This campaign is just a taste of what the Little Red Village initative is all about!
Over the next year we'll also be rolling out longer format interviews that do a deeper dive into the lives of all the amazing folks who make fashion work.
Those longer interviews will make their way to our YouTube channel so STAY TUNED!
#ICanDoThat 1 Transcript : CAMERON SILVER, King of Vintage Fashion
The video of this interview can be found here!
Recorded: April 21, 2021
Posted: April 22, 2021 (Earth Day)
Rachel Elspeth (RE)
Cameron Silver (CS)
Jonathan Joseph (JJ)
RE: Hey everyone this is Rachel Elspeth I’ve got Jonathan Joseph here with me and Cameron Silver. We’re here for our inaugural episode of #ICanDoThat, with our Fantastic guest Cameron Silver.
So, Hi Cameron, thank you so much for being able to join us today, we’re so excited to have you here.
CS: Well Rachel, I’m happy to be here, and thank you both for having me.
RE: We’re so excited.
What we’re really trying to do here is give kids information on what it takes to have a career in the various facets of the fashion industry. We wanna give kids some exposure to what things look like from the inside. So, I thought we could start with you telling us what it is you do with your work. I know you do a lot of things, but maybe , just like, an overview.
CS: Um… My main job is being the owner of a store called Decades in Los Angeles,, which is a high-end vintage, and neo-vintage, and designer release boutique which has existed since 1997. That’s my baby. In addition to that, I’ve worked as a fashion director for many brands, a creative consultant for a slew of brands, and right now we’re launching a new program for Decades, which is to bring the concept of Decades to different resort locations. So, I will be launching it on May 1, in Kona Hawaii.
RE: Ooh, not a terrible place!
CS: No, and I’ll be there for a month.
JJ: Not at all, that’s exciting.
RE: So how did you get started? What was your educational background like?
CS: Well, I didn’t really have a fashion background other than having parents who enjoyed shopping, or watching Elsa Klensch on CNN on Saturday mornings. My bachelors, I went to UCLA my bachelor’s is in theater, for which there was a costume design requirement , and I excelled at costume design, I was really good. I was not as good an actor. So it was nice to learn some technical things about fashion. And I certainly grew up reading fashion magazines, it was sort of that dawn of fashion television was happening, so whether it was Judy Becker or Elsa Klensch, or Tim Blanks, I was watching a lot and learning a lot. And I worked retail, in high school and college, which probably was the most beneficial.
RE: Actually being around the clothes and seeing different body types, and how things fit, how things work, that makes a lot of sense.
So, you studied italian too right, there's some language?
CS: I did study Italian in college and after college I studied German, my German is horrible. I studied French in Grammar School and High School. I speak Fashion French and Fashion Italian, enough to be charming.
RE: No, way better than my own, I know that for a fact.
So, how did you end up getting your store, how did that end up happening?
CS: That was truly a fortuitous accident. When I got out of college, I was really singing, I was a-
RE: You have an album-
CS: Yes, I have an album, I trained as a classical singer, and I was specializing in German Cabaret from the 20s and 30s, I was touring around the country and in between gigs I was thrifting, looking for mens clothes for myself. And this is the mid 90s, vintage is not really popular the way it is today, it wasn’t really socially acceptable, and I was finding a lot of women’s clothing. I kept just, sending stuff to my parents' living room, enough that, rather than a star being born, a store was born in 1997. And it was fortuitous timing because it was just when Hollywood was returning to glam, and a red carpet system, and celebrity dressing. Vintage was a really good vehicle for some of the new stars, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lopez, or Gwyneth Paltrow, Renee Zellweger, to start bringing some glamour back onto the red carpet.
RE: I’m sure it's amazing.
Would you talk to us a little bit about the process of styling somebody with a big name like that?
