Celebrity stylist Ali Mandelkorn goes thrifting for a cause

NEW YORK — As a celebrity stylist, Ali Mandelkorn is usually surrounded by designer duds, so getting back to some of her favourite fashion vibes, vintage and thrift, was a treat.

She went deep into the racks of a Goodwill store in Los Angeles for a collection released Friday on Thrilling that will benefit employment programs for the disabled and disadvantaged run by the non-profit's Southern California operation.

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"I love clothes and I just feel like vintage shopping has always been a part of my vernacular," said Mandelkorn, who has been working with red carpet standout Janelle Monae for more than a year. "Part of the fun is going on the hunt and uncovering gems."

Among her favourite pieces in the collection is a Balenciaga tank top in a brown and white floral peplum design, priced at $115. The gems she unearthed in a Goodwill store in LA's Los Feliz neighbourhood include some oversize blazers from the 1980s and a pair of Chanel ankle-strap flats in black — selling for $199.

ShopThrilling.com, a platform for vintage and thrift stores around the United States, calls the collection GOODxGoodwill SoCal and has included pieces donated as well as those hunted down by Mandelkorn. Donors include Mel B, Tatyana Ali, Loni Love, Sara Haines and Carole Radziwill.

While some of the collection's pieces are priced in the low range, including a Tom & Jerry checkered bomber jacket for $30, others are going for up to $299 (a Prada oversized windbreaker in black). Looking for a Louise Vuitton key holder? There's one in blue and white checks for $150.

When Mandelkorn has the time, and she's shopping for herself, she remains drawn to vintage and thrift. But she doesn't have a magic formula for finding the really good stuff, which is plentiful in Los Angeles, where she lives.

"I love to find pieces with real stories," said the Boston native.

It's not so much about the labels for Mandelkorn. It's about individual pieces that speak to her. That, she said, is a very personal thing.

The collection was already selling out on it first day. Being thrift, once it's gone, it's gone, Mandelkorn noted.

And that, she said, "is what's so great about thrift."

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