When I think of my mother in the ’90s, back when her hair was still platinum and she’d announce herself by the clinking of her silver bangles, she’s wearing a transparent tank top with dévoré buds climbing up its clingy navy body. “It’s Voyage,” (pronounced voh-ahz) she told me. “And one day it will be yours.” Lo and behold, that day came—and with it, a fully fledged obsession with the now-defunct London-based label, famous as much for its singular, free-spirited silhouettes as its story.
Founded by the Mazillis, dubbed “the Addams Family of fashion,” Voyage opened on Fulham Road in 1991 and quickly gained notoriety for its three- and four-digit priced wares and a door policy that rivaled that of Studio 54. (Lacking membership cards, Madonna and Naomi Campbell were both reportedly turned away.) Those who made it in—Kate Moss, Amber Valletta, and Linda Evangelista, who once declared, “I can’t survive without your clothes”—though, discovered a treasure trove of one-off velvet-trimmed camisoles, sheer slinky skirts dripping with beads, and chiffon gowns accented with rows of teeny-tiny pearls (pieces that, coincidentally, would feel right at home in Spring 2019’s perfectly imperfect handmade collections).
In 1998, Gwyneth Paltrow turned heads on the red carpet when she attended the premiere of Sliding Doors dressed not in her character’s pared-back wardrobe, but rather in a lace-lined qipao made by Voyage. Suddenly, die-hard minimalists were trading in their Calvin Klein and Donna Karan for the brand’s eclectic, ethereal concoctions—often worn head to toe—with the look reaching runways like Miu Miu and Chanel, too. “Here’s how a humble home-dyed cardigan with a colorful velvet trim changed the face of fashion,” said a Vogue article from 1997, the same year Voyage set up stateside outposts at Barneys and Bergdorf Goodman.
“They were quirky and fun, and women felt very freed by them because they were casual and easy to wear,” recalls the costume designer Livia Pascucci, who dressed Julia Roberts in Notting Hill in one of Voyage’s signature floral-washed slips, which Roberts then wore off-screen, too. “They created this whole strange wall around them, which was very smart because, as you know, once you can’t have something, you want it.”
Alas, what comes around goes around, as they say: Eventually, that exclusive door policy and exorbitant price tag led to the label’s demise in 2002. The silver lining? Forgotten by many, its one-of-a-kind riches have landed on the likes of eBay, Etsy, and Poshmark for a fraction of what they once cost. (Think: a shrunken hand-dyed cardigan for $6.50; an amethyst-hued version of Roberts’s own dress for $20.) Now, the hoi polloi can shop Voyage in the comfort of their own homes (or, um, beds). One hell of a trip.