When the stock market starts to go nuts, when you find the word volatility creeping into your conversations—and not just to describe your boss—you may find yourself thinking, “Where could I park my money that won’t be subject to such wild swings? Is there an investment I can make—preferably in something beautiful, something I can actually enjoy for decades!—that will also fund my old age?”
Of course, as in so much else in life, financial hindsight is 20/20: If only my dad had bought that little yellow house in Montauk for $ 14,000 in 1961! If only I had ripped a Keith Haring Radiant Baby graffiti off a subway station wall 30 years ago!
But if I have been spectacularly unsuccessful in my investment planning thus far, at least I have the right friends. I sit down with my compatriot B., who is a genius at flipping real estate, and is also a walking encyclopedia of high-end vintage goods. He agrees with me that the trouble with sinking your disposable income into a Fortuny gown or a Chanel frock from the twenties is that you can’t actually wear these things—a single drop of perspiration, an errant rain shower, can trigger a rapid deterioration that will destroy future earning potential. Think about it—even a stolid Birkin is worth much more in a pristine state. (But what fun is it to have a Birkin if you can’t take it out so your friends will say, “Oh look, you have a Birkin.”) To put it simply: The more you personally enjoy using your vintage fashions and accessories, the less they will be worth.
B. thinks gorgeous furniture is a great alternative, but I am not sure my dinky apartment is the right place for a Gallé breakfront. And you can’t wear a Gio Ponti credenza to the Met Gala, or string a Ruhlmann desk around your neck and go out to dinner.
Which brings us to jewelry! This stuff practically is money (Just ask a drug dealer, or a refugee from czarist Russia, what the best way to smuggle money across borders is, and they will point to a batch of bling hidden in their underwear.) B. says your pieces should be signed if at all possible, and that Van Cleef and Cartier are at the top of this glittering pyramid. To this duo, you can add Verdura and Bulgari, and more contemporary pieces by JAR.
But why stop with the brands that everybody knows? Substantial money, B. tells me, is secreted in far more obscure pieces—French Art Deco masterworks by people like Jean Després, Raymond Templier, Gustave-Roger Sandoz, and Suzanne Belperron. (Google their creations—your heart will stop.)
It begins to dawn on me that real scholarship is required to make the proper financial decisions—otherwise, how will you know if you bump into a Templier brooch at the Porte de Clignancourt flea market? At least he signed his creations—Suzanne’s glorious pieces are defiantly nameless. Asked once why she never signed her work, Madame Belperron replied: “My style is my signature.”
So start studying! Brush up on your French! Or forget the whole thing and call a broker.
The post Is There a Fashion Investment That Will Fund Your Old Age? One Writer Investigates appeared first on Vogue.
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