We meet Daria around noon on a sticky summer day, when the nonexistent breeze makes you feel quite unattractive as you dab your melting face, cursing the heat wave with your finest selection of swear words.
But that is not applicable to Daria. Her arrival is marked by a flair of nonchalant grandeur: she weaves her way through the park, the cloth of her black, wide-legged jumpsuit swinging in rhythm with her steps, the platforms of her espadrilles stamping out footprints on the sandy path. Bright red lipstick, burgundy nails and a flowered comb pinned into her jet black hair-do. Yes, we know we’re in good hands when it comes to touring Paris’ best vintage spots.
Apéro [A]: Where will you be taking us? Is there a specific area with many vintage shops or we’ll be zig-zagging around Paris?
Daria [D]: They’re everywhere. I’ll be taking you to my favourite three. For those looking to search beyond, a safe bet is rue Rivoli, which has three vintage stores and rue Rosiers. There you can dig out treasures such as a Burberry trench for €11. But my personal favourites remain the smaller spots, the ones less known, where I can avoid big crowds.
AN ODE TO VINTAGE
First stop: Vintage Standards, 104 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006 Paris.
Era: 1970’s-1990’s. Prices: €
There’s that familiar smell of vintage, but otherwise the store is unusually spacious and bright. Items are arranged by type and colour, which means you can easily sort between red shirts, pastel skirts and jeans wear. Furs and hats are also convenient hung in specially dedicated corners.
Our choice: Levi’s shorts for €20 and scarves under €5.
Daria’s choice: a beige dress with a 20’s inspired cut, a straw hat and a formal black hat.
A: How did it all start for you?
D: I really don’t know. I’ve always loved the retro culture, especially the 50’s. I’ve always been a big fan of Dita Von Teese and I often fantasised about trying on her style.
I’ve always been a big fan of Dita Von Teese and I often fantasised about trying on her style.
But with time I understood that this style that I so much admire requires a lot of effort and personal investment. And I couldn’t be bothered to wake up early to do my hair, my make up, get dressed up in a special way.
A: Where did you grow up?
D: In Kharkiv, Ukraine.
A: Your style took a sharp turn to vintage only after your move to Paris?
D: The reality is that in Kharkiv even a red coat would provoke unpleasantly disapproving looks. But then in Paris this change was not immediate. It took time and courage to change it all – my wardrobe, but also my lifestyle.
It took time and courage to change it all – my wardrobe, but also my lifestyle.
I became the person my teenager self admired – with the downside of early mornings and long preparations.
A: Are you wearing vintage today?
D: No, it’s a very well done replica of a garment, that could have been easily worn in the 40’s. I have no shame in admitting that I wear replicas, and I know many great brands that produce vintage styles, which have the advantage of coming fitted in your size. Price-wise however they can be just as expensive as real vintage.
A: Do you wear a vintage look daily?
D: Yes, it’s my style. But some garments are very fragile and come out of the closet for very special occasions only.
A: What’s your favourite era?
D: The 50’s. But I love the others too: 40’s, 60’s, 70’s.
A: What makes the 50’s so special for you?
D: It’s the spirit of that era – the happiness that permeated it. People believed in a bright future, they didn’t know there would be a sex revolution and AIDS. Pierre
People believed in a bright future, they didn’t know there would be a sex revolution and AIDS. Pierre
Cardin believed in the future of space and Yves Saint Laurent was signing his first collections. It wasn’t all perfect, but it was a time of great expectations and achievements.
A: How do people react to your look?
D: There are two types of people: those who stare and those who examine. Those who examine are also the ones that pay compliments. The French are generous in that sense. If they like the way you look, they would let you know. But there’s also the shameless type who take photos, really close up, without even asking. I find that really rude and annoying, especially since if you ask me for a photo, I would gladly pose!
A: On posing. You’ve always got the perfect pose on photos. Elegant hands, the little heel. Did you learn it or were you born with it?
D: My mom says I was a poser from day one. I really did love to strike a pose even as a child, and obviously I carried that through with me until today. I practiced a lot too: in front of the mirror, trying out different poses. Everyone has a best profile side.
Everyone has a best profile side.
Find yours, whether it’s left or right, and try to take most photos from that angle. And then there’s the basics: sucking in your tummy, straightening out your shoulders. And I also found my inspiration: old photos from the 50’s and the 60’s. I pay particular attention to how the girls stand in those photos because legs are less evident to arrange.
DARIA AND HER PARIS
We’re now at the second stop.
Mamz’Elle Swing, 35 bis Rue du Roi de Sicile, 75004 Paris.
Era: 1920’s to 1960’s. Prices: €€-€€€.
A little gem on a narrow street off rue Rivoli, which is run by Berenice, a seasoned collector of vintage, who installed her shop here in the 1995. On the shop’s walls you can see magazine cutouts and photos of the young Berenice herself and it becomes immediately clear that this lady knows the A to Z of vintage.
