Laura Von Behr is a vintage specialist offering her services in a one-to-one appointment setting in her Hackney studio. After working in fashion for over 10 years, she started her own business finding, curating and selling one-of-a-kind vintage pieces for women. Laura’s by appointment sessions are a unique and personal way to shop, and her experience in costume and styling means that she knows just how to dress people for their shape and skin tone.
We visited Laura in her beautifully bright studio on a cold November afternoon to talk about her newest pieces, how she shops for vintage, Christmas style, sustainability and her favourite London haunts at this time of year.
Can you tell us a little about your career and how it lead you to where you are now?
I studied at the London College of Fashion, and initially thought that I wanted to be a stylist. After University, I decided that I wanted to work in TV and film rather than fashion, so I started assisting designers on set. Alongside this, I also worked for a print studio with an incredible archive of vintage designs. After almost 10 years freelancing, I decided to start selling vintage clothing on the side, online and at fairs; then later by appointment. Now I welcome customers to my space at Hackney Downs Studios.
What made you decide to start your own business?
I’ve always been freelance, so I’ve never had the security of a full-time job. I decided that I wanted to do something that I could be proud of and really enjoy. It wasn’t an easy decision as I was nervous about surviving as a business. I am still at the start of my journey and learning every day, but I am so glad that I went for it.
Do you have a favourite place to spend a rainy day in London?
Where do you go to find your best pieces?
I search everywhere and love going to antique markets and fairs. I don’t always find something but love hunting – I usually get distracted by all the furniture! You have to get up at the crack of dawn but Sunbury Antiques Market is great for interior inspiration. Whenever I travel I always earmark shops and fairs to visit whilst I’m away too.
What do you look for when shopping for vintage?
Condition, quality and size – I love to buy natural fabrics like cotton and silk – you can look for the label inside clothes when shopping to determine the fabric. Older or handmade pieces can be harder to identify, as they don’t have care labels so you have to go off the feel of the fabric. Vintage can be tiny in size so always shop with a tape measure to check the true size! For the studio I try to buy pieces that reflect current trends; I love print and colour.
What made you decide to open the shop as a ‘by appointment only’ service?
I initially started the by appointment service with friends, then friends of friends. I was still working at this point, so had people over after work or at weekends. I found that the response was really good; customers were excited to be able to try on lots of different styles in a relaxed environment. I think that my work in costume has given me the confidence to help dress people and make suggestions. When I went full time with my business, after about a year of doing appointments from home, I moved into a proper studio.
Are you currently reading anything?
I tend to listen to podcasts over reading – some of my favourites are: Liberty Discovers, How I Built This, The Pleasure Podcast, How To Fail With Elizabeth Day and So I got To Thinking – The Sex and The City Podcast.
The last book I loved was Three Women by Lisa Taddeo, although I listened rather than read.
Do you practice any sustainability values and does this tie in with your work?
Vintage makes sense within sustainability as the clothing already exists, and buying it does not contribute to further production of unsustainable fast fashion. I buy second hand and vintage for myself. If I do buy new I try to make sure the brand is sustainable. I think I now buy less and I like to make the most of what I have in my wardrobe. I repair and alter things to get more wears. There are great online companies such as The Restory and The Clothes Doctor who can help prolong the life of your clothes and accessories. At the studio I use paper bags and recycled tissue for wrapping garments for my customers to take home.