When a then-unknown Christian Dior presented his extravagant first collection on February 12, 1947 in a Parisian atelier on Avenue Montaigne, Carmel Snow, the renowned editor in chief of Harper’s Bazaar, enthusiastically declared, “That’s a New Look!” The fashion-starved, postwar audience was eager to rediscover their romantic and frivolous femininity, and Dior's timing was impeccable. "My dream is to liberate women from nature," Dior flamboyantly declared, transforming mere fashion shows into star-studded events attended by Princess Soraya, the Duchess of Windsor, Marlene Dietrich, Lauren Bacall and other glitterati of the day (and cashing in before his untimely death in 1957 by signing his name to hats, glasses, stockings and other accessories...virtually inventing the system of licensing).
Beginning June 4th, YOOX.com will be launching a limited-time 100+ piece collection of vintage Dior. Curated by vintage expert and former New York Times fashion critic Holly Brubach (who shares some tips on shopping for vintage like a pro below), the collection will feature choice Dior clothing and accessories previously hidden in far-flung private collections in Europe and the US, from estate sales, and auctioned off at prestigious houses like Christie's New York & Franco Jacassi in Milan.
Some of the highlights include:
A jacket in silk shantung bordered with an elaborate organza fringe, from the early 1960s and an Haute Couture cocktail dress from the 1967 Spring Summer collection; it once belonged to Maria Felix, the legendary film star of the 1940s-1950s, who was as famous for her intense performances as for her personal style. A Dior devotee, the exotic beauty was a regular at the Avenue Montaigne atelier. The dress was purchased from Christie’s of New York, which held a special auction dedicated to the sale of some of the famous actress’s personal memorabilia.
An important necklace owned by the famous fashion journalist Adriana Grassi, correspondent for publications such as Women’s Wear Daily and Gap Magazine, composed of amethyst stone-cut crystals and clear rhinestones from the 1960’s. "Dior’s accessories are statement pieces within themselves," explains Brubach. "Whether it is paired with a pair of jeans, a suit, or an evening dress, the crystal starburst earrings or the brooch in gold-toned metal with cabochon stones are truly eye catching pieces that can bring elegance to any outfit."
"All designers have their ups and downs," explains Brubach, noting that his high point was without question the New Look, "but I don’t believe Dior had a “bad” collection. His career was cut short by his untimely death." Prices range from $130 for sunglasses to $9000 for a cocktail dress...and if this is anything like the site's vintage Chanel sale last year that sold out in record time, be ready to shop the minute June 4th arrives at YOOX.com.
EXPERT & FASHION CRITIC HOLLY BRUBACH SHARES SOME TIPS ON HOW TO SHOP FOR VINTAGE LIKE A PRO:
In a box-store world, vintage is the best way to stand apart from the crowd. And if you know what to buy, you get fashion bragging rights for your in-the-know savvy. Accessories are an easy and affordable way to sass up any outfit, while a dress or chic suit are virtually trend-proof. Offline, the best vintage can be found in stylish locales where fashionistas love to dress up for myriad chic soirees, not wear the same thing twice, and then resell or consign the contents of their closet regularly. In Williamsburg, try Beacon's Closet, or head for East 7th Street in NYC's East Village to Vintage Row. In Paris, the 9th arrondissment is the epicenter of fab vintage.
How should vintage be worn today?
The first rule of thumb is: not head-to-toe. It’s important to mix vintage with contemporary, to integrate the old with the new in a way that doesn’t call too much attention to the vintage item(s), just as an antique chair can become part of a modern room. Concentrate on the whole effect and not on a single piece. Many people treat vintage too formally, maybe because it’s “precious.” But one great way to make it seem completely timely is to pair it with jeans.
What accessories best go with a vintage outfit?
Ones that aren’t of the same period. It’s important to contrast the old and the new and, if the outfit has great presence, not to choose accessories that are self-important and compete with it.
Where is the best place to shop for vintage?
Online! The vintage landscape has been transformed by the internet, bringing unique pieces to an avid audience. It’s still worthwhile, making the rounds of the dealers, but it requires a lot of legwork and the best of them are scattered across too many cities for one person to cover.
How should vintage be cleaned and maintained?
With care! Find the best dry cleaner where you live, with a reputation for handling high fashion and a familiarity with different materials. The most fanatical collectors store their clothes in boxes, in acid-free tissue, to preserve items that are museum-worthy. But hanging vintage items that you wear often is fine.
If I buy vintage will I look old?
No, but that’s a common fear. The crucial thing is to mix it. It requires a certain self-assurance to carry off wearing vintage. Perhaps that’s why it’s often associated with women who have great style.
How do you know if you are getting a deal with vintage pieces?
It helps to know a little history, which is easily accessible. As far as pricing is concerned, you can research what similar items from the same designers have sold for. But because pieces are often one-of-a-kind and the demand is competitive, the rule of thumb is the same as for anything else in fashion: if you love it enough, it’s worth the price….
What's the secret of wearing vintage year round?
Some designers, like Emilio Pucci, specialized in resort wear and their looks translate easily into warm climates and seasons. Others, like Balenciaga, were better known for their coats and suits, more structured looks. Accessories are a great way to incorporate vintage into a summer wardrobe. Experiment with vintage jewelry, handbags and scarves to add an accent to the latest clothes in a way that’s chic and personal. Dior’s pieces are timeless and able to be worn year round, making them true fashion treasures to own.
- Lesley Scott
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