Imagery: Nick Leuze, Event imagery: Dave Benett
Fresh from London Fashion Week, Rosanna Falconer travelled to Milan, where she visited the Vestiaire Collective pop-up to find the perfect vintage outfit ahead of taking over our Eco-Age Instagram at the GCFA, Italia 2019.
Black tie events are those rare invitations that make even the most understated dial up the glamour. For years, the focus was on glitz, with many awards ceremonies simply a lookbook of luxury fashion houses’ seasonal offerings. Both consumers and journalists began to berate the lack of originality on the red carpet, craving exciting, unique looks. Livia Firth, co-founder of Eco-Age, instilled some much-needed creativity back into these events nearly a decade ago with the first Green Carpet Challenge at the 2010 Golden Globes. These gowns paired glamour with ethics; they had a compelling narrative behind their beauty.
How far the industry has come since then! On Sunday at Teatro Alla Scala, guests graced the green carpet in a spectrum of sustainable approaches to styling: from Ronald Van Der Kemp to Stella McCartney, there were fully sustainable creations as part of the Green Carpet Challenge, as well as pre-loved designs, whether vintage or rented. Arizona Muse rented her Alexander McQueen outfit, for example, while our host Livia wore archive Armani Prive.
I have loved vintage fashion for as long as I can remember. It’s the narrative behind the clothes that captures my imagination. It began with our dressing up box at home. The box was bursting with retro hand-me-downs from my mother and grandmother: from a heavy Moroccan wool coat to a 1970s star print Biba skirt. Most weekends resulted in a fashion show with my sisters. For me, these clothes were so much more exciting than the minimalism of the nineties. I’ll never forget the moment my mother took me to Cornucopia on Tachbrook Street (sadly since closed). This was my first introduction to designer clothes ‘up close’.
I love the hunt for a second-hand piece, whether that’s in a charity shop £5 box or one of the more curated Notting Hill shops like One of a Kind. But sites like Vestiaire Collectivemake it easy with their filters (it’s how I found the red lace Valentino for my party season piece). This is why I leapt at the opportunity to be dressed by Vestiaire Collective from their Milan Pop-Up for the Green Carpet Fashion Awards, Italia. After all, for a night as memorable as this, it was worth wearing a dress with its own treasure trove of tales to tell!
Where to begin? From the moment I entered the hall of Tearose boutique, heady with scents of seasonal flowers, it was obvious this vintage experience would be curated meticulously. Louis Vuitton bags and Gucci shoes in pinks and corals sat on shelves next to matching dahlias. Miu Miu heels glistened with embellishment as they caught the light.
Upstairs, the pink room with its teal velvet upholstery was curated with the care and creativity of a concept store. 1960s one-offs hung next to 1970s Givenchy couture. Chanel earrings and Hermes belts were displayed atop coffee table books like the precious gems that they are. It was all reminiscent of an art gallery, but one that could be touched and tried on.
Watch as Rosanna visits the Vestiaire Collective pop-up in Milan in her search for the perfect dress:
JEAN PAUL GAULTIER
Displayed on a mannequin in the window, this dress conjures up all the corseted Cinderella dreams that one might traditionally associate with black tie. Dating from the early 1990s, it has the signature Gaultier corset (one which is now showcased on his bust-shaped bottles of scent). Mille-feuille silk organza falls like petals from the waist. At the time, the house used the same fabrics for Haute Couture and ready-to-wear, so the quality and condition of this dress is quite something. Seated on the velvet chaise-longue, I felt like a Parisian ready to take on the town.
Chanel vintage is universally coveted and with good reason. This design is timeless with its flattering cut, button-through back and of course, distinctive print of myriad buttons, from gold branded double CC ones to painted gems. It’s unusual for me to opt for black so I styled it with colourful accessories. This rainbow sequin bag by Attico shows the long-term value of recent hits – the hot new brand on the block was founded by Italian street style stars and designers Giorgia Tordini and Gilda Ambrosio. Then these Gucci earrings are contemporary too: from the Spring / Summer 2017 collection when Alessandro Michele incorporated the word ‘Loved’ into everything from bags to prints. The statement is emblematic of this story as a whole – pre-loved is always loved!
Oh, this was a glorious one! I have always adored Valentino’s way with colour, whether it’s the iconic signature red or the muted rainbow palette. The colours of this dress are unusual in themselves and even more so when combined: rust, teal and lavender velvet and silk. Look closely: bronze and silver metallic threadworm depict tiny insects and petal outlines. It’s from the tenure of the creative direction of Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli at the house. I soon realised Valentino was my go-to for the event, which is when I discovered my final choice…
This gown was the last dress I tried. I knew I had struck gold (pun intended) from the moment I slipped it on. The beadwork lights up your face and décolletage. Even on a hot Milan afternoon with minimal make-up, I felt ready for the red carpet! The awards champion both fashion’s handprint (the social side of sustainability) and its footprint (the environmental impact). This gown is a glorious manifestation of the heights of the skilled artisans of Valentino. On a night when the icon himself received the Legacy Award, in recognition of the way he has championed the artistry of Italian craftsmanship and nurtured new talent, it felt utterly appropriate.
A dress like this needs tonal accessories so it can shine. I went for delicate filigree earrings (source unknown) and a gold Chanel 2.55. Too often evening bags fit a card and perhaps a lipstick. The design of this one shows exactly why the iconic design hits astronomical prices year after year on the vintage market. Since its inception in February 1955 (hence the name), it is as practical as it is pleasing on the eye. A classic, just like all of the designs in this pop-up. Long may vintage gain currency both on the red carpet and off!
Vestiaire Collective is a partner of the Green Carpet Fashion Awards, Italia 2019 and dressed Rosanna for the occasion.
See all of the GCC looks from this year’s Green Carpet Fashion Awards, Italia.
Find out more about Vestiaire Collective’s Milan Fashion Week pop-up.