This week marks the start of the super-busy season for proprietors of L.A.’s vintage couture shops.
The whirlwind of Emmy-related events leading up to Sunday’s big show means dress-up time for many in the TV biz.
The appeal of vintage duds is not just in the potential cost savings — rare pieces from in-demand designers can run into five figures, easily — but also because it’s an insurance policy. No nominee wants to wind up on the red carpet to find that a starlet three doors down is wearing the same contempo frock.
Purveyors of vintage wear scour the world, particularly the closets of well-heeled Westside matrons, for gems from the vaults of Halston, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino, Pucci and their ilk. Among the shops that will do brisk business from now until the Oscars in February are Decades, on Melrose Avenue, Beverly Hills’ Paper Bag Princess and Lily et Cie, and The Way We Wore on South La Brea Avenue.
Elizabeth Mason has been the queen of the Paper Bag Princess for 16 years. She also has her own line of Elizabeth Mason Couture designs inspired by all the classics she’s handled over the years. Having her own line helps get around the problem of limited availability and sizing options.
Mason has dressed many a star for red carpet duty, but she also works closely with execs, producers, tenpercenters and spouses of showbiz players who many only need a knockout outfit once or twice a year. Price ranges at the Paper Bag Princess typically range from $500 to $5,000.
Mason’s services extend beyond the fitting room to what she calls her “Educating Rita” routine.
“We go over how you should sit in the gown, how you get out of the limo, how you should best pose for pictures,” Mason says. “It may sound silly, but it’s the business we’re in.”