An actual vintage palace is popping up in Vancouver this month
There are vintage collectors, and then there’s Angelo Caroli. Since 1978, the 55-year-old has accumulated nearly 180,000 pieces that date back as far as 1850, the bulk of which permanently reside at his A.N.G.E.L.O Vintage Palace (an actual palace) in Italy. In Vancouver to herald his pop-up boutique and exhibit at the McArthur Glen designer outlet, Caroli divulges on his luxury goods—the hundreds for sale and the thousands money can’t buy.
A testament to his trade, Caroli wears head-to-toe vintage. On the day I meet him, it’s a Pierre Cardin shirt, which he dyed black because it was showing its age; a Fendi belt and Givenchy glasses, both circa the ‘70s; and nondescript pants, as not everything needs to have a label, as long as it’s quality.
He acquires many pieces from princesses, baronesses and countesses who ask him to evaluate their closets, but it’s an item’s importance in fashion history not the history of its owner that interests him. For instance, the pop-up features a Hermés Kelly bag from the ‘90s, unique for its two strap design—one thin and elegant, the other broader and sportier. There are other Kellys, Birkins too, and a veritable rainbow of Chanel 2.55 bags, including an original from 1955. While the Hermés bags come with $10,000-plus price tags, there are designer sunglasses for around a $100.
The Timeless Luxury exhibit that accompanies the pop-up showcases iconic investment pieces that are hallmarks of fashion history with corresponding images, such as Dior fur and handbag from 1948 and a YSL shirt dress from the ‘60s synonymous with Brigitte Bardot.
But the real Disneyland is his four-floor palace in Lugo di Ravenna, Italy. On the ground floor is military, jeans and the newer vintage. The first floor features luxury brands, older vintages and a new bridal wing. The top two floors hold his private collection, which he lends and rents out to current designers to inspire their upcoming collections. Who exactly is the inevitable next question. He can’t name names, but says, “Almost all of them.”
He concedes a bit more information. Lately, designers have shown great interest in viewing minimalist pieces from the ‘90s, such as Comme des Garçons and Yojhi Yamamoto, and sartorial pieces from the ’50s and ‘60s. And with the death of Elio Fiorucci this year, many have come to borrow the Italian designer’s creations. Gucci has bought many of its own pieces from Caroli to fill out their museum archive. There’s a bamboo bag with stripes that they’re begging him for, but that’s tied up in the exhibit, so they’ll have to wait.
When asked to choose a personal favourite from his private collection, Caroli offers up a circa 1940s Chanel striped jersey suit with glass buttons, but not before sighing, “There are so many.”
The A.N.G.E.L.O. pop-up and boutique at McArthur Glen Vancouver runs until December 31, 2015.