Saturday, February 22, 2014

Fashion district

There's a sign on a pole as South Spring Street crosses 7th Street in downtown Los Angeles that says "Fashion District." The center of the garment industry on the West Coast, this 90 block area of town includes retail stores, wholesale distributors, supply and material dealers and factories, as well as schools to train young designers and manufacturers. It encompasses the southern portion of the historic core and runs south and west where low concrete block warehouses line potholed streets.

Here at Spring Street, gentrification hasn't quite touched the old buildings, which are still shabbily beautiful. At 721 S. Spring, we would have completely missed the California Millinery Supply, if it weren't for the sign in the window.

A single piece of white paper was stuck on the glass, in front of the white, winged shapes that were buckram hat frames. "Thoughts," it said, in ornate fraktur script. And a list:
  • The greatest handicap                     Fear
  • The best day                                  Today
  • Easiest thing to do                          Find a fault
And on and on, down to the last:
  • Greatest thing in the world               Love
The doors
 We decided to look inside. A set of heavy bronze doors, ornately embossed, stood open, leading to a narrow warren of a shop, display cases and cutting tables on one side, racks and racks of goods on the other.

"Come in, you can look around." The voice came from a grey-haired woman sitting behind a desk. A long-haired grey cat uncoiled itself and jumped down from a chair it was sleeping in, and scurried to the back of the space.

The rows and rows of shelves were lined with braid, ribbon, piping, fringe. There were boards holding samples of silk flowers. The whole place looked like a treasure chest to explore.

"It's funny," I said. "I never wear hats, but now I find myself wanting to make them!"  When we stepped back outside and looked up at the curiously beautiful building, we noticed, up high in a protected niche, a colorful figure of a standing Buddha.

California Millinery Supply has been at 721 S. Spring Street since 1939. 


smalltownme said...

I love fascinators.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

All you need is love.

Mrs. G. said...

Perfect post!


I always thought it was "the garment district". Live, read and learn. Interesting post.

Aunt Snow said...

Maybelline - it was the "garment district" before the marketing people got to it!

Lili Bitmore said...

Thanks for the memory, Aunt Snow. I got my bridal veil-headpiece there in 1990. It has made the rounds of the brides in our family. What a glorious place.
~ All the best from Lili, now living in colder climes