CS: YES. It's a lot different now than it was then. I mean, it was not unusual for any star to come in on their own, without a stylist. As stylists became more involved, it became a slightly more arduous process. It was more difficult to get the celeb to come in person to the store, or things are sent on approval constantly, and you're dealing with; does a celeb want to pay money for a dress that’s vintage? Or does she want to wear the free dress that’s designer, and a possible pay-out? Because there’s a little bit of pay-ola that happens in red carpet dressing and there are arrangements with many actresses and actors, where they can only wear certain designers because of endorsement deals. So it’s not as fun as it was.
There’s a wonderful exhibition that just opened at the Denver Art Museum, of Gregory and Veronique Peck. And you see how… Veronique Peck, such a chic Parisian, married to such a debonair actor, and she bought her clothes from Yves Saint Laurent couture, or Givenchy, she did her own hair and makeup, and quite frankly, I think she looked chic-er than any contemporary equivalent. So, that’s when people were icons, and I’m hoping we’ll return to a slightly less calculated, or studied form of expression on the red carpet.
RE: Yeah, that would be really nice.
I think I read that you do some for films, that you’ll provide period costumes, or studios can rent pieces from you when they’re making a movie?
CS: Yeah, certainly we have a healthy business with TV and film, and we’ve actually been very thankful for any of that business during this pandemic, so, it’s something that we would call studio services.
Ugh, see,I’m getting the beeping sound, I don’t know how to turn it off.
RE: No, it's fine.
JJ: It’s fine we’ll barrel through.
CS: I’m just human. So… that's been a nice thing.
And I’ve continued to do some styling, for private individuals, which I find the most rewarding. I like to deal with the owners, not the loaners? Just before this call I was meeting with a client I met in LA a week-and-a-half ago, we’re working on her wardrobe, that can be really fun, when it's somebody who… they don’t even have to be wealthy, the have the desire to use fashion as a form or expression, and they want a little bit of a third eye, and that's where I am very eager to help.
RE: It sounds like curating, like putting together a full picture.
CS: A little bit. Well, I’m curating my own outfits right now, I’m going to Texas tomorrow, for the invitational. I just mapped out what all the events are, and then I matched out what I’m going to wear.
RE: That sounds like an easy way to pack.
CS: I could play the rodeo clown, but that's ok.
JJ: It’s a look!
I have a question actually, I know Rachel’s driving the bus for the most part, your comments Cameron, they make me think of this turn of sartorial consciousness on the part of people on the red carpet is really, i think it really, it speaks to a larger issue, many people think of fashion, these days as an affectation, I think the development of personal style is so important. You know, fashion is for everyone, but style is something that takes time, it takes cultivation, it takes nurturing… What advice would you give to a parent of a kid who's got that early eye, they have that bug early, in terms of immersing them, giving them access, because you do have to touch it, you do have to engage with it, and if you were speaking to a parent, of a kid who they think, this kid’s definitely got an eye, what's the best way to hone those skills, and hone that eye.
CS: I think my parents recognized when I was a child, that I loved fashion, and they were very enthusiastic about me expressing myself through clothes. And I remember a client I had in the store, probably 15 years ago, who had a teenage daughter, who loved clothes. Ander whole thing was like, I’d rather buy my daughter a vintage Courrèges dress that will appreciate in value than a lot of, kind of, cheaper, junkier clothes. Of course, she ended up becoming totally goth, this young woman, I don't know how much she loves her Courrèges now, I’m sure she’s returned to appreciating it. But I’d say, for a parent who has a child who is interested in fashion, bring them to the museums, provide the books, look at the movies. My fashion education was really on-the-job. I was not a fashion historian; I had good taste. But I really read every biography of a fashion designer, every sort of, I collected all of those vintage fashion magazines. So Much so that I was able to write a book on the history of fashion, on the 20th century, and that's not a bad thing, I’m not trying to plug my book.
JJ: We love books, that's what we’re all about!
CS: Oh yeah, here, I’m gonna grab a copy of it right now! Right as we speak!
JJ: Do it, do it!
RE: Mine’s over there I should have grabbed it.
