Guest Post: William Banks-Blaney talks vintage and Vogue
"Hello, I'm calling from Vogue. Alexandra Shulman would like to talk to you, is this a convenient time?" There can be few moments either more exhilarating or more terrifying in a person's life than having the Editor of Vogue telephone you and this call unleashed my inner schoolboy as I thought, "Oh Lord, what have I done wrong?"
On a day to day basis I live and work in my own bubble of hunting down the World's finest vintage clothing and haute couture, and it is generally assumed that I have some wildly glamorous life, rarely wearing anything other than my tuxedo. While there are without doubt 'moments' that are stupendously glam, I am far more likely to be found obsessing over the stitching on an early Balenciaga dress at my store at 2am whilst wearing my pajamas or tracking down a New Look Dior in someone's attic whilst wearing old jeans and a dust-covered tee shirt. The glamour, when it happens, is usually watching one of my clients head off into the night looking breathtaking in a piece of WilliamVintage as I collapse into bed, my work completed and my client happy.
WilliamVintage: What started with a two hour sale to friends led six months later to being christened "The Vintage King" by Vogue.com, six months after that to a central London store, and a year after that to a client list that includes Rihanna, Eva Green, Gillian Anderson and supermodels Anja Rubik and Isabeli Fontana. Most recently, WilliamVintage was the brand of choice for over 30 women during the 2012 BAFTA weekend. It seems that I had been doing something right and the telephone call was the legendary Editor in Chief of British Vogue asking me to be a part of the first Vogue Festival; more specifically, to discuss "Is it all about the Red Carpet" with fellow guests Rachel Zoe, Joely Richardson and Richard Young.
The night of the Vogue Festival party approached, and after spending both a prolonged period of time and a vast amount of money in Tom Ford, I was ready. My car deposited me in Kensington and as I walked through the doors, I saw Vogue The Magazine spring to life in all its glory. Photographers, models, images of the more iconic Vogue covers and a suitably glamorous crowd filled the rooms. After a few photographs, I met with legendary designer Betty Jackson and her ridiculously handsome actor son, Ollie, and I talked Art Deco dresses with Erin O'Connor. Mark Fast was his charming and understated self and model Suki Waterhouse was as ever deliciously fun and superstylish. Tallulah Harlech, one of my favourite fashion women, was in the room but somehow in the crowds I missed her. Alex Shulman was the consummate host and introduced as many of the people in the packed room as possible including Eva Herzigova, Christopher Kane, Christopher Bailey, Erdem Moralioglu and founder of Net a Porter, Natalie Massenet. The canapés went round the room, the champagne was poured and over 300 people celebrated the World's first Vogue Festival.
I rarely feel nervous however walking on stage the following day to an audience of 800 people that included the World's most important fashion voices, I was reminded what adrenaline feels like. Fiona Golfar, Editor at Large at Vogue and chairing the panel, was a complete delight, and we realised that her niece, actress Emilia Fox, was a client of WilliamVintage as was her great friend Nigella Lawson. The discussion started and I loved hearing Richard Young discuss great photographic moments on the carpet. Richard has been a leading red carpet photographer for over 40 years and is reknowned for an easy smile, always being in the right place at the right time and always taking the perfect shot. Joely Richardson recounted her earlier fashion faux pas alongside the thoughts and feelings that go on within every actress when faced with a red carpet appearance and I loved listening to her as her easy, sanguine style has always caught my eye and her natural grace has always shone through her red carpet appearances. Rachel Zoe discussed her approach to styling for the red carpet and her experience working with some of the World's most famous women, including Anne Hathaway, Cameron Diaz, Kate Hudson, Jennifer Garner and Demi Moore for their moments of red carpet glory. Rachel's work amazes me as she seems to invoke the unadulterated 'Hollywood Glamour' she loves without ever overstyling her client and always creating the most flawless look. Rachel also recounted the first time we met; what was supposed to be a 20 minute 'hello' in my store became a 6 hour fest of espressos and vintage haute couture and our friendship was sealed over a 1958 pink silk taffeta Dior I had discovered that morning and which went home with her that evening.
I, for my part, discussed why I adore vintage, why that special brand of red carpet magic can only ever be enhanced by a choice of vintage haute couture and why fine vintage gives the greatest freedom, individuality and expression to an event that can all too easily become about branding, endorsement and air time.
The Vogue panel completed, I went to the newly-launched restaurant Delaunay for dinner with Rachel Zoe and her husband Rodger Berman before preparing for my trip to France the following morning at 8am. I drifted off to sleep reading The Beautiful Fall, a book about Yves Saint Laurent's early career and a gift from Robert Pattinson's sister Victoria, after she wore WilliamVintage to the last Twilight premiere.