Like many girls who obsess over style from the past decades, Marie Blanchet has her favorite eras. She’s drawn to anything Victorian; the 30s, as that was truly when society started to go from covering up the woman’s body to showing it; and the 60s and 70s, especially the heyday of master himself, Yves Saint Laurent. The difference between many girls and Marie Blanchet is not just that she dresses very chic and still somehow like she didn’t try at all--how Parisian--but that she sources the best vintage Herès bags, YSL Le Smoking looks, and Chanel jewelry, for her day job.
Blanchet joined VestiaireCollective.com, the French go-to site for ‘pre-loved’ luxury fashion, about two years ago. Beloved by Parisian fashion girls since day one, Vestiaire is the place to buy key items you may have missed from a few seasons ago. Now, thanks to Blanchet, it is also the place to buy amazing quality pieces from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. As their head of vintage, she curates a selection of pieces, from the timeless, to the ‘originals’ of what is currently on the runways. “When I saw the Vaccarello show, I knew what I had to source,” Blanchet said, referring to Anthony Vaccarello’s fall collection for Saint Laurent, which showed last week. “My job is to give to people the original. My god, have you seen those boots? I can re-create this look from the catwalk using original 1980s Yves Saint Laurent.”
As a student studying film, Blanchet was always drawn to shopping in vintage stores, often looking for something original. She met the woman who was to become her mentor while perusing the racks of Ragtime, a shop in Paris’ Saint-Germain-des-Prés. “I always went by the shop but I scared to enter,” Blanchet explained. “I knew I would find a new world, where I would want everything.” Finally, she did go in, and was delighted to meet Françoise Auguet, the shop’s owner, and Paris’ foremost vintage expert. “I met her when I was 16, and she loved my look. I picked up some stuff that I liked and she was like ‘and you’ve got good taste!’” Blanchet remembered with a laugh. “I fell in love with the shop and we became friends. She is now 78 years old, and she has taught me pretty much everything I know. She taught me to recognize 19th century, and then all the decades. She’s my icon, she’s my mentor.” Blanchet then spent the next decade plus absorbing everything she could from Auguet.
Today, Blanchet’s style mantra is to take vintage pieces and make them modern. “I love vintage, but for me, you don’t wear full vintage, you mix it up,” she said. Looking down at her outfit, featuring a white cotton nightgown, she added, “It’s the idea of wearing a nightgown from 1900, more that 100 years ago, and putting it with a western belt and some Saint Laurent boots. It took ten years of my life to find one as beautiful as this one! In the late 1970s, Jane Birkin was wearing a blouse that was from the 1900s, like this, same as my nightgown but in a shirt. From Isabel Marant to so many other designers, they love it, they will be forever inspired by a piece like this. It’s also very similar to the [Spring 2017 see now-buy now] Burberry show. This is the original of that. It’s more than 100 years old, but it is so on trend and so relevant right now.”
Blanchet has a knack for taking pieces from another decade and styling them in such a way that you’d never know they were from 30 years before. Yet these pieces still stand out as being original, and not a copy of a runway full look or an outfit worn by an It-girl on Instagram. “I think vintage is desired at the moment because people are tired of seeing the bloggers in wearing full looks of the biggest trends. People are looking for the original, something with meaning,” she said. It is one of the reasons why so many people turn to sites like Vestiaire Collective. “Last time I was having drinks at Café de Flore, I saw Clara 3000. She went out of the Montana, I saw her getting on a scooter, she just had on black jeans, leather jacket, t-shirt, dirty trainers, and I was like – she’s cool,” Blanchet mused. “The cool people are not trend followers.”
It’s those non-conformists Blanchet is hoping to excite by her vintage curation on Vestiaire Collective. She’s dedicated to sourcing the best quality pieces that speak to today’s shopper--and she’s helping those currently selling with Vestiaire to recognize what vintage gems they may already own. “I’ve got so much work to do because people don’t know what they have in their closet!”
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