CS: This is so bad that I wasn’t plugging it! Wooo! ‘Decades: A Century Of Fashion.’ I would suggest a general book to give somebody the knowledge of fashion, loving and knowing current styles, that's one thing, but knowing and understanding the inspiration, where things come from, and the historic significance of fashion as a barometer of the times we’ve lived and loved is really important. It's probably one of the most affordable and expeditious ways to whet a child’s appetite for fashion.
JJ: I couldn’t agree more. That’s something that's so central to what we’re doing here at little Red Fashion, providing that context in new ways. I think part of that initial issue you spoke to, in terms of cultivating a fashion sensibility is all about providing context. I think that so many people who are fans of fashion don’t necessarily go backwards in time unless their fashion nerds…
CS: Uh huh.
JJ: ..to discover the hermeneutics of fashion, to discover where things come from and how to contextually place them within history and I think that’s essential. And I think making fashion history more accessible is at the heart of everything we’re doing, it’s definitely at the heart of everything you do at Decades, and in your work.
CS: Well, thank you, it's really at the heart of civilization: understand the past to understand the present and hopefully make a better future.
I would also add, as a child I went to a lot of auctions with my parents, to get furniture, so I was around old things. And I would encourage parents who have children interested in fashion to go to estate sales, go to thrift stores, go to vintage stores. I can’t tell you how often a mom will bring a child in, just to see the store. And I’m always receptive. My whole thing with Decades is that we are a laboratory of inspiration, and when young people can come in and see the clothes, I know they’re not going to be buying a $2,000 dress, maybe in 10 years, but I love the notion of sharing, of letting people look and see and understand.
RE: That’s so wonderful. I love that.
So, real quick, before we wrap up, Cameron, could you give one piece of advice to a kid who wants to work in the vintage area of fashion, what would you say to them?
CS: Well, try not to work for somebody too crazy! (laughs)
If you want to work in vintage, start young! I started working in retail when I was.. 15. And there’s no reason why you can’t have an internship, or work at a charity shop. They exist everywhere, so start that. And if anyone is ever interested in becoming retailers or becoming fashion designers? Take improv class. Learn how to public speak. Because it is totally theatre, retail, whether it's digital or in person, it is theatre and seduction, and the more confident you are in public speaking, in conversation, rather than just tapping emojis, the better chance you have for a successful career.
RE: Cameron, thank you so much. We really do appreciate your time, and your willingness to help our community, the next generation of people who will work in fashion.
JJ: Yes, absolutely!
CS: I believe that children are the future!
RE: They really are!
CS: I had to say that!
JJ: You and me both!
RE: No, of course!
JJ: Especially when we’re addressing so many things. You know, we are at a watershed moment in the industry, for so many systemic issues, and challenges, and I think changing it for kids, and through the lens of kids, reconnects so many of us who already love the industry.
CS: Uh huh.
JJ: That shared energy, and to your point about thrifting and tag sales…let me tell you, sometimes you find vintage a Lanvin for $20!
CS: Oh, that's amazing!! I could sell that in Kona, I could sell for $420!
JJ: I know! That’s great, $20, like two days ago!
CS: That’s amazing!
JJ: I’m gonna say it’s from the 70s, that’s my guess, just based on the label.
CS: Yeah. It’s pretty awesome
CS: That’s good, it’ll… but make sure you still get vitamin D, cuz that’s gonna block a lot of sun.
JJ: Oh, yeah, it’s gonna be my outdoor reading hat for the rest of the summer.
CS: Well, enjoy it, it looks very fetching.
JJ: Thank you Cameron, thank you so, so much!
RE: Well everybody, thank you much, it was wonderful to have you with us Cameron, we appreciate your time, and fly safe!
CS: Oh, no, I spelled my name really weird, I just realized!
RE: It’s ok, I thought it was on purpose!!
CS: No, no, not at all (laughs) I’ll talk to you later. Bye!
JJ: Bye Cameron!