Alice in Wonderland

I showed up one hour early at William Vintage. The sales girl had barely arrived, the door was locked and the lights were off. Furthermore neither William, my gracious host and store owner, nor my muses for the day Alice McCall and Carli Turland, were anywhere in sight. No one seemed to wonder or ask me why I was so early, while I did not understand why everyone was late. I made a couple of nervous phone calls, but still no one reminded me of the time. In fact, both parties apologized and scrambled to get to me. Until I figured it out. I was in London, but had neglected to change my clock back from Paris time. It’s one of those regrettable moments when you just want to shoot yourself. I could’ve used that extra hour of sleep instead of this unsettling joilt of embarrassment.

Alice and Carli had just flown in from Sydney that morning. The looming jet-lag and red-eye delirium had not kicked in yet so when they arrived they were both chipper and fresh-faced, ready to hit the pavement and knock down some London vintage gems. As a designer, Alice mainly draws inspiration from vintage pieces and travels the world for new ideas. Her design process starts with a vintage dress she wears a lot “and from this piece a story is born, a top, a pant, a skirt, another dress”. A big chunk out of the year the 36-year old English born Australian resides in Bali with her partner and 3,5-year old daughter Wilde Rose. A typical morning begins with a walk on the beach, eating fresh banana and papaya with grated coconut from their own back yard and picking up eggs from their chicken. Jealous yet? “It’s pretty idyllic”, she admits, “I work hard at my two labels (Alice McCall and House of Wilde), but at the end of every day I will be back on the beach with the family and our two bassets watching the sunset, then back home for a dinner of fresh fish or prawns delivered right on our doorstep by the fisherman’s wife!” If you weren’t jealous yet, that oughta do it.

William Banks-Blaney is not new to Tales of Endearment. Back in October I interviewed him about his booming on-line vintage business in London. Since then he not only opened his own flagship store on Marylebone Street, he also recently started collaborating with Browns, that incredible, fail-proof, one-stop (well, two stops if you consider crossing the street an effort) haunt for some of the hottest contemporary designers. Between all three locations he now has four rails and two floors of finely curated and precisely edited vintage designer pieces. I’d say William is steadily procuring a mini-empire!

Our second stop was another one of London’s big hypes, Rellik on Golborne Road near Portobello Market. While William Vintage is quite upscale and high society, the vibe and inventory at Rellik is more relaxed, experimental and bohemian, but not less expensive. For a lot of editorial stylists and designers, Rellik is a huge source of inspiration and time-consuming indulgence. I especially liked the basement. You’ll find piles and piles of plastic bags and suitcases full of clothes, from YSL floral tops to Vivienne Westwood denim, all bundled up like undiscovered treasures. It’s such a thrill. Alice and Carli filled the adjoining changing rooms with a plethora of colors and patterns. “I love color and print,” attests Alice. “I am the polar of a minimalist, I am bohemian and eclectic. I love the 70’s but more the Halston, Bianca Jagger style than the hippie’s. I am attracted to things that are unique and I do not like the be dictated by fashion. I like it to be an instintive process in both design and dressing.” I for one love Alice McCall’s clothes. They are feminine, sexy, cute and fun, or as I like to put it, very Joosy.

Read more on Alice’s love for Bali, Bill Gibb and Balenciaga on

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July 13, 2011

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