How It Starts
I have a couple of lingering obsessions that sort of carousel in my mind. It’s the only way to describe it. I’ll be sitting peacefully (whatever that means) when a random thought will enter my mind.
“Vivienne Westwood’s Boulle print. Find it.”
I’m a fervent believer that if you look for something hard enough you’ll eventually find it, right? But patience is really the name of the game. My obsession with Vivienne Westwood's Boulle Print began back in 2017. I was still working for Westwood and while the collection that was in store at the time had its standout pieces I wanted to see what else was out there.
The Phase Out
At this point the English designer had phased out corsets in the shop, I remember one frantic memo that stated all corsets were to be taken off the sales floor and that no new single ones were going to be produced. That got me wondering, well if we're phasing these pieces out what else is out there that this company is no longer going to produce?
In my quest I was able to locate a corset from Les Femmes SS96 and a shirt from AW90/91 Portrait. I recall opening up the two packages and the feeling was indescribable. I felt as if I'd traveled back in time. The fabric of the Portrait shirt was so rich and the Les Femmes corset actually did what it was supposed to do, it was boned and it was in the most precious champagne color I'd ever seen. Bitch. I was hooked. The Boulle print shirt actually fit me so I ran to the dressing room at work to try it on. When I came out I declared it was the single most beautiful piece of clothing that had ever graced my supple skin. My coworkers didn't understand why I was so enamored. I felt gorgeous.
Wendy in VW AW90/91 for Pechuga shot & styled by Johnny Valencia
From that point on I would stay after work (we'd finish at 7 pm) combing the internet for listings (sometimes until 2 in the morning) seeing what other Vivienne Westwood pieces I could get my hands on. It was one morning that I found a Boulle print bomber. It was in the UK but there was only one catch. The price tag on it was almost one week and half's worth of pay. I thought, fuck. But then I thought, fuck it.
Now my friends, these are two different types of "fucks". One is said in a defeatist, sort of downtrodden attitude. The other one is comparable only to the feeling of release, a resignation to the powers that be.
I Needed My Fix
So I bought the bomber (this would be considered the latter "fuck" in case there was any confusion) and now I had 3 rare Westwood pieces that held value only to me (or so I thought). I want to note that at this point in time I wasn't purchasing these pieces to resell. However, with the amount that I was spending I soon realized that if I wanted to keep on buying more I needed to unload some items.
Now with the bomber in tow it was the Boulle print corset that I was after. Naturally I found one. I believe it was from Westwood's Salon collection of SS92. It was a bright purple satin with gold foil. But I had ran into the most unresponsive seller.
Vivienne Westwood AW90/91 "Boulle" print Corset at Pechuga
Please Just Take My Money
Unresponsive sellers are the bane of any collector's existence. There's nothing worse than finding a piece only to deal with a seller who reads messages days later or worse never reads their messages at all. Such was the case with this Boulle print corset. The seller never read her messages and by the time she decided to reply back it was only to tell me that the piece had sold elsewhere. Fuck. Remember the two types of "fucks" we just went over? Well this was the former "fuck" for sure.
Wendy in VW AW95 for Pechuga shot & styled by Johnny Valencia
What had I done to deserve this? Me. The innocent collector.
I should've known that this wasn't going to be the first or last time I'd experience a similar fate. Earlier this year I put an offer on the table for $8,000 for a pair of Vivienne Westwood, Super Elevated Ghillie shoes in patent pink leather (I'd been watching the shoes for 6 months) and the seller agreed but fell with a case of cold feet (no pun intended) and pleaded "emotional attachment" and chose to keep the shoes.
Vivienne Westwood AW90/91 corset & matching shawl
I had no choice but to wish the seller a good day and go on about my business (literally). I actually cried that night, a fact that I am not embarrassed to admit.
"Pull over. Pull over NOW!"
It was the 29th of March of this year, my assistant Yael and I were driving back from an errand late at night when it happened.
The Boulle print corset, in the same color as my bomber popped up on my phone screen. I shrieked. I needed counseling.
I turned to Yael and said, "Yael they want $3,000 for it."
Yael just said, "Oh, girl."
"I have to have it. I have to have it. YAEL. Pull over, park the car."
Remember those shoes that I wanted to buy for $8,000? Well in the midst of trying to purchase those I was left with what I consider to be a fairly sizable spending budget. I can wing $3,000, right? I went ham. It was a revenge buying spree all in the name of business.
I waited two months to open the package that the Boulle corset had come in. I wanted the unboxing to be special. Plus I had found another piece to the puzzle: a shawl with the same Boulle motif. So now I had the bomber, the corset, and the shawl but it wasn't enough. I needed bottoms, something to really drive the look home.
Vivienne Westwood Boulle print as seen in "Portrait" AW90/91
But how do you simply "find" it? I get a lot of requests from clients asking me to source pieces for them but I don't know if clients know the extensive research that goes into locating an item and that's totally fine- after all it's my job, right? And then it happened again.
June 14th (just last month) aka the fateful day I found the leggings. However, these weren't just any leggings. They had everything I needed. They were the matte black that matched my corset and my bomber, they weren't as elaborate in print but they had the Boulle reference at the shins. Oh, and did I mention that the leggings were dead stock? They came with a whimsical postcard and in their original 90's packaging. Safe to say the transaction was complete even before I had pressed "Add to Cart".
Vivienne Westwood Boulle bomber, corset and leggings
But are we? What does it mean to be "done" in this business? The pursuit is never ending. While I know that it's not possible to collect every single Boulle print piece on the market I find comfort in knowing that I was able to complete a set that I felt represented my love for Westwood's "Portrait" collection.
And onto the next obsession we go.
Wendy in AW90/91 Portrait & reissue Court Pumps & reissue Adam motif trunks for Pechuga styled and shot by Johnny Valencia
Thank you for reading!