A New Book I Love: Decades, by Cameron Silver

A New Book I Love: Decades, by Cameron Silver

Any book that begins, “I started my career as an interpreter of verboten Weimar cabaret songs” gets my attention right off the bat. Seriously? Alas Cameron Silver ended his singing career to pursue a passion for vintage fashion and is the author of a magnificent new book called Decades, after […]

Any book that begins, “I started my career as an interpreter of verboten Weimar cabaret songs” gets my attention right off the bat. Seriously? Alas Cameron Silver ended his singing career to pursue a passion for vintage fashion and is the author of a magnificent new book called Decades, after the name of his famed shop in L.A. I can’t put the dern thing down, except that it is huge and rather heavy, so I have to occasionally.

Decades by Cameron Silver
Decades by Cameron Silver

The name Cameron Silver did not ring a symphony of bells when I read it on a party invitation from the divine Hollye Jacobs (of TheSilverPen.com) and the glamourous designer Kendall Conrad. I love clothes but am not a fashion hound. Cameron Silver is. More precisely he is a vintage fashion hound, one of Hollywood’s most sought-after stylists, and on good authority an all around fabulous fellow.

And smart. This is a book you’ll want to read as much as look at. The prodigious research, clever structure and lively writing tap the pulse of each decade, conveying the sensibilities of contemporary society and the designers and great dames who shaped them. The result is both fascinating and relevant to how women not only dress today but how they perceive themselves – then and now. Kudos also to Silver’s ghost writer Rebecca DiLiberto, brava.

A photo of Frida Kahlo stopped me in my tracks. Her self-portraits are familiar (it’s pretty much all she painted) but this – whoa.

Frida Kahlo in Decades by Cameron Silver
Frida Kahlo in Decades by Cameron Silver

Apart from the amazing photographs, what really makes the book sing is Silver’s passion. His energy and enthusiasm are in every syllable and sequin – another reason I want to talk about this book and to share it with you. It’s a hard-backed reminder that passion is purpose, whatever it is – clothes or chemistry or collage.

Alliteration is one of my passions.

But the point is what we love and are excited about has value because it is the light we bring to each other and to the world.

Amen.

Okay let’s look at Cameron’s book. Wasn’t Josephine Baker just la bombe?! And what a pioneer she was.

Josephine Baker in Decades by Cameron Silver
Josephine Baker

Rita Hayworth, dayam.

 Rita Hayworth in Decades by Cameron Silver
Rita Hayworth.

The quintessential pin-up girl, Bettie Page said she wore what looked good on her and didn’t worry so much about fashion. Well here, here.

I wonder if she worried about her bosoms falling out of her dress.

Bettie Page in Decades by Cameron Silver
The text at bottom left says

This is a little more my speed. So elegant and chic, even though that skirt wouldn’t fit around my leg. It’s 1950’s Clair McCardell, and you could wear it tomorrow and knock their socks off. I’d probably unbutton the blouse and push the sleeves up. And of course I’d need a skirt for each leg.

A Claire McCardell design in Decades, by Cameron Smith
A sporty tailored shirt and billowy ball-gown skirt by Claire McCardell.

Jackie needs no introduction. But why is she in the back and Ari in the front? And can you believe they don’t have rubber mats on the car floor?

Jackie O in Decades by Cameron Silver
Jacqueline and Ari Onassis

I love pictures of rich people at home.

Gettys in Decades by Cameron Silver
J. Paul and Talitha Getty in Marrakesh.

Nothing against L’Wren, a pretty talented designer herself, but I always thought Mick and Bianca looked like they went together.

Bianca Jagger, in Decades by Cameron Silver
Bianca Jagger in robe by British designer Zandra Rhodes
Mario Testino's photo of Tom Ford's knockout 1990s dress for Gucci.
Mario Testino's photo of Tom Ford's knockout 1990s dress for Gucci.

Would you like Spanx with that?

There is so much more to say about Cameron Silver – funny, warm, engaging. I loved meeting him at Hollye and Kendall’s soiree as you may have surmised. Read up on him here, and follow him on Twitter here, and find his book – a great gift! – at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and best of all at your local independent bookstore, which you can find here.

A bientôt, as Mademoiselle Chanel would say.

13 Comments

  1. Randall Day

    1. You should have that Claire McCardell dress remade.
    2. Have you/did you meet Jean Claude Baker in New York? We loved going to Chez Josephine. Don’t know if he or it are still there.

  2. Annette Wood

    Frances, Your review of Cameron Silver’s book was as refreshing as a cool drink on a hot day. I love all of your blogs. What a hoot! Eastern North Carolina charm trumps all. (I should know, living in Edenton).
    Annette

    • Thank you Annette, and hello Edenton! Would you believe I was in a wreath-making workshop this morning in Buellton, Calif., and the star of the class went to school with one of the Capehart girls from Edenton!

  3. annie Gray Lane

    You are sending me straight to Barnes and Noble this morning !!! !

  4. Molly Ballantine

    Loved, loved, loved this post! I’ve ordered the book for my sister in law for Christmas. Then an extra copy for moi! And Randall, I know Jean Claude and he is still at Chez Josephine holding court every night! A delightful and delicious man.

    • Oh thank you, Molly! And hope your sister-in-law won’t mind seeing her present early! Thanks, too, for the word on the delicious Jean-Claude and Chez Josephine. I was curious about it – have been but it has been years. Maybe time to revisit. xo Frances

  5. Thanks for the tip. It’s the perfect gift for my daughter who graduated from FIT and does old hollywood glamour so well.
    I’m off to shop. Carry on.

  6. Of course, I love this post! :–) Was so great to share the evening with you and I”m glad that you are enjoying the book! Silver Lining: the weight will help build muscle.

  7. Leslie @ http://hadleycourt.com

    What a lovely book. I have ordered mine today and I can’t wait for it to arrive. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Cameron is very happy!

  9. Stunning post, Frances! I have always felt that solids in fashion (as in décor) stand the test of time better than prints. Only the J. Paul Getty shirt really screams 1970s. Other than Bettie Page, known for things other than her fashion sense, the other photos are just timeless.

  10. Frances,
    Cameron Silver’s book DECADE is now devoured. Thanks for letting us know. Loved the beautiful clothes of the ages. There is another book 100 UNFORGETTABLE DRESSES I have enjoyed and bought as it has my all time favorite dress/uniform. Halston in 1972 coined the shirtdress in ultrasuede in Baskin and Robbin colors with gray, black, and beige too. I am planning to go to a dress maker and have it cloned. The book states he sold 60,000 in the first season. It was also washable and what an asset that is for traveling. Claire McCardell was
    famed too for shirtdresses. Add pearls at night and keep on going.
    xo
    Lynn Ziglar

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