11 June 2019
The vintage, thrift stores, what is called today “upcycling”, yaya (valérie blanchard is her real name), that’s what she fell into when she was a little girl. This queen of the treasures of yesteryear and elsewhere has rummaged through the thrift stores of los angeles to create a unique selection of rock t-shirts exclusively for la grande boutique. We met her at her place in paris to ask her about her passion and ask her some precious (vintage) advice!
Yaya. The culture of second-hand clothes and reusing things that have already been worn are values that my parents passed on to me. I was dressed like that when I was younger, at that time already my mom used to run flea markets to buy me old dresses. I was taught to love old things and to have fun updating them by mixing them with other more modern pieces, whether decorating or dressing. It’s part of my education to love old clothes, objects that have a history. I have been taught to love clothes we wear for a long time, which have a certain quality, to have an awareness of consumption and also, to be different from others. I have never been dressed like my friends at school. I like the idea of having a unique object, which is exceptional just because it does not exist anywhere else, not because it is expensive. I think that’s the what elegance is all about.
Yaya. Being raised in this culture of beautiful objects brought back from all over the world, I started to give some advice and styling for brands. I did the display, that is to say I was paid to create atmospheres with collections that were not created by me. Animated by the love of beautiful things, I went to look for products that were not known in France, I reported them here, and so little by little, I was led to set up a showroom (Fashion Equipment), which included a vintage dynamic too. There were a lot of t-shirts in particular! And as I was selling to different clients like La Grande Boutique, L’Eclaireur etc, I sometimes had the feeling of losing my coherence, I had the feeling I was missing something. I ended up opening my own store to have the chance to stage my own collections. I opened Yaya Store in 2006 rue Montmartre in Paris.
Yaya. I opened it almost as a hobby at the beginning because I had the opportunity of this local, I continued the showroom and consulting in parallel. As I traveled a lot for my shop windows, I loved going to small markets or strolling to find a pair of sandals, bracelets, pouches, sets, everything and bring them back to my girlfriends … The idea was to to be able to do that, but on a larger scale. I did it really like shopping for me, maybe that was the danger! The success of the shop was dazzling, although it was not necessarily the goal at the start. It’s so exciting to manage a store, inventory, Christmas, sales, setting up, selling etc. I just wanted a little point of sale me! The customers wanted me to be there to explain my pieces, it soon exceeded me. It was the beginning of social networks, it went super fast. It lasted 10 years, and then I continued to do it for other brands, and I continue to do it in a more intimate way
Yaya. Mixing ! Take things that have existed for a reason, ceremonial skirts, utility sandals, objects that have a story, a meaning, crafts, obviously jeans too, a pair of funny shoes, trends goes away, everything does. I like growing old with things that have seen me age and have seen other things before.
Yaya. I think it’s really cool, and I think it’s because it’s my culture. I always dressed like that. When I was young, I lived in England I dressed myself in the “charity shops” I bought grandfathers’ coats and I was super proud of it. I find it even more cool that it becomes a trend, and I think it goes beyond that, I hope there is an awareness about overproduction. When I go to the United States where there are huge thrift stores, there are times when I feel anxious to see all the clothes already produced that have been there for years. There are already enough clothes to dress us all. So yes, sometimes you have to have an eye, but there is everything you need!
Yaya. You have to love to search and it is unfortunately not something that everyone has! Then, I think we should do as in a “classic” stores, we should focus on the parts we might like, or not. The finishes are not necessarily obvious, I have pieces of great designers that I paid 40 euros but which were next to other super cheap clothes. What can be done to help people not to dress with clothes that have been dyed and produced in astronomical quantities is to offer thrift stores with pre-selections. Vintage can be scary sometimes. The clients need to be guided, so the advice I would give it to the shops before giving it to the girls who come to buy …
Yaya. I love music, especially rock. I like vintage, also in music! I often see that in major brands, they copy vintage logos from rock t-shirts, I find it a shame not to have the original version. If it says “Rolling Stones” on my t-shirt, I want it to be the original one, with the story that goes with it. When I went to Los Angeles, I did some merchandising, I looked for the originals with the dates on the back. The idea was to take them to the source for Anglo-Saxon groups, including one in particular who is Grateful Dead. Nobody ever had the idea to ask them for the license to pick up their t-shirts that are super creative. It’s tye and die of all colors, with bears representing the group in different situations. I wanted to have the originals for La Grande Boutique, I found it super coherent with the identity of the selection. There is also Kiss, AC / DC … and I find that they are timeless that go to everyone.
Yaya. I love wearing it with a tailor jacket, jeans, but it can be with military pants or a petticoat too. Having a vintage rock t-shirt in one’s closet is mandatory!