Issue: Issue Winter 2004/2005

Dressing the Part

Fashion stylists, auditioning actors and costumers need not look further than the newly revitalized Hollywood for all their clothes shopping needs. The area, with its reasonable pricing, is home to numerous exciting retro, exotic and designer shops, and has attracted savvy consumers as well. 

Everything from handpainted goatskin jackets, trousers made from old men's shirts and 60's-style vinyl dresses are all available in the fashionable city that never sleeps!

To that end, Hollywood is chock full with incredibly talented, up and coming  fashion designers. For truly original, one of a kind clothing for all shapes and sizes, there's marco marco (1641 N. Las Palmas Avenue).

Designer Marco Morante is happy to take his customers through a whirlwind of pleasing colors and textures. "I can customize anything they want, no matter what their request is!" enthused Morante, who can take a dress and make it eight sizes smaller or turn a tank top into an evening gown, with unbelievable ease and grace.

But Morante's crowning achievement is what he calls "fast fashion." "For a flat fee, customers can choose a style and a fabric, then return in less than an hour to make a custom-made, ready-to-wear garment!" he enthused.

Morante's recent achievement was designing the clothes for many of FOX's "American Idol" finalists. "They really wore my clothes well!" he said. American Idol winner Fantasia wore one of Morante's blouses during one final episodes, which was "quite exciting."

 In addition to his unique paintings, (which are tastefully hung on the walls, and can be purchased) Morante also has a doggie clothing line called barco barco. "It features doggie sweaters and backpacks! Very cute stuff!" he added.  

If you blink twice, you might miss Claudia Grau's  (6679 Sunset Blvd.) store, but that only adds to the joy of finding it. Grau specializes in collaged work, i.e. taking parts of clothes and working them together. "Color and texture really inspire me. I am pretty unorthodox. I make whatever I feel like!" she said.

At any given moment, the fashion designer might make a dress out of sweaters, or blankets out of old kimonos. "I love making wacky dresses; they're so much fun to make!" she said.

Grau received lots of notoriety for her clothes, which have been seen on numerous television shows like "The Cosby Show," "Moonlighting," and "Dharma & Greg." "I took some time off after that, to have my children, who have to come first," she explained. Grau is back in business, opening the Sunset storefront. "It's been really wonderful to jump back into designing clothing."

Outrageously Interesting; coolest of the cool; ridiculously innnovative...

 Ever want to buy one of the wild outfits that Jennifer Lopez or Britney has worn? If your style borders on sensual avant garde, Eat My Leather (6671 Sunset Blvd., by appointment only) is definitely your cup of tea. Brazilian designer Ligia Morris is the coolest of the cool, dressing celebrities like Courtney Love, Mary J. Blige, Cher, Shakira and Iggy Pop in a variety of leather, fabric and hand-painted silks.

 "I like to develop a look for people - they tell me what it is they want and I come up with a few ideas," said Morris. And whether it's recycled t-shirts made into bikinis, or deerskin and knee-high lycra boot covers, Morris is ridiculously innovative; the store is filled with items you won'tsee anywhere on the planet. (Extra bonus points when shopping: ask about Ligia's use of zippers!)

Morris has done it her way - and it's reflected in the clothes she makes. "I'm very passionate about what I do. Even when I first started, I tried to do whatever it took to make money, so I could spend my time designing.

I love what I do," she said.  And it shows!

Everything Old is New Again

At Iguana (6320 Hollywood Blvd.), the latest vintage fashion trends based on the styles of the 40's,50's, 60's and 70's are available in this newly opened, well stocked, 13,000 square foot store.

"We have some great unique items here, that can work well with anything in your closet," said manager Eric Cohn. "There are red line Levis, gabardine jackets, Izod polo shirts, fedora hats and a variety of dresses at the store. Actors who want to dress up for their auditions can really create their own style here," he said.

Cohn is always on the lookout for new and interesting items to acquire. "We want to add more Victorian pieces, but they've been hard to find. Truly, it is our goal to have something for everyone!"

Extra incentives to stop in to Iguana: weekly dollar sales, and a coffee bar (in case shoppers need extra energy to shop!)

Everything Older is Still Old-But Looks Great!

For a real bargain, try the Studio Wardrobe Department (1357 Highland Avenue), where vintage second hand clothing and accessory items are sold for as little as 25 cents! "It's like a treasure hunt in here," said owner Rick Pikrone.  "You just never know what you are going to find!"

The store is part clothing sales/wardrobe rental, part costume museum, as many celebrities have worn the outfits hanging around the 10,000 square foot facility. "We have some great stuff! You can rent outfits worn by Christina Aguilera, Ginger Spice and The Jackson 5! And some of the rentals we carry are from famous Hollywood movies like 'Inspector Gadget,' 'The Doors,' and 'Austin Powers.'"

Pikrone has been at the Highland location for the past five years. "My previous store was damaged in a fire. When it happened, and I was looking for another space, I knew I couldn't leave Hollywood. It's really such a great place to be!" 

The Inside Track

Fashionistas have been drawn to sample sales, where designer clothing is available at big discounts. Nowhere is that more evident than at Billion Dollar Babes' quarterly sale, which is held at the Palladium.

Shoppers can sign on to the website (, and check  out the samples from over 70 designers.

So, whatever your style, your whim or your latest role, it's easy to shop and dress the part in Hollywood.

Big Discounts

Fashionistas can check out sample sales from over 70 designers at Billion Dollar Babes' quarterly sale, which is held at the Palladium.