Cameron Silver, owner of Decades boutiques in Los Angeles and London and the Founder and Creative Director of Decades Denim is no stranger to the red carpet. In 1997, on Melrose Avenue in the heart of Beverly Hills, Cameron opened the doors to his vintage salon, Decades. Telling his fashion-forward clients to “dress up,” the streets and red carpets of Los Angeles changed forever. His signature look blends the stories of vintage and contemporary, creating looks that aren’t just in-fashion right now; they evoke a sense of timeless style, channeling the likes of Coco Chanel and Marilyn Monroe. Cameron’s approach to fashion led him to be named one of Time’s “25 Most Influential Names and Faces in Fashion.” He’s also a regular on E!, the Style Network, and “Fashion File,” dishing out his expert fashion advice.
Bravo has also recently announced a new docu-series to their lineup, set to premiere in January 2013, following the day to day work of Cameron and his Decades business partner, Christos Garkinos. Ladies, set your DVR’s, get the popcorn and start planning your girls’ TV nights!
Tiffany & Co. in Bellevue Square graciously hosted a book signing for Cameron’s new coffee table book, Decades: A Century of Fashion. As one of only two Tiffany’s stores in the U.S. chosen to host this exclusive event, attendees in the Seattle area were in for a treat. With various wines and appetizers being served, and the stunning Tiffany & Co. jewelry providing an elegant backdrop, Cameron mingled with the crowd posing for photo opportunities and chatting with excited guests. Some of the attendees who were lucky enough to meet with Cameron one on one during the book signing also found themselves enchanted by the jewelry surrounding them and purchased a few items for the holidays!
Marissa Spaid and I had the opportunity to meet and interview the fashion icon at the book signing event. From the beginning, we knew this was going to be one unforgettable experience.
The book is beautiful in design, with ornate and colorful photos from early 1900’s fashion to the end of the 20th century and beyond. Anna Held, a Polish actress and muse for Florenz Ziegfeld, ignites the first few pages in with her exquisitely adorned dress, almost resembling a flower rising from a garden. The chapter on the 1950’s brings the simply stated elegance of Grace Kelly and hot-as-can-be Bettie Page to literary life. Decades leaves the observer with a climatic finish, displaying the bright and bold colors worn by the likes of Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington and Helena Christensen and finally closing with the pure art of vintage couture.
The doors to the interview room open wide and Cameron greeted us with, “I am the Wizard of Oz.” With his distinguished silver hair and gorgeous peacock colored fitted jacket, he certainly looked the part. However, Cameron put us both at ease right away with his friendly and approachable manner and his immense sense of humor.
Q: What are your thoughts on Pacific Northwest fashion?
A: You guys have a definitive place in fashion history. When I was getting ready to go into this business, I found a lot of really good stuff in Seattle. In Seattle and Oregon, there is a lot of extraordinary wealth and old money out here. When I go to vintage clothing shows, like Louis Vuitton, there are always people there from the Pacific Northwest, they are huge customers. The more interesting fashion is outside of metropolitan cities. In L.A. and New York, they want everything for free, everyone else between the two doesn’t mind buying stuff.
Q: Can you tell us about Decades and Decades Denim and what you will be doing next year?
A: Decades Denim has done a capsule collection, which is finished. We did capsule shoe collections, capsule jewelry – costume jewelry, not fine jewelry. In the next year our big projects for Decades as a brand as well as for Cameron Silver, you know we’ve got this show coming out on Bravo, so we’ve actually had this huge branding meeting. But there are some cool things happening. For Decades, although we are purveyors of pre-loved luxury, we mean something to some people, we are a brand that tends to brand. It’s just figuring it out, working with the right people to develop a Decades brand. I want to develop a Cameron Silver brand. I want to retire.
Q: What do you think of shows like The Rachel Zoe Project or Project Runway?
A: Rachel is a really dear friend and we are on the same network. I think she is awesome. What I love about what Rachel has done on that show is that she is very authentic. She is a nice person and the hardest working woman on earth, and I think you see that on the show. It’s hard for me to watch the show because I know Rachel. Project Runway shows just don’t work for me. I don’t think making a dress from lettuce has anything to do with being a designer. I’ve been around enough designers on the 11th hour preparing for a fashion show and there is enough natural drama and breakdown happening that you don’t need those kinds of challenges. I like info-tainment. If our show is successful, it’s totally entertaining, but you’ll learn about fashion, you’ll learn about being a small business, you’ll learn about celebrity styling. There are celebrities and fashion designers on the show, there is collaboration for creating looks and my involvement in charity is a part of the show. I grew up with parents who were very philanthropic and I continue to do my share of gratuitous labor because it’s the responsible thing to do, you see a lot of it on the show.
Q: When looking in your closet, at what point is it time to revive something or to throw it in a time capsule?
