Prerecorded and posted: October 7th, 2021
Rachel Elspeth Gross
Rachel Elspeth Gross 00:00
Hi, everyone, we are here today with another episode of I can do that. And we have with us today on Lauren from Timeless Vixen. And Hi, Lauren.
Lauren Lepire 00:10
Hello, everyone. Excited to be here.
Rachel Elspeth Gross 00:12
Yeah, we're so glad to have you on what you do really falls in line with the things that matter most to us. And I think one of the big conversations we're hearing now about the fashion arena is how sustainable vintage is, and how important it is to you know, build skills to fix things to keep pieces around. So glad you're here to talk to us about all the things you do.
Lauren Lepire 00:32
I love It's truly one of the things is it started from a pure hobby. myself in high school, that's all I wanted to wear was vintag. I didn't understand why anyone bought anything new, I felt there was so much creativity, and character, and so much personality and vintage. So I definitely see why people are aspiring to take from the past or the future.
Rachel Elspeth Gross 00:58
Makes a lot of sense. Um, so I think I was reading and we had talked a little bit ago you'd started like, when you're in college when you started doing this, like back when eBay was brand new. And
Lauren Lepire 01:08
I started in my college dorm room, I was at USC, for theater arts and communications totally thought I wanted to be on the stage musical theater, singing, dancing. And while I was at rehearsals, I was constantly thinking about the clothes. I what I like truly about a lot of theater I grew up in was like the fun outfits. And, you know, the bright imaginations of the costume designers. And it took me actually being in college to understand that's the avenue I wanted to go into. But I didn't want to make things. So when I was in college, there was no Etsy there was no was no really career to do this. There was a thing called eBay. And that's truly where I started. It was like the first marketplace. And through eBay was really where I built a community and understood that I could have this as a career because I found other people that loved it just as much as I did. And I didn't really know that there were people out there.
Rachel Elspeth Gross 02:13
Yeah, just a lot. Yeah.
Jonathan Joseph 02:16
Sorry. Sorry, Rachel.
Rachel Elspeth Gross 02:17
No, you go I get excited in chat.
Jonathan Joseph 02:20
No! I mean, so do I. That's why I love these conversations. That's a big part of what our mission is with these interviews. Little Red Village is just letting parents and educators, grandparents and teachers, everyone know that there are so many career paths within fashion and whatever that means to you, that you may not just know about. And so giving that exposure, giving that insight and being able to have that kid say, Oh, I can do that. And that's fashion. But I also like chemistry, oh dying thing, whatever it might be.
Lauren Lepire 02:48
Whats so interesting about that is, for example, there is no degree and selling vintage clothing. You could be from any walk of life. And you could say I'm a vintage seller. So I think it's just each person really going inside themselves and knowing how much do I want to know about my own craft? And that's a standard I have for myself is I truly feel like there are certain principles you should have to be a vintage seller. And I kind of go by those because there was no school. You know, you kind of Yeah. For books and through mentors.
Rachel Elspeth Gross 03:26
Yeah, well, I one of things I really love about your work is how thoroughly you photograph pieces. I mean, there's so many times if you're trying to figure out something when a designer you're looking into a particular style or era, you get a piece of it, but you are so thorough you get the insides get the backsides and I mean I wish I wish that was gone.
Lauren Lepire 03:46
The garments themselves, it was so much about interior construction back then. Especially with like a lot of the 40s and 50s with a boning and you know you had a whole nother dress inside and I think it's really fun for the newer generation to see that because a lot of times you go into these stores you won't see any inner construction.
Rachel Elspeth Gross 04:08
Yeah. Yeah. But okay, so I one of the things I was reading about your work online is that kind of interesting because you opened by saying, you know, the theater studies when you were in college and now you've worked with some productions, movies, TV theaters, so that's a neat kind of a full circle thing to come back to.
