+  Edited and photographed by Iké Udé, author of Style File. Selected as one of Vanity Fair’s 2009, 2012 and 2015 International Best Dressed Originals.  +

special guest/ CHIU-TI JANSEN talks about her 4th OUTFIT: 4 in 15 acts





What items did you use to compose this particular outfit?
-Valentino Autumnal Leaves Haute Couture Blouse from 1980s
-Vintage gripoix cross necklace
-Antique gold chain hoop earrings
-Prada over-the-knee black suede boots
-1960s Alligator Kelly Bag made in France for Bonwit Teller (a one-time NYC department store, 1895-1990)
-Valentino gold chain belt with leopard head
-Vintage sunglasses with gold lacework embellishment

How did you arrive at the decision to compose such an outfit?
I enjoy wearing reconstructed or retooled vintage. This is a fine example of repurposing a vintage piece by converting it from a blouse to a mini-dress.

Did you compose this outfit spontaneously or was it planned ahead of time? 
I have a photographic memory about proportion and style. When I first saw this dress on my iPhone, I immediately knew it would require little or no alteration. I also knew that I would not wear it as a blouse.

On a scale of 10, how pleased are you with this composition/outfit? 

What roles do color, the fit, and integrity of fabric play in this particular outfit? 
The earthy colors of the autumnal leaves and high neck are not my usual go-to looks. But the blouse has a perfect peplum for a mini-skirt.

How soon would you repeat/wear this same outfit again?
This versatile blouse is a perfect piece to dress up or dress down for many types of occasions. I would pair it with a pair of leather pants or an opulent, long silk skirt to give it a completely different look.

There is perhaps a spiritual, emotional, intellectual or psychological aspect to the what/how we dress. What is your personal experience in relation to this outfit? 
This Valentino haute couture autumnal leaves blouse from the 1980s started my love fest with vintage clothing! Before September 2011, I had never bought a vintage piece. I thought of used clothes as something dated and musty.

Then in 2011 the FIT Couture Council’s Annual Award Luncheon honored Valentino, who was known for his evening wears. Valentino officially retired in 2009 (thereafter he only designs occasionally for his favorite stars and ballets), so it did not make a lot of sense to me to wear something bearing his “label” but was designed by his disciples. A few days prior to the luncheon, I received an email about an array of Valentino vintage clothes available for sale. When I saw this blouse, I immediately thought (a) it would not require alteration, and (b) I would wear it as a mini-dress to give it a contemporary flair. I paired it with a Valentino leopard gold-tone chain belt.

I was amazed by the fact that after 30 years, the garment still looked as if it were freshly constructed. The craftsmanship and conservation were amazing. Through the dealer I understood that the previous owner was an Italian fashion writer, presumably of the same figure as mine.

Wearing something old evokes a sense of history.

I have an old soul in my young heart. I can’t help it.

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