The Way We Wore is a vintage Mecca in Los Angeles. I had the great privilege of spending a very inspiring morning exploring the store and design resource archive and catching up with the fabulous owner Doris Raymond.
Doris is a fashion expert and has been selling vintage pieces since the 1970’s. Surviving the economic recession her passion, knowledge, energy and dedication continues to pay off. Chatting with Doris was so incredibly inspiring, we sat inside her vintage lovers paradise and talked about life, vintage, fashion and travel.
IN THE BEGINNING: Back in the 1970’s Doris travelled frequently throughout America picking up clothing and textiles for personal use. Down sizing home meant departing with some of her treasures, selling them at a local Flea Market in San Francisco. The success of this first sale sparked off an idea. An idea that would eventually grow into the thriving haven we now know as ‘The Way We Wore’. The Way We Wore first opened its doors in 1981. Doris Raymond is often referred to as the ‘fairy Godmother of fashion inspiration’ It was extremely inspiring to hear how such a well-established, reputable clothing business’ came to be. Hearing Doris speak about the business was very encouraging, how with a great idea, tons of hard work, determination, long hours, energy and undying passion you really can build a fabulous empire!
THE STORE: Divided by decade for ultimate shopping ease the range spans from Edwardian all the way to the 1980’s. The mezzanine area is devoted to ‘special’ pieces from couture to 1920’s heavily embellished, pristine flapper dresses. Dotted around the store are choice accessories including bags, hats, shoes and jewelry. Each piece is carefully selected by Doris, cleaned, restored and sold in the most exquisite condition. The level of care and quality of each piece was outstanding. Prices range from a couple of hundred dollars upward, the prices are reasonable taking into consideration the scrupulous level of sourcing, consideration and meticulous attention to detail used to get each garment to the rails.
THE RANGE: Doris travels throughout the U.S.A to Vintage sales buying from specialist dealers and private estate sales. Originally travelling the globe on international buying trips to source stock Doris now finds she can source comparable stock in the U.S.A alone. Buying within the U.S.A means avoiding the exhaustion and financial expenditure of frequent long haul flights, hefty custom taxes and time away from the store. Buying from specialist dealers and private estate sales means the stock is still varied and rare maintaining a selection of European designer labels and real American vintage from Dior to Ceil Chapman.
DESIGN RESOURCE: Situated next door to the store is an Aladdin’s cave of inspiration, available to trade by private appointment only. My head is still reeling from the wealth of inspiration! The design resource library is from Doris’ private collection of textiles, prints, embroidery swatches, jacquards, embellishments and over half a million vintage pieces from the 17th to 20th century including a whole row of ethnic finds. Throughout the years her inventory has been exhibited in numerous International Museums with a Poiret recently exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. Many prominent fashion designers have sought inspiration from the archive such as Alexander McQueen, Jimmy Choo, Oscar de la Renta, John Galliano, Maison Martin Margiela, Giorgio Armani, Thakoon and Ralph Lauren. Which is no surprise having witnessed the extent of the archive my head nearly exploded, I could have spent months in there just marveling and gasping at each piece.
How the design resource works: Designers contact Doris regarding a certain ‘look’ or ‘mood’ they are working on for their collection, for example ‘1920’s Deco’. Doris will personally select the relevant items from fabric, embellishment and embroidery swatches to whole garments that could be of relevant inspiration to the designer. The selected items are then purchased and used to inspire new designs. The same service is also offered by industry appointment in New York City. ‘I created the library to specially assist designers in saving time and money while providing them with the best possible resources, under one roof’ explains Doris.
FEATURED: Select pieces from The Way We Wore are featured regularly in high-end fashion publications from Vogue, Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazar to The New York Times. Only select publications are privileged enough to borrow pieces from the range Doris explained. Whilst I was in the store the girls were busy preparing a rail of garments for Kate Moss to wear. Doris has a number of Celebrity Clients who appreciate the importance of a show-stopping frock, a couple of of her well-known clients include Barbara Streisland, Christina Aquilera, Angelina Jolie, Victoria Beckham, Demi Moore, Drew Barrymore, Gwen Stefani, Kylie Minogue, Madonna, Lady Gaga, the bedazzling list goes on, phew!
Doris’ impressive collection has been rented and bought for lead roles in various major motion pictures and television productions including The Bettie Page movie, W.E starring Madonna, Boardwalk Empire, Addams Family Values, Almost Famous, Batman, O’ Brother Where Art Thou, The Wonder Years, Hairspray to name but a few.
Special thank you to Doris for taking the time out to chat and share her wonderful, awe-inspiring collection of treasures with me. What a dream!
If you’re in L.A you simply must visit:
The Way We Wore– 334 S. La Brea Avenue (Between 3rd & 4th Streets) Los Angeles, CA 90036. Monday – Saturday 11:00 – 7:00 Sunday 12:00 – 6:00