When you think of white shirts, the brand Anne Fontaine comes immediately to mind. I met with the designer during a trip to Boston at her flagship store, 280 Boylston St, Heritage On the Garden. (I tried not to get too distracted by the big orange box on the corner of the street where Hermes is getting its makeover.) Upon entering the cozy boutique, I was drawn to a wall of shirt collars. Anne told me in her shy and sexy portugese accent (her father is French and her mother Brazilian), that the collars developed initially because she uses them in the design process. She has about 3,000 of these collars in her atelier in the North of France–Normandy to be exact.
And she likes to “play” with them, experimenting with the shirt designs by changing the collars. She initially put them up as a gallery in her store in Paris about 5 years ago. They weren’t for sale, just for display, but immediately customers wanted them. A new idea was born, and she started selling the collars as accoutrements to her beautiful shirts. They can be worn over round neck shirts, as well as with strapless gowns–as a sort of collar/necklace, skin showing between the two. Their versatility is endless. I am even reminded of the green beaded collar that Scarlett Johansen wore to the Oscars this year. Anne’s collars tend to stay in the black and/or white color scheme and vary from extremely conservative to supremely fabulous.
Anne is currently working on her Summer 2016 collection. She is inspired by life and the silhouette of the femme fatale–a strong 60’s influence with idols such as Marlene Dietrich serving as muses. The Anne Fontaine woman in her eyes can be a young lady, a mother, a grandmother, anyone who wants their first white shirt.
After studying marine biology, she ended up in fashion and launched the brand in 1993. Anne has always had a passion for nature, and felt that it was time to give back. The Amazon rainforest is close to her heart because she lived there when she was 17. She established the Anne Fontaine Foundation to benefit the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest, an area in peril, and once a year on Forest Day, 50% of the proceeds from any sales in her store go to this charity.
Overall impression: Go for the architecture, the inspired shopping, creative and friendly atmosphere and the trendy dining. A must in Amsterdam? The enchanted 9th Street District for its swirl of everything amazing.
I love vintage and I really love European vintage. European fashion from a previous era tells a story that more contemporary fashion rarely does. Owning the original version of a fashion moment is more inspiring to me then the “easy get” of that mass produced look today.
My favorite spot to source unique and envy inspiring pieces is Episode. Episode is a small chain, but you can’t hold that against them as they are all about budget friendly, quality merchandise that is organized with dewy decimal precision. The focus on grouping like merchandise together is a godsend when time is tight – and your husband’s patience is growing thin. Their mens collection is just as fabulous as their ladies. If you’ve never “been into vintage” or found vintage to be too much work, Episode will convert and spoil you.
HIGHLIGHTS OF MY VINTAGE BINGE:
The tuxedo jacket with tails of my dreams – €30.00 (euros) and a heavily metal grommeted ’80’s jacket done in buttery soft suede – €25.00.
Amazing fur accessories: muffs, collars, boleros, hats, scarves, gloves. Sorry PETA but I bought bags full and I certainly wasn’t alone. Everybody is buying and wearing fur in Amsterdam, and with prices that start at €10.00 and topped out at about €50.00, you can see why. The fur coats were all in the €100.00. range and would easily go for much more in the US.
An epic, embroidered lederhosen, with incredible leather braided suspenders. I am obsessed with the buttons, the pewter buckles, and the embroidery. Super flattering and completely unexpected, I can’t wait to wear this with a killer pair of high heels. At only €35.00 , I now wish I had bought more.
LAURA DOLS VINTAGE
My spirit animal has got to be the magpie. Its bad rap for attraction to shiny things hits close to home, because I too am absurdly attracted to everything that glitters – especially vintage. Indulge your inner magpie while in Amsterdam and be sure to visit Laura Dols, located in the heart of the 9th Street District. This sweet, well curated two level shop is filled with a wide range of girly party dresses that will have you feeling ready to go get flirty. Sequins, beading, and feathers embellished on silks, satins, and all varieties of polyester from the last 5 decades boast impressive quality. What did I bring back to my nest? The diaphanous, white belted dress with a subtle metallic sheen, very Kathleen Turner in “Body Heat”.
Attention all femme fatales: for unabashedly feminine lingerie, a stop at Stout is a must when visiting Amsterdam’s 9th Street District. Don’t let its unfortunate name fool you; this small but incredible boutique is for grown up ladies, who need something more stimulating than Victoria’s tired secrets. All 50 shades of exquisite underpinnings are offered and well displayed. Sexy, bold, sweet, classic, naughty…whatever your personal taste, this is an upscale shopping experience that will surprise and delight you with its wide range of European brands. I’m always impressed with their selection of beautiful bras, panties, teddies, swim wear, accessories and other items that will help you break hearts and get your groove on.
EDITOR AT LARGE
CHIEF FASHION CORRESPONDENT
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