"L.A. Frock Stars," the docu-reality series focusing on Doris Raymond and her La Brea Boulevard vintage shop the Way We Wore, begins its second season on the Smithsonian Channel at 9 p.m. Thursday, and it's a longer, stronger and even more star-studded dive down the rabbit hole of the vintage clothing business than the debut season, which first aired in March 2013.
Each of the six episodes of the new season — shot over the course of four months from April to July 2014 — is an hour long, double the running time of the first season. That allows viewers to spend more time with Raymond and her staff (including Sarah Bergman and Shelly Lyn, who return from Season 1, and newcomer Angelika Sjostrom) as they cater to the colorful crowd coming through the door of the boutique. This time around guest stars include fashion designer Jeremy Scott, stylist Jen Rade and jewelry designer Sonia Boyajian. Meanwhile Raymond continues a never-ending cross-country vintage quest that finds her trekking to an auction in Pennsylvania and an estate liquidation in Chicago.
Each episode is still packed with the fashion factoids about designers and labels (Oscar de la Renta, Rudi Gernreich, Escada, Bibi), retailers (Jax of Beverly Hills) and the stylish celebrities of yesteryear (Peruvian soprano Yma Sumac) that crop up in the course of, say, helping stylist Seth Chernoff pull some potential outfits for Tori Spelling to wear on a promo tour for "Mystery Girls."
A highlight of the new season is the amount of time spent with a particularly important part of Raymond's clientele: Hollywood costume designers. Among those who pop in to shop are Arianne Phillips, on the hunt for a 1970s-era surfer vibe for a film; Lou Eyrich, searching for suitable circus wear for "American Horror Story: Freak Show"; and Mark Bridges, who won an Academy Award for his work on "The Artist," gathering garments for a Martin Scorsese HBO music project set in the 1970s. Listening to them share their thoughts as they riffle the racks is like a master class in costume design.
Another high point for any ardent follower of fashion will likely be watching fashion designer Scott peruse Raymond's collection of vintage Moschino pieces and share his thoughts about some of the key pieces. (It doesn't happen until the final episode of the season on April 23, but it's worth the wait.)
Another big change — though it's not one necessarily notable onscreen — is that the exposure from the first season has given the Way We Wore a serious bump in business. "The [first season] episodes were playing on some airlines," Raymond said, "and we literally get people who clear customs, get in a taxi and come straight over here. We saw that immediately. On a weekly basis we'll get from zero to a dozen people who come in specifically because they've seen the show, and it's on their list of things to do when they visit Los Angeles." (The show was also the reason the estate liquidator in Chicago contacted Raymond, resulting in what she describes as "the second-best estate I've ever gotten things from.")
From obscure fashion history (Scott Paper Co. made promotional dresses of paper in the late 1960s) to useful tips (stylist Maryam Malakpour, looking to accessorize client Heidi Klum, explains how a vintage belt can take an otherwise ordinary outfit up a notch), the new season of "L.A. Frock Stars" has a little bit of something for everyone.
"There are so many things in here that I didn't know I wanted — and now I can't live without them," Bridges says in the final episode. He's referring to the Way We Wore boutique, of course, but for true lovers of vintage clothing, those words may well sum up the second season of "L.A. Frock Stars."