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Fall Fashion Issue | Metropolis

From Rags to Riches

Yesterday's Boho Hippie Wouldn't Know Today's Haute Vintage

August 15, 2004|VICTORIA NAMKUNG

What could be more chic for 2004 than a Dior dress straight off the runway? Try a silk taffeta Dior designed by Yves Saint Laurent, circa 1959. The term "vintage" once summoned images of rummaging through secondhand stores that smelled of patchouli oil. Today's iteration of vintage is highly collectible, with sky-high price tags to match. San Francisco transplant Doris Raymond owns The Way We Wore on La Brea Avenue near 3rd Street, a treasure trove of mint condition 1940s silk floral-print dresses, pinup-era bathing suits and Elsa Schiaparelli hats. In the store, her 100,000-piece cache of textiles, apparel, jewelry and footwear gets edited down to a thoughtful group of exclusive confections from Chanel, Pauline Trigere, Loris Azzaro and Pierre Cardin. Not to mention that Saint Laurent Dior. We took stock with Raymond, whose retail pieces range from $20 blouses to $100,000 couture frocks.

What is the old-school vintage stereotype and how has it shifted?

It was hippies who wanted to wear funky ethnic clothes. It was about old clothing, and it was a time-warp look. What's happened is that vintage has been propelled into the high-fashion genre in the last 10 years through high-fashion magazines and reading about who's wearing what. There's EBay, where people are realizing that their mom's clothes have value, and shows like "Antiques Roadshow" talking about the real stars, such as Fortuny and Chanel.

Why does vintage work so well in Los Angeles?

It's partly style, spirit, temperature and body consciousness. People aren't afraid to be individuals.

Which designers and pieces are most in demand right now?

Everybody looks for Pucci, but as much as I love it I'm not willing to pay those prices. I won't buy Hermes, Birkin or Kelly bags because I'd rather put $5,000 into something else. Beyond that I'm seeing floral chiffons from the '20s and '30s blow out the door. Circle skirts that emulate Etro and Prada are very popular now, as are cardigans and designer shoes from Yves Saint Laurent.

Level with us here: Is there such a thing as '90s vintage?

Unfortunately, yes. To me, vintage means of an era or a period. When you look at the '80s, it's heavy shoulder pads and that "Dynasty" look. I stay away from the '90s, but I would buy pieces from Comme des Garcons or Vivienne Westwood.

What will be the vintage of 2000 to 2004?

That's a frightening thought, but it would always be any of the top designers such as Gucci, John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Gaultier. I can appreciate what Donatella Versace is doing, but it's just not my taste. I much prefer Gianni Versace as an artist. Dolce & Gabanna I can appreciate, but it's not my cup of tea.

Do you credit any one person for the surge in designer vintage?

Winona Ryder, because she has such an incredible sense of style. She came from a commune Northern California background and channeled her hippie style into elegance at such a young age.

How would a novice start wearing vintage?

You can wear labels and mix in vintage pieces, whether it's a pair of eyeglasses or a great scarf. That's the clientele that I go for. We all don't have the money to buy next season's star pieces.

Has anything surprised you?

I swore that when polyester came to be considered vintage I would leave the business. Obviously, I didn't follow my word, and I'm blessed. The '70s have been a boom recently.

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