An event held at Vestiaire Collective’s pop-up store in Paris last night gave a fascinating insight into the archive secrets of French luxury houses Hermès, Dior, Givenchy and Rochas.
During a talk led by fashion journalist Ilaria Casati, attendees learned about what constitutes an archive, what role they play and how they are added to over the years.
While archives have an immense importance for the history and DNA of fashion houses, Casati questioned whether, in light of the current phenomenon of designers returning to the archives for inspiration, they are now becoming a marketing tool for brands.
Participating in the talk were Barbara Jeauffroy-Mairet, project lead and associate curator at Musée Dior – Christian Dior Haute Couture; Julia Guillon, who has worked on the archives of Courrèges and Givenchy and is now at Rochas, and art expert Côme Rémy, who was head of the Conservatoire des Créations at Hermès from 1993 to 1997.
All three shared anecdotes of how they acquire items for a brand’s archives, and the thrill associated with finding something in the most unexpected of places (imagine getting a call from a dry cleaners in possession of a vintage Dior couture dress that a customer wanted cleaned before she donated it to charity).
What came through most during the talk was each participant’s staggering knowledge of a particular house’s codes and production, meaning that they’ve bought unbranded pieces at auction having recognized something that the auction experts-and other bidders-missed.
Wondering how you too can get a slice of the action? Take their advice and go to flea markets. Look for things that don’t belong somewhere-a pearl and cameo bracelet in a box of costume jewelry, for example-and that’s your piece right there.
When questioned on what consumers should be looking to buy from brands in particular – a Lady Dior bag or a Hermès carré for example – the response was unanimous: buy what appeals to you, for your own ‘archive’.