Your Guide To Shopping For Vintage From The Man Who Knows

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  • Ahead of the opening of WilliamVintage at Selfridges, we caught up with founder William Banks-Blaney to find out his top vintage tips

    William Banks-Blaney knows vintage fashion more than anyone

    When we heard our favourite vintage store WilliamVintage was launching a pop-up shop at Selfridges we couldn’t wait to kick off our Louboutins and hot trot it to Oxford Street to get our fashion paws on some killer vintage finds. For four weeks the king of vintage world, William Banks-Blaney, is bringing his treasure chest of vintage finds to the second floor of the department store. Spanning over 100 years of fashion design, the collection incorporates some of the finest vintage clothing and vintage haute couture in the world, including early work by Madame Gres, Balenciaga, Givenchy, Lanvin, Hartnell and Dior, to name a few.

    Ahead of the launch we caught up with William to find out his top vintage shopping tips:

    Always try it on
    ‘In the past, dresses were designed to look fantastic on the body not the hanger. If you are drawn to the colour or the texture try it on. It’s extraordinary how a garment changes when you put it on and how it changes you.’

    Don’t be a label snob
    ‘A vintage piece doesn’t need a designer label for it to be a fantastic piece. In the past the quality of production was incredibly high across the board. Pieces were well made from quality fabrics. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune or have a famous name attached to it for it to be a fantastic piece.’

    Don’t wear head-to-toe vintage

    ‘I never take a dressing up box approach to vintage; I won’t team a 1950’s dress with shoes and accessories from the same era. Pay attention to what the garment is rather than the fact that it is vintage. Vintage works best when you merge pieces with your current contemporary wardrobe. For example, at our Selfridges pop-up store, I’ve styled an amazing Elizabeth Arden 1958 white silk taffeta dress with a pair of current bronze snakeskin shoes from Alexander McQueen.

    Keep your eyes and ears open

    ‘You never know where you might discover an amazing vintage piece. A friend’s mother had 17 pieces of original 1967 Rahvis haute couture stored in a barn! They had only been worn once and were in perfect condition. I love the current way people are embracing vintage shopping. From East London to the flea markets in Paris to WilliamVintage at Selfridges, it’s a win win situation. From a fashion point of view, it’s better for expressing your individuality and it’s better for the environment. When you buy vintage you are moving away from that idea of ‘throw away’ fashion i.e when you buy something because it’s on trend and you only wear it a couple of times before binning it.

    Remember fashion is an investment

    Designers have always been and still are inspired by vintage pieces. At the moment I’m drawn to British designers such as Mary Katrantzou, Emila Wickstead and Jonathan Saunders. There is something about the English approach to tailoring that I love almost as much as couture. I find this new wave of designers bringing that high-end finish to pret-a-porter hugely exciting.

    WilliamVintage at Selfridges runs for four weeks from the 18 June. Check out

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