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Bettina Liano’s daughter is selling items from her mother’s vintage archives

IMAGES COURTESY OF OLYMPIA CHRISTOU
INTERVIEW BY CARLOS MANGUBAT

Gain access to Bettina Liano’s vintage collection curated over 35 years.

I was scrolling through Facebook the other day for work, when a post caught my attention. It had been shared in a buy/sell group well-known within Melbourne’s fashion circles for the quality of products that circulate, and the tastemakers who trade within the group. For those within the fashion space, it is a destination of choice for trading pre-loved pieces.

Still, its posts rarely appear on my feed. Yet this post had earned its slot on my homepage, already with hundreds of users commenting the letter ‘F’. Shorthand for ‘follow’, these comments signalled each user’s intent to be notified of any updates to the post. After scanning the post, I quickly typed my own ‘F’ too. It now sits alongside 375 others.

The post read: I have gained access to my mum’s vintage archives from when she was designing for her very prolific Australian label. She collected unique vintage over the years through 80s-early 2000s and kept it all for inspiration. There’s mostly beautiful 60s, 70s era pieces that aren’t easy to come by these days if this interests you photos will be in comments.

It was written by Olympia Christou, a Melbourne model firmly embedded in the local fashion community, who has found marked success overseas. Many understood immediately just how covetable her mum’s vintage collection would be. Olympia is the daughter of Bettina Liano, the iconic and esteemed Australian fashion designer. The chance to buy directly from an Australian fashion icon’s own vintage archives is undeniably rare, if not once-in-a-lifetime. We couldn’t let this moment go by uncelebrated.

More than a personal archive, the items in this collection were sought and sourced over 35 years as reference points for Liano’s work. Each piece influenced and shaped what thousands of Australian women did – and continue to – wear, initially via her namesake label launched in 1989, and now via her current label, BYBL.

Buying into this collection, therefore, isn’t just buying a quality vintage piece sourced by a person with impeccable taste – it’s owning a piece of Australian fashion history.

Here, Melbourne stylist Carlos Mangubat interviews Olympia and her sister Hali Christou, to find out more about their mum’s collection, the stories behind it, and what punters can expect from the offering. The sale goes live this evening on the Ppennylane Facebook group.

Tell us what’s in the collection, can you run us through it a bit?

Olympia Christou: The collection reflects moments in time. It’s interesting, authentic and collector vintage, sourced from around the world.

Hali Christou: Our mother’s collection is an extensive vintage library of references and research collected ever since she was young, across so many decades of her career. Sometimes, she would buy an item just for the detail, for example, a bias twist or embellishment. These garments reflect her obsessions at the time.

OC: She’s always had a long-term obsession with Western; it’s always referenced in most of her work.

HC: Calamity Jane, Doris Day and western films were some favourite reference points.

How did this collection grow? 

OC: Mum has been buying and collecting forever. School holidays would double around buying trips, be it Asia or the USA. Wherever she was travelling, she was buying.

HC: She was always adding to her collection, all throughout her career.

Why is she selling now?

HC: It’s the time to find a new home for these great pieces. And, perhaps, the time for a spring clean/Marie Kondo situation.

OC: I convinced her to do it! The timing of this seemed just right. Having the time and opportunity to dedicate to this collection hasn’t existed in the past. Plus, finding new ways to interpret this clothing has been fun during this unpredictable circumstance. The collection is so vast, what we are planning literally isn’t even scratching the surface.

You’ve mentioned she once used these as inspiration for her samples, can you tell us a little more about this? 

HC: As mentioned earlier, western and denim have always been a running theme with our Mum. It’s always a baseline reference for her work.

OC: Sometimes the collection could be western/gothic one season, and the next could be Courtney Love-esque, with baby doll fringing dresses.

HC: These pieces are a hybrid of what she felt and was influenced by at the time.

How many pieces can we expect to see in the sale? 

OC: We are staggering the pieces in little blocks.

HC: At the moment, 50-80 will be dropped in small intervals.

How much will the pieces cost, roughly?

HC: Everything will probably be around $50 to $250, which is great for fab, interesting, one-off pieces.

OC: Dresses will be $50 to $250, trousers from $50 to $100, and tops and shirts will range from around $50 to $80.

What’s one of your favourite items in this vast collection?

OC: I love the Pucci-esque watercolour mini dress, with a dinner shirt ruffle detail. It’s a spectacular piece, a piece of history and most likely, rare to see a piece like this again.

HC: There’s an original ’70s dress with insane colour clashing, it’s almost bad. I love the colours and the neckline and hem detail. Clothing just doesn’t look like this anymore. It has a stunning cut!

Tell us about what your mother is up to now, and her new label.

HC: BYBL (pronounced ‘bible’) is a contemporary denim label, highly focused on local design and sustainability. Some are even made to order. It’s an extension of her original design. If you miss the old brand, this is where you need to go.

OC: Her new label is a nod to her original denim styles. The fits are amazing! All pieces featured with denim in the sale are from her new collection.

Liano’s archival pieces will be exclusively released on the Ppennylane Facebook group, starting tonight.

Pieces from this collection and Olympia’s private archive can also be found on her Depop page @neu_age_vintage. To see BYBL’s new collection head here.

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