Here’s something you can add to the list of problems I’ll probably never suffer from.
A photographer snaps a Chanel gown on a mannequin while gloved handlers mutter commands in Russian to each other and arrange the dress at different angles. Repairs are carried out by a seamstress and the item is tagged with a bar code. An exhaustive description of the fabric, cut, date of purchase, colour and condition is then entered into a database. Hung in a breathable garment bag, the dress is finally taken away and deposited in a temperature- and humidity-controlled safe room.
The company was founded by Mounissa Chodieva, a London-based Kazakh who is also head of investor relations at a multinational corporation, after she realised she was overwhelmed by her own wardrobe. It’s not exactly a universal problem, but one that seriously wealthy, jet-setting individuals need a solution to.
She says: “My family has several homes, I have a lot of clothes, I work, I travel and I came to a point where I didn’t know where anything was or what I owned. When rents were low in London in 2008, after property prices crashed, I thought about renting a studio apartment for my clothes; my brother was fed up with me taking up his closet space. As I had been putting Polaroid photos on shoe boxes [to identify the contents], I thought: why not do the same with my clothes? So I catalogued everything and got a guy to create a software system to manage them.”
The idea turned into a business. The software is now an iPad application (also called Vault Couture), and the fleeting thought about a rented studio turned into a lease on a large unit with a security system to make James Bond scratch his head, and capacity for 22,000 evening gowns or 50,000 smaller items, plus bags and shoes possibly worth millions.
The service offered now includes everything from basic wardrobe organisation to clothes storage, repairs and delivery around the world by DHL or private jet. A book of clothes can be printed out like a catalogue; stylists can create new outfits either with the client or just the clothes (which will then be uploaded to the Vault Couture website for the owner to see), and clothes that are no longer wanted can be sold from clients’ iPads via the company’s Vault Boutique.
Read the rest of the article at The Financial Times.