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Behind The Scenes: Doris Raymond On L.A. Frock Stars

Doris Raymond and her boutique, The Way We Wore, are featured in “L.A. Frock Stars” photo credit: Smithsonian Channel

By: Marjorie Galas

Doris Raymond knows quality when she sees it. As a teenager, she learned she could remain fashionable without stretching her family’s tight finances by shopping at thrift stores. For as little as five dollars she could purchase high-end and designer clothing. Raymond honed her skills at spotting the highest quality vintage and designer goods, and turned her passion into a profession in the mid 80’s when she opened her own vintage clothing store in San Francisco. Raymond eventually closed the location to relocate to Los Angeles and open a high-end boutique. Her store, The Way We Wore, provides the heartbeat for Smithsonian Channel’s acclaim series, “L. A. Frock Stars.”

Highly regarded in the fashion industry for her designer knowledge and skill at providing attire for any need or occasions, Raymond’s new location exposed her to a steady stream of producers. They presented her with reality show concepts that lacked appeal and merit. Raymond passed on all proposals until she wasapproached by a producer at NHNZ Ltd. The award-winning production company specializing in fact-based content about people, nature, history and science, shared an idea that would use The Way We Wore as a hub for an entertaining and educational program Under the direction of NHNZ Ltd. executive producer Judith Curran and Smithsonian channel’s EVP programming and production David Royle and SVP production Charles Poe, a pitch that mixed education, creativity and the business of fashion won Raymond’s green light.

“For years I was approached with traditional reality program ideas, and I didn’t want to participate in that genre,” said Raymond. “What NHNZ presented with a new idea, more of a documentary than a reality series. There’s a strong focus on education. It’s really unfair to call it reality.”

Entering its second season March 19 “L.A. Frock Stars” highlights Raymond and her staff – store manager Sarah Bergman, sales associate Shelly Lyn and assistant store manager Angelika Sjostrom, who’s making her debut this season. While Raymond and her team had no prior film or television experience, they made a quick and comfortable transition due in part to an unobtrusive shooting arrangement. The crew arrived a week in advance to set up lighting used throughout the four-month production schedule. From April through July, camera operators kept a comfortable distance at The Way We Wore, capturing everything from customers looking for wedding dresses, to top costume designers, such as Lou Eryrich (Glee, American Horror Story) hunting for specific wardrobe items. While Sjostrom was hesitant to be in front of the camera, she followed in the footsteps of her fellow The Way We Wore team members. They all became comfortable quickly by maintaining focus on the tasks at hand.

“Sarah, my right hand person, claims she was not very comfortable when we started, but she’s so quick-witted and smart, and is so natural on camera” said Raymond. “It helps that the series is unscripted. We have the added freedom to be ourselves.”

Raymond has enjoyed working with the producers to emphasize the educational aspects of the show. Her input regarding the presentation of terminology and facts appearing in each hour-long episode has been infused into the show’s presentation during season two. While many aspects of production were new to her during the show’s first go-around, Raymond the second season much more prepared, particularly in noticing those aspects of daily The Way We Wore life that are left on the cutting room floor.

“I would protest to the producers, wondering why so many great moments were missing,” said Raymond. “They explained their story arcs and intentions of finding moments that create wonderful programming.”

The patrons featured in “L,A. Frock Stars” are a balanced combination of public visitations and frequent customers Raymond contacted to schedule visits during the show’s production. Raymond  specifically asked many award-winning costume designers she’s forged relationships with over the years to participate. She was excited to highlight their talents as well as educate viewers as to the intricate nature of their jobs.

“Mark Bridges (Oscar-winning costume designer, “The Artist”) will be featured in season two. In his episode, viewers will learn about backdating,” said Raymond. “The film he was working on takes place in the Midwest where the latest fashions wouldn’t be so quick to enter the general public. It’s so exciting to be able to educate the public about all these details involved in their job.”

In addition to visits by Bridges, burlesque star Dita von Teese, Moschino head designer Jeremy Scott and many other recognizable names, Raymond and Bergman will travel to Chicago after receiving a tip from an estate liquidator who found a massive lot of clothing collected by a former Doir model. Although Raymond is excited about all the episodes airing in season two, she is especially fond of an episode that involved working with a group of students from Woodberry University. The young students studying design represent the next generation in the fashion world, and she was inspired by their great insight and innovative ideas.

As more viewers become exposed to “L.A. Frock Stars”, Raymond hopes their viewing experience not only educates them, but ignites a creative spark within them.

“I hope the show inspires people to review what they have in their closets; to rethink wearing an older pair of jeans they thought were out of style,” said Raymond.  “I want them to feel confident in displaying and celebrating their own personality.”

For more information about “L.A. Frock Stars”, please visit:
http://www.smithsonianchannel.com/shows/la-frock-stars/1002962