February 7, 2012

Fashion Flashback from "Down Under"

From New York to Berlin, this week, we’re taking you to the land down under. From Missoni, Pucci, Courreges, Krizia, among others, these fashion treasures are a part of Mary Lipshut’s savored vintage collection. Credited as Australia’s ‘Grand Dame of Vintage’, the 86-year old Mary Lipshut has sparked a fashion flashback by relaunching her exclusive assortment of high-end designer goodies form the 60's, 70's and 80's via an online platform. Together with the aid of her grandson, Mark, the online shop, mlvintage.com puts these carefully preserved possessions up for sale internationally.

With an extensive background in buying, a celebrity filled client book, and a fashion obsessed lifestyle dating back to 1962, her life is one giant lookbook. So here is a glance at a few pages:

photo via mlvintage.com

MBF: How did you get into fashion?
ML: This is a long story. I had nothing to do with Fashion at all, until the mid 60’s when I accompanied my husband on a trip to Japan. We stopped off in Hong Kong and I saw for the first time in my life beaded and embroidered sweaters. I bought 5 pieces for myself and decided to make contacts in Hong Kong with a view to taking orders. I said to my husband these fateful words “It might be nice to have a little hobby.” I then started importing under the label Meredith and even started designing knitwear for Meredith. I started importing European labels in 1970 because a director of Myers department store asked me to purchase a knitwear collection from every country in the world that I was about to visit on another trip with my husband. It was during the Fashion Shows in Florence then Milan and in Paris, that I discovered all the labels. I was able to obtain exclusivity for the whole of Australia. I opened my own boutiques, Temp and SportTempo in South Yarra, the Internationals in Myer Melbourne and Myer Adelaide, Innovation in Georges Melbourne etc.

MBF: What is your favorite piece from the ML Vintage Collection?
ML: Roberta Di Camerino printed velvet coat and wool jersey dress ensemble. Her method of printing was unique.

MBF: How were you able to preserve these precious items for so long?
ML: They were all packed in acid free tissue and acid free bags.

photo via mlvintage.com

MBF: What makes buying vintage so special?
ML: Ours is special because nothing has ever been worn. Buying Vintage is so special because of the quality of the garments, ex Missoni 100% silk jersey can’t be reproduced today because there aren’t the machinists who can handle this fabric. Courreges the fabric of every woven item is superb and every item is fully lined. Pucci even covered press studs with fabric. Today designers could not afford to put the amount of labour into their garments.

MBF: What are some timeless pieces you think every woman should own?
ML: A black suit and a black dress. Wonderful scarves, neckpieces and jewelry. A great pair of black pants and skirt, knitwear and blouses.

MBF: A few museums worldwide have approached you about owning pieces of your collection, how did this come about and how do you feel about it?
ML: I am delighted when I sell to Museums as this gives the younger generation the opportunity to view what fashion used to be and Museum’s have always paid me good prices.

photo via mlvintage.com

MBF: What’s next for you once “the last piece sells?”
ML: I shall happily retire. Who knows, this may coincide with me turning 100.

As Mary's life long commitment to fashion and her iconic vintage archive go up for sale, she is dedicated to making sure each rare piece of history finds a special place in the present. This page turner isn't over until the last look sells.

Please stay tuned for another report on fashion from down under later in the week featuring new and upcoming Australian designers presented at the Australian Five Event!

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