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Boutique Beat

Art, History Shape Design

August 30, 1985|JANICE JONES

Geri Perlman has used her knowledge of art, history and the antique business to create Victorian Garden, a Studio City boutique that's a fulfillment of fantasy and a lesson in fashion history. A former student of art and history at UCLA, Perlman had operated an antique store in Sherman Oaks before deciding to specialize in vintage fashion.

She has assembled a collection of dresses, coats, capes, costume jewelry and accessories from the late 1800s through the 1940s.

Hats, fans, gloves, camisoles and parasols of the Victorian Era complement fashions in soft, muted colors and delicate fabrics.

Displayed on the wall like artifacts are the beaded, sequined and hand-painted dresses from the 1920s, the loose-fitting and diaphanous gowns of the '30s and the more tailored designs of the '40s.

The wearer of one of these outfits can be assured of a unusual look because most items predate mass production. Others are Perlman's own transformations, such as a hand-painted Art Deco piano shawl that she re-created as a jacket.

Charlene McKay, a fashion stylist who designs under her own label and is a mainstay of the shop's sales staff, says the clothes are from a different realm of quality and elegance.

"People have simply forgotten what it is to do something splendid with real laces, silks and intricate beadwork," she asserts.

McKay, who has a real talent for accessorizing, can add elegance to a hand-painted 1920s silk chiffon dress ($100 and up) with an emerald-cut crystal Art Nouveau necklace set in sterling ($100). To a beaded 1920s dress ($325 and up), she might add a sequined headpiece ($45) or a handmade beaded choker ($60).

Other finds include silk lingerie, 1920s wedding gowns and veils, velvet capes, coats, 1940s day dresses--even a selection of antique trims and Victorian lace curtains.

Victorian Garden, 12180 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and by appointment, (818) 505-9809.

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