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How to Buy Vintage

Plus, the awesome pedigree of one woman’s find.


Alexandra Durbin was determined to wear vintage, but she was having a tough time finding the dress of her dreams. “One lady told me, ‘Not a chance in hell are you going to find white or cream,’ ” she explains. “Because over time, fabric yellows.” Her dress also had to be fairly modest, since she was getting married in a synagogue. Then she stumbled onto 1stdibs.com, a meticulously curated website that draws from A-list vendors across the country, and immediately found “the one”: a 1967 Givenchy haute couture gown. “I called the vendor, Juliana Cairone of Rare Vintage, right away,” says Durbin. “Fortunately, she’s in New York. She said, ‘It’s here, but it’s a size 4, and it’s even smaller because it was tailored for Nan Kempner.’  ” Durbin was shocked—and completely thrilled: Kempner, a famous clotheshorse, is among her favorite fashion icons. She ran over to Rare Vintage. “The gown was perfect—an elegant silhouette, a little sexy without being too revealing,” she says. “I loved the long sleeves, the open back, and the teeny train I wouldn’t trip over. And it fit me with no alterations! It wasn’t in mint condition; there were a few stains, but they were barely noticeable. And I thought they gave the dress character.”

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