One of my favorite dinner party questions is ‘What do you collect?’ Most people, whether they realize it or not, have some sort of collection. The discussion that unfolds is always fascinating—and descriptive of one’s past and personality. A collection of vintage fur coats illustrates that the collector is a person who loves old-school glamour. A collection of Star Wars paraphernalia demonstrates that the collector is a fan of science fiction. The cool thing about collections is that each piece has an origin story that is of importance to the collector. That Tim Lincecum bobblehead? The owner convinced his best buddies to join him at Public House and, several beers deep, almost missed entering the stadium in time to secure the hot commodity. For the Gazette’s design issue, I’m exposing some of the most insane collections around town.
The marketing and communications executive used to live in San Francisco. But when his sneaker collection began to outgrow their space, Mast and his wife moved to the East Bay—ostensibly a more inviting locale for sneakerheads. Now their house has a sneaker room—a custom California Closet space that holds 800 pairs of shoes. “I’ve always been a huge fan of sneakers, since playing sports as a kid, and following athletes like Andre Agassi and Bo Jackson,” Mast says. “But as an adult I started collecting more and more and, like anything that anyone is passionate about, it snowballs pretty quickly.”
Mast has every type of tennis shoe imaginable, from limited edition releases to original Air Jordans from 1985 to Jeremy Scott for Adidas tuxedo shoes (which Mast wore at his wedding) to Kanye West for Louis Vuitton. Most of them he wears, but some, like the six pairs previously owned by the late DJ AM, are too big, so he simply enjoys them on display. What does he love most about collecting sneakers? “For any of the pairs of shoes, there’s always a story.”
If you follow the PR maven on Instagram (@allisonspeerpr), then you’re familiar with her extensive collection of fine china. She’s constantly sharing vignettes of her daily life that feature pink and blue Imari plates or Royal Crown Derby demitasse cups. “I’ve always grown up with my parents having beautiful china,” she explains. “I always loved table tops. I love mixing and matching new glasses that I’ve bought at different antique stores, I mix in with it.” She inherited Dresden china sets from both her grandmothers. Speer also got married later in life, at a time when neither she nor her husband needed everyday kitchenware—thus, she registered for china at Gump’s and Sue Fisher King. She stores her vast selection on custom shelving that Ken Fulk designed. The really special stuff she saves for the holidays, but the pieces she truly loves, like the aforementioned Imari, she uses on the weekends. What does she think about the fact that nobody registers for china anymore? “It makes me kind of sad. I think the ultimate invitation is dinner at someone’s home. It’s much more special to share. I think if you grew up with beautiful tables, you want to emulate that. To me, it’s a tradition.”
When she was 19 years old, the jeweler used all of her hard-earned savings to purchase the ultimate fashion prize, a coveted Hermès Kelly bag. “I wanted something classic, so I opted for a black Togo leather,” Katz says. “I still have it.” Her most recent Hermès bag is a two-tone gray Birkin with brushed palladium hardware. As the proud owner of more than 30 Hermès handbags, Katz was invited to design her own color and hardware combination earlier this year. “I try not to repeat the colors in my collection, so I can wear them with different clothes. I didn’t have a bag that was sort of light in color and a neutral, so I picked gray,” she explains. She stores her collection standing up, stuffed with plastic, and in their slipper bags. Katz carries no other brand of handbag and considers each purse to be a piece of art. She appreciates the craftsmanship that goes into an Hermès and the fact that the French fashion house will repair worn bags. So what’s the Hermès Queen’s most beloved bag? “My orange shiny crocodile Birkin with gold hardware. The orange color epitomizes Hermès. Nothing is more exciting than unwrapping Hermès’ signature orange gift boxes! Plus, orange is just such a happy color!”
James Galanis Clothing
Womenswear, specifically original pieces designed by the late American fashion designer James Galanos, might seem like an odd thing for a young gentleman to collect, but for Nash it makes sense. The dapper journalist is an enthusiast for the finer things in life and has a keen grasp on how the past shapes the present. He was also personal friends with Galanos. “I understood his importance in terms of American fashion and his use of beading and lace work. It was all on par with the French couture houses,” Nash says. He started collecting pieces seven years ago and has amassed two dozen looks from the late 1950s to the mid-1990s. Nash is after quality, not quantity. He doesn’t want a bunch of random skirts, he wants the bespoke gowns that Galanos made specifically for a Harper’s Bazaar cover shoot in 1963. “They’re very important in that they are the only two that are known to exist, meaning they were probably samples.” Collecting has made him a fashion connoisseur and he often spots when pieces are mislabeled by date or designer. Nash is also incredibly smart. When asked what he’s dying to get his hands on, he replies, “There are always pieces that I’m on the lookout for and the problem is that there are so many people interested right now in vintage that it becomes harder and harder. So the pieces that I’m really interested in, I’ll never talk about.”
Makras is one of San Francisco’s most acclaimed hostesses. Eight years ago, she grew tired of putting down her champagne glass—to greet a guest, hang a coat or offer a passed appetizer—only to realize she couldn’t remember where she had placed her flute. Thus began her champagne flute collection, which now totals more than 250 glasses. “I only like one glass and it has to be special,” she says. Now whenever Makras throws a party, each guest gets their own unique flute ensuring that no one misplaces their bubbly during the evening. “I have fun ones, I have classy ones. If it’s a girls’ fun night I do the funky ones, and if it’s classy then I, of course, use Baccarat.” One of her favorite flutes? An Empire State Building glass that was given to her by former Mayor Art Agnos.