Vintage LA NPR coverage of Vintage LA by Jennifer Brandt Taylor and Jeaneen Lund. News, author interviews, critics' picks and more.
NPR logo Vintage LA

Paperback, 232 pages, Harpercollins, List Price: $34.95 |

purchase

Buy Featured Book

Title
Vintage LA
Author
Jennifer Brandt Taylor and Jeaneen Lund

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?

Book Summary

A photographic insider's tour of the classic landmarks of Los Angeles, written by the creator of Pesky Meddling Girls magazine, draws on her insider experience with the fashion and movie industry, showcasing such hot spots as the Sunset Hyatt House, Mashti Malone's, and Chateau Marmont.

Read an excerpt of this book

NPR stories about Vintage LA

Three Books For Frugal Fashionistas

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/104816953/112933542" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Note: Book excerpts are provided by the publisher and may contain language some find offensive.

Excerpt: Vintage LA

Vintage L.A.

Eats, Boutiques, Decor, Landmarks, Markets & More


HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2008 Jennifer Brandt Taylor
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061122781

"A town that has to be seen to be disbelieved."—Walter Winchell

Introduction

Where else in the world can you actually stand in Clark Gable's footprints, attend a séance to meet Houdini's spirit in a haunted castle, drink whiskey while sitting on Bukowski's favorite barstool, watch Casablanca under the stars in a historic cemetery, meditate at George Harrison's favorite beachside temple, and ride horses into the sunset under the Hollywood sign?

Every day in L.A. is filled with its own unique cinematic magic, cast with ghosts of glamorous eras gone by—silent movie cowboys, film noir detectives, decadent lotharios, and tragically beautiful bombshells.

Los Angeles is a collage. It's a Technicolor mélange of people, cultures, styles, images, history, and myths. And if L.A. is indeed "the dream factory" or "Tinseltown" or "the glamour capital," or any of the other grandiose names people dub this "LaLaLand," then just imagine the dazzling items that its famous residents discard—that feed its hungry hunters and collectors. This is a city where debonair playboys run their Aston Martin's into trees after too much Veuve Clicquot, and have their houseboy hock their vintage Hermès watch to pay the bail (lucky you). This is a town where Oscar winners and rock 'n' roll divas have nervous breakdowns, move to an ashram, and drop all their Diors off at the Salvation Army (lucky us). It's a town full of buried treasure. Thereby, I proclaim Los Angeles the official vintage capital of the world!

Over the years, I've heard many people (mostly New Yorkers and San Franciscans actually) dismiss L.A. for lacking a rich architectural history, but I beg to differ. This is a town where architecture has flourished, and its vast open spaces and idyllic climate have inspired many of the world's most innovative builders of the last century. It was not only the weather that lured these architects to Los Angeles, but they were practically snake-charmed by the glamorous elite who resided here, and the fact that these entertainment industry characters would undoubtably be in need of their services. L.A. is accessorized with magnificent structures like diamonds on an Oscar nominee. Around the city you will see joints built by Frank Lloyd Wright, John Lautner, Richard Neutra, Paul Williams, Rudolf Schindler, Charles and Ray Eames, Richard Meier, Frank Gehry, and many more. Not to forget the fantastical interior decorators, like Billy Baldwin and Tony Duquette, who decked out the insides of these shrines to design sense, or the visionary men who built our city's historic movie palaces, like Sid Grauman and S. Charles Lee.

Vintage L.A. is an all-encompassing guide for the connoisseur of the used. It's a tome where you'll find no reproductions—all places covered are purely for the true-blue, old-school history seekers and collectors of secondhand coolness. As I was re-exploring my hometown for this book, including places I've been frequenting since birth, my mantra became "give 'em the best of the best." And that's what I've done. I am giving you a tour of Los Angeles' best—the places where you'll have the best experiences, find the best stuff, see the best movies, eat the best food, hear the best music, and all is happening within the best architecture from the best eras. I am an L.A. native who has lived in this town for the past thirty years (since birth), and with this book, I am revealing hundreds of locations—from Anaheim to Venice—and clueing you in to secret spots it's taken me a lifetime to discover.

Vintage is always unique. If you're wearing something vintage, you know the chances are slim to none that anybody else in the room will be wearing the same thing as you. The vintage lifestyle is based on the desire for something well-made and rare. Another upside to being a "vintager" is that if someone happens to recognize what you are wearing, driving, or the hidden old place you are patronizing, then it becomes a unifying experience. Those who love vintage are entered into a secret club—one that naturally finds individualism through a love of history.

You will also meet some of Los Angeles' best vintage lovers and artists, both famous and non, who share an unbridled adoration for this city's glittering history. These people are Los Angeles, and they will give you a list of their own favorite historic haunts, secondhand shops, and personal vintage stories. These are the people who embody the lifestyle of vintage Old Hollywood—they make up this city and keep it glamorous and rich.

I have been a secondhand soul since birth. My parents were both native New Yorkers and were in the women's fashion business throughout the '60s and '70s. They met in L.A. while having a meeting in Downtown's California Apparel Mart. My dad, Larry Brandt, repped a line of mod dresses called Young Edwardian (which I now collect), and he had an appointment to show them to my mom, Moira Hollmen, who was head buyer for Contempo Casuals (back in the '70s, when it catered to a cool, Stevie Nicks-type clientele). She reminded my dad of Diane Keaton in Annie Hall, she knew he would always make her laugh, and that's where I come in.

Being raised by a bohemian, one-time antiques dealer and an old-school New York City garmento, I was a vintage-obsessed little girl. I've been collecting vintage all my life and was raised watching black-and-white movies. I have been enamored by the golden age of Hollywood ever since I can remember. Even the hospital I was born in, Cedars of Lebanon in Hollywood, must have had the ghosts of glamour's past watching over me (at least I'd like to think they were). It was the same hospital where Marilyn Monroe would check into whenever she had a breakdown, where Elvis was admitted when he swallowed a tooth cap, and where Liza Minnelli was born.

As kids, my little sister Lizzie and I were obsessed with Vivien Leigh, and we'd watch our videotapes of Gone with the Wind until we finally wore them out. We would spend hours in our Studio City home playing dress-up in my mom's collection of 1920s embroidered Art Deco piano shawls, emerald flapper jewelry, floppy straw hats, and gauzy Zandra Rhodes dresses. My first real vintage obsession was a 1950s faux leopard fur, glamour-girl coat that was handed down to me by my mom at the age of fourteen. Let's just say, that at fourteen I couldn't really do this coat justice—especially with my braces.

Continues...