Lauren Lepire 04:26
And that's the reason that I totally feel like I found my dream job because I'm able to ease that actor once upon a time in Hollywood was a huge film that very impressed Yeah, um, one of the exciting pieces in the film was a yellow Ozzy Clark, two piece ensemble worn by Bobby. And for me it's though I'm not Margot Robbie happening. It's it's thrilling and It makes me proud and truly, it, it shows me that there is a need for what I do for a living. Because, for example, you know, Quentin Tarantino, he wanted authentic vintage. So how are these productions going to get pieces that are 50, 60 years old? If there aren't people like us?
Rachel Elspeth Gross 05:21
Absolutely. And it's Yeah, there's an extra kind of a depth to that. I mean, you could throw together something and make it that style, but having it be the real and I know, Ossie Clark, I know is one of your favorites.
Lauren Lepire 05:33
yeah. And I do think especially with film, having an authentic dress, in film, now, you do notice, like, for example, one of the shows I worked on early on Boardwalk Empire, they were very adamant that they truly wanted 1920s beaded sequence, number one, because if you know both, you can see the difference. So you should watch and I would be like, Oh, yeah, that's the 20s dress, you just know. And you get so excited as a viewer. And I think a lot of costume designers hope for that. So they do hope to find authentic pieces. It's just so hard.
Rachel Elspeth Gross 06:16
Yeah, especially old, I can see things would fall apart more and
Lauren Lepire 06:20
Yeah, it's difficult.
Jonathan Joseph 06:24
Absolutely. And the further back you go, the more likely that the extant garment is going to be in a collection rather than accessible in a way to a production.
Lauren Lepire 06:32
Exactly, exactly. And that's why it's so fun. Because what I do though, we also sell to production, we do sell to the collectors and I do understand there are certain pieces that this needs to go to a museum this needs to go to, you know someone that's their holy grail this shouldn't go to a production like cuz you know what will happen in production. So it's kind of like, I become mommy to these garments, like that's put you over here and let's just like, I feel, if I found this and I know what's relevant, it's my responsibility that it goes into the right hands.
Rachel Elspeth Gross 07:07
Yeah, forever home.
Lauren Lepire 07:09
Rachel Elspeth Gross 07:11
Yeah, so it's a neat so when would you have a memory of childhood when you really just like connected with the vintage thing when you first like, please?
Jonathan Joseph 07:24
Yeah, like when you got the bug.
Lauren Lepire 07:25
Okay. Okay, what most exciting stories that I like to tell because a lot of people still don't believe it is. I went to the Rose Bowl flea market when I was seven years old and back then they had $5 piles, and you could just go through and dig, and I found the coolest 50s dress, it was bright blue lace tulle, all the works. I mean heavy. Oh, this is gonna be great on eBay, like my clients and so on. And at the time, my mom would help me and she was zipping me up and she's like, there's a label in here and I was like, How cute. Paramount Pictures.
Jonathan Joseph 08:14
Lauren Lepire 08:15
Who's Vera Ellen mom? And she's like, Okay, let's do our research. I type I go to the computer. I'm like Vera Ellen. White Christmas. One of the sisters Bresson. That was it in a $5 pile at Rose Bowl. So for me I first got excited Of course, but then I got upset because I'm like, I was just in a $5 pile. And it clicked that someone needs to save these pieces. Why are they not in homes. It was a beautiful dress. And luckily it went to a wonderful collector. And for me like that's a piece of American history. We have you know, and clothing lying all over the place and we need to put them in proper homes. So that was kind of a huge click moment for me.
Rachel Elspeth Gross 09:11
It's treasure hunting. It's got to feel like treasure hunting.
Jonathan Joseph 09:14
Oh yea absolutely.
Lauren Lepire 09:15
Another Rose Bowl flea market, as well.
Jonathan Joseph 09:19
I love them.
Lauren Lepire 09:20
Oh we love Rose Bowl.
