'The Ikea kitchen had to go': Inside the home of LA's vintage king Cameron Silver

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Pillows by Tom Ford, trinkets by Hermès and YSL, Lanvin props...

It's vintage, darling. The business – and the house. Cameron Silver set up Decades, a shop selling vintage dresses in Los Angeles, in 1997. And we're not talking your rag-bag, sequin-trailing charity-shop finds; the suave businessman went seriously high-end, sourcing fabulous frocks in which A-listers could sashay down the red carpet. He's since been named one of the 25 most influential people in fashion by Time magazine, and recently published a sumptuous coffee-table book, entitled Decades, exploring "a century of fashion".

Naturally, you'd need the pad to match. And he and his partner Jeff Snyder (and their rather unglamorously named dog, Gary, a German spitz) have certainly found it in their mid-century modern LA home. The Elliot House was designed by Rudolf M Schindler in 1930; Silver bought it in 1999, and it was restored by architects Marmol Radziner. It's a tri-level property built on a hill – the bottom layer added nine years after the other two were built – with a garage on street level, too. "It was like, 'Hey – I sell vintage designer clothing, I should have a vintage designer house,'" says the Beverly Hills-born couture connoisseur, who'd always been a fan of Schindler's modernist work: "The Kings Road House [in California], to me, is one of the most interesting 20th-century properties."

Apart from the designer tag, there was something else about the building that spoke to Silver: he's used to trusting his gut when it comes to clothes, and buying a property was no different… "I just knew it was the right house. I can remember seeing the garage, which is somewhat of a mini version of the house, and going up a few stairs and I was like, 'This is the house' before I had set foot in it. When I buy a dress, I know [it's worth buying] just looking at it. It was the same thing [with the house]: I just knew, like I had tried it on, in a sense."

It took a lot of work, mind, to get it back to its clean, original design, and living in a piece of significant architecture is, Silver concedes, high maintenance. "It was a pretty epic restoration," he begins. "The previous owners had put in an Ikea kitchen, and blocked out a lot of windows. [We were] restoring the wood, restoring cabinetry that was lost, just getting the house back to the colour it was, the paint. And the garage needed masses of restoration; it was more or less rebuilt." Luckily for them, and their architects, there is a substantial archive at the University of California, Santa Barbara, with documents and designs by the likes of Schindler, Richard Neutra and Frank Lloyd Wright, which had photographs of the original they could draw on.

Not that Silver felt the need to go completely mid-century modern when it came to the interior. They did add several "built-ins" – such as that low green sofa – in keeping with the architectural aesthetic , while that swivelling, adjustable white Poulsen lamp, a flea-market find before they had even discovered the building, happily "just worked in the house". Elsewhere, however, Silver's taste veers towards the opulent, as you might expect of a man who started his career as a cabaret singer. "I like luxury; Schindler isn't really a luxury architect, but we still throw down Hermès objects everywhere, and [create] a more ornate atmosphere," he says.

There are certainly plenty of high-fashion nods: that red painting, by Kim Fisher, is a riff on the logo of French designer André Courrèges; the red fluffy pillow is Tom Ford for Gucci. The dining table is dotted with decorative items by Hermès and pieces of Yves Saint Laurent jewellery. Next to a vintage zebra hide is a Lanvin light box that had been a prop for a perfume display. ("We did a dinner for [designer] Alber Elbaz once, he had just started at Lanvin, and it was so nice to have that – it just was cute," purrs Silver, not averse to a name-drop.)

"It's an interesting juxtaposition with Schindler, who was a modernist and in a sense a minimalist, putting in those eccentric touches," explains Silver. And it does all come back to his pash for fash: "It's very much how I like to dress – I mix it up, my own taste is very classic, but I'll wear the weirdest shoes. And that's the same decorating style here."

'Decades: A Century of Fashion' is published by Bloomsbury, priced £40

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine