Marie Blanchet, Vestiaire Collective
Category: Clean Luxury
Are you an avid lover of vintage? Or interested in purchasing a few pieces? We tapped Marie Blanchet, Vestiaire Collective’s Vintage Queen to answer our most pressing questions.
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START IN THE FASHION INDUSTRY AND WHAT DREW YOU TO VINTAGE?
I started vintage shopping as a teenager. I began going to flea markets and vintage boutiques in Paris, New York and London searching for unique pieces that no one else would wear. What attracted me to vintage was the idea of asserting my own style and owning a piece that I’d be the only one to have. I’m influenced by music and fashion icons like Jane Birkin, Jimi Hendrix, Pattie Smith, Kurt Cobain, Bianca Jagger and I’m also inspired by Kate Moss. So I’ve been drawn to vintage quite naturally.
Style is something personal, it’s beyond following the trend, it’s finding who you are. My love of vintage led me to meet one of the most important vintage fashion experts in Europe who has been teaching me pretty much everything I know. I also worked as costume designer for TV before arriving at Vestiaire Collective to build its vintage offering.
WHAT DOES YOUR ROLE AT VESTIAIRE COLLECTIVE ENTAIL?
My job has been to build and curate the vintage catalogue. I have defined the identity of the catalogue, set guidelines for price negotiation, sourced products, and also recruited sellers in France, US , UK, and Italy. As part of my role, I have built the whole business strategy for the section of our business. I also work in constant collaboration with the editorial and PR teams on the vintage dedicated editorial, social media communication, and on all the future PR ventures we are developing around vintage. I strategize how vintage is promoted on our website and also manage a team of curators who are vintage specialists.
“The best safe investments, better than gold today are: the Hermès iconic bags – Kelly, Birkin and Constance. Look for timeless classic pieces from Rolex, Cartier watches, Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Hermès bags, Cartier and Bulgari jewelry. For fashion pieces specifically, look for Yves Saint Laurent ready-to-wear from the seventies…”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE PERSONAL VINTAGE PIECES? WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR PERSONALLY WHEN SHOPPING FOR YOUR OWN WARDROBE?
My favorite vintage pieces: A 1970’s Yves Saint Laurent wool cape, a 1980’s Yves Saint Laurent smoking jumpsuit, circa 1980 Yves Saint Laurent Opium gold clutch re-edited by Hedi Slimane, Vaccarello for Saint Laurent Paris, a 1990’s Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, a crocodile green emerald green Kelly circa 1990, my Jane Birkin inspired basket, my 1980’s silver fox fur, 1996 Maison Martin Margiela cut-out jeans… The list could go on and on!
When shopping vintage, I look for quality. I look for original and not copy – for example, I won’t buy a 1970s blouse that was trying to immitate the 30s, I’ll buy the 1930s original blouse. I always look for vintage pieces that are relevant now. When wearing vintage, the key is to keep it modern, so buy the original pieces that are inspiring the fashion of now – for example: Buy an original 1950s silk reversible souvenir jacket when Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Saint Laurent are all making vintage-inspired souvenir jackets. Also, wear the Chanel by Karl Lagerfeld leather and chain iconic belt from the nineties as Emmanuelle Alt does a while editorial in Vogue Paris around Chanel with the model wearing the re-edition of that belt in all the images.
HOW DO YOU THINK VINTAGE FITS IN WITH THE NEW MOOD FOR SUSTAINABLE CONSUMERISM?
It fits perfectly. In essence, consuming vintage is giving another life to a product. Vintage pieces are quality, a quality that has been lost. Purchasing luxury vintage (clothes, bags, jewelry, watches, accessories) is buying pieces that will last a very long time, special unique items that you can pass on to your children. It’s also a great investment as these pieces carry their value.
WHAT SHOULD A NEW CUSTOMER LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING VINTAGE – WHETHER THAT’S PARTICULAR PIECES THAT WILL WEAR WELL, OR BRANDS THAT HOLD THEIR VALUE? WHAT ABOUT A WELL SEASONED BUYER EXPANDING THEIR COLLECTION?
The best safe investments, better than gold today are: the Hermès iconic bags – Kelly, Birkin and Constance. Look for timeless classic pieces from Rolex, Cartier watches, Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Hermès bags, Cartier and Bulgari jewelry. For fashion pieces specifically, look for Yves Saint Laurent ready-to-wear from the seventies, Margiela nineties pieces, 1930’s lace dresses, 1920’s Japanese Kimonos, 1980’s fox fur jackets, 1990’s biker leather jackets, Alaia 1980’s leather pieces… these are the pieces influencing today’s trends.
FINALLY, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE PRACTICALITIES OF OWNING VINTAGE? WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO CARE FOR PIECES? HOW DO YOU MIX IT WITH YOUR EXISTING WARDROBE?
I’d say the best way to take care of your vintage pieces is similar to any precious luxury piece. For exotic leather such as lizard, especially vintage ones, the bag handle can be very fragile, so do not wear it all the time. It’s the same for very delicate clothes such as silk and sequin pieces. Haute couture should be worn only at occasion. Go to the best dry cleaner in town!
Most vintage pieces are actually better quality than contemporary pieces so they should stand the test of time. My favorite example: Each summer I still wear a 1900 white dress I bought years ago. It is still in great condition after more than a 100 years!
Mixing vintage with contemporary pieces is the way to go. The total vintage look isn’t a good look. Vintage classic timeless bags go with anything, for instance, wear a 1990’s box calf navy Kelly with a pair of jeans and an Acne leather jacket. Other looks include:
A YSL or a vintage Chanel jacket like you’d wear a jacket today.
Wear a 1970’s YSL cape with Saint Laurent boots of this season.
Wear your Chanel bag over anything.
Wrap a vintage Hermès carré around your head as a turban with Chloé’s flared trousers from this season.