I’ll be honest here. I had preconceptions about what Nadia’s Closet, the new vintage venture of Nadia Taseer, might be like as I was walking down Connaught Street on the way to the launch on Friday. It might be another Rellik, THE ubiquitous London vintage store to name drop. It could be a Victorian dressing up box like Cloud Cuckoo Land in Angel.
As I stepped inside the showroom boutique, I knew I had to rethink my hypothesis. My eyes were instantly drawn to a lime green creation with a very intricate jewelled neckline and empire waist. Was it Matthew Williamson?
Had I gotten the address wrong? Was this in fact vintage? No, I had not daftly walked into a designer boutique by accident. The dress was in fact vintage and this was indeed Nadia’s Closet, consisting of rails of beautifully presented glamourous vintage dresses in such immaculate condition, that my eyes were nearly deceived. I was floored by the detailing, the textures, the quality. Everything was speaking to me in a deliciously girly and glamourous way. This was vastly different from my preconceptions.
‘‘Nadia’s Closet is more about glamourous vintage wear. I wanted to get away from the whole retro, ordinary vintage wear. I wanted something special that you almost can’t get in this country, gorgeous dresses that you can’t find in Portobello. I wanted one of a kind pieces, and stunning pieces that you would see and go ‘wow.’, Nadia Taseer’s raison d’etre of her self sourced ‘closet’. ‘Wow’ was indeed what was running through my head and what I was hearing being murmured by many of the women at the launch whilst touching the garments.
The key thing that separates Nadia’s Closet from the numerous vintage stores in London is it’s presentation and the aesthetic as it were. Nadia recognised that she wanted a collection in the sense that her garments all gel together and are cohesive and she wants people to easily pick out a piece without having to drawl through rails upon rails of musty clothes to weed out the gems. ‘It’s something more available to everyone.’ Not everyone is willing to rummage like crazed students do in smelly warehouses. She has tapped into what puts people off vintage and has made it appealing to those that have yet to convert to vintage-dom.
Another fear of vintage that a lot of people have is the condition and wearability of clothes which Nadia has also addressed as when sourcing her garments, she looks for amazing condition: ‘A lot of people think vintage and think ‘old, unwearable, oh there will be a hole in it’. I want something that’s stunning.’ By her standards, it also means she does minimal restoration work as she feels that ruins it. The one clever alteration that she does do is take up dress lengths. A 40’s aqua chiffon ankle length gown suddenly becomes more wearable when taken up to knee length. In effect, a lot of pieces become hard to date and that in itself is very desirable – a lot of people do not want to feel they are going to a costume party when wearing vintage.
My initial faux pas of thinking that the lime green jewelled ballgown was akin to Matthew Williamson is actually part and parcel of Nadia’s approach towards picking out pieces. ‘I wanted to do something that nobody has done in vintage before and and that is look for key pieces. For example, white crochet, white lace and ruffles are going to be very big for the summer. I go for what is going to be in fashion for the next six months. A lot of vintage pieces out there isn’t in or current.’. As I scrutinised every single piece, the spring summer collections this year immediately sprung to mind. I was seeing Chloe in a beautiful white crochet dress, Chanel in a thick jersey shift with a waist bow, Prada in a long purple dress with rosette detailing. The time of the dress is upon us and you really are spoilt for choice here. There were 60’s babydolls in metallic lame, beaded ballgowns that you could dress down with some pretty flats, white crochet flowing dresses, lace boleros, delicate underwear that could be worn as outerwear. Quite simply, this is vintage dressing that need not be stuck in a decade and is contemporary and can be easily incorporated into everyday wardrobes.
More to the point, what differentiates this label from say, Steinberg and Tolkein or Virginia (famed vintage stores in London) is the price. For such exquisite pieces, a price range of £40-£400 is really quite reasonable. In a way, the value of Nadia’s dress is measured in the fact that they do have that designer je ne sais quoi yet you’re not actually paying designer label prices nor are you buying into any one label, risking clashing dresses at parties! Nadia recounts ‘I remember this so clearly, it was at a Vanity Fair party three years ago and two people turned up wearing exactly the same dress, that was the turning point.’
It is not hard to see why Nadia Taseer has developed such an eye for vintage pieces. She was very much brought up to appreciate vintage clothing as her Swedish mother Ylva, worked in fashion and has a great enthusiasm for vintage. Nadia continued collecting into her adulthood, but it was her foray into setting up her own bag label Clutch-On (Kylie Minogue bought one!) at Portobello that encouraged her to take her passion for vintage and evolve it into Nadia’s Closet.
I was very curious to find out where she sourced these wondrous pieces. An obvious destination is Paris but more surprisingly, the majority comes from Sweden, where she grew up. ‘America is getting expensive,’ but she does also source from Texas. To amass this sizeable collection that is virtually all in perfect condition and shows actual age (no repros here!) is testament to Nadia’s dedication and vintage nous. Her mother Ylva, was on hand to offer verbal support of her daughter’s venture. The fact that she herself collected vintage ‘even when it wasn’t fashionable’, shows true appreciation for a quality in vintage that cannot be replicated elsewhere. ‘When you buy something now, the quality you had many years ago is not there anymore.’ I cannot stress enough the quality that I saw in these dresses that can only be appreciated in person.
As I was busy coveting every piece on the rails, it occurred to me that a lot of women nowadays prioritise function over frippery. Why is wearing a gorgeous dress with some ballet flats or thong sandals seen as more of a hassle than wearing a Helmut Lang trouser suit? Perhaps I just don’t see the differentiation. When asked about the type of girl that would wear Nadia’s Closet, it only confirmed what I already knew: ‘Someone who has imagination. A personal style. Not someone who buys logos. Someone who will do their own thing.’ Well, I think that description hopefully fits most of you out there.
Nadia’s showroom sale is sadly now over but she can be contacted via email if you want further details. The website will hopefully be launching soon so do check back regularly. The purpose of the launch was to get the concept out there and hopefully she will be opening a permanent store in the future. We can all hope….!