Thursday, May 1, 2014

Paul Brockmann: Ultimate Dress Collector

I had the pleasure of visiting an amazing fashion time capsule in Los Angeles recently. Along with my fashion partner in crime and my coastal BFF Jensine we braved the drive to LA from the coast in search of this magical place that I read housed 55,000 dresses.  Naturally I had to visit this place and meet the man who has spent the better part of 5 decades acquiring and collecting dresses and skirts for his lovely wife. Paul Brockmann is a delightful man who has very strong views about women's fashion and the current state of social dressing norms. 
He told me that "women have no incentive to dress anymore, the men don't care about how their women dress". I had to agree with Mr. Brockmann as I know very few men who care what their women wear or pay any attention to it. I also know that most women don't dress for men but for other women, which is a whole other blog discussion. He also mentioned that he "dislikes when women wear pants", and his signature salutation is "On with the dresses" so from there it was indeed onto the dresses for us. Jensine and I were both overwhelmed when we entered this space. It is like a dream closet for any fashionista who is Vintage obsessed and requires options, like myself. Literally the site and scale brought me to tears.
Paul told me about the first dress he ever acquired for his wife. He was living in Germany and clothing from the US came by ship in large crates in 1954. While the men were unloading the clothing crates one crashed against the ground and broke open exposing it's contents. The first few dresses he purchased for his wife and has never stopped shopping for her.
I asked him why so many dresses? He told me the words every women would love their husband to utter, "I never wanted my wife to have to wear the same dress twice". With 55,000 options one would never have to worry about a duplicate look or seeing themselves in a photograph in the same dress. Paul said that his wife's current closet has approximately 200 dresses in it. I seriously adore them both!
I learned that his favourite fabric is taffeta as he loves the way it sounds when a woman walks or dances. His wife's least favourite fabric is lace, she refuses to wear "curtains". I was happy to take a fabulous black lace frock off their hands! There are approximately 48,986 pieces currently available (less the 6,000 Paul said they had sold and the 14 Jensine and I took home).
Jensine and I got right to work playing dress up in this giant 'closet'. Much of the inventory is organized by color. There are 2 levels of FULL racks and bails of clothes waiting for a spot in the rack once something sells. Paul also told me he has two large storage containers FULL of more dresses.  Words cannot adequately describe the magnitude of this space or experience.

What you need to know about 55,000 Dresses

* Prices range from $5-$500 (Average price is $65)
*There are ALL SIZES
*Garments for ALL occasions, formal, semi-formal, casual, etc.
*Decades span from 1940-Present with heavy emphasis on Vintage pieces (Pre-1990's)
*Vintage Slip's/Undergarments available ($10)
*Large selection of skirts
*Public sales are held once a month with a $5 cover charge
I was there for over 5 HOURS and felt as if I did not even scratch the surface! I left with 2 slips and 5 dresses. Jensine also left with 7 pieces. We could have easily left with 30 pieces each, the selection is so vast.

WHY is shopping at 55,00 dresses important? 
* One-of-a-kind pieces that you would be seriously hard pressed to locate anywhere else.

*Hand curated frocks by Mr. Brockman

*You can own a dress or dresses from a collection that is now part of the Guinness Book of World Records as of March 2014

*The experience of visiting the warehouse who's grand scale is really indescribable.

*The history of fashion and textile all in one location.

*** He is liquidating these dresses to fund a trip to take his wife to Vienna so they can dance together at the Vianese ball! A ball they watch on television every year! I can't WAIT to see what she wears when this dream becomes a reality! Paul is the ultimate dress collector and enjoys seeing these old frocks get a new life.

Vintage lightening struck twice, one for you, one for me!

Shop in person at their next sale - MAY 17: 10-3

Check out the rack that I curated when I was there to shop! It is still there and a fabulous time saver. No need to sift through the racks, stop and shop here first! 

Wearing a dress from the collection

Who's ready to shop?

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