Exclusive interview with collections curator Lynn Yaeger: "These clothes are revolutionary in their conception and execution"

As online retailer yoox.com launches a vintage selection of creations by Japanese designers, Rebecca Gonsalves meets Lynn Yaeger, the collection’s passionate curator

The steady rise of vintage has led to something of a devaluing of the concept, thanks to musty warehouses chock-full of cast-offs repurposed with a liberal dose of irony and Febreze. But there is as much difference between a truly special vintage find and a discarded C&A dress as there is between a bottle of 1945 Château Pétrus and a dusty bottle of Blue Nun.

Lynn Yaeger, the esteemed New York-based journalist, knows her fair share about bargain-hunting – and the relative worth of the treasures it can turn up. A former fashion reporter for The Village Voice, Yaeger’s 30-year career at the New York news institution came to an abrupt end when she was let go in 2008. A lifelong love of bargain-hunting has seen her flourish in the second stage of her career, though, chronicling her exploits for American Vogue, where she is a contributing editor, as well as the most recent addition to her CV – curator of the vintage section of yoox.com. Yaeger’s inaugural collection for the site, which specialises in end-of-season designer clothing, celebrates 10 years since the retailer launched in Japan. As such, her first collection, Mezurashi Hakken, which translates to “Rare Discovery”, celebrates the Japanese revolution of the early 1980s.

“I’ve been working with yoox.com for several years,” Yaeger says. “I met Federico Marchetti [the founder] when I was interviewing him for vogue.com and we hit it off. I love online shopping for designer clothes, and I don’t care what season they are from!”

While Yaeger’s work and nose for a bargain has seen her travel all around the world, and provided her with unprecedented access to the treasure troves of the fashion world, she has always been remarkably democratic about sharing her secrets. Yaeger is renowned as much for her unique appearance – her Kewpie-doll mouth, the rouged cheeks of a china doll and hennaed undercut bob – as for her writing. Her embrace of this eccentricity was in part inspired by some of fashion’s late greats – such as Diana Vreeland, Anna Piaggi, Isabella Blow – but also as a form of insulation from the vagaries of an industry in which you can be deemed passé almost instantly.

This latter idea – that something doesn’t stop being beautiful when next season starts – certainly chimes well with yoox.com’s ethos, and would explain her simpatico relationship with Marchetti. By the same logic, Yaeger’s finds must be truly special in order to stand up to the modern-day market: “My role is to find wonderful vintage items for people to wear. You have to be able to wear the clothes – otherwise they belong in a museum showcase, not in your closet. No to decay and deterioration!”

For her first collection for yoox.com, subtitled the Japanese Revolution, Yaeger has focused on the groundbreaking work of that country’s designers. As such, the work of Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons, Junya Watanabe, Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, Kenzo Takada and Kansai Yamamoto, which caused a rethink of ideas of shape, colour, luxury and gender, has been expertly collated. “These clothes are revolutionary in their conception and execution,” says Yaeger, who “searched the world” with a vintage-product expert from Italy. “They are beyond season, they never date. Clothes that look a little strange on the hanger can be wonderful on the body. For this collection, each piece had to be a unique, interesting example of each designer’s contribution, and they have to be wearable.” Miyake’s signature pleats, Kawakubo’s avant-garde creations and Yamamoto’s ethereal romance are all represented, and, Yaeger believes, are “as fresh and interesting as the day they were first made”. Cartoon of Lynn Yaeger

“The internet makes treasure hunters of us all,” Yaeger says. “There is literally the world at your fingertips now. The same rules apply as when you are at a massive flea market – decide on two or three things that you are looking for and try to ignore all the rest.” Such advice may be easier to dispense than to follow, but thankfully in this instance, Yaeger and yoox.com have done the hard work for you.

Mezurashi Hakken: the Japanese Revolution, is curated by Lynn Yaeger. Prices start at £150, yoox.com

News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
News
Comic miserablist Larry David in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
peopleDirector of new documentary Misery Loves Comedy reveals how he got them to open up
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Life and Style
David Bowie by Duffy
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
News
advertisingVideo: The company that brought you the 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' frogs and 'Wasssssup' ads, has something up its sleeve for Sunday's big match
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Environment
Dame Vivienne Westwood speaking at a fracking protest outside Parliament on Monday (AP)
environment
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

    Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

    Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

    £120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

    Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

    £70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

    £24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
    World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

    Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

    The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
    Why the league system no longer measures up

    League system no longer measures up

    Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
    Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

    Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

    Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

    Magnetic north

    The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
    Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

    Front National family feud?

    Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
    Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

    Pot of gold

    Tasting the world’s most expensive tea