When Lauren Wilson, the 32-year-old founder of luxury pre-owned site Dora Maar, started thinking about setting up a business, she turned to her friends and family members to ask about their experiences shopping in the resale market—a booming, nearly $40-billion-a-year industry. She found that the majority of them had consigned their clothing, but few had actually purchased anything. Many of those surveyed wanted the ability to track the past life of their pieces, which was seldom possible.
Having worked for Christie's auction house as a marketing coordinator, Wilson was all too aware that luxury resale—often art and antiquities—was only as valuable as its provenance and past ownership. “I felt like why isn't luxury fashion in the secondhand market treated that way? It only adds to its value and its authenticity,” she says.
Wilson took the feedback she received from her initial research to heart. In 2019, she launched her website, Dora Maar. The driving force of buying and selling on the platform is—similar to the business model of auction houses—traceability. Shoppers are able to peruse and purchase from the virtual closets of hand-picked Muses—often tastemakers and fashion insiders—who give context and background to each piece sold.
As a woman of color, inclusivity was also an important pillar for Wilson. "This is a luxury community that can also be representative of so many people—differing shapes, sizes, colors, and voices,” Wilson explains of the people picked for the Muse Closets portion of the site.
With a growing list of collaborators and partnerships alongside premium designers like Markarian and Rodarte, Dora Maar is rapidly expanding, while organically connecting the dots between consumers and their pre-loved purchases.
Here, we chatted with Wilson about the origin stories behind her own favorite wardrobe staples that help her meet the demands of her scaling company.
On Her Morning Routine
I would say no two mornings are the same, but coffee is always number one. I have two cups of Nespresso before I can hit the ground running. Someone once told me that they spend their first 20 minutes awake without their phone and as a result, they become more proactive instead of reactive during the day. I would really like to institute that practice—but let's be real, Dora Maar is a growing business. Mornings are fast paced, but it’s exciting to see what might unfold during that time. Maybe we had great sales the day before or we’ve secured a new Muse to come onboard.
On Getting Dressed
When I don't know what to wear, I love to channel Carolina Herrera with an oversized button down shirt and a pair of trousers.
I’m also big fan of dresses for the office. They’re way more comfortable than jeans. I love a fitted bodice dress with a fuller skirt—something you can wear with a little block or kitten heel—I'm only 5'2". I also love a matching set, which is a two-for-one. You can wear it coordinating or as separates. Every time a set comes into the Dora Maar closet, I buy it. I have this really pretty two-piece set from Emilia Wickstead— it’s chocolate brown, a color I’m loving right now, and has a delicate white floral print.
For special occasions, I like to play up and modernize historical fashion moments. Two weeks ago I went to a wedding at the Wrigley Mansion in Arizona. It’s a Spanish colonial building that was built in the 1920s. I wore a vintage, ballet slipper-pink Vera Wang gown with an elongated bodice and a full skirt. I felt like Audrey Hepburn from 1956.
On Her Conversation Sparking Piece
In a way, clothing gives me power. I want to own the founder role, especially when I’m fundraising or talking to investors. When I’m pitching, I’ll usually wear my black Chanel tweed-and-boucle military jacket. It's from the closet of Edward Barsamian, who used to work for Vogue and, after Vogue, for Victoria Beckham. It was his first Chanel jacket, and it's also my first. It was the jacket he wore for big meetings with Anna Wintour. I always think of that when I’m wearing it.
On Her Latest Purchases
One of our Muses, Lauren Levison, has an incredible closet on Dora Maar and she’s just about to launch a bunch of new things. I bought this Gabriela Hearst skirt from her. It's a chocolate brown color and has a great chunky knit texture with a fluted bottom. I recently wore it paired alongside my green python Marni booties.
Shop Some of Lauren's Favorite Pieces:
Sara Holzman is the Style Director at Marie Claire, covering runway trends and tracking down the latest finds to buy and wear. When she’s not writing about fashion, she pens about the best places to jet-off to. Over her six years with Marie Claire, Sara has reported on the ever-evolving world of fashion— covering both established and emerging designers within the industry. Sara has held fashion positions at Lucky and SELF Magazine and was a regular contributor to Equinox’s Furthermore website, where she wrote across their style, wellness, and travel verticals. She holds a degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri, Columbia, and currently resides in Manhattan. Follow her along at @sarajonewyork.
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