Alexandra Carl lists her 5 favourite gems from the world's greatest fashion collections

By Clare McInerney

Danish stylist Alexandra Carl at NYFW in September 2022. Photo: Getty

A new fashion bible has hit the shelves, courtesy of Danish-born stylist Alexandra Carl. Here, Carl spotlights five sartorial highlights from within its pages

"The clothing featured in this book requires exactly what we all lack today: time," starts Danish-born, London-based stylist Alexandra Carl in the foreword to her newly-published tome Collecting Fashion: Nostalgia, Passion, Obsession. “Time is at the core when studying the construction of garments; it is crucial to creating them, innovating them,” she goes on. “The value of a garment – both financial and symbolic – is often directly related to the efforts and attention required to source and craft it.”

Similarly, building an archive or collection of garments requires time. Time spent connecting with far-flung dealers, scouring the reaches of Ebay and in the depths of obscured vintage sales. The result can be a remarkable representation of fashion history, a testament to taste and the act of preservation.

Published by Rizzoli New York, Carl's Collecting Fashion: Nostalgia, Passion, Obsession steps inside some of the world's most important fashion collections, capturing the closets of an impressive list of industry names. The archives documented include Michèle Lamy's extensive Comme Des Garçon collection, the sneakers and T-shirts in Sarah Andelman's posession, Endyma's growing Helmut Lang archive and Zaha Hadid's fabulous footwear assemblage.

Vogue's Hamish Bowles is a lifelong fashion super-sleuth in possession of one of the most revered collections of couture and fashion history. Photo: Stanislaw Boniecki

Editor Carla Sozzani's covetable pieces are housed in the basement of Fondazione Sozzani. Photo: Angèle Châtenet

In over 300 pages, Carl painstakingly showcases rare gems from top-tier labels and hard-to-obtain seasons – think sought-after Issey Miyake, Maison Martin Margiela, John Galliano, Thierry Mugler and Alexander McQueen, amongst others.

Here, exclusively for Vogue Scandinavia, Carl pinpoints five stand-out pieces from the collections that are explored in her book's pages.


From Zaha Hadid's archive

Helmut Lang, spring/summer '00 from Zaha Hadid's personal shoe collection. Photo: Federico Berardi

“Zaha Hadid’s shoes all together! Custom Prada and iconic Helmut Lang that are used for so many references today – but we tend to forget what Lang brought to the table because fashion's memory is short.”


From Adrian Appiolaza's archive

“The broken plate top [Maison Martin Margiela, autumn/winter 1989] owned by Adrian Appiolaza who’s now CD at Moschino. I've never seen this in real life nor exhibitions. the construction blows my mind.”


From Vicky Roditis' archive

Martin Margiela Artisanal line, spring/summer '97 . Photo: Anders Edstrom

Martin Margiela ready-to-wear, spring/summer '97 and artisanal line, spring/summer '04 . Photo: Anders Edstrom

“The label top [Martin Margiela Artisanal line, spring/summer '01] from Vicky Roditis' archive. To imagine each label being sourced cleaned and stitched individually is incredible. From the sourcing to the construction, it is such a labour of love.”


From Alexander Fury's archive

From Alexander Fury's collection: Metal belt by Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, spring/summer '93. Leather belt by John Galliano for Christian Dior, autumn/winter '98. Leather double-belt with oversized buckle by John Galliano for Christian Dior, spring/summer '00. Metal belt by Prada, spring/summer '19. Photo: Carlijin Jacobs

“Alex Fury’s Galliano showpiece dress lined with Quality Street Paperwraps. It blows my mind when people make clothes so committed to making the wearer feeling something extraordinary, details not visible for anyone else than the person who wears the dress.”


From Azzedine Alaïa’s archive

From Azzedine Alaïa’s archive: Claire McCardell dress, 1940s . Photo: Federico Berardi

From Azzedine Alaïa’s archive: Chanel dress, 1930s . Photo: Federico Berardi

From Azzedine Alaïa’s archive: Lanvin dress, 1934. Photo: Federico Berardi

“Azzedine Alaïa’s Jean Patou dress from 1931 in immaculate condition. As relevant today as ever before.”

Collecting Fashion: Nostalgia, Passion, Obsession by Alexandra Carl is available to buy via Rizzoli New York.