Initially, this article was planned to be about the vintage online store Formalist which specializes in famous brands, I wanted to talk about its advantages over similar online stores, how it operates, and what to order. In short, the usual presentation. But after meeting with Alexandra Krichmar-Shamis, the owner of Formalist, whose enthusiasm about her Internet shop is contagious, my concept has changed.
This is a story about how to make your everyday life a lot more like a holiday, how to set your internal barometer to beauty and how to surround yourself with original things that contain traces of human thought, soul and energy.
Alexandra not only sells an authentic vintage Chanel or a Louis Vuitton in perfect condition, but can also tell you how to surround yourself with beautiful things full of meaning.
Her passion for seeking out exclusive vintage items around the world began 15 years ago in London. Initially, she and her husband were shopping for themselves, not to sell. Over time, their collection had grown and, as a natural process, the passion outgrew the collectors and demanded a wider audience.
Alexandra and her husband opened the online store Formalist selling vintage brand-name items just a couple of years ago.
“What is so interesting about vintage items?” Alexandra muses. “It’s not just a financial investment, it is also your own original style, beauty, personality and fine quality.
Today, more and more people prefer vintage and antique things. It is very important to us that the item is authentic and in excellent condition. One of the services we offer is to search for a particular item by request. We don’t simply find things, but make sure that they are authentic, well preserved and will serve for a long time.”
Alexandra demonstrates one of her Chanel pendants. This is fashion jewelry, but it’s just wonderful! Hermes scarves sported by Queen Elizabeth, rings and earrings by Chanel, Sonia Rykiel, Tiffany, bags and jackets in original packaging… Do you remember the famous vintage Chanel birdcage earrings from the 90’s worn by Beyonce, Jessica Simpson and Kim Kardashian? In the Formalist store, you can buy them.
“Our collection is updated constantly,” continues Alexandra. “We can find something for every budget. These are not just objects with history, this is your unique style, a way to refine and brighten your look. This is an opportunity to look great in any situation and for any occasion.
Do you need a gift? Are you going to a fancy party? The item you choose will not go unnoticed, it will always be appreciated, and, of course, a gift like this will testify to your perfect taste.
Merchandise in the store can be exchanged and special-ordered. Also, some accessories and household items can be rented for celebrations or photo shoots.
They even have their representatives in Japan, so if you, for example, need antique or vintage natural silk kimonos, for both men and women, a fine haori for every day, or a traditional wedding dress, you can purchase them at Formalist, too.
“Don’t be afraid to experiment, wear and combine something seemingly incompatible, allow yourself to have fun and live a life filled with beauty.”.
Alexandra knows almost all there is to know about vintage and antique things, and she can speak on this subject endlessly. “Things need to be loved, whether it is a pendant, a dish, an antique mirror or a vintage velvet coat. These things have the soul, thoughts and feelings of the person who created them and shared their beauty with you,” she said.
Alexandra and her husband are Israeli. They have lived in the Middle East for more than a quarter of a century, and their parents are immigrants from the former Soviet Union.
In Israel, they have a large house designed entirely according to their own plans and sketches. The main design ideas were influenced by the Mediterranean style, but the majority of the interior and decor elements have been brought from all around the world.
Alexandra shows us the interior of their house on the computer and describes literally every detail. “We use all these things in our everyday life,” she says. “We do not store festive dishes or fancy dresses for a rainy day, as our grandparents did; we are living in the now.”
“Have you thought that your talents could be applied in the Czech Republic for decorating interiors and restoring castles?” I asked.
“We are now considering this option and would be happy to help our customers. If we are approached with an offer, we are always happy to help.”
Alexandra and her husband moved to the Czech Republic this past year because most of their customers live here, in Europe.
“Here, in Prague, there is a long history, a huge potential and a great interest in antiques. During these six months, we have found assistants, restorers, craftsmen and extended our client list. They call their passion “a business for the soul,” because their main income comes from finance, investments and software. Thus, they don’t need to sell their items at any cost.
When asked whether Alexandra intends to change her profession, she says, “What is profession? All your life is a profession. I am an IT specialist, but also a designer, a collector, a mother, a sister, a wife… Our lifestyle, our interests and hobbies are our profession. You probably won’t believe me, but at 42 I have never taken a vacation, I don’t know what that is.”
Alexandra’s passion is unique, authentic, antique and vintage items, household items and clothing.
“Let these things bring joy to you and your loved ones, pass them on to your children with love,” says Alexandra. Create your own family history! And we are always happy to help you do this.”