I took a trip downtown today to my favorite millinery shop in Los Angeles. The good old supply houses just don't get any better than this. Filled with layers and layers of dust, old boxes filled with silk flowers, velvet ribbon and odd birds constructed out of straw and feathers - this is the ultimate supplier of fancy goods.
The owner is rarely there in the early morning - but there is always the reliable Diego - who has worked there for over 10 years. Diego isn't really sure about me or why I go crazy when I see a box full of untouched stamens all perfectly hand-wrapped - but he does know that I like to make him get up on a ladder and pull down the 72 boxes of feathers so I can pick out the perfect hand-curled, hand-painted turquoise plumes. Diego's got a look on his face that seems to say - "la mujer loca" - and maybe he's right...I am crazy when it comes to old millinery supplies - maybe I was a milliner to the courtesans of the 16th century.
Meanwhile, I am piling up rolls and rolls of old grosgrain and velvet ribbon onto the counter and he's pulling off the original price stickers and saying "You know, this is really old - so I can't sell you this at 7 cents anymore." I know, I know you pay more for the old stuff - I get it!! Since Diego isn't the owner - there is no negotiating - which is the part I really enjoy. I like seeing if I can buy more and get a better deal. But with Diego, there is no deal. Instead, I get to roam on my own and dig through whatever I like for as long as I like because he's on to the next customer or phone call or cup of coffee. I keep thinking one of these days I won't be able to walk out with my arms filled with bags of vintage fruit or a box full of old straw flowers - one of these days the stock will dry up. But for now, there is plenty and I will continue to go back and find the old millinery that inspires me and keeps me thinking of the next great collection of goods.