Tallulah Harlech’s closet has the power to send fashion-literate women into a green-eyed stupor. At just 26, the London-based model, aspiring actress, and front-row fixture has amassed a vast but astute collection of cool contemporary labels, “like J.W.Anderson and the sublime Phoebe English,” alongside cult vintage finds such as “lingerie-inspired silk dresses by John [Galliano] circa 1992.”
In person, Harlech is just as charismatic as she appears on camera, with a dry sense of humor and a deep, hearty laugh that seems at odds with her Polly Pocket–size frame. Her pale, Pre-Raphaelite beauty heightens her presence, as does her elegant, eclectic style. “I would say my look is evolving,” she says. “I used to do the whole super-girly, gothic thing, but now I go for understated, perfectly cut pieces in incredible fabrics that will really last.”
She credits her smart-thinking shopping habits to her mother, Lady Amanda Harlech—a longtime muse to designers John Galliano and Karl Lagerfeld. “I look at the way she collects couture, and 90 percent of the time she goes for that incredible, timeless little black jacket rather than the big ‘wow’ dress,” she explains.
Unsurprisingly, it was mama Harlech who first introduced a five-year-old Tallulah to the wonders of vintage clothing. “We had this huge dress-up box full of jewel-embellished capes, antique lace, and the odd Galliano toile, which completely fascinated me as a child,” she says. “Perhaps that’s why nostalgic dressing has always felt very natural.”
Karl Lagerfeld also played a starring role in her vintage-fashion education. “In my early teens we would go on holiday with him to Biarritz and scour the local French markets for Edwardian underdresses,” she recalls. “From shrunken lace shirts to button-up skirts, the attention to detail was phenomenal. I still wear those pieces now, layered up over leather or denim.”
Most recently, Harlech has developed a penchant for dresses by sixties designer Ossie Clark. “I own some beautiful Ossie. My favorite pieces are a heavy crepe cream gown with a plunging neckline, and a black keyhole chiffon dress—both make me feel so feminine,” she adds. “When I buy vintage it has to have enduring appeal, with a great cut and the ability to work seamlessly with the rest of my wardrobe. Nothing should look fancy-dress or faddy—those are the rules.”
Other treasured items include a tailored black Chanel couture jacket, a fitted gray Dior dress, and “exquisite thirties silk dresses by unknown designers,” which she acquired from her favorite West London boutiques, William Vintage, Morade, and the now-defunct Virginia. “Diane Ashman is another incredible vintage dealer, who Mum and I have been visiting for years. Decades in Los Angeles is great, too,” Harlech adds. “There’s just something about clothing with a sense of history, those subtle stains or little imperfections that hint at the woman who wore it before. It sounds romantic, but I like to imagine that each piece has a story.”
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