The Glass Wardrobe Files – we interview Jefferson Ihenacho, founder of One of a Kind Archive

DESCRIBED as the secret weapon behind many of the most iconic celebrity and model fashion moments of the past two decades, Jefferson Ihenacho and his One of a Kind store that opened in 1997 are well-loved gems in the London vintage fashion scene.

Situated on Portobello Road, West London, One of a Kind has dressed the likes of Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Winona Ryder and Madonna, styling each with pristine gowns, rare designer finds and exquisitely sought-after accessories.

There is something for everyone in this treasure chest, but it is Ihenacho and his considered service that has built One of a Kind’s reputation as a pioneer of archival fashion.

Today, the private archive is available to collectors, museums, design houses, industry stylists, consultants, personal shoppers and private clients who are looking to source rare vintage garments.

Jefferson Ihenacho, founder of One of a Kind Archive.

How did you begin your collection? What inspired you to start it?
I initially started on the market stalls on Portobello Road in the early ‘90s. The leather shop on King’s Road that I was working at had a huge flood, so I had no other choice but to start selling my beloved Vivienne Westwood pieces that I had spent my salary on through- out the ‘80s.

By the time I was asked to come back to work, I had fallen in love with the market and quit the job. I eventually built a strong list of clients who would visit me every weekend to see my latest discoveries, so I decided to open a store. I haven’t looked back since.

Yves Saint Laurent by Tom Ford Moulded Leather Corset, SS01. The pierced nipple is fantastic, it was also Tom Ford’s first collection for YSL.

Comme des Garçons Gingham Padded Skirt Suit, SS97 This took a lifetime to find, the padded pieces are possibly one of the rarest and most important pieces by Comme des Garçons.

Can you tell our readers more about One of a Kind’s purpose?
Over the years, One of a Kind has become a magnet for fashion enthusiasts, designers, collectors and artists to learn about history, or to take a piece of history home with them.

I understand One of a Kind celebrated its 27-year anniversary this year, how does it feel to be one of the modern pioneers of archival fashion?
It’s nice to see the vintage market evolve for a worldwide audience and to be valued by younger generations. We are proud to be a part of the few businesses that set the foundations for the market. Not only has vintage become relevant in modern pop culture and fashion in the most recent y ears; the masses are now seeing it as a sustainable way to dress.

How would you describe your aesthetic?
We don’t stick to one aesthetic, we go through phases of collecting particular designers, styles and eras. It really depends on what we see as relevant to the current fashion climate or what collections we believe played an important role in the history of fashion.

John Galliano Minimono with Embroidered Obi Belt, AW94 A true museum piece and pivotal moment in fashion and Galliano’s career.

Givenchy by Alexander McQueen Circuit Board Suit, AW99. This piece is actually reflective, one of my favourites by McQueen at Givenchy as it represents a time in 1999 when designers were thinking of the future and the new millennium.

What advice would you give to someone starting their archival fashion collection?
Collect what excites you.

Having dressed the likes of Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell in the past, can you share your most interesting interaction whilst running the shop?
There have been so many, a few that stand out are working with Madonna in the early 2000s, dressing Leila Pahlavi, the late princess of Iran, and receiving a phone call from Lady Gaga at 10pm to come to the Royal Albert Hall immediately to dress her.

Gucci by Tom Ford Beaded and Feathered Jeans, SS99 At the time they were described as the most expensive jeans in the world.

Vivienne Westwood Super Elevated Croc Embossed Gillie Heels, AW94. By far the most famous of all Westwood’s footwear designs.

Which items tend to become your most treasured and why?
The ones that have taken years and years to find. These are usually runway pieces that were made in limited quantities and define a pivotal moment in fashion. We don’t usually put these up for sale to the public as we want them to be preserved in museums.

How does seeing and touching a piece up close alter your understanding of it?

It gives us a deeper appreciation of all the work that goes into creating such garments (which is often lost in photos online). If you truly want to understand a garment, turn it inside out.

What opportunities has your collecting afforded you?
Working with museums and fashion houses is always special, to have our pieces pre-served in archives for future generations and to source pieces that will inspire new collections is always rewarding.

In your opinion, what does our love affair with archival fashion mean for the fashion industry at large?
It is a double-edged sword. It is important that the fashion industry looks back to move forward but I hope the wealth of inspiration archival fashion brings doesn’t get exploited.

John Galliano Fuchsia Evening Gown, AW95 Kate Moss kissed Johnny Depp on the runway wearing one of these dresses.

 Vivienne Westwood Nude Bodystocking with Fig Leaf, AW89 I love the humour behind this piece.

What have been the high points of One of a Kind?
Nothing compares to building relationships with clients and finding their dream pieces, everything else is just a bonus.

by Lily Rimmer

One of a Kind is open by appointment only

One Of A Kind Archive is at 259 Portobello Road, Notting Hill, London W11 1LR

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