Marcelle Symons started her vintage emporium in London’s Notting Hill back in 2005, quickly establishing One Vintage as a cult destination for some of the most special clothes around.
We first came across Marcelle as a client of KOTUR. She was one of our first customers to purchase KOTUR shoes (see KOTUR’s Gilda and Guzels on window display in her other retail store, D&Me), and we were delighted to meet her in person. With her couture like approach, taking beautiful and unique pieces and reworking them into something entirely new, hers is fashion that exists for women who want to stand out from the crowd and clothes for those who appreciate the beauty of true artisanship. For these reasons and so many others, we at KOTUR love what she does. We are not alone. Worn by everyone from Kate Moss to Poppy Delevingne, Thandie Newton to Courtney Love, One Vintage has become a mecca for those seeking something truly special. Here, Marcelle talks us through how it all began, along with some of her most special items:
Marcelle Symons: I started One Vintage with a vision of a confident, individually styled, ageless woman in mind. In my experience, confidence in fashion often comes most from ladies who don’t like to follow trends, who don’t want to turn up to a party in the same dress as someone else. They would rather have a unique piece that carries a story.
Since I can remember I have collected beading, embroideries and inspiring relics. I used to sell inspiration samples to designers, then I decided to create garments that were made only from original antique textiles, taking items like vintage dresses, kimonos and Victorian tops and breathing new life into them by imagining them in a completely new way. One of the main reasons for One Vintage’s success is that it suits ladies who would rather spend their money on a one off exclusive piece. Many of my clients wouldn’t wear pure Vintage, but I believe OV has changed that perception because they value the aspect of what we do that transcends “ fashion.” This is about timeless pieces with an element of couture. For me, someone who is mostly in denim all day, juggling work, kids and staff, I think wearing a truly unique piece is something to look forward to. We rely on these nuggets to shine and feel good. Here are some of my very favorites.
Lucia Tait Tolani
Lucia was a dream client. She came to the store looking for something to wear to her pre wedding party and zoomed in on this piece instantly. It was a 19th century silk kimono I had reworked into a long dress with slits on the side and a plunging neckline. It suited her tall, slim figure, and had amazing golden dragons embroidered on it showing an extraordinary workmanship that you just don’t get today. For Lucia, I think the history behind it appealed, as did the fact that it was totally unique. She finished it off with KOTUR’s birdcage bag. Done!
Poppy chose one of a series I did of deconstructed Victorian dresses to wear to her pre wedding party in Morocco. I took the soft white cotton silhouettes and reimagined them into modern shapes, adding old, faded Rajasthani trims around the neckline and waist. The appeal of these dresses is that you can wear them with flats on a sunny day or high heels at night. They are really very versatile, perfect for a wedding or a party.
Thandie is one of my most cherished clients. She is an intelligent actress who makes choices based on a personal agenda and loves things that are unusual and different. She chose this cocktail dress for a dinner given by Alexandra Schulman of Vogue in London. Originally, the asymmetric top was part of a long dress that was falling apart and the bottom was a heavily beaded Emperor’s kimono. I joined them together to make a dress that she fell in love with. Thandie really appreciates things different from your every day; she’s a champion of anything artisan made.
Sera Hersham Loftus
An interior designer with a very luxurious aesthetic, Sera is a woman whose own approach to design is quite similar to my own. Her approach is sumptuous and sexy, with an eye for unusual fabrics – and that’s what she looks to us for, too. She has worn one of our Kimono dresses with lace sleeves several times, both in a photo-shoot and barefoot at her own party. It’s flowy and it suits her personality and it shows that no two people look the same in something as unique as this. These are clothes that are all about individuality and one’s own spin on things.
Kate Moss’s white Victorian top was actually originally a skirt. She bought a whole series of these to wear to festivals one summer, and one of the reasons they work so well is because they are actually so versatile. You can chuck them on over a bikini or a pair of leather trousers. The quality and feel of that vintage cotton just speaks for itself, and they can be styled in so many different ways.
Courtney contacted me a few months ago to say how much she loved my pieces and that she would love to wear some of them on stage. I love how bold she is, I admire her spirit and how liberal she is in the way she wears things. She has worn two of our kimonos, a full length one with lamé detailing on it to a premiere in Toronto and then a short version on stage. She makes them look utterly Rock and Roll.
Photo courtesy of whowhatwear.com, onevintagedesigns.com, life.com, facebook.com