The Standard, West Hollywood’s store is decked with vintage. Currently on display is an exquisitely cut midnight black oversized blazer slathered in sequins by Gianni Versace from the mid-’90s. Other goodies include a body-hugging “Mon Coeur Est A Papa” firetruck red Azzedine Alaïa dress from Spring 1992 that is so clingy it could turn any wearer into a supermodel. And for those noughties lovers? There is a denim John Galliano-era Dior saddle bag, complete with its signature “CD” metal hardware dangling from the sturdy leather handle. The rare pieces are courtesy of the collection from revered vintage dealer Cameron Silver of the Los Angeles-based store Decades who has set up a gallery-worthy curation of vintage for The Standard Los Angeles in celebration of the hotel’s 20th anniversary. Showing the Decades collection at The Standard is the quintessential marriage of two flocked-to Los Angeles spaces. Silver, a California-native, has a long history with The Standard. “I was going to the The Standard when it opened! I have lots of happy memories of being at parties at The Standard,” says Silver over the phone. “It was just a very natural collaboration.”
Silver’s curation of all-things archive for The Standard is just a sliver in the vintage mogul’s resume. (He also currently serves as the Fashion Director of Halston and H by Halston. Many pieces of his collection are literally museum-worthy, too: One of his purchases, a Tom Ford-era Gucci thong, was in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s exhibition “The Reigning Man.”) Decades itself is a landmark in the world of vintage; a business that he initially started by what he says is an “accident.” Silver originally had set his sights on acting, and graduated from the University of California with a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater. “I was supposed to be a great actor, but I wasn’t!” Silver jokes. Eventually, he segued into singing, and toured the country. It was while he was on the road that Silver began shopping for vintage clothes for himself and realized he had a knack for discovering treasures. “I became a pretty good singer and was performing around the country and I started searching looking for men’s clothing. I was finding stuff because not a lot of people were looking for it. Originally, my intention was to find men’s stuff that I could collect but I found women’s.” says Silver. “At that time, I was singing songs from mostly the ’20s, ’30s, and ’40s. I was recycling old songs and I eventually started recycling old clothes. I was finding stuff because not a lot of people were looking for it.” And in 1997, Decades was born.
"It was socially unacceptable to wear vintage clothing." - Cameron Silver
Silver founded Decades during a challenging moment in the vintage industry. Unlike today, in which e-commerce sites like TheRealReal and Vestiaire and celebrities such as Kim Kardashian West have made archival fashion a sought-after wardrobe addition, the late ’90s were the height of minimalism, and according to Silver, wearing vintage was unheard of. “It was socially unacceptable to wear vintage clothing. It was very anti-glamour because it was the height of minimalism, so the idea of wearing something exuberant was very dismissed. It [vintage] was really in its infancy.” And yet, despite a difficult environment, Silver made his business work, a success that he credits to maintaining a long-standing philosophy of seeking “vintage that looks modern.”
But Silver’s mercurial rise in popularity occurred when the celebrity stylist circuit began to gravitate towards Decades. The business's first big break was Nicole Kidman during her press tour for the film Moulin Rouge (2001). “For Nicole Kidman and Moulin Rouge, the clothes for all of her lead-up press and red carpets were from Decades,” says Silver. “She had just split with Tom Cruise and she was on the brink of independent movie stardom. She was working with the late, amazing L’Wren Scott and it was fun because L’Wren had a real appreciation for fashion history. Plus, Nicole just can wear anything.”
Perhaps one of the most fascinating components of Decades are the clothes that Silver discovers. During the business’s infancy, one of his greatest discoveries were three ’50s Dior dresses that he had found in Seattle. Another standout unearthing? Silver recalls several years ago when he received a call to look at the closet of a woman who had recently passed away and had been friends with Yves Saint Laurent. While going through the closet, he discovered a historically game-changing jacket: A Christian Dior alligator mink jacket from around 1959/1960. “It was on a wire hanger!” says Silver. “It was the first time that streetwear had been shown on a runway. It was controversial. It probably did not solidify Yves Saint Laurent’s future at Christian Dior.”
Currently, those living and visiting Los Angeles can experience the vintage of Decades for themselves. Silver considers the meeting of the two Los Angeles spots to be an exciting partnership. “It is a nice opportunity to have a little disruption and engagement with clients. It is a nice little retrospective of things you can buy at The Standard,” he says. “It’s always important to remind locals to come to the hotel. It is a pivotal part of the longevity of a property. I’m glad that it’s a nice collaboration between two local businesses that I hope will attract locals and tourists to The Standard and Decades.” In other words, run don’t walk—and maybe even fly!—to The Standard, West Hollywood to get your hands on some one-of-a-kind vintage.