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Inside Cameron Silver's Shoe Closet

The retailer has a love for all things vintage and is about to become Bravo's latest reality TV star.

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Cameron Helm

Among Silver’s vast collection is a pair of paint-splattered shoes by Cameron Helm

Photo By Scott Witter

Cameron Silver is becoming a master of all media.

The 43-year-old founder and co-owner of Los Angeles’ Decades boutique, which specializes in vintage, yet modern, luxury apparel and accessories, recently became an author with the publication of “Decades: A Century of Fashion.” The book chronicles style throughout the 20th century with a focus on modernity.

“When you look at the past 100 years, you see some repetitions that happen within the century, as well as some of the polarities and dualities in each decade,” Silver said when Footwear News sat down with him at his home in L.A.’s Los Feliz neighborhood. “The 1950s might have been synonymous with Grace Kelly, but they’re also synonymous with Bettie Page, and the Bettie Page image is such a shoe-fetish image. It actually looks like she’s wearing Christian Louboutins. It’s so interesting that these two women had such an impact on the same decade. One was pure princess, and the other was considered by many to be perverse, but it all happened within the same 10 years.”

Silver himself is about to get a little screen time when his Bravo reality TV show debuts on March 6. Called “Dukes of Melrose,” the show follows Silver and Decades co-owner Christos Garkinos as they buy and sell high-end vintage women’s apparel and accessories, and visit celebrity homes and closets. “It’s about the business of Decades and the dynamic between me and my business partner and staff, and then my outside professional world, styling and curating exhibitions, and my philanthropic world,” Silver said.

He added that he hopes the show will both entertain and educate audiences on the historical significance of fashion designers. “I do believe that every episode, in addition to all the ridiculousness of retail and being a small-business owner, should have an educational component about these designers from the past who come through the doors of Decades,” he said.

Here, the fashion guru talks about his love of footwear, his close connections to shoe designers and his “magic feet.”

Pairs owned: 300-plus

Favorite brands: Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo, Donald J Pliner, Louis Vuitton, Max Kibardin, Charlotte Olympia, Vero Cuoio, Bally, Gucci, Lanvin, Bruno Magli

Personal style: “I don’t like anything basic or boring, and I don’t buy a lot of black. I’ve always liked shiny shoes, embellished shoes. I like over-the-top shoes, so if I’m going to wear something really clean, I like that the shoes are the conversation piece. I also want something no one else has.”

Shoe connection: “I’m friends with every shoe designer. I get almost all the Louboutin samples, so I have lots of prototypes that are great that I love. ... [And] I got the first pair of Charlotte Olympia’s men’s shoes [made especially for me]. I’m lucky that my feet are sample size so I get a lot of runway shoes that [labels] often don’t produce.”

Last pair purchased: “In Rome, there was a Bruno Magli sale at 60 percent off, and I found a pair of shoes that I really wanted and didn’t have. I bought these blue, beautiful polished leather loafers with a tassel.”

Go-to shoes: “There are certain shoes I always travel with. I have these Bruno Magli aubergine-[colored] croc loafers. I have these 6-year-old Lambertson Truex Chelsea croc boots that are perfect. I also have black velvet Louboutin slippers that I love. And I have an AllSaints boot that kind of has a beat-up look.”

Biggest shoe regret: “I regret getting rid of some of my shoes from the 1980s and ’90s. I had these great Patrick Cox Wannabes. They were these great little loafers. I remember I had a python pair that was just a good shoe.”

Favorite vintage finds: “I have a big collection of vintage Gucci loafers. When I find vintage men’s shoes that fit me, I snag them. The challenge is that people didn’t used to have very big feet and I do. But I have magic feet — I can fit into a size 9 to a 14.”

Brand loyalty: “I’m not a snob. If it’s a good shoe, who cares who made it? If it’s a good shoe, it’s a good shoe.”

Most glamorous shoe: “That’s a pair of shoes I just got from Andrea Pompilio. He’s a Milanese designer. They’re purple velvet evening slippers with fur balls. They look like you could dust shelves with them, but they’re kind of genius.”

Biggest shoe splurge: “I have a pair of A. Testoni croc boots with mink lining. They retailed for a crazy amount, like $30,000, but I did not pay that. I had to wheel and deal. I never pay retail. I paid a lot, but less than most.”

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