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Fashion and Fundraising with Paris ’99

Jolene Laverty

When Yavav Ron was 11, like many other kids his age, he had a job delivering ‘junk’ mail.

However, unlike the other kids it was whilst delivering junk mail that he found his passion in life. No, not a passion for junk mail – a passion for fashion!

“I saw my first Vogue magazine at the newsagency where I picked up the junk mail. I opened it, and could imagine how the photo shoots would look in reality, what they would feel like. I was drawn to the drama and fantasy of it all,” he explains.

Young Yahav used his junk mail pay to start a fashion magazine collection, which he would scrapbook in his spare time. Then, when Yahav was 13 years old his grandparents took him to Paris for his birthday, which cemented Yahav’s love for fashion. Looking back at that time, Yahav says- “seeing fashion at one of its epicenters was really inspiring! When I came back to Australia I started designing, and I knew that fashion was the career path I wanted to take.”

How that career path unfolded before him is where the really interesting story lies. When Yahav was just 15 years old, he bought his first dress. It was by Comme Des Garcon, a high-end Japanese label. Whilst he doesn’t recall how much it cost, he remembers that it was extremely expensive and that his parents were very upset. He reveals that he didn’t buy it to wear it- “I bought it to be a part of my fashion collection! But it ended up sitting in the back of my mother’s wardrobe for 8 years.” Despite the trouble that buying the dress had brought him, it was a serendipitous moment with that dress nearly a decade later which set Yahav on the career path that he’d longed for since he was a tween.

“While I was overseas in 2010 my family moved house and put all of my stuff into storage, so when I came back I started to go through it all. I found the dress, and it was such an amazing sculptural piece of work that I put it on a mannequin to fully appreciate its form. A friend dropped over to say hi, and when she saw it I could immediately see ‘sparks’ between her and the dress… this was an epiphany for me.

On the one hand, I was thinking that I couldn’t part with the dress because it was going to be a part of my fashion museum! But in that moment the rational side of me realised that clothing is designed to be worn, and I had a friend who had an obvious connection with the dress. I suddenly felt that I couldn’t deny the opportunity for these two to be together, so she bought the dress from me.” With that transaction, Yahav said goodbye to his first Comme Des Garcon piece, and hello to a whole new vocation.

Destination Paris, 1999

Paris ’99 is Yahav Ron’s Melbourne based business which is styled on the salons of Paris. There he sells pre-loved pieces from the highest end of international designer fashion which he has sourced from around the world through connections with women who often buy exquisite well-made clothing, to wear them only once. His technique for acquiring these garments from the very fashionable is a combination of good networking and intuition. And vodka shots.

“I’d never been to America, so had to build my network up from scratch. To get the courage to approach women I didn’t know, I’d have a few shots in a bar, and then compliment strangers on their dresses. From there I’d negotiate with them to get a look at their wardrobe – it’s all about relationship building.”

The pre-loved element of these items is where Yahav’s environmental sensibilities combine with his love of design, “There are too many ‘bad’ clothes in the world, by which I mean cheap and designed to not last. Textile waste is a terrible thing – I focus on the BEST clothes in the world, which are really designed to last longer than most people live, which if they’re looked after they will.”

His collection started small, with just a few pieces that Yahav had sourced and brought back to his parent’s house. At first, it was just one rack, and then two, and then his collection started to explode. “My friends, my mother’s friends, my sister’s friends – they’d come over in small groups for glasses of champagne and a ‘play’ with the amazing clothes. After a while, my parents sat me down and told me to exit their living room and go set up my own salon,” he laughs.

Yahav does not consider Paris ’99 to be a retail outlet, but rather a personalised styling experience. He explains, “I don’t sell my clientele clothes, the retail space is the opposite of what I do. When you come to Paris ’99 you should feel like you’re visiting a friend, and you will end up with a dress if that’s what you choose. I base it on the highest levels of service which is how the appointments will work in Canberra – the entire salon experience will be transported from Melbourne to Canberra.”

Paris ‘99 is coming to Canberra as part of two fundraising events. The first is an opening party to welcome Yahav and his private collection on Thursday 17 November at Hotel Hotel.  This event will not only be an opportunity to share an evening with other like-minded and ridiculously well-dressed people; it will also be a fundraising event for Karinya House for Mothers & Babies with all profits from the opening night of Paris ‘99 going to support pregnant and parenting women and their families who are in crisis.

Your ticket includes admission, music from the Canberra Symphony Orchestra ensembles, drinks, nibbles and the opportunity for you and your friends to win one of two private sessions with Yahav over that weekend. You can register for the opening event here.

But wait, there’s more…

Following the opening party, free styling sessions for groups of up to four people will be held in a very cool apartment at Hotel Hotel on Friday 18, Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 November. Yahav will have racks of his private collection for you and your friends to try, and to purchase if you find something you love.

The pieces are one-off high-end couture in a variety of styles and sizes and include everything from simple tops to beaded evening gowns, jackets, daywear, evening wear, and the things that go between day and evening wear! The items will encompass a wide range of styles and fabrics, such as Japanese and Belgian avant-garde designers, glitzy Italian pieces, minimalist German styles, American sportswear, and Parisian stalwarts.

Part of the proceeds from every sale will be donated by Yahav Ron to the Canberra Symphony Orchestra to support the CSO’s Education and Community Engagement programs. Spaces for the exclusive try-on sessions are limited, and although they are free registration is required. If you would like to know more about registering a group, please contact Tim Langford, CSO Philanthropy [email protected] or call on 6247 9191.

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Jolene Laverty

Jolene Laverty was born and raised in Darwin, but has lived in Canberra for most of her adult life. She spent close to twenty years in radio, which took her to the copper outback of Port Augusta to the sparkling aquamarine waves of the Whitsundays. Today she is a member of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra*, ANU student, wife of a high-school teacher/rock-musician, and mother to three children who were each born in a different decade. *not allowed on stage. More about the Author