It was 2012, and a Schiaparelli blowfish walking stick made the Met Gala arrivals come standstill. Wearing a Nicole Miller ‘Ticket Print’ suit, vintage fashion purveyor Cameron Silver broke the red carpet. From Perez Hilton to the Hollywood Reporter, everyone was talking about Nicole Miller’s escort and his eccentric outfit.
Founder of Decades Inc. and doyen of vintage attire, Silver was no stranger to dressing for impress. As a precocious 7-year old he was partial to wearing a fedora, vest, white shirt, tie, and khakis, and at 13-years, he planned an entertaining bar mitzvah complete cabaret act and ‘The Cameron Awards,’ in a tuxedo, top hat, and white gloves. Five years of dressing up and mischievous shenanigans followed, including a year where he went from being a doted-on and indulged child to being one of seven when his parents hosted a Laotian boat family.
Graduated and living in his parent’s guesthouse, Silver studied Theatre Arts at UCLA and began a career as an actor and travelling cabaret singer, even releasing an ill-fated album in 1996.
A pit-stop during a two-week tour in Seattle proved to be a turning point in the young Silver’s life. A thrift store called Atomic Bomb beckoned, and soon Silver was the proud owner of three Rudi Gernreich dresses and a Dior couture ball gown, which were promptly sent home for safekeeping.
Decades Inc. was born in 1997 in an under-appreciated section of West Hollywood on Melrose Avenue, and the store has been patronized by celebrities ever since. Who can resist the lure of the elegance and uniqueness that vintage offers? The construction, hand detailing, and provenance that comes with a gorgeous gown by Dior, Balenciaga, Valentino or Chanel?
2001 was a watershed year for vintage as both Renee Zellweger, and Julia Roberts dressed in it for the Oscars. The wearing of vintage was thrust into the spotlight and celebrities embraced this new avenue of individuality. The following spring, a clingy white vintage Azzaro from Decades clung to the slim frame of Nicole Kidman as she attended the New York premiere of Moulin Rouge, followed by it gracing the cover of Women’s Wear Daily the next morning.
Silver’s notoriety has only built year after year. Having been named one of Time Magazine’s “25 Most Influential Names and Faces in Fashion” in 2002, he went on to star in one of the first reality series Dukes of Melrose, in 2012 he won the Visionary Award from The Art of Elysium, and published a coffee table book aptly entitled Decades: A Century of Fashion (published by Bloomsbury) that sold-out within 48 hours.
In 2013, as part of a worldwide book tour, which began in Paris with chic soiree with guests burlesque artist Dita von Teese, haute couturier Andrew Gn, Silver held a book-signing in Vancouver at Blubird boutique on Alberni Street, where he shared with a delighted crowd that he had indeed thrifted in the city during his cabaret touring days.
Silver’s passion for design has extended past retail to acting as a creative consultant and ambassador to brands like Pringle, Boucheron, and Azzaro, collaborating with jewelry maven Miriam Haskell, partnering with footwear brand Modern Vintage, and narrated the Versailles 1973 documentary about the restoration event of the famed French palace. He is heavily involved with The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and served as the Honorary Chair of the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis’ legendary Dada Ball.
In 2020, Silver is observing the resurgence of secondhand and vintage shopping with the satisfaction in knowing that he played a part in this movement – one that is gathering momentum as the world realizes that we all need to act to slow down the destruction of our environment.
Amid all the media noise, Silver hasn’t changed his message to the masses; the difference is now, people of all generations are listening.
“As we enter the second decade of the 21st century, distinctive style is through a medley of vintage and modern, high-end and accessible brands, tailored and sports styles, and an embracing of repeating and repurposing what already exists in your closet.
“The icons of the past always repeated looks, and one can’t fight for a ban on plastic straws if one thinks showing up in the same top twice in their IG feed is a fashion violation. It is both “chic to repeat” and “the best new clothes are old clothes,” but I am also encouraged by new designs and an embracing of sustainability.”
YVR WELCOMES CAMERON SILVER
The recent Special Pop-up with Decades in The Apartment at Holt Renfrew is evidence that our collective mentality is changing. There was a time, even five years ago, when the notion of a luxury department store even entertaining the idea of having a non-designer bring vintage items to sell to their VIP clientele would have been scoffed at.
As Champagne and canapes circulated, Silver shared his curated pieces with the well-heeled and impeccably dressed of the west coast’s fashionista.
Even before the doors opened, an embroidered Hermès Trocadero top was scooped up by an old friend who had been invited for a preview. Soon the change rooms were full and secondary rooms were being sought out by attentive staff. Silver’s comfortable demeanour and smile radiated sincerity as he recommended pieces and shared details about each, which ranged from Chanel to Miyake to Moschino Cheap & Chic, and included an array of chunky accessories in black onyx, and gold.
“Right now, Decades has incredible momentum, and there are so many new business opportunities that our trajectory is for intelligent growth and sensitive expansion. I never thought I would have this business for nearly a quarter of a century, but I feel like I’ve only just begun!”
When asked if there is a ‘holy grail’ garment that he is still seeking, he replies, “A true “holy grail” garment will be discovering something I didn’t know existed. I’ve been so lucky to see some of the most important pieces of the 20th century come through Decades ranging from a YSL for Dior alligator motorcycle jacket to a Rudi Gernreich topless swimsuit.”
When in Los Angeles, do not even think of leaving without a visit to Decades on Melrose Avenue! Explore the world of vintage curated by the incredible Cameron Silver and sought out by celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Madonna, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Lopez, and Nicole Ritchie.
- Helen Siwak is the founder of EcoLuxLuv Marketing & Communications Inc and publisher of Folio.YVR Luxury Lifestyle Magazine and digital women's lifestyle magazine EcoLuxLifestyle.co. She is a prolific content creator, consultant, and marketing and media strategist within the ecoluxury lifestyle niche. Post-pandemic, she has worked with many small to mid-sized plant-based/vegan brands to build their digital foundations and strategize content creation and business development. Helen is the west coast correspondent to Canada’s top-read industry magazine Retail-Insider, holds a vast freelance portfolio, and consults with many of the world’s luxury heritage brands. Always seeking new opportunities and challenges, you can email her at [email protected].
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