If it isn’t already obvious from looking at the prevailing trends over the past few seasons, Y2K fashion is having quite the moment. From Paris Hilton-approved mini skirts at Miu Miu to pretty much everything Blumarine has sent down the runway recently, the thirst for ’90s and early 2000s style is seemingly unquenchable. But sometimes, the recreations are just not the same as the real thing. That’s where Christelle McCracken comes in. A lover of vintage since she was growing up in the English seaside town of Brighton in the late ’90s, the lawyer-by-day decided to turn her hobby (and vast archive) into a side hustle. So, she gathered her 100+ runway items from the early noughties (a term used to describe time period between 2000 to 2009), took photos, and uploaded them onto a website. From there, My Runway Archive was born.
Eight months later, and McCracken can count Cardi B as a customer and Iris Law as a client, having styled the model in numerous looks. Between those gigs, running her site and Instagram account, and prosecuting child sex abuse cases for her day job, McCracken still found time to call W from her in-laws’ house in Dorset to talk about her niche in the archival fashion community, her favorite runway season of all time, and the corsets she’s dying to get her hands on.
How did you first become interested in vintage fashion?
My father was an antiques dealer and he’d take me to a lot of the vintage stores in Brighton growing up. Some of them also had vintage clothes and I was obsessed with going in and looking through all the pieces from the ’60s and ’70s. I just loved being able to buy one-off pieces that other people wouldn’t normally have. Then, in 2017, I started collecting myself and it was a natural progression because I love really nice clothes, I love bargains.
What made you decide to start My Runway Archive?
I wanted to turn my passion into a business and try and monetize it. I spent so long collecting and doing hours of research, so it made sense to make it a side hustle. I was also inspired by my father, who passed in 2020. I wanted to set up the business one year after he passed, so it’s also in memory of him.
When I started, I had about 120 pieces on the website, many from Dior, which I’ve now sold. It took time to take the photos and do research on Instagram to see how other vintage dealers worked, how they advertised their products, how they took photos. I’m still learning—it’s a really new industry and everyone does things differently.
You now do a bit of styling as well, how did you get into that?
When I set up My Runway Archive, my aim was always to eventually go down the styling route. I think now, a lot of stylists are looking for vintage dealers to work with because not many stylists have archives themselves, so that’s what sets me apart.
Right now, I’m just working with Iris. Ahead of her 21st birthday last year, she posted on her story that she was looking for a vintage dealer. I turned up and did the fitting with her on a Thursday and the party was on that following Saturday.
You recently put Iris in the Versace fall 2003 dress Beyonce wore to the 2003 MTV Movie Awards. How did that moment come to be?
That dress was on my wishlist for a long time because it’s so iconic. I was lucky enough to source it in September, and it was actually one of the dresses I sent Iris for her 21st birthday. She loved it, but wanted something more Y2K-themed, because she was having a themed party. So, she said, “I’ll wear that another time.” When she started off fashion month in February with the Perfect Magazine launch party, she got to wear the dress and I styled it with some brown vintage Dolce & Gabbana heels. I think the dress suited Iris beautifully. She looked like a pixie, it was a real Tinker Bell moment with the pixie haircut.
Do you have a favorite collection of all time?
I started off collecting Dior spring 2000. That was my favorite collection for a long time. That’s the season where you saw the saddle bag for the first time, along with the saddle halter tops, which are considered the holy grail of vintage John Galliano’s Dior. It shifted recently and now my current obsession is Valentino spring 2004. It’s a very girly, very feminine season. There are a lot of butterflies, ruffles, and bows. It has a lot of nice, summery colors, like turquoise blues, pinks, purples. It has a really romantic vibe to it.
Valentino Spring/Summer 2004
I also love Versace spring 2004. I recently bought a couple dresses from that collection, which Madonna wore. The spring 2005 collection is great, too—it has a similar vibe and has the gold-medallion, belted dresses, which are super sleek. I’m also a big Roberto Cavalli fan. His spring 2000 collection has so many iconic pieces that have been worn by Aaliyah, Beyoncé, and Britney Spears.
Is there one piece right now you’re dying to get your hands on?
There’s one dress I really wanted from the Valentino 2004 collection, which I managed to source. It was worn by Scarlett Johansson and it’s this pink floral-print dress, which she wore with a yellow bolero. What I’m really after—and I guess this could be considered the holy grail of Valentino—are these butterfly corsets from that collection. I managed to source one and it actually had a butterfly print on it. I sold it, I wasn’t going to keep that archival because it was just so small. But I’m still looking because I have the matching skirts—these green floral ones and this pink lace one—and I’d love to find the matching corsets.
What’s currently your favorite piece in your collection?
I have this Roberto Cavalli spring 2003 pheasant-print dress in pink, and the matching corset. Kylie Jenner wore a yellow version of it for her birthday this year. I think it’s a really iconic print and I won’t sell that, I’ll keep that archival, because I can see myself wearing it when I’m older, especially in the countryside here in England.
What is your favorite fashion moment from pop culture?
I love what Britney Spears wore to the American Music Awards in 2000. It was this Stella McCartney for Chloé jumpsuit. I think it was a high-neck jumpsuit on the runway, but the stylist had it altered so it was a cowl neck that almost went down to Britney’s belly button. I thought it was very chic and just such an iconic look. I love the Chloé spring 2000 collection. Actually, I think the best season for designers generally is spring 2000, because across the board there were so many iconic looks in that season.
My second-favorite look is a jumpsuit Aaliyah wore from the Roberto Cavalli spring 2000 collection. It’s this denim jumpsuit with gold embellishment. A lot of vintage dealers have been trying to find that jumpsuit, but it’s almost impossible to find. So if anyone does find that jumpsuit one day, they’ll become very rich. Aaliyah was amazing for pop culture history, and it’s just a shame she died when she did, because at the age of 22 she was already a fashion icon.
What are your three favorite Instagram accounts to follow?
There’s one really cool Instagram account called @capsulenostalgia and they post looks from the noughties that have been worn by different celebrities. So, they might do one post and show three different celebrities from back in the day wearing the same dress, all in the same time period. Also, there’s a really cool Instagram page called @thesamebutdif. They contrast and compare similar outfits from the early 2000s with what people are wearing today. And then @britney_wardrobe as well—they’re doing a lot of really great work. I don’t know how they manage to find Britney’s old outfits. Some are from 1999—that’s 23 years old!—and working out exactly where that outfit’s come from is incredible. He’s really knowledgeable, the guy who runs that account.