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Best Outfit Combos



I love finding perfectly constructed outfit combinations on Pinterest. There’s such a simplistic and minimalistic approach to photographing the perfect selection of pieces. Without fail, it immediately makes me want to run in my closet and find the closest pieces I have to pair together. I suppose that’s a good thing (kind of the point of outfit inspiration!) but somehow, I never look quite as cool as the clothes do against that pretty white backdrop…

Follow along the pinspiration with me here!




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Bye Wallet! WilliamVintage Online Shopping


Good news for all of us internationally challenged travellers! WilliamVintage now offers online shopping. Which means rather than just looking at photos of his gorgeous vintage pieces and wishing they could be yours, now they can be right from your own computer. This is both totally awesome and completely dangerous at the same time. (But absolutely the best kind of danger, right?) I was very lucky to speak with the always lovely William by phone from London about this exciting new development and below are my questions and his thoughtful answers. I also wrote a piece for LA Fashion to celebrate the launch!

But first – can we just pause for a minute and gawk at this beauty?

Sybil Connolly 1956


 How much of your collection will be available online? Will there be certain pieces still only available in your store?

I think the store will always have more than we have online primarily just because the pieces sell very quickly. The online will really be a great representation of WilliamVintage so it will be everything from great little 60’s shift dresses that you can wear on a day to day basis, something great for throwing into a suitcase right the way through to something you can wear to the Oscars and anything in between. So it’s going to cover haute couture and pret a porter pieces; the pieces I like to call the great unknowns which might not even have a label right the way through to Dior Haute Couture from the 50’s.

And everything is one of a kind pieces essentially too so I suppose it would be difficult to double up on what might be in the store versus online.

Exactly. Everything will continue to be in the store. It will normally be somewhere between about 150 to 250 pieces online at any one time. Which really might change according to the season or what I’m feeling currently or what I think is going to appeal and has a kind of a magic to it. It tends to be quite a kind of a gut thing rather than just listing the inventory straight away and immediately. It’s really just a snapshot of the store but still a very full offer. We’re also not doing it by ‘click on skirts’ or ‘click on shirts’. It’s going to be broken down into the way most of the women I know prefer to shop. So instead we’ll have a section which will be for cocktail, we’ll have a section for dinner, we’ll have a section for black ties and red carpets, we’ll have a section for day events which will take you anywhere from going to a friend’s wedding, a christening to polo in the park. And we’ll have a separate section for haute couture and then we have a section for what we call boardroom which will just be for killer pieces if you’ve got a big meeting.

That was actually one of my next questions! Because your store is arranged by color rather than price point, right?

Color, yes. And I really wanted to kind of carry that into the website. Obviously color doesn’t necessarily work so much and be quite so straight forward. So speaking to my clients and alot of my friends, a point I make which is nobody says, “Oh, I’m desperately looking for a 1960’s empire line” they will say, “oh, I’ve got a really big event and I need a fantastic dress for it.” It’s that simple. So we’re trying to put the pieces into a really user friendly approach that you can think, “okay, I’ve got a major meeting” or “I’ve got a really great date coming up” or “I have a big dinner” or “I have a black tie” just so that you can kind of get a sense of it in your life to see what the options for WilliamVintage might be for you.

Will it mirror your store as well where all price points are grouped together?

It will be a mix, really. It will be like a gallery view the same way you would see on Net-A-Porter or LuisaVia Roma. Where you’ll click on boardroom and then there’ll be a whole gallery of however many pieces there are within that section and have a look at the dress. We set the website up so you can go through it, do the whole thing, rather like first dibs. So if you want to have a look at the prices you click on View price and pop in your email and that reveals the whole site with all of the pricing so you can then shop, get an idea, have a look through of of budget or colors and refine what it is you’re looking for a little bit more.

How much say did you have in terms of the the design of the website? Did you go to someone and say ‘this is how I want it set up’ or was it a collaborative process?

