There are no scenes of happy families doing traditional Christmas things or snow-covered houses with Cardinals singing in the trees hidden behind the flaps of Byronesque’s Advent calendar.
The goods are transmitted via closed-circuit TV, the fashion hanging from exposed pipes in a small concrete room that jibes with Hollywood’s idea of what a serial kidnapper’s lair would look like.
Digital and online contemporary vintage fashion retailer Byronesque rails against the banality and mediocrity of pop culture; its unsentimental point of view embraces some of the darker tendencies of its favorite designers.
“We’re not the happy-clappy types,” said Gill Linton, editor in chief and chief executive officer of Byronesque. “It’s not like we’re going to do a Christmas card and we never go on sale. We said, ‘Let’s pick our favorite pieces, a mix of different designers.’ These are special pieces.”
The concept behind the calendar is opening the vault, or as Linton said, “The really good stuff is stashed in the back rooms of vintage stores because the pieces are very expensive or historically significant, or both, and they don’t want customers pawing the garments.”
Alaïa’s 1993 lace bustier dress, $2,750, is getting heightened interest “given his recent passing,” Linton said. Other standouts include Comme des Garçons’ “original show robes, not the reissued ones”; an authenticated 1976 Seditionaries parachute jacket, $4,700; Jean Paul Gaultier 1998 bondage coat, $950; Raf Simons 1999 sleeveless jacket, $1,450, and Yves Saint Laurent 2000 feather gilet, $1,250.
Also in the lineup, a Stephen Sprouse 1984 neon coat, $2,500, and items from Martin Margiela’s original spring 2006 Fragile collection, including a handbag $1,000. “It fascinated me that [MM6] reissued the collection recently. With the original, you can feel the tape,” Linton said, referring to adhesive tape, similar to that used by movers to seal boxes, that Margiela wrapped around products. “The shoes are the Holy Grail.”
Byronesque creative director Justin Westover, a photographer and a contributor to publications such as Dazed and Confused, Rolling Stone, Numero and Italian Vogue, filmed the CCTV feed at secret locations in Paris and New York. Indigital edited the footage.
“It’s a very dodgy location that we weren’t supposed to be in,” said Linton. “We considered putting the items in a shop. We were offered a fantastic space for free in the Garment District. But we thought, ‘That’s too easy, people will figure out where it is.’
“The pieces have either been copied or are particularly special,” Linton said. “These are important designers that meant something to us.”