Our choice: sleeveless V-neck tops, Hermès scarves and summer dresses.
Daria’s choice: pin-up style under-skirts and a red swimming suit straight out of the 40’s.
A: Where do you study?
D: In a private photography school.
A: And your course is on a bachelor’s level?
D: Yes, I have started over from scratch. Back home I studied at the National Law Academy of Ukraine, but the diploma I got was handed over to my parents for safekeeping – I have no interest in pursuing a career in the legal field, even if I do find the subject quite interesting. I think it’s important to know how to defend your rights (laughs).
A: Have you ever wanted to try being a vintage shopper?
D: I did, but money was always a blocking point. Few people were willing to acknowledge that my time costs something. Vintage hunting is not as easy as one may think, and buying real vintage is not cheap.
Vintage hunting is not as easy as one may think, and buying real vintage is not cheap.
People also frequently expected me to just share addresses and I’m no longer into that. It’s my knowledge and my experience. So I’m thinking of going back to a more artistic career.
D: Yes. And photo shoot styling. I also love to model for photo shoots, but I’m not tall enough to be a professional model. I like to collaborate with vintage boutiques, many of which run their business online. I model for them in exchange for their clothes, which suits me just fine.
A: You ooze confidence in your photos. How do you that? How do you overcome the insecurities you may have?
D: When the Ukrainian civil war started in late 2014, I stayed home for around 3 months straight. I was terrified to go outside, I was scared I would die.
I was terrified to go outside, I was scared I would die.
Seems silly of course now, but at one point I told myself that I need to let go of my fears and live everyday as if it were my last. And the first thing I did was to invite myself to the Paris Fashion Week. No one was waiting for me here of course: I did my own accreditation as a photographer and sent out requests to all the brands, whose shows I wanted to attend. I must have sent out around 180 requests in total.
A: Was that tough?
D: Of course. I was honest and admitted in my request that I did not have a portfolio to show, but that I want to take this chance. And that I would hope that they would give it to me. 30 brands wrote back and sent an invitation.
30 brands wrote back and sent an invitation.
The brands were little known of course, but that didn’t matter. I was so happy to see that someone simply believed in me.
As we head off to our final stop, Daria shares her advice on trying out the vintage style.
ADVICE FOR VINTAGE NEWBIES
Casablanca, 17 Rue Moret, 75011 Paris.
Era: 1930’s to 1970’s. Prices: €€€.
A beautiful space filled not only with vintage clothes, but also with vintage deco items. There is a dedicated hairdresser corner, which can be booked for a rendez-vous with Carlos – a specialist of hairstyles from the 20’s and 30’s. The shop is very well known among the theatre professionals. Items bought here were worn on the stages of Opéra Bastille, Opéra Garnier and other famous French stages.
Our choice: Asian styled kimono jackets and handbags with intricate embroidery.
Daria’s choice: a pair of vintage shoes and a 40’s dress in a beautiful festival fuschia colour.
A: For someone who doesn’t know much about vintage, what’s a good starting point for shopping vintage?
D: It’s best to start out with a concrete goal – I want a jacket, for example. I typically do one tour of the shop first, to understand the organisation of the space. And then on the second tour I go rummaging through the corners that seemed most appealing to me. It’s best to set yourself a budget too – as vintage shopping can very quickly come up to a big sum. I also spend around 1 hour per shop – just the right time to properly dig through the rails.
I also spend around 1 hour per shop – just the right time to properly dig through the rails.
A: Is it us or it’s hard to find small sizes like XS and S in vintage stores?
D: It’s hard, especially for items older than the 80’s. Most of my friends who dress in vintage take their items to the tailor for fitting.
A: Are there items which are easier to integrate into outfits with modern clothes?
D: Accessories are great: glasses, bags, scarves. Leather and jean jackets from the 70’s and the 80’s are also very easy to wear. The era of the item matters a lot: 40’s, for example, is not something you can easily mix.
A: How can you tell if an item is really vintage or a good replica?
D: The print – whether it’s faded or not. The stitching. And also the zip. Most vintage items have the most basic kind of metal zip whereas replicas have more modern zips, which vary in size and colour.
A: Do you have styling tips or DIY tricks?
D: I customized a canotier hat once by changing the ribbon. The colours can bring a refreshing look to a classic.
A: What advice would you give to someone who’s just starting out and is shy, unsure, insecure?
D: Here I like to tell the story of Vincent Cassel and his role in La Haine, a French film about cultural conflicts. During the casting, Vincent was really uncomfortable since he’s never played a violent role before and the director Mathieu Kassovitz told him one simple thing. Don’t be a pussy. And it’s one real simple piece of advice for life.
Don’t be a pussy. And it’s one real simple piece of advice for life.
Let go of worrying about what the others may think. Just go for it.
Photos: Lena and Alena