Jil Sander prototype dress with nylon bow designed by Raf Simons for Jil Sander, circa 2009. Maison Martin Margiela hair scarf is a limited edition made in 2009 for the 20th anniversary of the brand. (Only 50 were made.) (Photo Jay Tovar)
Louis Vuitton prototype shoes, Palm Springs 2016 resort show (Photo Jay Tovar)
Vintage Comme des Garçons limited-edition logo necklace
Maxime de Laurentis (Photo Damien Chevron)
Paris’ Maxime de Laurentis debuts his collection of archival couture and iconic vintage runway creations at M. Neave — temporairement.
Is any breed of expert quite as chic as the fashion nerd? Add a mop of dark curls and a Parisian accent into the mix, and you’ve got swoon-worthy Maxime de Laurentis, one of France’s preeminent couture and archival designer runway dealers.
De Laurentis travels the world — Japan, Italy, and Belgium are all regular stops — to find exclusive fashion for his clients and his own collection. Following five years designing menswear at Maison Martin Margiela and two years at Yves Saint Laurent, de Laurentis struck out on his own, opening his shop De Laurentis, which sells important archival designer runway creations with a focus on couture. An impressive network of vintage retailers and celebrity stylists set aside important pieces for him, primarily womenswear, shoes, and accessories from the ’80s, as well as iconic pieces from more recent collections. He offers menswear twice a year, during Paris men’s fashion week in January and July.
A master of European discretion, de Laurentis is reluctant to name names when asked about his clients but reveals that along with Vogue’s dapper international editor at-large Hamish Bowles, many artistic directors, museum curators (from France’s Palais Galliera and Belgium’s MoMu Antwerp), and private collectors all stop by his shop, as do archivists and designers from fashion houses Isabel Marant, Dior, Damir Doma, Lemaire, Louis Vuitton, Loewe, Hermès, Calvin Klein, Balenciaga, and Chloé.
In addition to individual pieces available for sale, de Laurentis also maintains a personal archive that he occasionally loans — for a price. Naturally, the price of such an arrangement is quite high, given the market value and his personal attachment. But he isn’t overly sentimental and understands the fanaticism of his collectors.
“If someone is desperate, and wants to pay the price,” he says, “I’m willing to sell.”
When asked about the most important creations he has acquired, de Laurentis responds, “Important in terms of price, museum value, or just in my eyes?” He chooses the latter. “I could fall in love in front of a white Comme des Garçons shirt from the ’83 collection, which for me is priceless and super rare, even if it costs $300.”
Houston antiquarian Margaret Neave, proprietor of M. Naeve, and friend and collaborator Matt Johns, of Matter creative company, have made De Laurentis’ shop at the chic Paul Bert Serpette Flea Market a regular stop on their buying trips to France. “We have snagged some really incredible Comme des Garçons, Margiela, Marc Jacobs, Helmut Lang, and Raf Simons — unlike anything I have ever seen,” Johns says. “Many of the samples still have the white ribbon where each model’s name was written for the runway presentation.”
Naeve and Johns are so passionate about de Laurentis’ collection that they are bringing him to Houston, along with his archival couture and one-of-a-kind vintage designer pieces. On Thursday, November 2, an opening party kicks off Boutique Temporaire, the De Laurentis shop-in-shop at M. Naeve, with shopping through Saturday, November 4.
What is de Laurentis bringing to Houston?
“La crème de la crème,” he responds. “I actually made an exclusive selection for the Houston event, so it will be items that my Parisian clients have not seen! Comme des Garçons, Junya Watanabe, Yohji Yamamoto, Margiela, and other surprises.” Ç‘est magnifique!
De Laurentis Boutique Temporaire at M. Naeve, 1911 Westheimer Road, Thursday – Saturday, November 2 to 4.
Art direction and production Michelle Aviña. Models Anaïs Nguyen for Page Parkes. Assistant stylist Reed Bussey.