Hindsight is 20/20. And so it's only natural to assume that, had we been given the opportunity, we would have snapped up some of the key looks from fashion's past—a few of those Cristobal Balenciaga outfits currently on display at the Queen Sofía Spanish Institute on Park Avenue, a YSL Le Smoking as seen in the Saint Laurent retrospective in Paris, or maybe a few of the cutout jersey dresses that Tom Ford showed at Gucci. Good luck getting your hands on any of that stuff now.
What current fashion should we be collecting, now, while it's in stores? What's the vintage of the future? The beginning of a new decade seemed a good time to pose that question, and for answers, we turned to the experts—vintage obsessives, fashion collectors, visionary store buyers. That Rodarte dress might seem pricey now, but who knows? It could provide a better return than your 401(k).
"I like Julien David for the incredible quality of silk he uses for his scarves, and his original prints are very contemporary. He's always looking, like Hermès in a way, to find ways of wearing scarves in modern ways. It's a very precious collection which can be worn by both young and old, and it will always be elegant.
"I love Olympia Le-Tan's work for the handmade finish—it's so artisanal. I love her inspirations from books and travel for Spring 2011 (left). It's a clever collection for smart people! She's also careful to offer affordable prices, with cute totes with drawings by her friends like André [Saraiva] or her dad, Pierre Le-Tan."
Sarah Lerfel is the co-owner of Colette in Paris.
"If there is one fashion house that will always be relevant, it is Chanel. A coveted collector's item, this classic black dress from Spring 2011 will stand the test of time season after season, year after year."
Rachel Zoe is a Hollywood stylist and the designer of her own collection for QVC.
"I choose Miu Miu's Spring 2011 collection—I like the glimpse of Bloomsbury and Virginia Woolf. Especially the silk satin skirts pleated on one side and the hand-painted leather jackets and the bright, acid color dresses."
Didier Ludot is the owner of a namesake Paris vintage couture boutique and the author of The Little Black Dress.
"A surefire future collectible will be a confection from Alexander McQueen's Fall 2010 collection. Everything from this emotional and historic collection is intoxicating, but the final look is particularly profound and incorporates so many elements of McQueen's style DNA, and I will always think of it as 'The Last Exit.' "
Cameron Silver is the owner of vintage couture boutique Decades in Los Angeles and the author of a forthcoming book on twentieth-century fashion.
"I'd choose three designers that I believe fit into the classic sense of futurism, an aesthetic that has been defined over the past 40 years by visionary designers from Pierre Cardin to Nicolas Ghesquière (with his influential "futuristic" collection from Spring 2007). There's Raf Simons, in particular the rigid, Velcro-detailed trench skirt from his Fall 2010 men's collection; Gareth Pugh, especially his Fall 2010 "mothership" bag, with its zip-off triangular clutches (left); and Aitor Throup, with his laser-focused debut collection of four trousers inspired by male anatomy."
Joseph Quartana is the owner of the independent designer boutique Seven New York.
"From the point of view of a museum curator, you're looking for things that are directional. Like collecting contemporary art, collecting contemporary fashion is a bit of an educated guess. We would be very keen on acquiring things by Rick Owens, Haider Ackermann, Rodarte, Gareth Pugh, Joseph Altuzarra—these are designers who are coming up, and whose work is getting better and better. For example, Rodarte's Spring 2011 collection had a look inspired by Chinese blue and white ceramics, with matching shoes; that ensemble (left) in particular would be something we'd be keen on owning."
Valerie Steele is the director and chief curator of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
"Fashion collecting becomes this game of coveting the raw and the refined, or the classic and the avant-garde. Tom Sachs' Kelly Bag for the Gagosian shop is one of those rare designs that infuse an iconic fashion staple with a high-art sensibility."
Cynthia Rowley is a designer and the co-founder of members-only online gallery Exhibition A.
" 'Clothing with no obsolescence' has long been my style mantra. When all that's left are the cockroaches, I'm pretty sure J.Press will still be selling Shetland sweaters (left). Beyond the labels, though, the materials are what truly make something long-lasting and hand-me-down-worthy. It's the Harris tweed, the selvedge denim from Cone Mills in North Carolina, and shell cordovan from Horween in Chicago that will make things last a generation or three. My thinking is that if these things have stood the test of time once, they should be able to do it again."
PR man Michael Williams blogs about Americana and vintage-hunting at A Continuous Lean.
Farad Al Hajiri
"Our favorite jewelry piece for 2011 is Hannah Martin's triangle ring. We love how she's reinterpreted a 3-D triangle shape and converted it into a wearable piece of jewelry with multi-facet angles, some in plain gold and other with pavé colored stones. It's just fabulous. And our favorite jewelry designer is Shaun Leane: He has created amazing pieces in the past few years for McQueen and Boucheron. His collections are mainly inspired by nature, with a unique twist, and the work is timeless (left)."
Farad Al Hajiri is the co-owner of Octium, a multi-brand fine jewelry boutique in Kuwait.
"My vote goes to Christopher Kane's Spring 2009 and Spring 2011 (left) collections, Viktor & Rolf's Spring 2010, and Phoebe Philo's first collection for Celine [Resort 2010]. Though very different, these collections stand out because the pieces are iconic. Christopher Kane's silhouette is classic, while his choice of fabric, color, and detail is extravagant and unusual. Every piece has its own story. Viktor & Rolf's tulle collection was very special and will last in people's minds for a long time. And I can't think of any collection more applauded and sought after than Phoebe Philo's debut at Celine. She made history. Because these collections are so recognizable, they will become collector's pieces, but because of the cut, they will stand the test of time."
Casting director Natalie Joos writes about her adventures in vintage at Tales of Endearment.
While I agree with some of the selections, I wanted to share with a couple of my own, such as Oscar de la Renta's statement pieces. His jewelry designs are some of the best of the past seasons, particularly those pieces which seem to be inspired by classic vintage. Another sure to be classic, is Celine's Boston bag from their 2010 collections. (oh to get my hands on one!) Featured in many a photo shoot and gracing the arms of everyone from celebrities to the "ladies who lunch," this bag definitely took center stage!