LIZ JONESFASHION THERAPYIs cataloguing your clothes online the way to smarter dressing
21:01 GMT, 20 May 2012
One for the vault: Caring for Liz's designer dress
You must have been wondering when it would finally happen — the day the men in white coats would knock on my door and cart me off. Last week, they came. But not for me — for my clothes.
Two men in white coats and impeccable white gloves arrived at my flat and took away everything in my wardrobe: trouser suits, dresses, shoes and bags.
A sequin Marni sweater, bought in 1999, and a Roland Mouret black-and-white mesh shirt I’ve never worn. A black trouser suit by J. Lindeberg. My three Bottega Veneta dresses: one long black evening, one short cream cocktail, and one simple black wool.
My black Prada bag, bought from Joseph in 2008. My Bottega clutch, bought for my niece’s wedding. And my shoes: Burberry, Prada, Chloe and Louboutin. Hmmm. I can’t remember what else. But then that’s the beauty of a new service that has turned my real wardrobe into a virtual one.
I can log on, open virtual drawers and doors, pair those purple Burberry shoes with that Prada lace skirt, and browse my clothing. All from the comfort of my desk, and anywhere in the world.
The men in white coats are the Russian-speaking employees of Vault Couture, an invitation-only members’ club that launched last month, which catalogues your wardrobe.
Each item is pictured, repaired, cleaned, given a barcode and put online. It’s then returned to your home — or, if you prefer and pay a great deal more, placed in a secure, rather chilly, vault for safe-keeping until you need it.
The company has a team of 15 photographers, seamstresses, drivers and those all-important guards. The real-life vault, over three floors, is in the very non-starry Acton, West London.
When I arrive, I’m met not just by two security guards, but heavy steel doors — no surprise, given a consignment has just arrived from an anonymous new member containing lots of never-worn dresses designed by Victoria Beckham, a silver Louis Vuitton tote, many, many shoes and jewellery.
Entering the vault, kept at a steady 18 degrees (furs, and there are many, are stored at a chilly 13 degrees), I find it is an obsessive-compulsive’s dream come true: row upon row of black cloth bags containing annotated contents that have been steamed to perfection.
Vault Couture is a new service that can turn a real wardrobe into a virtual one
Given the annual membership is 10,000, I can only imagine rich wives of oligarchs needing to store their clothes in a vault. This sum includes not only the use of the vault and the virtual wardrobe, but delivering your chosen garment to your home, wherever that may be in the world, at lightning speed (branches are planned for New York and Moscow).
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I’d imagine only women in the fashion business — such as U.S. Vogue editor Anna Wintour — would have so many clothes they would need the cataloguing service, which costs 2,000.
This means once your items are logged on computer, your wardrobe is returned to your home, but with everything photographed online you can plan that day’s perfect outfit as you sip a no-fat cappuccino before dressing for work — just as Alicia Silverstone did in the film Clueless.
But even I, who have worked in fashion for more than 30 years, possess only 27 really valuable designer items. I think the Vault Couture people are amazed at how little I have. On mannequins, my clothes look so delicious I fall in love with them all over again. Back home, in their breathable cloth bags, they seem as good as new.
Each of Liz's wardrobe items is pictured, repaired, cleaned, given a barcode and put online
Liz says the Vault is an obsessive-compulsive’s dream come true: row upon row of black cloth bags containing annotated contents that have been steamed to perfection
Next to each garment (online and on a printed label) is the name of the designer and its ‘recent activity’ (for instance, ‘jacket worn to lunch with your boss’, ‘dress worn on a hot date’), so you can work out when you last wore something, with whom and if it’s safe to wear it again.
Now my wardrobe is online, I can choose an item, click on ‘match my garment’ and I will be shown all the things I own that will go with it perfectly. Included for the 2,000 is the services of a Vault Couture stylist to put together a look online and give me advice.
Even I possess only 27 really valuable designer items. I think the Vault Couture people are amazed at how little I have…
I can even browse what I own on an iPad while out shopping, so never again will I be tempted by Prada court shoes, having forgotten I own an almost identical pair by Marc Jacobs. My 2009 Yves Saint Laurent jacket, which I’ve worn to death, looks as good online as it did when I fell in love with it on net-a-porter.com.
I’m reminded I own a Forever 21 sequin mini-dress! Even impulse buys take on a gravitas and a possibility when managed in this way. Best of all, though, is that the site contains a virtual boutique (open to everyone), where you can browse all the things Vault Couture’s members want to get shot of.
There are some incredible bargains: a black Temperley cocktail dress for 348, Chanel, Dior and Gucci bags for 200 to 300, and a pair of new Chanel mules for 276. Most of all, though, as I browse the ‘recent activity’ of my clothes, I realise I have got to get out more and wear some of them.
For an extra sum of money your wardrobe can be placed in a secure vault for safe-keeping