RAF SIMONS has visited vintage stores in the past to seek design inspiration, revealed Cameron Silver, owner of famous LA vintage couture boutique Decades. The new Dior creative director is a customer of Silver’s store.
“Designers treat it as a laboratory of inspiration,” said Silver. “One designer in particular visited – I’m not against saying who, it was Raf Simons – and we talked. I taught him about Pauline Trigère. It was like a vintage education. It works both ways – I in turn learn by seeing what the designers are attracted to.”
Silver was speaking during a vintage fashion discussion panel hosted by author and former British Vogue features editor Bronwyn Cosgrave at The Arts Club in London last night – alongside famed vintage boutique owner (and VOGUE.COM blogger), Virginia Bates, and Kerry Taylor – a former Sotheby’s auctioneer and founder of Kerry Taylor Auctions.
“Discretion is important,” Taylor said. “Designers and stylists always visit vintage stores and auction houses for inspiration – nothing is new in fashion. Really great designers take one aspect and work from that, expand on it, emblazon it or change it slightly, To feel that you might have had a small part in someone’s design is a thrill – but it has to just remind you of the original, not be an exact copy.”
“Every song is a sample, every film is a remake, every play is a revival” added Silver. “It’s the same with fashion.”
Alongside Simons’ vintage-inspired works, the quartet also discussed Hedi Slimane’s debut Saint Laurent offering – a collection which Cameron described as “too referential”.
“If you’re going to present yourself as the messiah then you better deliver the 11th commandment,” he said of Slimane. “Every girl in LA already dresses like that – it was weirdly uninspired.”
The panel debated the definition and origins of vintage fashion as we know it today – just don’t call it that.
“The word vintage is an insult,” said Bates. “What I deal in is antiques, not vintage. When I first opened my first shop, vintage was just called second-hand clothing. I sell antiques – from Victorian, to Edwardian to the Thirties – it’s the way it’s evolved. That’s the difference.”
But of course it’s not just the designers who frequent vintage and antique boutiques.
“Celebrities wearing vintage is a demonstration of them owning their own style and not being a slave to a brand,” said Silver, who can reel off a string of regular Hollywood customers of all ages – from Catherine Deneuve to Elle and Dakota Fanning.
“A celebrity wearing vintage can absolutely relaunch a brand,” he added. “Like when Nicole Kidman wore an Azzaro dress from Decades to the Moulin Rouge premiere. Suddenly, everyone was talking about that brand. You can’t fake legacy or DNA.”
Click through the gallery on the left for a preview of Cameron Silver’s new book, Decades, out now at £40.
Dressed To Kill: Virginia’s Jazz Age Fashion, £45, is out now and available to buy online at Amazon.