The looks are from what Novak refers to as her “untouchable archive.” Her reasoning for parting with them is simple, “These pieces deserve to be worn.” She has a point: In the mix is a Vivienne Westwood “Erotic Zones” corset from spring 1995, a crushed velvet dress that was worn by Shalom Harlow for the spring 1996 Gucci show ($13,590), a gold Gianni Versace mini dress from fall 1994 ($12,990) that was restored by a leather specialist who worked at Hermès, and a sample of a blue dress–look 27– from Alexander McQueen spring 2004 ($3,790). “The tag on the inside is so cool because it shows the writing on it about what isn’t working about the dress,” says Novak. Like the McQueen piece, there is context to many of the pieces, which comes with a reference photo, think an Alaïa bodysuit from fall 1990, which is described on the site as “iterations worn by Naomi Campbell and Carla Bruni in the November 1991 Vogue US issue”.
For Moda Operandi, the decision to start selling archival pieces was organic and stemmed from founder Lauren Santo Domingo herself. “It’s only natural with all of this Y2k nostalgia that the real thing was required. I have been reaching into my own archives to wear all those pieces that I saved. But there are holes in my collection and I have been collecting more,” she tells Vogue. “A couple of years ago, I had the urge to pull out a Roberto Cavalli dress to wear to a wedding, which to me was a sign.” Her personal favorites of Tab Vintage’s offerings include a ruffle-trimmed Thierry Mugler dress from spring 1997, a frisky print Christian Dior dress from spring 2004, and Comme des Garçons “Hands” shirt from fall 2007. (Fashion and archival lovers will notice that Kylie Jenner wore an iteration of this CDG shirt at the beginning of this month.)
Both Novak and Santo Domingo agree that celebrities in archival pieces–on and off the red carpet–have created surging demand for vintage. “For all red carpets now, stylists are requesting vintage,” says Novak. Santo Domingo took note, as well. “It was when Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid started wearing archival pieces, and Law Roach was dressing his clients in them that the trend really took off.”