TV shows, movies haunt vintage clothing stores

  • By Richard Verrier Los Angeles Times
  • Thursday, December 5, 2013 1:19pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

BURBANK, Calif.— When set decorator Claudette Didul needed to decorate Sally Draper’s bedroom with 1960s-era clothing for an episode of “Mad Men” last season, she knew just the place.

Didul went to Playclothes, a vintage clothing and furnishing store in Burbank, to buy an assortment of blouses, dresses, sweaters, pants and shoes to decorate the scene.

“It’s like a one-stop shop,” Didul said. “It’s really important for us to have stores like Playclothes. Their inventory is always changing, and I know I can get things I need the next day, and that they will stay open for me if I have an emergency.”

Playclothes is among a cluster of vintage clothing, collectible and antiques shops along Burbank’s West Magnolia Boulevard that are a treasure trove for set decorators, costume designers and prop masters for shows such as AMC’s “Mad Men,” Showtime’s “Masters of Sex,” TNT’s “Mob City” and other period TV dramas and movies.

Magnolia’s vintage row includes about a dozen such shops with colorful names: Bearded Lady Vintage, Hubba Hubba, Toadstool Farm Vintage, Best of Times Antiques, and Scavenger’s Paradise, which sells “one-of-a-kind” architectural pieces” such as wrought-iron gates, stained-glass windows and carved mantels.

The vintage shops rely heavily on retail customers but also enjoy a bustling Hollywood business, supplying clothing and other items to cable TV dramas and movies filming as far away as Louisiana, New York and Vancouver, Canada.

“It’s a wonderful thing when they walk in,” said Pat Taylor, owner of Hubba Hubba, which specializes in clothing, costumes and jewelry from the 1930s to the 1960s. “‘Ray’ walked in and spent nearly $10,000,” she referring to a Universal Pictures movie about Ray Charles.

“‘Mad Men’ was a great customer for the first five years. They were in here constantly,” Taylor said..

Playclothes also thrives on the entertainment business.

“Vintage is hard to find,” said Playclothes owner Wanda Soileau, who launched her store in Studio City nearly three decades ago. “There’s a lot more in a city like L.A. than, say, in Louisiana.”

The store’s merchandise frequently finds its way onto the sets of “Mad Men,” “Masters of Sex,” “Parenthood” the HBO drama “Boardwalk Empire” “Alcatraz” and “Glee.”

The store also has supplied numerous movies over the years, including “Seabiscuit,” “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” “The Aviator,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and, more recently, Clint Eastwood’s “Jersey Boys,” “Behind the Candelabra,” and Joel and Ethan Coen’s feature “Inside Llewyn Davis,” which is set in Greenwich Village in the early 1960s.

Soileau, a former dancer, said the company generates nearly $500,000 a year in sales, about half of it from the entertainment industry. Sales have increased 20 percent in the past two years, she said.

“Our business seems to have gotten stronger,” she said.

Last year, Soileau sold $50,000 in cocktail dresses, evening gowns, bathing suits, straw hats, jewelry and “anything you can think of that says Miami” for the Starz series “Magic City,” which centers on Miami mobsters in the late 1950s.

“They pulled it in one or two days,” Soileau said.

Unlike a prop house, Soileau sells rather than rents items to film crews. Prices range from a $1 handkerchief to a $450 raccoon coat.

Customers include not only costume designers and set decorators but also swing dancers, members of vintage car clubs and collectors.

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