Jonathan Joseph 09:23
Oh yeah, I can see when our partner Ryan sees this he's gonna laugh because He always gets jealous. Whenever we go I have that just I find things and he's like where did you even see that? How did you even find that?
Lauren Lepire 09:33
Love? I truly feel it's a gift to just be able to spot on the same note a beautiful suit. I found it the Rose Bowl flea market $10 brought it home. I'm like, what's in the skirt? Like what is this? It felt like a pouch, like remove the locking and it had all their jewelry
Rachel Elspeth Gross 10:04
Oh my god
Lauren Lepire 10:06
and I'm thinking Holocaust around there.
Rachel Elspeth Gross 10:10
Exactly what I'm thinking I mean yeah so imigrant culture trying to escape.
Lauren Lepire 10:15
age and for me you know it really took me aback it's you know someone trying to save their precious things any any way they can and it gave me chills that you know it's true like fashion things we do with our clothing it is history it's part of us and that was something that really clicked again from Rose Bowl
Rachel Elspeth Gross 10:35
Jonathan Joseph 10:35
absolutely, i mean fashion holds stories whether they're stories of a nation and a culture stories of a family and an individual's stories about a Little Red Dress it's life's life you know and so to that end I think you know, what was your Was that your earliest fashion memory? or did you have were you drawn to clothing as a small child to? like Was there any sort of connection to clothing?
Lauren Lepire 11:01
clothing as a small child I played with anything I could I was always you know with my mom feels and our lipstick and anything I can grab and even my first in high school being 13 my you know, first dance I wanted to wear a vintage dress so no it was kind of like a part of me early on very very early on it's that bug I always say I think you have it or you don't with vintage you get excited because it's one of a kind and you're the only one and and that's fine and and those people that try to show their personality through fashion I find so beautiful.
Rachel Elspeth Gross 11:45
Yeah, it's an interesting way to stretch we were talking last week or the week before about how if you like clothing and you care about it, you start reading about it you can't help but learn about history you can't help it it's just part of the whole story. It's so neat that you can have these like layers especially when sometimes fashion gets written off or considered you know too silly or frivolous excessive wood it's I mean, I say this a lot. But I don't think you can separate a culture from what it chooses to adorn itself with what it finds beauty to and beautiful can mean so many different things. I think that's one thing Jonathan I really want to kind of push with this since we're talking you know for helping children is that there's not one beautiful and vintage is an exceptional way to kind of see that there's so many eras, so many body types, so many styles, so many, so many, so many.
Lauren Lepire 12:31
Totally thats the thing is you can truly become your own person using vintage like, using elements of different eras not be like, Okay, I have to just be you know, be what the magazine's telling me. No, it's, it's so fun. Like, it brings you happiness, once you realize that you can play it's truly like play I find what I do at work. It's It's so much fun and excitement.
Jonathan Joseph 12:57
Lauren Lepire 12:58
But it's not a job. It's truly not a job.
Jonathan Joseph 13:01
And I think too, that's why helping kids cultivate this sense of creative play is so key. And I think fashion is just such an endless arena where you can take it in whatever direction sort of takes the kids boxes, whatever they might be, if you're got a kid that's equal parts. fashionista, and I want to go play with bugs in the mud. Go to the museum and look at some Egyptian jewelry, maybe it's a good time to go look at the way ultimately leathers, like desert or made to step outside of vintage for a second. But you know, there's just so many untapped gems in the mind. That is that is fashion for ways to engage with kids and teach them about the world around them and their self expression.
Lauren Lepire 13:43
Yeah, and even in just the one field I do there's so many avenues and and even as being a you know, a vintage seller, okay, there are vintage sellers, but do you deal in iconic t shirts? Do you deal in couture? do you do you know, a bohemian chic vibe? Yeah, everyone has their own specific avenues which is which I find so fun. Because if we can become a community, it's like, Okay, I know like she really has a great eye in 50s she does so many new look silhouettes, you know, I know a film or I have a client that's think that these, you know, we can all bring each other together. Because the good thing about vintage no one has the same keys. So I think this level of competition then can kind of be softened, because the clients just gonna want what they want. So our hope is to give it to them and to make them happy. So we can work together, overall dealer, you know.
