P & H Pick: the Best Vintage Fashion Resource Book

Icons of Vintage Fashion—cover by Penelope Blanckaert and Angele Rincheval Hernu

Icons of Vintage Fashion—cover by Penelope Blanckaert and Angele Rincheval Hernu

"Icons of Vintage Fashion [ Definitive Designer Classics At Auction 1900-2000 ]" is a coffee table pleaser and a must-have resource book for all who love high-design vintage clothing and handbags.

This comprehensive reference book features well preserved vintage designer garments from A-list design houses such as Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino, Versace, McQueen and more. The authors have done a nice job constructing an overview of fashion through the decades by showing 2 designer ensembles per page accompanied by the designer/design house name, a brief description, an estimate of the value of each piece, and what that piece brought at auction. Auction houses mentioned include some of the biggest names in Paris, New York and London. 

Perusing through the chapters I came across a few designers I had not been introduced to before. One such name; Paris couture designer Paul Poiret, worked in the early part of the 1900s designing beautiful, flowing dresses. He is my new historic-hero as he liberated all women from the corset, replacing that torture-chamber garment with the empire waist. Bravo!

Before you glaze over, thinking that perhaps this is not your cup of tea, you many want to consider looking into vintage designer apparel and accessories as an alternative to the standard retail experience, perhaps for a special occasion? At the very least you will be assured that no one in the room will be wearing the same piece. I have ear-marked a couple of pages that feature dresses I am currently dreaming about. One such lovely, is a Mondrian inspired shift by Yves Saint Laurent [Couture, Fall/Winter 1965-1966] that I will just have to keep dreaming about as it sold for 30,000 pounds at Christie's, London in 2011. Seriously. Who knew that the dresses our mothers and grandmothers wore would increase in value to that extent. The second dress, perhaps a little more accessible, is a Chanel black silk crepe mini dress by Karl Lagerfeld [Fall/Winter collection 1990-91.] It sold at auction for a modest 250 euros in 2012. And it appears "they" are now referring to the 1990s as vintage. In case you didn't know.

It is amazing that vintage designer pieces are given a second life through auction houses and boutiques around the US and in Europe. I was told by a shop owner in Paris that they prefer Americans in their stores as we appreciate the pedigree of vintage designer pieces. To shop a little closer to home see the article in "Icons..." about Cameron Silver of Decades: a vintage boutique in Los Angeles. 

Last spring, I happened upon a parade of perfectly styled vintage dresses in a Paris shop window. The store was closed at the time and left us wondering what we might have discovered if our timing had been better. What could be more unique and charming than a vintage dress, with all of that design history behind it, that is well preserved and ready for the next party? 

To pick up this book for yourself or as a gift for your vintage-fashionista-friend with an eye for design click on the  link below.