Saturday, July 26, 2008

The thrift sisters : Telegraph UK

Last Updated: 12:01am BST 29/06/2001

DAISY and Poppy de Villeneuve don't just thrive on thrift. They live it. And the small stretch of Portobello Road in Notting Hill on which they live provides the perfect backdrop to the sisters' shared obsession with fashion. Situated within spitting distance of Portobello Market's fashion epicentre - the canopied section under the Westway - and crammed full of shops selling all things second-hand, it is a kind of heaven for those who thrive on vintage clothes and practise thrifting: the American term for the art of collecting them.

Famed for her sassy thrift-shop outfits: Chloe Sevigny

Their run-down rainbow-coloured house is like a treasure trove, stuffed full of memorabilia. At the very top of the house, in Poppy's chocolate-brown bedroom adorned with original vintage Biba lamps and leopardskin cushions, two clothes rails groan under the weight of their most prized hoard: a collection of vintage clothes that would make Chloe Sevigny - the American actress famed for her sassy thrift-shop outfits - green with envy.

By virtue of their quirky gamine good looks and innate sense of style, Daisy, 25 - whose book of illustrated text, He Said, She Said will be published later this year - and budding photographer Poppy, 21, are rapidly acquiring a kind of infamy for the way they dress. The art of vintage dressing - which is now enjoying a zeitgeist moment - is not, refreshingly, about money. It is, quite simply, about style - something that Daisy and Poppy have in abundance.

They come well by it. Their father, Justin de Villeneuve, the photographer accredited with discovering Twiggy, enjoyed iconic style status in the Sixties and Seventies. Independently of each other, his daughters describe him as 'the most stylish man ever', and giggle as they relate stories of him going out to buy a paper in three-piece suit, cravat and watch chain. More importantly for their love affair with vintage, their mother, American ex-model Jan Ward, hasn't thrown away a single item of clothing that she has ever owned.

'We just grew up rummaging through Mum's clothes,' says Daisy, by way of an explanation as to the source of their passion.


The majority of her and Poppy's clothes collection is made up of finds from their mother's wardrobe. Owing to the fact that Daisy and Poppy have such different styles, the dividing up of their mother's clothes has always been a fairly amicable affair. Poppy, the 'girlie, feminine' one with a passion for all things from the Twenties, lays claim to all the short skirts and dresses. Daisy, the 'rock'n'roll' one, whose look is much more Seventies, has an eye for a designer label and doesn't let an original Zandra Rhodes or Jean Muir number pass her by.

Despite their differing tastes, the girls share a passion for 'sifting, searching and finding'. Hardly a week goes by when they don't - either separately or together - visit their local second-hand-clothing hotspots: Portobello Market, the Antique Clothing Store (which they can see from their sitting-room window) and Retro on nearby Pembridge Road. Retro is a particular favourite as it is there that they can indulge in what Poppy refers to as 'clothes monopoly'; bringing their old outfits in, exchanging them for vouchers, and using them to 'buy' new items. This disposable take on fashion means that outfits can be worn for one night only. Poppy has been known to wear a pair of shoes far too big for her to a party, simply because they suited the occasion.

As well as allowing the creative sisters endless scope, their dressing-up-box sense of fashion enables them to remain unique. Neither tends to buy anything from the high street, simply because it would never be strictly 'theirs'. There's also the financial consideration. 'When you can't afford gorgeous high-end Prada, as we can't,' Poppy insists, 'you have no choice but to create the thrift version.' And the better the outfit created, the more it speaks for you. Hardly surprising, then, that going to a party and standing unnoticed in the corner is not something that ever happens to the de Villeneuve sisters. Blending in is just not their thing.

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