Carmen Haid is the queen of luxury vintage fashion. She grew up surrounded by haute couture and worked with top designers before starting up Atelier Mayer, a haven for high-end vintage pieces. Carmen's beautiful house in Maida Vale, London is a decadent world full of eccletic curiosities and antique pieces. Having just sold her Atelier Mayer business, we met a Carmen towards the end of Summer as she was planning and packing for her birthday trip to Morocco. We asked our latest Style Insider about her career history, her special pieces and what's the next step on her fashion journey.
DONNA IDA: How did you get started in the fashion world? Tell us how you came to work for Yves Saint Laurent?
Carmen Haid: My late grandmother Klaudia Mayer was the inspiration to follow a career in fashion. She was an haute couture seamstress during the Viennese Secession period and I grew up spending Summers in her atelier. When I arrived in London in 1997 I walked up and down New Bond Street and distributed my CV. Yves Saint Laurent looked for a PR Assistant and I soon started. It was a fascinating time: Yves Saint Laurent still designed both the RTW and haute couture collections, then retired and we launched Alber Elbaz for the WRTW and Hedi Slimane for the MRTW. Soon after the company was acquired by the Gucci Group (now Kering). I worked with Tom Ford and his team to re-launch YSL.
DONNA IDA: What inspired your move into vintage clothing to start Atelier Mayer?
Carmen Haid: I have been an avid vintage collector all my life. Several fashion designer friends of mine regularly raided my wardrobe and borrowed pieces, tweaked, reworked them and turned them into bestsellers of their collection. I was fascinated by fashion online and the way it can transform our lives. I found a niche in the market: Atelier-Mayer.com - luxury vintage fashion online was born. I love what Natalie Massenet did with Net-a-Porter, she was my inspiration to pioneer vintage fashion online. We launched in 2009 and for five years started up a new concept dedicated to the 20th century vintage fashion specialising in a tight edit of exquisite, collectable pieces in impeccable condition. We shipped to 104 countries in a stylish, sustainable way including biodegradable packaging. We launched a private client showroom in London, organised private trunk shows all around the world, launched a concession at Harvey Nichols and our very own publication Atelier-Mayer VOL I and II.
DONNA IDA: Tell us about the special pieces in your wardrobe?
Carmen Haid: I collect Yves Saint Laurent from the 60s and 70s. I would have loved to experience that liberty of fashion during that time. My favourite pieces are from the Russian collection in 1976 such as black velvet harem pants and a crochet cap. I also love an Arnold Scaasi brocade jacket with sable cuffs, a 1960s Elsa Schiaparelli brocade gilet with a brooch, YSL velvet jackets in maroon, burgundy, navy and grey velvets - I have about 35 of them! A YSL jacket and the pussy bow blouse are my essentials.
Carmen wears Mauro Grifoni Coat, Scarf from Lily and Lionel, Pierre Hardy tan shoes, Sunray earrings from Belmacz, diamond ring from Cartier
DONNA IDA: You're looking forward to a special birthday party in Morocco, what will you be packing?
Carmen Haid: Neon for the desert rave, YSL for 1970s Marrakech dinner and a velvet cape for the Bal Oriental.
DONNA IDA: Who is your fashion icon?
Carmen Haid: I am inspired by confident, smart and warm, naturally elegant women with an exquisite eye for style who enjoy life. There are many!
DONNA IDA: Where in the world are girls best dressed? What kind of style do you admire?
Carmen Haid: Paris. I love the Parisienne style, tres chic always, and the American Sportswear Michael Kors, Jackie O and active wear meets luxury style.
DONNA IDA: Describe your style highs and lows?
Carmen Haid: I only have highs!
DONNA IDA: What’s your favourite restaurant?
Carmen Haid: Galvin in London, The Red Rooster in New York.
DONNA IDA: Where’s your ultimate holiday destination?
DONNA IDA: What is your favourite fashion magazine?
Carmen Haid: I read so many. I love The Gentle Woman, French/US/Italian/Japanese/Vogue, Grazia. I subscribe to Porter, Harpers, Vanity Fair. The rest is digital.
DONNA IDA: What do you do to keep fit?
Carmen Haid: Yoga, power plates at Powervibe, alkaline diet from Honestly Healthy.
DONNA IDA: What advice would you give to a younger you?
Carmen Haid: To breathe better.
DONNA IDA: You recently sold Atelier Mayer, what are your future plans?
Carmen Haid: I am exploring exiting new avenues and as soon as I am able to reveal more I will let you know!
Read our next Style Insider with WeAreTwinset's Philippa Bloom and Sarah Tankel Ellis