The other day I had a chat with my friend Cameron Silver, owner of DECADES, the iconic vintage boutique (which he opened in 1997 with business partner Christos Garkinos), American fashion historian, author of “Decades: A Century of Fashion, and star of Bravo’s Dukes of Melrose. Cameron was named Time Magazine’s “25 Most Influential Names and Faces in Fashion” in 2002 and is credited with bringing a glamorous way of dressing to the LA scene, having styled many Hollywood elite in exquisite vintage attire. Fresh off his book tour in Saudi Arabia, we talked on the phone and our funny convo went a little something like this:
Joy Adaézé: How long did it take to complete your latest coffee table book Decades: A Century Of Fashion?
Cameron Silver: From book deal to publication, it was almost a five year project. As the design became more elaborate, it just added time to the process. But of course, I relished every extra second I could get! It was a difficult project because I didn’t want this to look like every other fashion history book and it was much more personal- it was written in first person. It has a very distinctive perspective on fashion. I’m just thrilled that it’s been a big success. Fifteen months later, I’m still hustling around the world doing book signings and lectures. It’s amazing! I had no idea it would be this extraordinary and I love it!
JA: I’m so happy! When I first got my hands on it at the book party (hosted at the home of Ken and Kathryn Chenault, wife of American Express CEO Ken Chenault) last September, I just ran home and looked at it and said “Oh my God!”. Such an incredible body of work.
CS: Thank you! And that was like the chicest party ever!
JA: I know!! How did the book come about? Did you always want to get this out?
Cameron and I at Daily Front Row’s Fashion Media Awards, September 2013
CS: I had no intention of writing a book. My friend, Jean Stein who’s a great writer and most famous for writing Edie Sedgwick’s iconic biography- one evening we were driving and she said, “You need to write a book” and contacted her agent who happens to be one of the best in the business, Bill Clegg. Two weeks later, there’s like a bidding war for the book and I’m taking meetings and all of a sudden I had a book deal with probably one of the great publishers, Bloomsbury.
JA: I love your quote “Glamour doesn’t wear a watch”. Where did that come from?
CS: I don’t think we should look down at people who make an effort to look chic. And I think we, especially for me living in Los Angeles – have a very, very casual lifestyle. I’ve often said it’s almost snobby not to care, because when you’re walking around in your Lululemon’s all day, that is the snobbiest thing on Earth! It’s like saying, “I’m so fabulous, I don’t have to make an effort”. When if you just put on jeans and a beautiful shirt and a nice pair of shoes and a trench coat… I’m not saying you have to wear a ball gown! Truthfully in the 21st century everything is documented and everyone has become a celebrity. The 15 mins of fame that Warhol spoke about has really happened because of social media. There’s glamour all the time in one’s life. And it’s a nice way to live. It’s much more fun to be glamourous than schleppy. And it takes just as much work, if not less.
JA: I never forgot the shoes you wore when we first met (at a film screening for Versailles 1973 in 2012). They were red or yellow boots. And they were fabulous!
CS: I’ve always got something going on! I love to play dress up. Every time I’m a slob, those are the times when I inevitably run into somebody that should have seen me look nice. I’ll never forget once I was eating a burrito at Baha Fresh and Tom Ford walked past! I was like, “Aw, man, he’s gonna see me eating a burrito!” It’s always like that. When I’m not making any effort, I pay a price for it! (Laughter)
JA: (Giggles) Please paint that picture for me! You’re with your burrito…
CS: Yeah, I’m eating a burrito, I remember exactly what I was wearing. I didn’t know he was in town, this was like 15 years ago. I had on a nice Missioni sweater but I wasn’t looking my best.
JA: That’s the funniest thing I heard all day…
CS: (laughs) Ummhmm.
JA: Are there any new designers that you have your eye on?
CS: I just did my voting for the CFDA…There’s a young designer out in LA named Heather Goldberg who has a line called Haber and I really like what she’s doing. She could be our next Rodarte to come out of LA.
CS: I think she’s very, very good. Some other designers…I’m thinking LA based you know because I am an Angelino! I love what [CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund runner up] Juan Carlos Obando is doing, I think he is terrific. As far as international designers, I’m obsessed with…Joy, you would look amazing in this women’s clothes!…Her name is Stella Jean.
JA: Yes, yes! I did a story on her a couple months ago! I love her stuff.
CS: I saw her work a year ago. I was in Rome, she did a fashion show. And I just thought, this is fresh, the mix of the Haitian prints but in these more classic silhouettes. I loved it. She’s sending me a couple things to wear this Spring (from her men’s line) and I can’t wait to wear them! I also love another Italian designer, Andrea Pompillio. He’s really, really good. I love his menswear. I love Haider Ackermann, I like everybody. That’s my problem!…I like to mix it all up!
JA: Life is too short not to, honey. So tell me, what are your thoughts on Lupita Nyong’o's style?
CS: I’m completely obsessed with her! She’s such a bright woman. She’s beautiful, she’s luminous. At the beginning of award season she was being honored at an event. I just went because I wanted to see her in person. She is just…she radiates. She’s just so, so chic! She has more grace than much more seasoned movie stars.
JA: I’m with you!
CS: I think it’s really exciting that someone came out of nowhere, won and Oscar and won the hearts of the world. It’s just great.
JA: A true Cinderella story. Just wanted to let you know I love Dukes of Melrose (on Bravo). It’s so addicting, my guilty pleasure! Who’s closet would you like to get into next?
CS: All the closet’s I like are of dead people. (Laughs) They’re all dead! I’ve been in so many amazing closets, like Catherine Deneuve, Phyllis Diller, Dita von Teese…Who’s closet would I like to get into…probably Jerry Hall would have amazing clothes, if she kept her clothes. Anyone who was a Halstonette, who kept their clothes. A lot of people didn’t keep their clothes…Demi Moore has a great collection, so that would be someone.
JA: Ah, nice! Thanks so much hun, it was so fun chatting!
CS: Yes, it was a pleasure, I’ll see you soon.
JA: Yes, looking forward to your event at Montclair Art Museum. Enjoy the sun in LA, we’re all hating here in NYC.
CS: I’m sending you some sun and love!
Love Cameron! He’ll be speaking and displaying his line from DECADES at Montclair Art Museum’s “Luncheon, Lecture and Truck Show” celebrating their centennial on April 9th 11-3pm in Montclair, NJ. Attendees have the opportunity to shop Cameron’s line. Tickets are available on www.montclairartmuseum.org.