Jonathan Joseph 14:38
Lauren Lepire 14:39
And, you know, it's almost like your co workers.
Jonathan Joseph 14:42
Yeah, and I also think too for a lot of younger people. Vintage is a great entry point into fashion period that doesn't require you necessarily to go to fashion school that doesn't necessarily require you to have connections to get an internship somewhere. You just need a passion and you know, self driven knowledge of have things and in a permanent, inquisitive nature, you know, and you can get the ball rolling.
Lauren Lepire 15:06
I find, especially as I was saying, because there is no degree you get for being a vintage seller, don't be afraid to ask questions. I find you know, don't feel like you're Don't be embarrassed because you'd rather be right. You know, if you're not sure of an an age of something, you're not sure of the fabric, you know, we're so blessed to have technology now where we can talk to each other. And I think that's one of the things is being a younger seller, you're so intimidated that you're like, well, I don't want to look stupid I you know, I don't I don't know who to ask, you do have a community you know, they're, you know, there's very friendly people who do this that want to help because in the end, it's about the garments, and it's about the fashion and it's about preserving it and making sure that like we said it's in the right hands.
Rachel Elspeth Gross 15:53
Yeah, and I would think to I mean, I know the three of us here anyway, when you love something, you want to talk about it, you want to share, you want to help you want you know, and I do get that, especially maybe if it's intimidating, if you're young and you're starting or you're older, and you're starting or whatever, you don't have the same knowledge base, but everyone has, you know, people in their lives, who knows something, and they love to talk about what they you know what matters most.
Lauren Lepire 16:19
Yeah, and even for me, I love when people come into the store, and they're like, just tell me about the clothes like I just want to learn and I get excited too, because, you know, I do want to share that knowledge, you know, things excite, oh my gosh, I become a kid in a candy store in my own stores. You know, I love them all. I'm like, What era? Let's do it, you know, because it's fun.
Rachel Elspeth Gross 16:41
It sounds like so much fun. So is there a particular piece that you found that's like, Holy Grail, or something that you really just were proud of some kind of?
Lauren Lepire 16:52
I mean, I have found a lot of Holy Grail that I I hold my own personal collections a little crazy. It's like, I have like 2030s, then new luck. And then I have a whole like Ossie Clark, Thea Porter, McQueen. But I would say an exciting piece. I have my own personal collection, is a McQueen cape from his final collection before he passed. Yeah, yeah, I can see that. That piece is dear to me. Because there's something about having something from someone's last collection before they've passed that I find very special because I was so sad when he passed. It wasn't long ago. I remember you know, when it happened. And I was in he was a current designer at the time when I was younger that I was really excited about. So when he passed I thats it as opposed to learning about a designer and knowing that they had passed it kind of, though it happened in my lifetime.
Rachel Elspeth Gross 18:07
Um, so Jonathan, do you have another one before I start pestering my books?
Jonathan Joseph 18:13
No, we can go right into books, actually, because that was gonna be my next point.
Rachel Elspeth Gross 18:18
Yeah so Lauren we're building this reading list. Recommended titles from all people been kind enough to spend some time with us. And really what that means is Jonathan and I are buying a lot of books.
Lauren Lepire 18:30
Thats a great project. I would say, two books I want to put on your list are from my two favorite designers that I love to wear personally. One is Ossie Clark 1965 to 1974 by Judas bot, and it's a beautiful history on Ossie Clark. Um, illustrations are gorgeous, his relationship with Celia birtwell who made all the prints, I'm actually wearing an Aussie Clark right now. It's like a staple for me. I love them. I feel like they love me and make me happy.
