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Decades Scores 'Treasure Trove' of Shamask Samples

The Los Angeles vintage specialist has unearthed 59 original samples from the designer’s Coty and CFDA Award-winning days.

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SHAMASK’S DECADE: Julia Roberts already has one. So does La Roux lead singer Elly Jackson, and savvy international fashion collectors spread from Singapore to Berlin. An original Shamask look from the early Eighties, that is, currently being sold online and in-store at Los Angeles vintage specialist Decades.

A tip from Paper Magazine’s Kim Hastreiter put Decades co-owner Cameron Silver on the track of what he calls a “treasure trove” of 59 original Ronaldus Shamask samples from the designer’s Coty and CFDA Award-winning days. These were also the days of his partnership with Murray Moss, who’d been sitting on the garments in question for almost 25 years.

Silver hightailed it over to New York, took a quick look and sent the stash back to Los Angeles. “The response has been great,” he said. “There’s a combination of architecture, an Asian influence and a distinctive American chicness to the clothes. They don’t particularly have hanger appeal,” he acknowledged, “but once on the body.…”

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It was actually a red Charles James dress and his birth certificate that got Moss to crack open the boxes he’d personally packed and moved into storage after closing the Moss Shamask Fashion Co. in 1990. His friend Susan de Menil was hosting the museum gala in Houston, and he remembered the red spiral Charles James dress he’d purchased at Christie’s years back. He thought it would be perfect for her. Plus he needed to get his hands on his original birth certificate, all safely stowedin storage.

While the first box he tapped held both, he decided to crack open the rest, “and then I realized what I had — the original samples! It was important to me that the clothes be worn, that they be sent back into life,” Moss told WWD.

For his own part, the vintage dealer is convinced the fashion world is having a “Shamask moment. He wasn’t an anachronism.” To illustrate the relevance of Shamask’s early signature looks today, Decades compiled a comparison card showcasing similarities between original Shamask designs and current designer looks from the likes of Calvin Klein, Lanvin, Dior and Michael Kors, among others.

Not that Silver thinks the resemblances are intentional. “I simply think the Shamask look is in the zeitgeist right now. It’s just an example of the magic of fashion.” As for Shamask, Silver said he can’t say “if he knows we have these pieces. But he certainly can buy anything back he’d like.”