A: For me, I just did a little edit of my closet. I kind of keep everything; the things I get rid of are generic. If it’s something that may have been of the moment of that season, but it’s a quality, distinctive piece, I hold onto it and it’ll come back. I’m old enough now as to where I regret giving clothes away 25 years ago. Your good stuff, you hold on to. We live in a world of disposable fashion, I understand people get rid of that stuff more quickly, but I’m more about buying quality over quantity. Don’t get caught up in the trends. You both kind of look classic and chic, you guys aren’t in anything that looks tired. My whole thing is, if it’s in fashion, it’s already old, I write about that in my book. If you buy good stuff, you hold onto it. Everything comes back. You just need to have a big closet.
Q: Are there some basic pieces that we should have?
A. Every woman needs a skirt suit if she’s going to meet the Pope. A pants suit – you know, it’s like the Bianca Jagger pants suit, the YSL tux, the Chanel suit. You need the perfect little black dress that goes day to evening, eccentric accessories, because as I always say, a chic woman makes a black dress not look black with the way she accessorizes. Evening wear – I am always amazed when women don’t have a gown. If you are a single woman, and you want to meet a man or a woman or some partner, if you get an 11th hour invitation, you need to have a dress! And, nobody has clutches! It blows me away, you are 40 years old and you don’t own an evening clutch? No, you can’t do a cross-over bag. Another thing – have a party coat. A party coat with skinny jeans and a cashmere sweater is that kind of festive stuff. My mantra is less traditional, but little black dress – yes, evening gown – yes, tux – yes, suit – yes, and have tons of beautiful blouses in great jewel tones and lot’s of jewelry.
Q: Christmas and New Years are coming up quickly. What should a woman wear to holiday parties and other holiday events?
A. I just did a blog for TOPSHOP, which I talk about red dresses. Red has made such a comeback, not only in fashion, but on the red carpet. I always buy red dresses and for ten years, nobody wore red on the red carpet. Then all of a sudden, the Oscars came and everyone was wearing red! TOPSHOP just did this special red dress with Kate Bosworth, that’s really based on the Fabulous Baker Boys’ Michelle Pfeiffer. Wear a red dress. You’ll have to read my blog post. Red is one of those colors that look good on alabaster skin and dark skin. It’s a very flattering color. Dress festive, I mean, why not? Don’t be Debbie Downer for Christmas and New Years. It might be the end of the world, so all I have to say is party on. This is a good moment to get that red dress.
Q: What is your theory on accessories? When is it too much?
A. Didn’t Coco Chanel say before you leave, take one thing off? I think that’s a good saying. You know with vintage, that’s your conversation piece, and you don’t want to have too many conversation pieces, whether your vintage or modern. I have to remind myself that because I’m wearing a brocade jacket and I can’t wear red shoes, because what are we focused on? So pick out what your focal point is and then take it from there. At the same time, I love someone who piles it on and looks like they’ve got the kitchen sink too. It depends on who you are, if you’re eccentric, you can do it. If you’re not an authentic eccentric, don’t try to dress like one because it will look really bad.
Q: When the Oscars and awards season comes around, everyone ends up being dressed the same, with all red, the one shoulder, the feathers. How does that end up happening all the time?
A. Everyone wants the same thing. In January, we have the couture shows, in February you have ready-to-wear shows, so there will be a certain amount of dresses that every stylist wants for their client. If they can’t get that dress, then they will look for something similar. It’s weird how that happens, but it kind of gets obvious at shows when you realize that is going to be the most influential look. So that’s what I think happens, if we can’t get that Givenchy couture dress, Monique Lhuillier has done something similar. A lot of this happens even earlier because people are going to the fabric shows like Premiere Vision, so the fabric vendors are creating trends. Then you have Pantone creating the color tones, so all of this is happening in advance of the shows. I always say that the people who really dictate the trends, they’re the dead ones. They’re the ones whose closets that we as designers come and get inspired by. There are a couple of amazing collections coming our way. A woman who died in August at age 90 was a friend of Yves St. Laurent and Coco Chanel – Coco Chanel fit her into her Chanel suits in the 1960’s. We will be announcing the collection soon. I explained to her son, “Your mom’s clothes and her taste, it’s really going to be influential again.” Some of the pieces are very historic, she had one of the most important mid-century pieces of fashion, the YSL for Dior crocodile motorcycle jacket – it kind of changed the world. That’s how moments kind of happen. Someone who was a great fashionista, it trickles down to the stores, the designers come in, the celebrities start wearing this designer on the red carpet and it influences everyone else. There is always a goddess moment, a one-shoulder moment, there’s always the white dress moment. The thing I’d love to see someone do, I want to see someone in a real simple, black, strapless dress with the most killer collar, like a major $2 million piece. We haven’t seen someone do that in a long time. Everyone does the chandelier earrings, but give me a big, epic, insane necklace and a strapless dress….so chic.
You can purchase your own copy of Decades: A Century of Fashion here.