I worked very closely with the website designer so the look is very much still us. Very much my approach. I hope the site is really quite pared back and very simple, very modern and really just lets the clothes speak. I’m not one for throwing in lots of bells and whistles and cute patterns. It’s like it’s all about the dress. That’s the primary color on the site and hopefully the primary interest that catches your eye is the dresses I’ve found.

Will the e-commerce portion of your business still be run out of your current London store or are you expanding into other places?

That might be a separate interview in about two to three months. I can’t be more cryptic than that. I might have something exciting to share then. We’ll be operating out of London and we still have the store in Marylebone and we also have a new headquarters in London Bridge separate from the store now as well. We’re continutally growing and continually developing. We have an online team who are very much a part of us. We haven’t franchised anything out. The boxes and tissues for online are all going to be done from the same room I’m in. So it’s still a very small, very dedicated team. There’s not going to be any of the anonymity of not being quite sure who packed your dress or how it was organized.

Are you a big online shopper yourself? What do you feel are some of the advantages and disadvantages with online shopping?

I am. Well, I like online for the same reason probably most women do. If you’re time poor, it’s a great way of shopping. If you’re already in the clothing, you kind of understand the store and what works for you. It’s a great way of shopping. I think there’s always a concern with people that they can overthink vintage because previously shopping vintage was something people had to keep an eye out for. Now whether that is a piece might arrive and it might not have been cleaned or a zip might be broken or a hem might need restitching. All of the issues you have when you shop vintage in the real world normally still applies to the virtual world. With our site, really, we’re putting what we do online. Which means if you buy a piece of clothing from us, it’s been cleaned. The zips have been checked. The buttons have been resecured. The hem has been checked. It’s a really great piece of clothing. I think one of the primary concerns always when buying clothing online is thinking, “oh god, what happened – they’re not telling me about this stain or a mark or it’s got a cut out detail I’m not happy with.” There’ll be at least five shots of every piece of clothing online. There’ll be a zoom function so you can get really up close and personal with the piece of clothing so you can have a real tight look at the detail or the trim or whatever it might be. And also knowing that the pieces are going to be sent in a condition that you don’t have to do anything to it. It’s been looked after. It’s been inspected by our couture seamstress. It’s in really good shape.

Your business continues to increase rapidly with the introduction of e-commerce and I saw some absolutely gorgeous photos from your pop up shop in Selfridges this summer. What’s the next step for you?

I just completed filming for a new TV series which will be on Channel 4 in the UK which is going to be the first primetime vintage fashion show. So that’s been filming me travelling around the world. They just filmed me in Palm Beach and in Miami and in Atlanta and in Paris and in London. So it’ s kind of been about going out really getting an eye for how you buy vintage and specific references to meet the higher end of the market so it’s educational and style and a bit of a crossover. The show is called This Old Thing.

…is that the show Dawn O’Porter is doing as well?

Yes, exactly! Exactly that. The structure will be that each week and it’s still I think going through final edit but primetime, Channel 4, most likely spring but they haven’t confirmed air yet and it will be Dawn with a member of the public and really leading the charge in terms of moving away from throwaway fashion. And people realizing that actually half of the looks they love are available in vintage. It’s a great inspiration to build on the contemporary market. So a part of each episode is going to be following me buying and selecting and hunting down masterpiece pieces.

I’m also going to be shortly confirming a book for next year. I’m just in some conversations for that. We haven’t done a formal press release for that. But there’s likely to be a book coming out in 2014.

Do you have an idea of what you would want to do for a book? Would it be more a biography about your life or more so how to choose vintage and how to dress?

We’re currently pinning down a final structure. It’s going to be much more about fantastic dresses through the ages and really what the dresses say about the life of women at the time. It will have a very strong cultural reference point of view actually. What is so important about the 20’s fabric shape? What did it mean for women? What is so important about the 50’s new look? What does that say about the life of women at the time? So we can really kind of chart the freedom and taste through the fashion civil war and those of the last 100 years with gorgeous pictures of really fantastic dresses. So it won’t be a straightforward fashion book, there will be a cultural framework behind it.

