W e're playing "Stump the Stylists," and the stylists are killing us.
"Where can you get Christmas lights in July?"
"Stats, in Pasadena," says Marcy Froehlich. "Or Armstrong's in West L.A.," chimes in Barbara Inglehart.
"How about Size 13 AA purple pumps?"
"Chic--no wait, those are wide sizes. Lydia's TV Fashions," says Pamela Shaw.
"A child's snowsuit?"
"Out of season? The catalogs Orvis and L.L. Bean," Froehlich says. "Back stock at JCPenney," Inglehart offers. "And I would try REI here in town," Shaw adds.
A Marie Antoinette-style wig. Landlubber wide-legged bell-bottoms. A 42 DD bustier. Very worn chaps. These pros know where to get them all.
Finally, "Mardi Gras beads?"
"There's a place in New Orleans," Froehlich says hesitantly. "It's in the book."
"The book" is "Shopping L.A.: The Insiders' Sourcebook for Film & Fashion," a 550-page reference guide compiled and published by Froehlich, Inglehart and Shaw that amazes even insiders. ("They have a referral for everything," says costume designer Pat Naderhoff). Indeed, the three Los Angeles area stylists/costume designers spent more than 3,000 hours on the project, pooling their Rolodexes plus emptying the personal phone books of other stylists, costumers and specialists. On a recent morning Shaw and Froehlich stopped shopping long enough to chat with free-lance fashion writer Gaile Robinson about the book. Inglehart, on location in Mexico, phoned in long enough to play "Stump the Stylists."
Question: Aren't stylists only as good as their sources? Why would you share all this information?
Shaw: I disagree, although good resources are a part of it. I did have one costumer who saw the book say it really levels the playing field. But I think your talent, your ability to get along with people and your own design sense speak more highly of you as a designer than just your ability to find things.
Q: About getting along with people, I noticed notations after some entries, such as "very friendly," and "incredibly helpful." Whose comments are these?
Froehlich: From the three of us. If we didn't know the store really well we would just put in a description, but if there is anything like "friendly," "good salespeople," that's from us. If we knew of anyone who had ripped off people, we left them out.
Q: Why are so few fashion designers listed?
Shaw: They are not helpful to film people. They cooperate with magazines because in editorial they get a line credit. You don't get that in either films or commercials.
Q: What about stars who want to wear a specific designers clothes or certain brand--is that ever a problem?
Froehlich: I did a film with Steven Seagal and he always wears Versace. Cannalli called and wanted to dress him, but he would only wear Versace and Cannalli wasn't interested in dressing anyone else. So that fell through.
Shaw: I always ask the actors for their favorite brand of jeans. That way I don't have to bring in 50 pairs for them to try on.
Q: Have you found any rules of thumb for fitting jeans?
Shaw: Donna Karan cuts well for a long curved body, Calvin Klein for a lean body shape. There are even differences in store brands. The Gap's brand is not as long as Nordstrom's.
Q: There are some mystifying terms in the book. What is a "walk-around costume"?
Froehlich: That is a costume that accommodates a person inside the costume, but the person is completely concealed--like Disney characters.
Q: "Celastic"? You seem to be very appreciative of stores that carry Celastic or Veraform.
Froehlich: Celastic is a fabric permeated with plastic to make it hard. You soak the fabric in acetone, which makes it pliable and you mold it to the shape you want. Then when it dries it will be hard. It's used for masks, helmets, armor, things like that. Veraform is the same but water soluble. "Friendly plastic" is similar and just needs to be heated.
Q: You have several sections in the book that I would not have expected, such as computers.
Froehlich: Costume designers and wardrobe people are becoming much more computer conscious.
Shaw: We use them for budget breakdowns and keeping track of budgets. Television show budgets have to be submitted weekly. On a film you're trying to keep a budget going at an even pace.
Q: You also have listings of hardware stores, office supply stores and delivery services?
Froehlich: Because we're always in our cars, running all over the city and you need those places. Hardware stores because you're always doing weird things like a space-age costume and need something like a drawer pull to put on it, or maybe you just need a paintbrush.
Q: Whose idea was it to include all the conversion charts in the appendix? I had no idea that sizes in Spain would be different than European sizes, or that English hat sizes would be a quarter-inch smaller than American sizes.
Shaw: We all wanted the clothing sizes because we've done jobs overseas and it's tough. Each country is so different. And you see the European sizes here in imported clothing and shoes. If it's a problem for us it must be a problem for lots of people."
Q: Was there any list that you considered but didn't include?
Froehlich: In the mall section we didn't include the Hallmark card shops or See's Candies; we only listed the kind of stores we use.
Shaw: One thing we thought about but didn't include was public bathrooms. That would have been very useful.
Q: Where are the books available?
Froehlich: In independent book stores. They aren't in chains yet because we don't have a distributor. But you can find them at Samuel French, Vroman's, Book Soup, Hennessey & Ingalls, and Arcana Books on the Arts.
Shaw: We also left copies at places we use, like F&S; Fabrics. And there are order forms at the studio service departments of stores. You can order by phone. Our number, (818) 762-9544, is in the book several times. Or our e-mail address is ShoppingLA@aol.com.
Q: The cost?
Shaw: $40, plus tax and shipping."