First, we want to wish everyone a belated Happy New Year. Reflecting on the past year, one date – July 1 – stands out above all to the theatrical wardrobe family. It was on this date that our dear friend, Jeanette, locked the door on Odds Costumes. Upon hearing the announcement that this iconic resource was closing after 21 years the lamentations were immediate, universal and heartfelt. Our colleagues in the blogosphere greeted the loss with sadness and, in some cases, a degree of anger. The anger focused on the economic climate and gouging landlords, while some directed their ire at our own designers, stylists and supervisors. On her excellent facebook editorial, Helen Uffner, a purveyor of some of our finest vintage ensembles, laid the blame, with more than a thread of truth, at the feet of us, the wardrobe community. The incessant incantation that we have no money in the budget (all too often when a shopper on the same job is at Brioni picking up a $800.00 polo shirt) wore on Jeanette’s good nature – and operating budget.
Explanations aside, the result is, we lost something special – a place of memories as well as an invaluable resource.
The reality, however, is that New York is still rich in resources, whether the newly opened Hero Wardrobe with their specialty in work wear or the 30 year veteran, Helen Uffner Vintage Clothing, with flawless costumes covering every period from the 1860’s thru the 1970’s. Regardless of your budget, from laughable to staggering, there are tappable resources in this town.
Cheryl’s relationship with Helen Uffner began when she supervised “Fried Green Tomatoes”. While the designer scoured the West Coast for costumes from five periods, Cheryl did the same on the East. Her appointment was in Helen’s apartment which, also, housed the business – Helen’s transition from stylist to entrepreneur was just beginning. While they enjoyed a cup of tea, “Helen pulled one beautiful costume after another, complete with accessories, from boxes stacked in her bedroom, nearly consuming the bed,” she recalls, “I remember worrying about them tumbling down on her while she slept.” With a 6,300 square foot loft just over the Bridge in Queens, that issue is long gone; maintaining an impeccable collection of, primarily, rental costumes and accessories continues to be Helen’s exclusive focus.
Experienced Stylists Melissa Desrosiers and Lani Steinhouse, are among the newest “kids on the block” having opened their Hero Wardrobe on Nov 1, 2009. They actually decided to open their shop after becoming privy to Jeanette’s unfortunate decision. They managed to “hand pick 30 – 40% of Odds’ stock,” Melissa says, “we were sticking to work wear,” Dickies” and the like, when we saw the beautifully distressed leather,” she laughs, “there went our budget.”
Much like us, Melissa and Lani got into the business, “just to make our jobs easier,” Melissa admitted. But they have found more than that, “we [the costume houses] view ourselves more like a community, than competitors.” She, happily, relates tale after tale of recommendations shared, “if they don’t have it, they’ll say, ‘try Hero’; and we do the same.” We’re among those that make recommendations and these girls have a top notch stock of work wear, head to toe – vintage and contemporary as well as those leather pieces from their Odds largess.
The past few years have seen several innovative, exciting new houses. Opened by experienced professionals, they contribute to the vitality of the New York film, television and theater community. Here is our roundup of the resources available to us and the people behind them. We hope you’ll find this a valuable resource – you can cut and paste it or better yet, just refer back to this blog.
Alias Costume, like Hero Wardrobe, opened late last year and stylist Antonia Xereas and costume designer Kaela Wohl were, also, able to secure a considerable amount of the Odds inventory to add to their own substantial stock. Aside from their substantial vintage selections, Alias can provide uniforms, work wear, theatrical costumes as well as shoes and accessories.
Cloak Wardrobe founded by Eric Orlando, offers high-end men’s and women’s shoe and clothing rentals for fashion, film, celebrities and special events.
L’Armoire du Styliste Editor and fashion stylist, Beagy Zielinkski, has assembled an impressive collection of ready-to-wear and couture clothing as well as shoes and accessories. This is an atelier created by a stylist for stylists.
rrrentals opened three years ago on the eleventh floor of our building
(245 West 29th Street). Owner, Renate Lindlar has assembled an eclectic inventory of contemporary fashion lifestyle clothing for children, men and women running the entire gamut from cocktail and evening gowns to undergarments, knitwear, shoes and accessories. It’s a great place to rent from and feel free to stop in on the eighth floor to say Hi.
The Stock Room, is located in Bayonne, New Jersey at 285 Broadway at 12th Street, (347)512 4187. Here we have the television and movie costumer’s dream. Larry Hillwig has created the “mother load” for general stock. If you’re looking for police, security, nurses, bellhops, doormen – prison uniforms to Clerical Garb (priests, nuns, altar boys) you’ll find it here. A nice feature here is that they also provide a full range of outer wear and “warmy” coats to keep the actors comfortable.
Among the long established locations, in addition to Helen Uffner, here are our long running faves:
At Christmastime in 1968, Joyce Ostrin opened Early Halloween. This Chelsea space has become a cherished mainstay for vintage apparel. “Like Helen I met Joyce while shopping “Fried Green Tomatoes”, says Cheryl, “she had some of the best vintage children’s clothing that I scooped up and were in the movie.”
Now, if you find yourself on one of those high end jobs, Albright Fashion Library is the industry destination. Meticulously selected, ever so current pieces (they are sought after by Red Carpet stylists), from jewelry to handbags as well as the most current shoe styles are all available. “When I was day playing on “Wall Street II”, says Cheryl, “many of the gowns for the ever so elegant Metropolitan Museum of Art event bore the Albright label. All the pieces were exquiste.”
Among the “tried and true” Linda Carcaci and Susan Handler’s Creative Costume Company is a fun standout. These ladies have been hand making costumes for seventeen years. As a result their Fashion District warehouse is home to a well organized impressive inventory divided by period and type making shopping a breeze. While there is usually a forty-eight hour rental limit, at Halloween the limit is extended to two weeks. Even though the kids are ignored here, I defy any adult entering this magical place not to feel that child within.
Finally, for Not For Profits and educational institutions there is the invaluable TDF
Costume Collection. If you have ever wondered what happens to the costumes closing night, here is the answer. TDF has assembled 75,000 costumes and accessories from Broadway and Off-Broadway to opera companies and theatrical tours. This incredible inventory is available for a nominal charge.
Okay, the reality is, New York is not LA, we don’t have the resources the studios and the rental houses out there can provide. But the expansive inventory among our resources and the collegiality among the professionals helming them has to make you feel good about being in the business in this town, doesn’t it?
Quick List of NYC Costume Rental Houses
L’Armoire du Styliste
Tommy & Cheryl (with roger kimpton)