My first grown-up furniture purchase was a wardrobe. As far as I was concerned, my desk could be any old table and I didn’t mind that my bed creaked like a haunted house, but knowing that my clothes were hanging in a wooden armoire made me feel that my life was organised – if only for some of the time. One woman who understands the power of an uncluttered home is Mounissa Chodieva, founder of Vault Couture. Her concept is simple and highly efficient: clients are offered a complete wardrobe service that includes “everything from organisation to secure clothing and accessories storage, professional repairs, alterations and global delivery”.
When I arrive at Chodieva’s vast London depot to see this in operation, I am asked to wait in a photographic studio where two members of staff (in white coats reminiscent of the petitesmains in a couture atelier) are dressing a mannequin in a delicate evening gown (pictured). The garment is photographed and then entered into the client’s database, creating a virtual wardrobe that can be accessed remotely. “We keep the archives updated with new purchases – in fact, some clients send the clothes straight from the store to us, and we categorise the items before returning them to their homes or keeping them in storage here,” explains Chodieva.
But this is not about monitoring the wardrobes of shopaholics. For many clients the main issue is storage – wedding dresses in particular take up a lot of room – and Vault Couture enables them to create space in their own homes by storing bulky items and seasonal clothing, such as fur or skiwear. For others, it is a matter of convenience: “A client might be in London often enough to need access to a capsule wardrobe, but not so often as to keep an apartment. Men find this service particularly useful – they usually need five suits and shirts, a tuxedo and sometimes a heavy jacket, which can be awkward to travel with – and we bring their selection straight to their hotel.”
Clients (or their personal stylists) can also use the database to group garments into itemised outfits, including accessories. This means that instead of combing through their full inventory, a client can order a curated wardrobe to be delivered to his or her chosen destination in a few clicks. “They leave it there after use, we pick it up, dry clean it and replace any missing buttons, so that next time they require the item it is in pristine condition. We also provide additional items such as a specific brand of socks, or a shirt or two. For some men it’s almost like travelling without luggage. It’s not a big expense, and it’s an extremely reliable service,” says Chodieva.
She is eager to clarify that this is not a niche product, referring to it as an inventory system as well as an analysis tool: “Before a client is tempted to go out and buy another blue dress, she can check online to see what she already has. It enables her to make a choice and she can then spend that money on a different item. It helps to organise future purchases and is a means of bringing some budgeting back into your life.” Vault Couture can also provide the client with a hard-copy inventory to be kept in their dressing room at home.
The company is expanding rapidly, not just geographically but also in its range of services. The website now offers clients the option of selling redundant items through an integrated e-boutique, and also recently introduced Vault Box, a specialist storage facility for items such as golf equipment or heavy luggage. “How is it different from self-storage? We itemise everything in the box, which you have access to, plus we deliver to locations worldwide,” Chodieva explains. “I wanted this to be a seamless process – three pushes of a button and you should have what you want.” Tidy house, tidy mind.