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The Collectors: From Couture, to Fine Watches and Furniture

Feature: Long Read
By Grace Cain and Lindsay Macpherson

Do heaps of dresses tumble out of your wardrobe every time you open the door? Is your jewellery box overflowing with treasures? Or maybe your home is full of something a little more niche (do people still hoard stamps in the internet age?). To a certain extent, we are all collectors – but there are those who have really honed their discerning eye. We asked three different experts for their top tips on how to curate a museum-worthy collection of… well, anything you love.

Wendy Yu's Haute Couture

For Wendy Yu, the founder and CEO of Hong Kong-based investment firm YU Holdings, fashion is far more than just a day job. “My house in Shanghai has a sort of mini museum,” she says of the connecting rooms that catalogue a myriad of haute-couture creations from the likes of Giorgio Armani, Valentino and Christian Dior. Her go-to brands for ready-to-wear? Balmain, Prada, Givenchy, Saint Laurent and Huishan Zhang

Wendy Yu’s Haute-Couture

“I see couture as an art form, the highest expression of a designer’s creativity and craftmanship."

Wendy Yu’s Haute-Couture
Wendy Yu’s Haute-Couture

Wendy Yu's first haute-couture purchase, a gown by Giambattista Valli

1. Make sure pieces are clean before being put away, as fragrances and body oils can attract moths. Be cautious when using natural moth repellents – some oils within the formula can stain clothes.

2. To protect against dust, invest in customised garment bags made from breathable fabrics such as muslin. Use wide-shouldered padded hangers and lie embellished items flat in archive boxes.

3. Never overcrowd your wardrobe: keep the air circulating as much as possible. Ideally air should be filtered to remove impurities and dust that can settle and become trapped in fabrics.

4. Keep the environment dry, dark and cool, as moisture from humidity can result in mould and mildew. Maintain a constant temperature; frequent changes can affect the integrity of fabrics. Keep clothes away from direct sunlight to prevent delicate fabrics from becoming sun-faded.

5. Shoes should be kept in their boxes, wrapped in acid-free tissue paper, and handbags remain in their dust bags. The Restory service at Harrods remakes handles and buckles, repairs zips, stitching and piping, and restores leather in-store.

Discover The RestoryShop Womens

Lung Lung Thun's Watches

In the world of haute horology, female watch collectors are few and far between. Singaporean investment director Lung Lung Thun is seeking to change that. “My benchmark for a women’s concept watch is that it has to be something that even the guys envy," she says. For her, that category includes designs by her favourite manufacturer, Audemars Piguet, as well as such classics as a rose-gold Datograph by A. Lange & Sohne.

Lung Lung Thun’s Watches

Lung Lung Thun wears Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding watch in 18ct pink gold with diamonds

1. Start by familiarising yourself with the different types of designs out there. That might mean trying on your friends’ watches, visiting authorised dealers or browsing magazines, websites, Instagram and YouTube.

2. If vintage is your thing, don’t be afraid to ask questions. There are a lot of ‘Frankenwatches’ out there that have had parts replaced over the years. Reach out to the watch community on Instagram; they will be more than happy to share knowledge.

3. If you study the vintage watches that have stood the test of time, you’ll see that they never overshadow the wearer. Instead, they capture the brand’s essence, and the finishing is always superb, down to the very last detail. The dial is usually simple and balanced too.

4. Remember: price doesn’t equate to quality. Focus on the craftsmanship and the finishing.

5. Do your homework, shop around, compare prices. Be patient.

6. Before you buy a watch, check how it looks on you in a full-length mirror. Does the size sit well on your wrist? Does the material complement your skin tone?

7. As important as it is to listen to advice, at the end of the day only buy what you like. And keep in mind that your taste may evolve over time.

Emmanuel De Bayser’s Mid-Century Furniture

From the American designers that kickstarted his love of mid-century furniture (particularly Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson and Herman Miller) to the French modernists that fill his Berlin apartment today (Charlotte Perriand, Jean Royère, Jean Prouvé and George Jouve, among others), Emmanuel de Bayser has always found joy in the way that the elements of his collection relate to one another.

Emmanuel De Bayser’s Mid-Century Furniture

“I do not treasure particular objects, I treasure the way different objects talk with each other."

Emmanuel De Bayser’s Mid-Century Furniture

Manolo Yllera/Photofoyer; Eve Campestrini for The Socialite Family

Emmanuel De Bayser’s Mid-Century Furniture

Manolo Yllera/Photofoyer; Eve Campestrini for The Socialite Family

1. Begin with one iconic investment piece. From there, you can find new objects to evolve your collection over time. I like all the pieces in my apartment for different reasons, but I like them even more when they are in conversation with each other.

2. Be patient, and go for quality instead of quantity.

3. Buy pieces that you really like, be personal in your approach, and choose pieces that say something about you. Curating an interior is a dynamic process, so don’t be afraid of trying, making a mistake, and trying again.

4. Always check provenance and restoration history.

5. After you have been collecting for a while, trust your instincts. You will develop an eye whereby you can understand the quality of something just by looking at the material and the craftmanship – and that is a great joy.



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