Any plans for a US pop up shop such as the one earlier this spring at Selfridges?

Selfridges was really successful. It was five weeks and we were positioned between Chanel and Lanvin on the second floor in the Avant Garde gallery. It was amazing to be approached by Selfridges. They approached me which was really lovely. For the last two weeks, we were the best-selling brand in Selfridges which was really amazing. It was an amazing response for vintage as well as obviously for WilliamVintage. We’re currently in quite detailed talks about the location for the second store so that will be a conversation we can have probably in a couple months time. We’re on it and we’re looking at expansion outside of the United Kingdom.

I loved your story last time about uncovering an entire haute couture collection in the middle of a farm in England. You are always uncovering the most fantastic treasures. Do you have any other crazy finds that have happened lately?

I think hunting for vintage is a combination of things. It’s paitence firstly because obviously they’re one off pieces and you never know where you’re going to find something great. Dresses travel. So I think for anybody wanting to find vintage you have to realize it’s not necessarily an immediate fix. You have to put a little bit more time in it so you get the unique pieces that might be your dream dress. And yes, actually I have recently had another fantastic little find. I think alot if it is really about divination. You need paitence. You need a degree of luck. When I go hunting, it’s not with some very detailed plan in place. I might arrive in a new city or a new town or follow a little lead. And really just see, you know? It might be stumbling into an antique shop and asking the guy behind the counter if he’s heard of any good places. You have to kind of have a little bit of an investigation sometimes and just go to the places that aren’t necessarily known around the world.

More recently, I was in Paris and I had just secured some pieces from an extremely important private collection which has been collected over the last 60 years in a chateau in the Loire Valley in France of a really incredible family. The pieces I bought from them have ranged from Balmain haute couture from the 50’s through to Jean Patou haute couture from the 60’s and really spectactularly, a really magnificent dress by Charles Frederick Worth from the early 1930’s. A perfect example of a dress by the man who’s known as the father of haute couture. So that’s been an extraordinary little gathering of really fantastic pieces. So that’s been kind of an apex moment for me which has been lovely; they’re always a nice thing to have.

To shop, head on over to!


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Travel Essentials

Travel Essentials

Since I’ve got travel on the brain, I started thinking about what items I would need to take an epic road trip or even a long haul flight. There’s always little items which make the journey more enjoyable no matter if you’re in a plane, train or automobile. (I feel like here is where I should bring up the old adage it’s the journey that’s important and not the destination. Right?) Above are a few of the items I would shove in my carry on bag or make sure were within reach of the driver’s seat. Within reason, of course. I promise I wouldn’t use my iPad or attempt to make tea while driving.

Blankets made of sweater material are one of my favorite things on the planet.

You never know when you’re going to be freezing and need to bundle

yourself up in a cozy blanket. Also perfect for an impromptu roadside/beachside


2.  Ray Ban Aviators$145

My friends and I have a theory that all badasses wear aviators. By badasses, we

mean brave, independent, courageous people. Clearly an epic cross country road

trip would call for a pair of these bad boys.

Behind sweater blankets, comfortable hoodies are also my favorite thing on the

planet. Zip ups are great because they’re often easier to put on while driving or

without elbowing the person next to you in the face.

A nice way to wind down after a day on the road or if you don’t like any of the

in flight drink options.

Another hoodie option for when you successfully have time and room to slip

it over your head.

Probably pretty self explanatory. Patricularly handy as a back up navigation if

your car GPS decides to go on a crazy short cut through some back roads.

How comfortable and versatile does this look? Works as a tunic over pants or a

short dress.

8. Starbucks Gift Card 

When it’s hours in and time for a pit stop!

Much healthier and less guilt inducing than potato chips but totally manageable

while driving. Also perfect when you don’t want the measly peanuts/pretzel

plane combo.