Rachel Elspeth Gross 19:08
I read that interview you did about your your Oscar. And I was like drooling over all your stuff.
Lauren Lepire 19:18
I would hope that maybe you know my love for it has brought more people to understand him and enjoy his work because a lot of his silhouettes and styles were off to the party. So it's so fun. I kind of like the crate and those fun silhouettes, but with the durability of 70s. Second book I want to give you guys is God Mother of Bohemian Chic by Thea Porter is such a phenomenal designer that not too many people know about. Her work is incredible. I have maybe 100 pieces of hers in my collection. Another I just love to wear I wish I could show you examples now cause I mean he work is incredible.
Rachel Elspeth Gross 20:15
It's such a cool book.
Lauren Lepire 20:22
Phenomenal book on The Porter. So those are the two I definitely want to give you guys.
Rachel Elspeth Gross 20:25
Jonathan Joseph 20:27
Thank you Yeah,
Rachel Elspeth Gross 20:28
I love that period, the 70s it's like a stream and so loud and so playful and
Lauren Lepire 20:36
and the imagination. No and I and that's what that's truly what I love about fashion is finding something that I haven't seen before. And you know, and the past, wanting to show it again. And I get so excited when people share that passion.
Rachel Elspeth Gross 20:55
Yeah, we this problem. Well, we could talk forever. It's wonderful, though. I mean, um, is there a kind of advice that you got that was particularly good for you something that just stuck with you? Or do you have something that you'd want to say to a kid who was interested?
Lauren Lepire 21:12
I would definitely say, when it comes to my own personal field. Like I said before, ask questions. I think putting yourself out there and being vulnerable, though it scary, it will help you in the end. And also, don't compare yourself to others. Because you do not know what part of the road they're on versus yourself. I get a lot of people that will say to me, why don't I Why can't I find what you find, or you have a store, I feel intimidated. And I tried to tell people, this didn't happen overnight. This is over a decade of love and hard work and determination and being persistent. And I will definitely say, especially with fashion, if you want to be in this business, be persistent. Don't give up knock on as many doors as you want. Be friendly, and you will go a lot of places.
Jonathan Joseph 22:19
I couldn't have said it better myself. It's so true. This business is all about tenacity. And mixed mixed with with kindness is really the key, I find that either over these conversations that we've now had, you know, a lot of them. And just in general in my own career path. Fashion is an industry that is notorious for some of the darker sides of the human condition, and has a reputation for being cut out. Because in many ways, it absolutely is talked to any manufacturer or talk to talk to any retailer. You know, and it can get difficult to go through that and put up with that and maintain your kindness through that process. Especially when you see so many people who maybe aren't always so kind, either perceptively getting ahead to your point about not benchmarking and not comparing and I think teaching kids early on that the comparison that seems like it's part and parcel of being in fashion is actually a myth. It's a mirage. You don't have to do any comparing yourself to be on your own journey.
Lauren Lepire 23:23
Like with Instagram, you know, it's everyone's, you know, highlight reel, and don't get discouraged. So yeah, I love what you said, I totally agree with that.
Rachel Elspeth Gross 23:37
Well, this is so much fun. And literally, we could do it for forever, but we try to keep them to half an hour. So if you don't mind we'll, we'll say bye. And then if you just hold on for a second. Say thank you. Yep.
Jonathan Joseph 23:48
Awesome. Well, thanks so much, everyone for joining us here and another episode I can do that part of Little Red Village here at Little Red Fashion. I am of course joined by my comrade in arms Rachel Elspeth Gross, our in house fashion historian. And today's lovely guest, Lauren vintager extraordinare. We will see you next week. Same time ish. We try to come at 330 but we're a little later today. It's gonna roll with the punches. That's also part of fashion. And if you haven't yet please go to Little Red Fashion.com sign up for our mailing list and go head over to a shop and preorder your copy of the little red dress.
Rachel Elspeth Gross 24:24
Jonathan Joseph 24:25