Moment / 11 Oct 2019

Boutique | William Vintage

Tucked away on a quiet street in Marylebone, there is a fantastically beautiful vintage haute couture by appointment only store frequented by celebrities and royals alike.

In 2010, William Banks-Blaney taking over an acquaintance's storefront on a quiet street in swanky Marylebone, London. "I had been looking for a store that was a little bit tucked away that did have a feel that you either knew it was there and you were coming to it or you stumbled upon it by chance." he says.

Walking into the private bespoke store, one is greeted by a selection of high-end salon scents and couture and evening gowns in colour shades from Alaia, Balmain, Chanel, Dior, Givenchy,Versace and Yve Saint Laurent, priced from £300 to £26,000. Everything was picked up by Banks-Blaney herself from all over the world. Here, you can explore the change of the twentieth century's trends.

William Vintage offers its customers a refined and warm shopping experience. Here you can have a glass of champagne, a cup of coffee or a glass of scotch, and there is a very nice fluffy bathrobe in the dressing room. Banks-blaney is proud to display his collection in his store. "You can get really jaded with shopping, and I wanted WilliamVintage to be different. We're very helpful, we're friendly, we're not snobby, irrespective of the price of the pieces you might buy."

Oft-referred to as the "King of Vintage," Banks-Blaney didn't come from a traditional fashion background. The art history student started his career in furniture and interior design but discovered a talent for spotting (and buying) stellar clothing from past eras on his décor hunting trips around the world. His wealth of knowledge reigns back to a time be-gone, where clothes were worn to express something: femininity, freedom, power.

William Banks-Blaney

Dubbed the 'vintage king' by fashion bible Vogue, William Banks-Blaney also counts Meghan's friends Amal Clooney and Millie Mackintosh, as well as pop star Rihanna, among his loyal fans.

Amal Clooney in 1959 Dior suit, at the UN, International Women’s Day, 2017
Amal in 1960s Balenciaga haute couture coat dress, Rome, 2016
Amal Clooney in 1982 Gianni Versace Couture Metal Mesh Oroton Toga Style Dress at the unveiling of the Gianni Versace archive with Farfetch and William Vintage in Los Angeles, 2017
Amal Clooney in 1981 Saint Laurent Haute Couture At the 2016 Berlin International Film Festival
Amal Clooney in 1960 Lanvin at Charlotte Tilbury's Naughty Party in London, 2015
Charlotte Rampling in 1974 Saint Laurent Haute Couture, 43 years later Worn by Emma Watson in 2017.
Karlie Kloss chose William Vintage 1983 Versace Oroton wrap dress covered in swaroski crystals at the British Fashion Awards 2017.
Rihanna in 1997 Alexander McQueen at the 2017 Diamond Ball
Lady Gaga chose 1992 Gianni Versace animal printed jacket & leggings at her Joanne World Tour in Dallas.
Naomi Campbell in 1989 Pierre Cardin haute couture at the Gala Spa Awards, 2016
Kate Upton at the premier of The Other Woman in 2014, in 1950s Cecil Chapman from William Vintage
Kristen Scott Thomas at the 2015 BAFTA awards in a 1948 Balmain gown, from William Vintage

Particularly haute couture pieces are made so well because they were for life, and once they've passed through William Vintage, they are lent a new lease on life.

A documented 1962 Chanel haute couture suit in fine tweed, sorbet silk and as fantastic now as it was when designed by Coco herself 55 years ago.
Thierry Mugler Spring 1992 collection had it all and was the wardrobe of choice for George Michael's "Too Funky" video that year and it's still an ultimate LBD.
Lanvin 2005 collection, sparkling crystal, shimmering chiffon and an ode to 1920s glam.
The iconic dress from Spring Summer 2003 by Tom Ford.

In his book published in 2016 25 Dresses, Banks-Blaney brings even the most exclusive vintage pieces back down to earth. "I've loved fashion for so many years, but we can all be led quite quickly to believe that fashion is terribly creative, erudite and removed from real life. Of course, the greatest haute couture confections are - it's their role to inspire - but I wanted to show they are all a part of the language of fashion. You can buy a vintage Dior Little Black Dress, you can buy a new one today, but you can also find a dress inspired by it on the high street. That's how you should approach fashion - regardless of whether it was designed this season or 50 seasons ago."

In 2017, William Vintage released its exclusive Versace Vintage collection with Farfetch. To celebrate the collection, Farfetch and William Vintage threw a party at a private home in Beverly Hills, hosted by Banks-Blaney and stylist Elizabeth Stewart. The pieces, which William Vintage founder William Banks Blaney has collected over the past two decades, span from some of Gianni's first collections in 1977 to his final Fall 1997 show. It includes everything from a Medusa-studded leather jacket and a plaid and animal-printed skirt to a chain belt and boldly printed scarves.

William Vintage x Gianni Versace Archive Collection Unveiling, Los Angeles, 2017
Versace x Farfetch x William Vintage

Banks-Blaney insists the shop offers something for everyone. "I think there is an inherent magic to vintage pieces. Most of our clients love the fact that it's a one-off, something that others don't have, but also that there's that sense of history behind it."