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

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

    £37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

    Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

    £25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

    Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

    £16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

    £25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

    Day In a Page

    The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

    They fled war in Syria...

    ...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
    From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

    Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

    Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
    Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

    Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

    Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
    From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

    Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

    From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
    Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

    Kelis interview

    The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea