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August 28 2014

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Meet the Muse: Alice McCall

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Girl-about-town Natalie Joos spends her days casting for shows like ADAM and Yigal Azrouël and editorials for the likes of Mario Sorrenti and Mariano Vivanco, but her passion is vintage clothing. Joos’ blog, Tales of Endearment, spotlights Joos’ “Muses,” impeccably styled girls who share her secondhand obsession. In a new partnership with Style.com, Tales of Endearment’s subjects will preview their shoots right here on Style File.

Joos’ latest muse, the English stylist-turned-designer Alice McCall, is no newcomer to vintage. Years ago, she created a one-off collection of customized fifties-style dresses with JJ Hudson (the designer behind cult label Noki, a close friend from her stylist days at MTV), for the Pineal Eye in Covent Garden. Katy England happened to pick them out for Kate Moss and shortly thereafter, McCall explains, “she was pictured in Hello! Magazine in the really wacky prom dress with “Texas Chain Saw Massacre” written across the front. It was great.”

McCall has since styled the likes of Blondie, Kelis, and the girls of Destiny’s Child, but lately she’s put that aside to dedicate her efforts to her two labels, Alice McCall and House of Wilde. From her new home base in Bali, the designer (who was featured on Tales of Endearment today alongside her assistant Carli Turland, pictured) talked to Style.com about her early days at Portobello Market hunting for vintage treasures and her passion for seventies fashion.


How would you describe your style?
Very eclectic. It’s a mix of vintage and new, with almost every day channeling a different look, from bohemian or biker girl, to just clean and modern. I love to shop in Hong Kong at Lane Crawford, but I also love vintage markets in Paris, London, and Sydney.

What era inspires your look?
I love the seventies at the moment… a wide-leg culotte with bodysuits and loads of gold jewelry. I am not inspired by people; more by moods.

How did you first become interested in vintage clothing?
When I moved to London at 19, I would be the first there to Portobello Market on a Friday morning and spend all day absorbed in the beauty of all these unique old vintage pieces. You really would find some bargains—I have a few Bill Gibb and Ossie Clark pieces from those times, which are still favorites in the wardrobe.

What are some of your other top picks from your wardrobe, both vintage and non-vintage?
I am a big fan of Balenciaga heels and Balenciaga pieces from ten years ago. To me, these pieces never date—I have one from around 2005 that is a charcoal knit top mixed with broderie anglaise and corset detailing up the front. I have been wearing this piece a lot. I am really into long, exaggerated silhouettes—wide-leg trousers with heels, a simple top, and great jewelry.

Since you live in Bali now, where do you like to shop for vintage?
I love batik as a technique. There are places in Bali where you can find seventies batik pieces that are fabulous to wear now. There are a couple of markets in Bali that are full of vintage pieces and they are very cheap, but you can find some winners.

How does vintage play into your design aesthetic these days?
Vintage plays a big part, especially collectors’ pieces like YSL, Givenchy, Bill Gibb, Balenciaga, and Ossie Clark, that are to be cherished and not customized. I buy a lot of great Victorian pieces and I get very inspired by the craftwork, from the embroidery to the cut work, as well as the hand finishes.

Finish the thought: What’s old is new again when… it’s a pair of bell bottoms, like my Rochas ones, but instead of looking hippie, you pair them with a clean white shirt and a statement diamanteé necklace.

For more from Alice’s shoot, visit Tales of Endearment.

Photos: Natalie Joos

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