Special to The Times

Vintage clothing virtuoso Doris Raymond built a business out of providing costumes for innumerable movies, including films as varied as “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “The Hours.” But two years ago, the San Franciscan headed south to open The Way We Wore, a jewel of a shop on La Brea Avenue. Though she already counts Chloe Sevigny, Kirsten Dunst and Mandy Moore as paying clients, Raymond has decided to start lending pieces to celebrities this awards season.

Why are you now letting people borrow?

When I came to L.A., I wasn’t indoctrinated to the ways of doing business here. I thought, “I’m a retail store. Why would I want to loan things?” But now I know it can be mutually beneficial. If a person is high-profile and gets photographed a lot, it’s great advertising for vintage.

Why go vintage?

Sometimes we won’t be able to compete with Chanel and all those houses that throw $20,000 gowns at actresses, but there’s a major draw with vintage: 99% of the time, you can be sure you’ll be the only one with that dress. Not everyone has a stylist who checks the entire history and background of a dress. And probably no one else has even seen a vintage piece, whereas anyone can see a dress that just came off the runway.


What gowns do you have that would be perfect for the awards shows?

We have this 1981 Ungaro couture dress that would be just gorgeous. It’s black silk jacquard with an open back and full train. For something more eclectic, there’s a Versace gown from when Gianni was still alive and designing -- short in the front, long in back, it’s half black, half chartreuse. Then we have a 1958 YSL for Christian Dior. It’s exquisite -- a strapless, tiered bubble dress in black taffeta.

Those horror stories about dresses coming back a shambles after a night of partying -- aren’t you worried about your dresses?

There’s an agreement in place: If the item comes back in any condition other than the way it was loaned out, then they have to buy it. This is a business. This is not a charity. Of course, if it’s only perspiration stains or something, we’ll just ask them to clean it.