If you follow me on Twitter you might be aware that a few weeks ago I won a competition hosted by the man who Vogue dubs “the vintage king” – Mr William Banks-Blaney.
Obviously when I say you might be aware, I’m being sarcastic; I’ve talked about it A LOT. I’m pretty sure that Charlie thought I was having a panic attack as I checked my phone half way through dinner and promptly started hyperventilating over William’s congratulatory message! After taking a few deep breaths I contacted William to arrange an appointment to choose my prize – a stylish autumn coat – and started day dreaming about spending the afternoon in the company of a man who dresses one of my favourite women in the world (Dawn Porter) as well as a whole host of inspirational/beautiful ladies including Lana del Ray, Tilda Swinton and Eva Green.
As the morning of ‘coat day’ arrived, I headed over to WilliamVintage for my one-to-one appointment, armed with a nervous smile and a box full of homemade chocolate truffles (I’m pretty sure I’m incapable of turning up to anything empty handed). William greeted me at the door with a huge grin and immediately made me feel welcome in his world; a world filled with beautiful haute couture Dior, pristine Courreges and the finest Yves Saint Laurent.
Watching William at work was an awe-inspiring experience. As he talked about his recent finds, his passion and extensive knowledge came alive; this man knows each piece like the back of his hand and is one of the most dedicated people I’ve ever met. You only have to listen to him speak for 60 seconds to realise just how deeply his obsession runs! Despite being an appointment only boutique, WilliamVintage is far from pretentious – both Will and WilliamVintage’s Director Elspeth were personable, open and incredibly lovely. As I tried on a mountain of stunning coats, capes and jackets I knew that he would give me an honest opinion and not just try to ‘sell’ me anything in order to turn a profit. Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of meeting William will know that he derives genuine pleasure from helping someone find that perfect piece, whether you’re a competition winner with an empty purse or a regular client with an extensive bank account.
I could have listened to William talk for hours about the treasures in his store – everything was immaculate, each item beautifully cared for and presented – but after spending forever sighing over haute couture and spinning around in beautiful coats, I finally managed to narrow down my favourites. Part of me could have quite happily skipped home in a floor length aubergine velvet cape (it had a seriously amazing hood that almost covered my whole face) but the sensible side of my brain stopped me from being too hasty.
When I walked in the door of WilliamVintage I had no personal criteria; all I dreamed of was a beautiful coat that would last me a lifetime. Although I had no preconceptions about the colour, the fabric or the cut, I actually ended up being torn between two fairly similar coats, both from the 1960’s and both detailing minx fur collars. The grey Sixties swing coat with dreamy creamy fur was hard to leave behind, but I consoled myself by taking home this hand tailored cashmere beauty – in the end it won out thanks to its elegance and charm. Everything about it feels magical, from the pockets, the length and the lining, to the fur and those beautifully crafted buttons…it is one of those special pieces of clothing that makes you feel like a new person when you wear it.