When Cameron Silver left a successful concert career and opened the doors of Decades Inc, the uber glam vintage boutique on Melrose, he did not expect the business to last more than a decade. Now, 12 years later, the store is not only Hollywood’s preferred source of Red Carpet gowns, it is the premier spot for vintage couture for socialites around the world with no sign of slowing down!
At the heart of the business is Silver himself, a dapper and handsome figure with a deep smoothing voice. Discussing vintage couture (especially Hermes) with him is a real treat as he is truly the world’s expert on all things vintage! I recently had the pleasure of speaking with him at length about the world of luxury and his excitement is infectious. I am on my way to Decades Inc. today to meet him and to shop! Those of you in Dallas will also be able to meet Cameron and see his treasures at 4510 this Friday, Nov 30th for a trunk show. Call 4510 for details. 214-559-4510
Our international readers can enjoy browsing the Decades blog, updated daily with must have vintage couture! Check out Decades’ blog here!
Left: Out of production Hermes 404 bag Right: Vintage crocodile Kelly bag
Bag Snob: I read that you were a cabaret singer, why did you turn to fashion?
Cameron Silver: Yes, I had a successful concert career from 92-97 but fashion was always something I loved. Starting Decades was actually a fortuitous accident. During the period of singing and traveling, I started vintage shopping for men and women items (for my mother). The timing was right and I opened Decades Inc, I really thought the business would run for a decade, and thus the name. I had no idea it would be what it is today.
BS: I read in the New Yorker that your mother would bring you polo shirts home from Saks every time she was there, does she still do that? (I had to ask, it’s just such a cute story about you giving your stack of polo shirts away to the housekeeper!)
CS: (Chuckle) No, my mother does not shop for me anymore.
BS: Your favorite childhood memory?
CS: Being on my dad’s shoulders at 3 1/2 years old in Machu Picchu, Peru. My parents took me all over the world and exposed me to diverse cultures from a young age and it had a huge impact on me as I learned to appreciate all cultures, not just our own.
BS: Where did you score the best Hermes stash and from whom?
CS: The best Hermes collection I discovered was 15 bags from a woman in Kansas. I kept most for my personal collection.
BS: Given the chance to raid anyone’s closet, who’s would you choose?
CS: Lynn Wyatt and Nan Kempner
BS: Who are your style icons?
CS: Catherine Deneuve, Audrey Hepburn, any Hitchcock blonde, Beatrice Dahl in Betty Blue, Faye Dunaway in the Eyes of Laura Mars. I am also a great admirer of Baron de Rede- an amazing character of society of the 50′s-70s and a patron of the arts. He was truly an authentic conservative eccentric, which is what I consider myself to be.
BS: Top 5 Favorite vintage bags?
CS: Hermes, especially the out of production 404 bag- not many people have even seen it. It’s a boxy doctor’s bag, very chic. The Hermes Constance, Kelly, Birkin and Pochette. Leiber is another favorite, she is the most important American accessories designer of the 20th century. And of course Chanel, the classic totes, quilted day bags and earlier bags done in jersey – which are nearly impossible to find.
BS: What advice do you have for a novice vintage bag collector? (What to look for, how to store, etc.)
CS: Start with a clutch- the one bag women all don’t have in their closet is a versatile day to evening clutch. It doesn’t have to be big name, just be well made. Keep them stuffed with acid free tissue, keep it in its dust cover, recondition exotics often as leather dries. Like fur, it’s an investment! Particularly Hermes, it retains its value and has incredible longevity. I am anti “it” bags! Classic LV bags are also great. Balenciaga’s motorcycle bag is the first “it” bag from the 21st century to become classic non “it” it bag – store it! Fendi baguettes are very chic, also worthy of keeping in one’s collection.
BS: I completely agree, a beautiful bag is like a nice car, it needs tune up every once in a while!
BS: What is your most exciting vintage couture discovery?
CS: Oh, there have been so many, it’s hard to say… probably a collection of post WWII Couture… from Dior couture (including a peacock blue strapless silk satin that Trudi Styler wore to the Oscars) to an amazing collection of Jean Desses. The most exciting discoveries are not from dealers or auctions. People are aware of the value of items in their closet, their mother or grandmother’s closets and they sell to Decades so access is easier. We are getting better and better pieces all the time.
BS: You have been credited for singlehandedly making vintage couture the standard on the Red Carpet. Do you lend gowns to celebs?
CS: We treat everyone who shops here like a celeb and everyone pays for their clothes.
BS: Favorite vacation spot? How do you unwind from all the traveling, shopping and celeb hob nobbing?
CS: I travel so much for work (I went to Paris 3 times in the last 6 weeks) that my idea of a relaxing vacation is bad television, especially reality TV! But I also love Sarah Silverman, Bill Maher, and I zone out on Entertainment tonight regularly.
BS: So where are your favorite cities for “work” travel?
CS: All over. I find treasures everywhere I go. Contrary to popular belief, great style is not limited to geographical area! From Catherine Deneuve’s apartment in Paris to buying privately from women of a certain era and style in Spokane Washington. Wherever they are, I find them!
BS: You are the Creative consultant for Azzaro and several other luxury brands, any plans to launch your own brand?
CS: There have been discussion about it but nothing set… Decades is known for having a certain style, a brand that does not have a brand and provider of day to evening glamour clothing. If a brand is launched, it would be done under my name.
BS: Describe your morning routine.
CS: Let’s see, I start early each day at 6am. First with my running coach then calisthenics. I am very social but like to be in bed by 10pm. For me, attending parties is part of the job. I do enjoy meeting and seeing friends and clients but it’s exhausting to attend dinner parties every single night! I am a Taurus- a real homebody.
BS: What’s on your night stand?
CS: Ambien, a bottle of water, Nemesis- a book about a Aristotle Onassis, Deluxe- How luxury lost its luster by Dana Thomas.
BS: We are both Hermes addicts, what prompted your obsession?
CS: I bought my first ostrich Hermes agenda when I was very young and sleeping on a friend’s sofa. It cost $500 and everyone thought I was crazy but I had to have it! I also collect Hermes wallets, blankets, sheared mink blanket, travel bags, anything Hermes! Hermes is a lifestyle and beyond a brand. It is also a wise investment to put your money in. If you want to buy the best of anything, buy Hermes. Morabito is another luxury brand I love. They did amazing work in the 20th century with beautiful skins, beautiful hardware, but they can not replicate the Hermes experience.
BS: Music to your life?
CS: Pink martini – 21st century copa cabana music, a Portland band. A classic American song book. And good bad ’80s music.
BS: Your favorite movies?
CS: Dressed to Kill, the first 25 minutes is brilliant and I think Angie Dickinson is an incredible woman- I know her socially. Jean jacque beineix film Diva from 1981, North by Northwest starring Cary Grant- he has the greatest suits.
BS: When did you last cry?
CS: I am not a big crier, but on airplanes anything can make me cry. I guess I feel more vulnerable. Once I was watching the Little Princess on a flight and was sobbing like a baby! I got food poisoning in Paris once and felt so bad for myself I wanted to cry.
BS: When did you last laugh?
CS: During this conversation!