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Carmen Haid: Vintage Vixen

Buying vintage is like buying art, with several aspects that should be taken into account before investing in a vintage collectable such as quality, design, style, and craftsmanship. is a luxury e-boutique and showroom that caters to high profile clients such as Nicole Kidman and Emma Watson. The boutique sells key investments like Nina Ricci from the 60s, Christian Lacroix from the 80s, and vintage Chanel accessories. The woman behind the concept, Carmen Haid, has worked previously with Yves Saint Laurent in the PR department and at British Vogue as a Fashion Manager. She pursued her vision of creating a vintage boutique after having found inspiration in her late grandmother, Klaudia Mayer, an Austrian haute couture tailor. With a large Middle Eastern client base, Haid spoke to Arabia exclusively on buying vintage for the market, its evolution, and how to get rid of the old musky smell on vintage clothes.

What makes a vintage piece, an Atelier-Mayer piece?

It must be something very special and at least 20 years old and over. It must be in very good condition and have a distinctive cut, silhouette, color, material, or hand craftsmanship.

You have a large Middle Eastern customer base. How do you choose pieces for customers from our region?

Middle Eastern clients love opulent, colorful evening wear and accessories. I source a wide variety of interesting designers specifically for the Middle East, such as Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, Hermès, and Pucci.

How has the interest in vintage changed over the past 10 years?

Vintage has always been an important component over the various decades. However, in the last 10 years it would appear that people have taken more notice of it, highlighted by celebrities wearing vintage at events and the red carpet, such as Penelope Cruz at the Oscars in a 1950s Balmain haute couture dress, and Alexa Chung, Kate Moss, Chloé Sevigny, and Sienna Miller all sporting vintage on various occasions.

What tips can you give women buying vintage?

Good vintage needs to look modern, so choose easy decades such as the 60s or 70s and stay away from ‘too vintage’ looking patterns. For example the calf length silhouette from the 1970s is very difficult to pull off in any shape or form today. Always look for the best quality and natural materials such as cottons, silks, and wools. Stay away from polyester or any other synthetic fibers as you will sweat in them and they won’t come odor free. Make sure you store your vintage treasures properly, keep them clean in airtight packaging and cupboards with moth protection.

How do you get rid of the musky old smell on vintage clothes?

We work with an environmentally friendly dry cleaner that only uses biodegradable chemicals and feng shui to bring every item back to its original energy equilibrium. Each piece comes with a feng shui certificate. Our dry cleaner usually manages to get rid of the musky smell. Any items with too much odor, I don’t touch.

What are some tips on how to carefully care for precious vintage pieces?

Keep clothes in grease free tissue paper, with cashmere ideally in vacuum packaging and never hang knitwear, fold it. Fur should be protected in a temperature regulated environment.

For accessories, store hats in hatboxes and handbags in dustbags, away from heat. Treat leather accessories for a yearly maintenance make over at a leather specialist to keep the skins from drying out.

For jewelry, keep your treasures in boxes and regularly clean them with a professional jewelry cleaner. Pay attention to different temperatures, as excessive heat and a moist environment can lead to the oxidization of metals.

Do you follow trends?

I never follow trends.

As you buy for Atelier-Mayer throughout the year, who or what do you keep in mind?

Certain customers. Also, it is interesting to see that on several occasions I bought pieces that ended up being completely ‘on trend’.

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