The Design of Vintage Collecting April 19 2022

Over the decades, designers have adapted to the growing demand—both from their customers and the market in general—to broaden the range and variety of goods they sell.  Think about those great collector Tiffany playing cards, the Vintage Gucci baby sets, the Hermes calendars and agenda books (check out our website for a great example from Bonwit Teller!).

In September of 2008, Steiff released a special bear styled after Karl Lagerfeld for their 125th anniversary.  With a limited run of 2,500 pieces, the bears were sold through Neiman Marcus, quickly selling out.  With the trademark Steiff button in its ear, the bear is Karl Lagerfeld to a T—except in my humble opinion it could really use some of those famous gloves.  Clad in dark jeans, a black suit coat, dark aviators, striped shirt with tie, and a glittering Swarovski crystal KL belt buckle, this bear is cooler than I can ever hope to be.  Yes, it’s a teddy bear from one of the most famous toy companies in the world, but it was quite clearly aimed at adults—those discerning followers of Lagerfeld’s multi-faceted career.  Whatever marketing genius developed that collaboration should be proud of themselves—those 2,500 bears quickly sold out, and for about $1,500 a piece.  Oh and let’s not forget the Latest Lagerfeld Doll by Fendi which was pranced down the runway by Cara Delevingne!

And then there’s Lanvin, who started selling hand-decorated porcelain dolls in 2013.  Named numerically, each doll is unique, whimsy, and fun.  Miss Lanvin #25, for instance, holds a masquerade mask and wears a yellow mini with puffed sleeves—one is blue.  Miss Lanvin #4 wears sky-high black peep toe stilettos with ankle straps, a black trench, and oversized black sunglasses, and Miss Lanvin #43 stands on an overturned umbrella mimicking grass and flowers, holding an umbrella above her head painted to look like the sky.  She wears a trenchcoat, a gold shoulder bag, black boots, and sports red heart-shaped sunglasses I wish came in real-life size.  Ranging in price from $435 to $680, these limited edition pieces are fun, collectible, and appeal to a wide range of consumers.

Lanvin Porcelain Doll

Last year Lanvin teamed up with 41 other designers and fashion houses (the likes of which included Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Christian Dior), each of whom designed a one-off knitted doll for a Unicef charity auction in December—the proceeds went towards obtaining vaccinations for children in Darfur.  Chanel’s doll wore a classic skirt suit and hat, Dior’s a couture gown, and Jean Paul Gaultier’s held an accordion purse I wish I owned.

Chanel Unicef Doll

The point is this: designers will continue to come up with these unusual items because collectors love them, and it sets them apart from others.  Almost every designer has dabbled in perfume, luggage tags, sunglasses, and, with the growing technology trend, ipad and phone covers.  Consumers have their favorite fashion houses, and that loyalty definitely translates to purchasing trinkets and accessories for their collections.  Personally, I’m saving up for the day Chanel comes out with home furnishings—end tables, lamps, china, I’m not picky.

Cara Delevingne with the Fendi Lagerfeld Doll

written by Heather Cox and edited by Sarah Korsiak Cellier for Rice and Beans Vintage