LOS ANGELES — When Adele wants to make a vintage fashion statement, stylist Gaelle Paul has a go-to source: the cleverly named The Way We Wore shop.
Now TV viewers can peek inside Los Angeles store owner Doris Raymond’s 19th- and 20th-century collection that’s lured shoppers Anne Hathaway, Katie Holmes and Angelina Jolie, as well as top designers searching for inspiration from the past.
“L.A. Frock Stars,” a new Smithsonian Channel series that airs at 8 p.m. Thursdays, is both a fashionista’s delight and a chance to see passion at work with Raymond, who’s made finding and selling great old duds a quest for more than 30 years.
“The show is about spreading the gospel of vintage,” said Raymond, which translates, for example, to a 1940s jacket with tailoring and fabric that would cost $1,500 to replicate today but can be had for less than $200.
Raymond’s tidy but chock-full shop also has racks of impressive labels, including Chanel, Versace, Halston and Gucci, and the stuff of fashion history like the first version of the Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress that launched the designer’s career.
Those are found above-stairs at the shop, to be surveyed by VIPs and vintage mavens who also can ogle, or shell out for, such rare items as an intricate 1920s dress priced at $6,000. The ground floor is the “democratic” section, as Raymond puts it, with less-pricey garments and accessories.
But even those are likely to be in the hundreds of dollars: Don’t mistake The Way We Wore for something in the clever “Thrift Shop” tune, which celebrates Goodwill-style bargains (“Thank your granddad for donating that plaid button-up shirt”).
“It’s not like going to a thrift shop. This is a high-end, fully curated vintage clothing store. It’s really picky,” said Raymond, who sees her stylish inventory as both art and a link to social history.
The far-from-ordinary garments are what draw stylist Paul and client Adele, who came in recently on a scouting expedition. The shop has “designers that I don’t know where else I would find them,” Paul said, such as James Galanos. “It’s just great you can get those designers and their really strong pieces. It’s not the average 1950s dress you find in vintage stores.”
A recent day saw actress Samantha Mathis escorted upstairs, while a first-time shopper who wandered in for a party frock was downstairs admiring, wide-eyed, a 1926 hand-beaded French cotton tulle gown for about $3,000.
“When I’m going to get married, I’ll take a vintage dress,” said Anna Ovdienko, a Russian-born psychologist now living in Los Angeles.
The Way We Wore is a popular resource for film and TV productions, including “Titanic,” “Casino,” “Boardwalk Empire” and “Mad Men.”
Designers find something even more precious: a means to rethinking their approach to modern fashion by looking backward to the construction and materials used by distant counterparts.
Museum-quality garments from couture houses and older, unlabeled ethnic designs are safely tucked in Raymond’s back office, with John Galliano and Alexander McQueen among those who have dropped in to shop. Designers from J. Crew and other retail chains have done the same.
The six-episode series includes visits to The Way We Wore by celebrities, such as actress Debi Mazar (“Entourage”). Singer-songwriter Alexandra Starlight, preparing for a showcase performance at South by Southwest, is tickled to learn that one of the glittery outfits she’s trying is by Fabrice Simon, who costumed Tina Turner.
On-screen pop-ups give viewers a bit of history about designers mentioned on the show.
At her insistence, “L.A. Frock Stars” is minus the trumped-up drama tailored for many reality shows. But Raymond’s drive and a sassy workplace “family” including Sarah, Shelly Lyn, Jascmeen and Kyle keep it lively.
Online: www.smithsonian channel.com/frockstars
Vintage dresses are displayed in the window of owner Doris Raymond’s Hollywood high-end vintage store, “The Way We Wore,” in the La Brea District of Los Angeles. Raymond’s vintage clothing and accessories store is featured in the reality TV series, “L.A. Frock Stars,” which debuted Thursday on the Smithsonian Channel.×
Interior designer and fashion designer Kelly Wearstler shops for vintage designs at “The Way We Wore,” a Hollywood high-end vintage store owned by Doris Raymond in the La Brea District of Los Angeles.×
Owner Doris Raymond poses for a photo at her Hollywood high-end vintage store, “The Way We Wore,” in the La Brea District of Los Angeles. Raymond’s vintage clothing and accessories store is featured in the reality TV series, “L.A. Frock Stars,” which debuted Thursday on the Smithsonian Channel.×
A 1960’s fashion book of actress Audrey Hepburn is displayed with vintage jewelry at “The Way We Wore,” a Hollywood high-end vintage store owned by Doris Raymond in the La Brea District of Los Angeles.×
Interior and fashion designer Kelly Wearstler (left) is helped by consultant Sarah Bergman after shopping for vintage designs “The Way We Wore,” a Hollywood high-end vintage store owned by Doris Raymond in the La Brea District of Los Angeles.×
Angelika Sjostrom (left) helps antique jewelry dealer Hilary Tisch try on a vintage sequin dress at “The Way We Wore,” Hollywood’s high-end vintage store owned by Doris Raymond in Los Angeles.×