One cool, crisp morning while waiting to catch the bus to work I got into an interesting conversation with a young friend of mine. Bright, lovely and on the verge of entering the big, wide world after a few semesters at West L.A. College she said, “When my mother and I want to buy something nice we don’t shop over here, in the Crenshaw area, we go to another part of town where the merchandise is better.” “That’s too bad you feel you have to go to another part of town to find better things,” I told her. “Not only is it an inconvenience but retailers, in this area, won’t know what their customers want if they don’t tell them.”
Personally I believe one should try to support their community within their community, and while I’m definitely not against getting the most for one’s buck, I do think it’s up to the citizens with vision to help others see the diamonds in the rough they might be missing by immediately heading elsewhere. For years I’ve been that visionary, starting back in the ’90’s at Clothestime when I helped my customers coordinate an outfit, for the readers of my column Vicqui a la Mode for Florence News newspaper, and as a creator and instructor for the personal style and budget dressing classes I taught at Culver City Adult School and Westside Extension.
The problem, then and now, is re-educating those who’ve been victims of geographical racism and low self-esteem. How do you do it when one part of town thrives with weeds and trash compared to another where gardens, smart shops and clean streets reflect wealth and prosperity? One way is to find the unique and inspirational in your surroundings, wherever you are.
When I lived in Inglewood, California Daniel Freeman Thrift Auxillary and The Discovery Shop were where I got my shop on. When I worked in Watts, California for I Have a Dream Foundation and The L.A. Watts Times the Watts Towers and Museum provided culture and opportunities. Now in the changing ethnic landscape of Baldwin Village, it’s the mural I saw being created the day I went to visit the Manifest Justice exhibit, The Dollar Tree, Fallas, Target, Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza and the historical apartment complex Village Green. Wherever I look, in the city, I see inspiration even if it’s just a small landscaped waterfall area in front of dentist’s office in Torrance, California. Sometimes even having a change of plans motivates me to stretch creatively and see the possible within the impossible.
Revisiting Prada’s Fall 2014 Collection at Fallas:
L.A. has a lot of things-Hollywood hopefuls, pithy writers, excellent weather and nice beaches-yet lately its style scene hasn’t been supporting the regular folk. If you’re wealthy and rail thin you can shop anywhere, but if you’re the average consumer who only looks to your peers for guidance, you’re limited. The trick is to educate yourself by studying effectively worn fashion in magazines, on television, in the movies, and on the street, learning about the season’s new trends and designers, and then applying what’s appropriate to your own signature style.
Miuccia Prada is one of my favorite designers, and in Fall 2014, she created a line recalling the ’70’s, complete with skinny scarves added as an accent. It remains one of her best because she also added a touch of Sonia Delaunay in the color scheme. Another look that caught my eye then was a leopard and floral skirt featured in Vogue magazine. I just knew I had to live without one until I saw an inexpensive version at Fallas. Lightweight and soft the first time I wore it to my Writing Group at the Cancer Support Community-Benjamin Center I basked in the glowing compliments. Two skinny scarves, one leopard and floral, and one navy-blue and white polka-dotted, rounded out my shopping finds for that day.
Keith Haring Art Tee photo taken by Victoria Moore
At the Movies and Beyond:
Westside Pavilion’s Landmark theater is one of the most luxurious places to watch a movie, and on the day I saw Love and Friendship I pulled out my leopard and floral print skirt, coordinated it with a white v-necked pullover sweater and Michael Kors denim jacket. Ritzy enough to be worn from Rodeo and LaBrea to Westwood and Pico it didn’t matter where it came from, but where I took it and how.
Following a visit to the Forever 21, at the mall, one Saturday I found a snazzy black, red and white Keith Haring art tee, that became the proper separate for my skirt. Funky and edgy it was classy enough for work or a casual date at the farmer’s market. By connecting the elegance of couture with the ease of L.A.’s laid-back reputation this simple item became my sartorial bridge across the city.