Last weekend in an unassuming corner of Jacksonville, Florida, true sartorial serendipity occurred. While exploring a tucked away neighborhood, my sister Julia (who had recently been transferred to this sprawling city) and I wandered into a clothing consignment shop. Most of what we saw was unremarkable, but one glass case held the Holy Grail of accessories – a gorgeous, mint condition, vintage Hermes Kelly bag. The beautiful patina of the cognac leather drew us in, and upon closer inspection, we noticed it had been monogrammed in gold, though the initials had been rubbed out. Heart palpitations ensued. We knew there must be more. Pressing the shop girl for information, we found that the best pieces, held upstairs, were seen by appointment only. With five minutes until close and clearly no appointment, we kicked our powers of persuasion into high gear. I pled my case – that I was to return home to Chicago the next day and that we were educated lovers of design. She relented.
So many truly fabulous pieces. Racks of vintage Chanel jackets. A perfect Carolina Herrera cocktail dress. An 80′s era Lagerfeld nautical striped top. A true fashion fanatic’s dream. Nothing, however, could have prepared us for the shipment that had just arrived from a recently settled Palm Beach estate, untagged and still in plastic. For the next two hours, Julia and I tried on almost every piece in this collection. Breathtaking Galanos and Oscar de la Renta gowns, dozens of custom-made day dresses and cocktail dresses, Pringle and Ballantyne cashmere sweaters in a rainbow of colors befitting the nameless Palm Beach heiress.
Yesterday, the box arrived on my doorstep. Each painstakingly chosen piece was wrapped in tissue and tied neatly in a bow. Some will integrate easily and seamlessly into my wardrobe (the kelly green Ballantyne cashmere cardigan, the custom cream herringbone hacking jacket) and others will sit in the closet cue awaiting the perfect occasion (the wild Pucci-esque silk jersey cocktail dress, the black floor length Lloyd Klein gown with a blush-inducing high slit). All will bring me back to that perfect, serendipitous afternoon with my sister – and you cannot put a price tag on that. Well, you can. But I’m trying to block that part out.