Instead of the customary handshake, Christian offers a heartfelt embrace, even if the only prior interaction we had previously was just a three-message instagram conversation. His "Decades" vintage store, is more known by the owner's nickname Monsieur Kiki. Surprisingly for a vintage store, the shop is well-lit, very little bric-a-brac, everything is organized almost meticulously. "This is not Mickey Mouse, if I don't like the object or piece I do not display it, and even if I do not wear it, I simply take pleasure looking at it" - and the objects in question tend to really attract "looking at", a Versace shirt sits neatly before a Cavalli, with a Prada number just three items after, all of them sitting under a row of leather hats, with the Chanel high heels and the Bruno Magli brogues down below.
"I have been doing vintage forever, it is a bubble, a disease, an addiction but also a joy. To find that rare item be it in Berlin or Tripoli, and get it at a ridiculous price - I love bargaining over and above the cheap prices to be honest - and then find someone who would match this item" - he contributes enthusiastically. "I do not sell people things, no, I style them, transform them, the whole look - what's your shoe size?" he asks in one breath, trying, no - not sell me a pair of shoes - but to gift it to me because it looks "amazing with what you wear".
"Shiny new objects don't do it for me, the more they are destroyed, the more my curiosity spikes, this gives anything a history, a story to tell" - and what distinguishes his merchandise is, not just the upscale branding on some of the items, but also the rarity of them: Many of them come from Indian tribes and are handmade, his retro scarves are deadstock from the time when current Saint Laurent and Balanciaga creative directors (namely Anthony Vaccarello and Demna Gvasalia) were either not born or wearing nappies.
Christian knows his material for sure, but he also adds "one needs to cultivate that eye, for a long time, to be able to spot that diamond in the rough, that unique object which has high value and which is thrown with fillers. Buying in bulk is not for me, from a whole bag only one item would be of interest to me - this does not sit well with wholesalers".
Christian has first hand knowledge on some of the pieces, he takes a breathtaking suede jacket from the row, adorned with snakeskin and metal buttons, "this piece is from Jebran Jouni, that guy dressed anyone who's anyone from Billy Idol to Axl Rose, look at those details" he says as he caresses the piece as it was a cherished human being. "However" he also adds, "people want to see variety, so the stock needs to be changed and replenished and at this stage there is no back up stock, the items spread over the two-level store are it". Christian does have future plans especially that he does not intend to go back to the States, since at this stage he wants to establish his roots in Lebanon.
One thing is for sure, next time you want to find that rarity design item, head off to Monsieur Kiki's store - but better contact him first on 03020099 or speak to him via his instagram before hand.
Oh and yes, by the time I left, there was another hug for me!