                                   The Pema Chodron Audio Collection$34

They’re super calming. Give it a whirl. Trust me.

iPhone case

There’s nothing worse than your phone running out of battery, right?

How will you locate a Starbucks? How will you listen to music? People

might be texting you! (#firstworldproblems.) But no, really, it’s always

good to be able to make a phone call while traveling.

Okay, what am I forgetting? What are some of your travel essentials?

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Career Inspiration: William Banks-Blaney of WilliamVintage, Part 1


Sometimes, life will throw you some quite wonderful moments. Such was the case Friday afternoon when the tremendously lovely William Banks-Blaney of WilliamVintage kindly allowed me to ask him many questions during his last afternoon in LA. To me, William has one of the coolest jobs around and I love that while his career path was always guided by a love of visual art, his journey to WilliamVintage was a winding road which led him in many different directions.  I so admire the amazing business he’s built for himself in really just a few short years and was thrilled to learn more about the history behind some of his fantastic finds.

I’ve divided the interview up into 2 parts. His answers were so thoughtful and filled with such a wealth of information I couldn’t stand to leave anything out!

Read on to find out about the first dresses William ever purchased, how the OxFam edit came about and what delectable goodies are waiting for you when you shop at his store…

1. What brings you to Los Angeles on this trip? 

I’m in LA for a few days because I’m filming for a US TV show that’s based in fashion and reality which I can’t reveal the name of yet. But, thats the primary cause. I’m also seeing some clients who are based over here and having a little bit of a chat with a few museums about some vintage haute couture pieces. And I’m seeing my new godson who’s San Francisco born and bred although he’s only 20 days old so I’m going to go and visit him.

2.  Going back to your school days, did you study anything particular at school? Was fashion always a primary interest or did it evolve? 

No. Not at all. I was always the fashion nerd. My degree was history of art and architecture. Then I worked as an interior designer so anything visual was the thing I really fell in love with. I always adored fashion as an expression in the same way you can understand a culture through a building or through a painting. I thought the same was acheivable through a dress, at its most precious level. But I didn’t want to go into fashion for a long time because I thought it was already covered, it was a very mercenary field. Then 3 years ago, I wanted to make a big change in my life. I wanted to start again, start fresh and I’d had years of interiors clients say, “you should do clothing, you should do vintage.” Because I would often be in Turkey hunting for rugs for an interiors project and I’d see an amazing coat and think “oh that’s perfect for Enid.” And I’d bring it back. I would often find these pieces I’d give as gifts. Or I’d say to my clients, “I found this and it cost me 300 pounds so give me 305 pounds.” It was fun.

 3. What were you doing before you opened WilliamVintage?

I spent a long time in luxury retail working in furniture. My other great passion apart from interior design was antiques. I worked for a company that designed and built furniture at the top end of the market. Then I was poached and I worked for an antique dealer. Then I was poached back again by the design company. Then I branched out to just doing interiors. I would inevitably find when I was asked by a client to help design a dining table and chairs, they’d then ask me about the room it was going to go in and I’d end up doing the room. So I worked in interiors and I loved it, still love it. It was a combination of increasingly being more drawn towards fashion and thinking there was this gap in the market for really edited vintage. And being perfectly honest, personally I had a really rough couple of years. I had an awful relationship break up. I just wanted to do different. I just wanted to say, “you know what? It’s kind of today and going forward.” I just bit the bullet and did the first little sale.

So it’s anything visual. I’ve designed furniture. I’ve designed interiors. I’ve liased with architects. I still do maybe one or two interior design projects a year. My last one I did was a ski chalet in the French alps which was last year which was fantastic, great fun. A few years ago, I did a beautiful estate in Bedford in New York. So I try and keep my oar in because it kind of keeps your eye sharp if you’re in a different medium all the time.

