This is not a drill: 48 pre-owned Chanel pieces have just dropped on Farfetch.com. The archive collection – which comprises pieces worn by Claudia Schiffer, Yasmin Le Bon and Inès de la Fressange on the runway – provides a snapshot of the work of one of fashion’s foremost creators, Karl Lagerfeld, from the ’80s until his death last year. Once owned by the fabulous socialite Catherine McNulty, and sourced by Rewind Vintage Affairs, prices for the items start at £250 for a scarf and reach £4,500 for a tweed handbag.
McNulty’s husband called Rewind founder Claudia Ricco, with whom Farfetch.com has been collaborating since 2011, in February to tell her that his wife had passed away. “He asked me to meet him for lunch at the Ritz Carlton in Cannes as soon as possible, because he was heartbroken and couldn’t have her clothes in the house anymore,” Ricco tells British Vogue via Zoom. “Needless to say, Catherine’s wardrobe was an Aladdin’s cave of Chanel.”
McNulty, a “petite unique character” – who, Ricco says, had “an impeccable sense of style and an eye for the unusual” – first contacted Rewind nine years prior, when she was looking for particular pieces to add to her burgeoning private collection. “I remember walking into her closet in Cannes [where McNulty retired after living in London] and being blown away – she only wore Chanel!” recalls Ricco. “Catherine stored every single item in a neat hotel laundry bag from her travels. As she pulled them out – all in mint condition – the stories got more remarkable.” Tales of dinners hosted by Diana, Princess of Wales, blurred into those of nights when McNulty’s shoes were so uncomfortable her husband had to carry her.
“She said, ‘One day, I will sell it all and I’ll call you,’” says Ricco. The specialist store owner did not expect the phone call to come from McNulty’s husband, who remembered where the couple had bought every single item in his wife’s wardrobe, where she had worn it and why she loved it. “Catherine used to make little catalogues of her clothes on the pages in Vogue,” says Ricco. “I knew I had to display it to the right audience and give the collection the attention it deserves.” Naturally, Farfetch snapped it up, and the e-tailer assembled similar collages in tribute to McNulty’s personal handiwork.
Ricco launched Rewind in 2010. As a trend forecaster on the international fashion circuit, she was often asked where her clothes were from. “I wore my Chanel in unusual ways,” she says of teaming a runway piece with jeans. “I love that Chanel can elevate the simplest items – I don’t think any other brand has that power.” At the time, archive websites were few and far between (Vestiaire Collective had only just launched in 2009), so Ricco decided to build a “fun” website selling “unusual and iconic Chanel pieces from magazine shoots, as well as the timeless items that go beyond seasons”. Collectors soon bookmarked Rewind as the place to go for rare Chanel acquisitions – many items are still snapped up by avid buyers before they even reach the website.
“The classic Chanel 2.55 bag and jewellery are the best investment pieces to make,” says Ricco. The rarest gems, meanwhile, are runway pieces, because they are created in small batches. “They are double or triple the price because you literally can’t find them anywhere,” she explains. How does one know whether one has hit the quilted jackpot, or whether to walk away from the famous interlocking Cs? “Sourcing Chanel requires a combination of experience, alchemy and mystery,” says Ricco. “Keep in mind stitching, stamping and hardware – these are the easiest ways to spot fakes.” If Ricco has the smallest doubt about the authenticity of an item, she won’t accept it into Rewind’s inventory, which she regularly rotates. “I prefer to price things reasonably, rather than inflating it and sitting on stock,” she adds.
While the resale market is booming right now – The RealReal, HEWI, Designer Exchange and Bagista are just a handful of websites that have joined Rewind and Vestiaire Collective in the luxury consignment space – Ricco has always had a constant stream of customers. “I don’t think there’s necessarily a connection between investment buying and sustainability,” she says with regards to the industry’s gradual awakening to the necessity of circularity. “The wealthiest clients don’t care whether a unique piece is brand new or vintage,” she says. “Buying second-hand is equally exciting because there’s a thrill in searching for something.” Ricco predicts that McNulty’s green tweed Chanel handbag (the most expensive item in the sale) will be the first piece to fly off Farfetch.com’s virtual shelves. “There was always a twinkle in her eye when she talked about Chanel,” reminisces Ricco of her friend. Enter the virtual tribute to McNulty’s Aladdin’s cave here. Read More: https://rewindvintage.co.uk/shop-by-brand/chanel