On the second floor of a pristine building in Elwood is a secret fashion hideout. Overlooking the roundabout below is a mannequin, dressed to the Nines on the balcony, the only hint of what lies in store. There is no sign, no advertising, but a lot of word-of-mouth, because this is Paris '99, a highly intimate shopping experience.
Home to vintage designer clothing with a price tag far lower than you would expect, from labels such as Dior, Gaultier, Balenciaga, Lanvin, Dolce & Gabbana, Moschino and many more, Paris '99 is a refreshing concept. It's a gorgeous little salon which, despite its appointment-only set-up, is far from pretentious. It's like an interactive gallery of clothes which owner and fashion connoisseur, Yahav Ron, so expertly guides you through. His manner is both jovial and professional and he is truly in his element as he shares his fascinating story with me.
Yahav: "I started my fashion journey when I bought my first Vogue at age eleven. Then in 1999, at age thirteen, I was taken to Paris for my Bar Mitzvah and that's when it all cemented. I bought one of those mannequins you can pull apart and I started buying fabrics and would pin and drape them on the mannequin... I didn't use magazines like magazines. They were books to me and they sat in order like a library. So when I was thirteen I started working towards getting into fashion at RMIT, which eventually happened. In 2007, I went to Amsterdam on exchange, which was my first foray into the European fashion industry as someone with a bit of fashion experience, rather than just as an observer. Then in 2009, off I went to Antwerp to do an internship with A.F Vandevorst and later the MoMu Fashion museum, the whole time making friends and contacts who would later help form the foundation of Paris '99, which I opened officially in June 2011."
How did Paris '99 begin?
Yahav: "It started off with my friends and my friends' Mums and slowly the word spread. I now have clients in Sydney and Perth as well. What I'm looking at is creating a community of fashion where someone comes and they bring someone else because they've enjoyed their previous experience, then that someone else brings someone else and we open up a bottle of champagne, we have fun and we say something looks bad if it does!"
Yahav: "I source from wherever fashion exists; friends in Europe, contacts in America, from others like me who are obsessed with fashion. That's how I started. Then there's my historical eye and all the knowledge I have built up from my fashion obsession. Everything that I source, I source from people that I know - maybe someone I met in Paris in a Showroom or at fashion parties - so it's a very organic process. I know where everything is coming from, whether it has been worn before or not, and everything has a beginning of a story to tell. It's quite interesting how preloved things have connected with someone already. They become personable and familiar and then it's no longer just shopping. I also do commissions. I am a designer, of course. There's nothing more exciting than creating a piece from start to finish, and so I make pieces myself as well as one-off commissions for clients."
What happens at an appointment?
Yahav: "You walk in and there's already a smorgasbord of treats (laughs, pointing to the array of cheeky cheese and chocolate platters in front of us) and it's just about getting everyone comfortable. It's a lot of fun to walk around with a glass of red and poke through clothes and my rule is whatever you touch, you must try on! A lot of people describe the experience as playing dress-ups with fabulous clothes and you don't have to be scared of it just because this dress used to cost $3,000. Everything is considerably cheaper than the original price because I want it to be accessible. I believe in, what I phrase, the democratisation of luxury fashion. ... Once we get to know each other, I buy pieces which I know will fit into the clients' lifestyle and make them feel and look amazing. I enjoy being a part of someone. People are looking for that point of difference in retail at the moment."
Yahav: "The ultimate vision is to continue living a 'fashion life', to balance between my love for my own work, playing with fabric and making clothing, and continuing to source the best pieces I find and providing the personal touch with all aspects of my business."
To book an appointment at Paris '99, call: 0424583409 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Yahav will gladly welcome you as a solo browser or as a group.
Just sell, make it easy for us to buy. Check out resale royalty - Rachel Zoe production. If only that existed here, I would be in that store daily:) I am all about great designers but it has to be accessible, appointment only - to arrogant!