4. So, when you were transitioning from interiors, how did the vintage business begin to grow and take off?

I started with a little two hour sale which was for friends. I took a tiny conference room that held about 30 people. I put some rails up with pieces I had found over the previous 2 or 3 months from everywhere; from thrift stores and consignment stores and a couple of auction houses. Things I just thought had a resonance and were to my taste. The sale sold out and the feedback I got was what I hoped which was the editing. You know, you never say I love everything at Bergdorf’s. Because you can’t, it’s impossible. You can however say, I really love Stella’s look. There is a bit more of an identification, there’s a bit more of an editor’s taste. I thought, “well there’s no reason that can’t happen in vintage. There’s no reason you can’t profile it and edit it and focus on a specific look to your own taste and see what happens with it.” So the next sale I did for a day but in the same room and those 30 original people brought 60 people with them and that sold out. I did another sale and the same happened. By the time of my 5th sale, I was hiring a 5 story house and I had over 400 people in the space of 8 hours and I suddenly realized this had become a thing.

By this point, Vogue had already called me “the vintage king” because they’d heard about it and had sent people and liked what I was trying to do. So, I took the store and I keep the store by appointment for a number of reasons. Firstly, I’m present for 99% of fittings and for client appointments and I have to travel and find it so it’s more manageable in that respect. I also love the idea of there being a store which is by appointment not to be pretentious or snotty or unfriendly. Quite the opposite. When you come in, you have a whole store to yourself. There’s no woman you don’t know in the changing room next door. There’s some nice drinks and there’s always chocolates or cookies or donuts there for you to eat because I don’t believe in starving yourself for a dress. So there’s always some calorific food present. And you just have fun. I think a big point for me in any retail but particularly with WilliamVintage is if you’re parting with money and you’re not having the best time of your life, somebody’s not doing their job properly. We really try and maintain that so whether you’re coming in to spend 200 pounds or 20,000 pounds, you have fun, you feel you get value for money and it’s beautifully presented. That’s the evolution really from day sale to store; it’s the same approach which is very edited, very unpretentious and very straightforward.

5. Did you have a mentor who has sort of helped you figure everything out along the way at all or was it trial and error yourself?

I didn’t. I wanted to approach it buying things I liked and as somebody who doesn’t have a set definition of what vintage should be. I’m not a label snob which is why to this day we’ll have a great shift dress for 90 pounds as well as all the haute couture. I didn’t want to lose that. I didn’t want to get somebody to tutelage me because I wanted it to be stuff I like. It’s like every woman however wealthy they might be; they might have an incredible Chanel jacket with the boucle and the mink trim and the gilt buttons but alot of those women will wear that on top of an 8 pound American Apparel t-shirt. I wanted to get that sensibility in vintage. We do a 60’s shift dress for, let’s say, 100 pounds. It might not have a label but it will be the best of its kind. It will be the best 60’s shift dress you’ve seen.

6. You were recently named the Oxfam Fashion Patron for 2013. Can you explain OxFam a little bit and what your role will be as the fashion patron this coming year?

So Oxfam to start with is a global charity started in England to help fight poverty around the world. Their approach is very much going from the grass roots up so it’s about helping to build structures for communities through sewage plants, through irrigation systems, through education, through really freeing people in small communities. One of the largest sources of income for them is selling secondhand clothes. In the UK, they have 700 stores. They also have stores that do furniture, electricalware, everything you need for life people donate to OxFam. I’ve always really admired what they do as a charity and about 6 months ago, I approached them to say look, I think we have a common denominator here in what we do. Put really frankly I said, “I might be a vintage haute couture specialist but I basically sell a secondhand dress that makes a woman feel like a million dollars.” That isn’t necessarily the case when a woman is buying a secondhand dress from OxFam. There’s a way of layering that because we’re doing the exactly the same job. So that was the initial point of conversations and Oxfam, I’m pleased to say was very keen on working together and came up with the notion of being fashion patron and I’m going to be the creative director for the 2013 campaign.This week, during Online Fashion Week, Oxfam partnered with and I’ve done an edit everyday of OxFam stock.


