By Katia Graytok

In this interview, Norman Tipton, a resident of the San Diego area, shares his philosophy on collecting vintage Hollywood costumes and why he chose Margaret’s Couture Cleaners to restore and preserve three costumes worn by movie legends and icons Loretta Young, Liza Minnelli and Betty Davis.

KG: Tell me about your collection?
NT: I ​​started collecting more than 40 years ago.

KG: How did you start collecting and when?
NT: I ​​started collecting movie posters in the 1980s, which followed suit with props and costumes.

KG: Do you have a particular process in mind when collecting or a particular designer that you admire?
NT: Collecting is my hobby that has allowed me to meet fascinating people. Debbie Reynolds was a great contact and friend whose personal efforts to save costumes from early Hollywood history were appreciated.

KG: What would be your most important piece in your collection?
MT: Barbara Streisand’s costume from Funny Girl, Joan Crawford from Mildred Pierce, Betty Davis from Queen Elizabeth, Faye Dunaway from The Three Musketeers.

KG: Are the three Margaret’s pieces your latest acquisitions, which include the costume worn by Bette Davis in the movie “The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, the Crusader costume worn by Loretta Young, and the long dress? emerald worn by Liza Minnelli in New York, New York?
NT: Yes

The Crusades (Paramount, 1935) Creator: Travis Banton Loretta Young



Before and after cleaning and restoration: Hundreds of seed beads replaced, fur added to the collar as in the original design of Loretta Young’s medieval dress and cream silk cape studded with seed beads on the bodice and skirt worn for the movie The Crusades. Travis Benton designed Lorretta Young’s costume in 1935 for the movie The Crusades. Benton is considered one of the most important Hollywood costume designers of the Golden Age. Glamor, subtle elegance, and exquisite fabrics endeared Travis Banton to Hollywood’s most famous royalty and one of the most sought-after costume designers of his time.

KG: What attracted you about these plays, the movie, the star, the costume designer, the time and the place?
NT: I ​​consider who wore it and the recognition of the actor’s name, how important the film was at the height of the actor’s career, and how visually striking the piece is. The collection is about movies, not fashion.

KG: What else do you collect?
NT: My collections and my interests are posters and women’s costumes. I don’t collect men’s clothes because they have no value to me; a men’s suit is a men’s suit is a men’s suit.

KG: Do you have an artistic family background?
NT: My family has always been interested in culture. I personally enjoyed vintage comics.

New York, New York (1977) Designer: Theodora Van Runkie Liza Minnelli



Before and after cleaning an emerald green evening dress with a bugle bead pattern, the stains were removed and the color restored due to fading and torn beads repaired. American costume designer Theodora Van Runkie designed Liza Minnelli’s costume in 1977 for the American musical drama New York, New York. A commercial artist who fell into the costume by chance, Ms. Van Runkle was known for her designs that combined Hollywood glamor with historical fidelity.

KG: What is the future of your collection?
NT: I ​​am open to exhibiting my collections in the United States and internationally. The V&A Museum in London borrowed 10 pieces for the Hollywood costume exhibition in 2013. I have three children who will inherit my collection.

KG: Private collections vs. museum collections. Is there a plan to organize an exhibition with a museum or gallery in the future?
NT: I ​​am open to sharing my collection with museums, cultural foundations and universities.

KG: Do you buy online?
NT: I ​​shop occasionally online and occasionally on eBay. The Prop Store has annual auctions, but you have to be careful because any bonuses and purchase costs can exceed the value of the costume. I prefer to meet and network with other collectors and not work with auction houses.

KG: What do you think makes people good collectors?
NT: The desire to share a collection and maintain a collection

The Private Lives of Elizabeth & Essex (1939) Designer: Orry-Kelly Betty Davis



Before and after restoration below of an elaborate costume weighing approx. sixty pounds, worn by Betty Davis as Queen Elizabeth. The decorative fabric that was attached to the dress from another movie has been removed and restored to be original again. In addition, the velvet has been restored in some places damaged by time. Orry-Kelly was an Australian-American Hollywood costume designer and Australia’s most prolific Oscar winner who won three Academy Awards for Best Costume Design. Orry-Kelly was known for his ability to “design for distraction” to compensate for different body shapes. In addition to the design, Kelly has written a column, “Hollywood Fashion Parade”. For the International Information Service. Kelly’s memoir, Women I’ve Undressed, was published in 2015. The film The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex is considered a great historical epic.

KG: How do you define vintage?
NT: Everything that was before 1990 and has stood the test of time. In 1935, Joan Crawford’s wedding dress, designed by Adrian from the movie “I Live my Life,” was so popular that the studio promoted the wedding dress. A Chicago family won the costume and wore the dress to President Roosevelt’s birthday ball.

KG: Why is the vintage phenomenon emerging now?
NT: Vintage is original and the integrity of the design can be trusted. Even though the costume can be recycled and pollinated from other films. You know it was created from an original design with historical and time stamped reference.

KG: What does vintage bring to fashion?
NT: The best answer is a quote from the seamstress Marie-Jeanne Rose Bertin to Marie-Antoinette. “Bertin is said to have pointed out to Marie Antionette in 1785 when presenting her with a reshaped dress:“ There is nothing new except what is forgotten ”(“ There is nothing new except what has been forgotten. ”)

KG: What would you call vintage, and who determines the value of a piece?
NT: Different collections appeal to different buyers, television, the star appeal of the actress or the importance of the creator. Historically, a coin’s value has always been what someone is willing to pay, who the actress is, and what she represents to the buyer.

KG: What haven’t you acquired and what do you have your eye on?
NT: I’m looking for a Greta Garbo and a Jean Harlow. They are extremely elusive.

KG: How long have you worked with Margaret’s and how would you describe Margaret’s service and ability to restore your costumes?
NT: I’ve worked with Margaret’s for a few years and found them online, we met and showed them my collections, and I was continually impressed with their cleaning, restoration and preservation services.

About Margaret’s the Couture Cleaner Margaret’s the Couture Cleaner offers a variety of services that you won’t find at your regular dry cleaner. All services are performed at their award-winning processing facility in San Diego. Four generations of experience and personalized processes provide us with the expertise to handle the most delicate couture dresses, suits, vintage clothes, new clothes, handbags and leathers, shoes and almost any textile applications. In addition, all services are available nationwide through our CleanByMail service.
Through Margaret’s RETAILER ALLIANCE cleaning services, their expertise is used by more than 300 retailers and designers across the country to maintain stock of merchandise and help resolve customer service issues. In addition, many dry cleaners nationwide also use Margaret’s team of experts to help resolve processing errors and give us the task of tackling their most demanding cleaning challenges. The most common services requested by other cleaners include cleaning and repairing their handbags, treating leather and suede, repairing knits, cleaning couture wedding dresses, and cleaning elaborate evening wear. .