodie. You just won’t buy something that isn’t in Olivia’s personal, fantastically eclectic style. Moreover, Haroutounian is obsessed with the Sex & The City wardrobe, and it’s truly exciting to see her finds she shares on Instagram (lately, she posted a sheer Marc Jacobs dress from 1998, which was worn by Carrie in an alternate intro version of the show!). “I truly believe that the vintage market is going to become as big as retail and as powerful,” she told Vogue’s Liana Satenstein (the founder of Schmatta Shrink!) in an interview. “Keeping that in mind, the most important thing to me is keeping it accessible and realizing that my business is a vehicle for promoting being environmentally conscious. Also, educating people on fashion history and designers people have forgotten about or never heard of.”
This is not only one of my favourite on-line vintage shops, but also one of my favourite feeds to follow on Instagram! Desert Vintage sells truly beautiful garments, and they also create incredible editorials featuring the rare pieces. The story of this vintage business is equally compelling. Desert Vintage was founded in 1974 on the boulevard of 4th avenue in Tucson, Arizona. In July of 2012, Salima Boufelfel and Roberto Cowan took over the already established Desert Vintage, with the desire to curate an undeniably stylish and eclectic mix of true vintage items for both men and women. Desert Vintage has come to be known as a great source for excellent, one-of-a-kind vintage pieces of quality and flair. They not only share a passion for vintage and antique items, but also love the art of mixing and styling collections in a contemporary and wearable way. The Desert Vintage website offers a variety of items that encapsulate the ultimate vision we have for the company. Throughout the website, you will find an eclectic mix of vintage that spans from the turn of the century through the 1970’s – like a Halston sequined dress or Chloé by Karl Lagerfeld gown. The inventory is forever revolving, and includes textiles from around the world, jewelry and leather collection of wearables and accessories.
Archive Club is based in Warsaw and was founded by Emma Knaflewska. This vintage shop is absolutely extraordinary, and if you seek vintage Prada or underground Japanese labels, this is a digital heaven. Also, Archive Club’s aesthetic is so, so oddly phenomenal. Here’s an excerpt from their website, because it utterly explains the experimental spirit of this shop: “Who still remembers the year of 1586? That’s when I founded my shop, Archive Club. At first glance, it may seem strange. I mean, it was ages ago. Believe me, the flow of time is something quite illusive. Sometimes it feels like I remember what happened 420 years ago better then yesterday. I recall that objects meant something different back then. They say that when choosing one’s clothes or arranging one’s apartment, we reveal our personality (or put on a mask). Few centuries ago it was more of a mutual relationship. These objects could take hold of us or at least tell us something. The clothes we’re selling are ancient shells of our material existence. These shells cannot be heard anymore, we’ve lost our connection to them. We treat items as inanimate objects, but surely they can speak to us. In the recent past it was understood in the time of Fin-de-siècle. Unless you talk to your shoes sometimes too?”
Lucia Zolea‘s carefully curated drops sell out in minutes. No wonder why, really – those pieces are just too good. A signature Lucia Zolea look? One of her cute knitted cardigans with roses or sheeps, a silk, pink night-gown (worn during the day!) and a 70s necklace with adorable, beaded flowers. I bet dozens of brands keep Zolea’s photos on their mood-boards.
Nong Rak is a Thai and American owned creative studio centered in sourcing and selling vintage and antique clothing, as well as working with photography, styling, creative direction, sustainable garment design and interdisciplinary design. Whether it’s a Victorian lace dress and early 80s Missoni cardigan or a 60s Woolrich blanket coat or one of Nong Rak’s “debris” crotchet designs, their idiosyncratic selection is all about intriguing textures, timeless quality and bold style. This is a vintage wonderland, I tell you.
“Live” collage by Edward Kanarecki. Photos sourced from the vintage stores’ Instagram pages and websites.