The point with it being to do what we do at WilliamVintage, which is to edit very tightly through their hundreds of thousands of pieces of clothing. Pieces that appeal to me I feel are relevant and really wearable. But the price points are 9 pounds, 12 pounds, 24 pounds, 42 pounds; really affordable pieces. Because I want people to see that irrespective of how much money you can afford to spend on a garmet, there is no reason why you shouldn’t look at vintage. It just should be a part of your wardrobe. Whether you call it vintage or secondhand, they’re great items of clothing you can layer in with really amazing pieces. The plan with OxFam over the next 12 months is to really break down the barriers and show OxFam is this extraordinary store. My point is I don’t see why you can’t, if you’re surfing online for clothing, you might go on to Net-a-Porter and then you might want to check ASOS or Cocosa and then you should just check OxFam. It’s got more than a quarter million pieces of clothing all of which are one-offs. The side benefit from my perspective is all of the money goes to charity.

I really want to see OxFam blossom and for people to realize they can buy online at OxFam and find a fantastic 60’s cocktail dress or find the perfect maxi that’s great for music festival or a fantastic cableknit chunky sweater from the 70’s that are still so chic for under 50 bucks. We’re really driving it together so people realize vintage isn’t a rarified thing. Really importantly for me, it isn’t something to be scared of. I have a huge amount of clients who like me feel vintage isn’t about being a size 4 and knowing how to work a biker jacket and being 22 years old. It’s about wanting a really great piece of clothing. But some women find it difficult initially thinking, “well how does that work in my contemporary wardrobe?”. What I try to do is help with that by saying, “look here you go, here is a butter soft, nude colored, cashmere cardigan. It’s 25 years old. Put it with your jeans, put it with your t-shirt, put it over your shift dress for work.” It’s about how to layer vintage so you just view it as a piece of clothing without this anxiety that can develop about getting it wrong. Because it’s the way you buy any clothing.

7. How did you get your foot in the “vintage door”, so to speak? Do you remember your first important acquisition?

I remember the first two dresses I bought which were two dresses I fell completely in love with by a designer called Ferdinando Sarmi, who is long forgotten. He was the creative director at Elizabeth Arden Fashion in the 60’s. He won the Coty Award for fashion. His work is amazing; he did that combination of the billionaire hippies of the 60’s.  Beautifully tailored, really beautiful. It was the period before America had fallen back in love with French couture. So the Italians in the 60’s were really governing US fashion. There were these two dresses, one of which I still have because it can’t be worn. It’s this acres and acres of jade green silk chiffon with a back train of periwinkle blue silk chiffon column dress. It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen, I just adore it.

The other dress I bought with it was also by Sarmi and it was this chocolate brown empire top half and then an ivory skirt. Very 60’s, covered in Paco Rabanne style paillettes. I bought these two dresses thinking, “why did I do that? They might be the first two dresses of what I’m thinking about doing.” I was at a girlfriend’s engagement party about ten days later and I’ve known her nearly my whole life. She was getting married, she was 41 and she said, “I can’t do a white dress, it’s ridiculous, I don’t know what to do.” I looked at her and said, “I think I have your wedding dress.” I’ve since found out when she came to see it, she brought a girlfriend of hers and the conversation they had had was, “well, we have to go and see Will because he’s thinking about doing this business and he thinks he has a dress that might work for my wedding.” They came and she completely loved the dress. I closed the zipper on her and it was a perfect fit. We didn’t have to change the hem or change the tailoring. I charged 20 pounds more than I paid for it so that was officially the first WilliamVintage dress.


…stay tuned for Part Two tomorrow!

Back soon!

Silly life has gotten in the way of updating lately. And we’re smack dab in the middle of fashion week and I’ve barely even had time to pay attention! Now that’s just plain wrong. Someday soon, I hope to actually attend NY fashion week but until then, I can lust after all the amazing photos. Check out this beauty from Rodarte’s  S.S ’13 collection.

Red. Black. Drool.

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