To the casual passerby, there’s nothing remarkable about the 120,000-square-foot former printing plant fronting a sun-baked stretch of Vanowen Street in North Hollywood.
Eddie Marks, president of Western Costume, stands amid rows of garments that are sorted by decade. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)
There’s nothing to indicate that, just beyond the double doors, gangsters are earning their stripes, “Mad Men” are being made and entire armies are getting outfitted in a rabbit warren of rooms flanked by a cavernous warehouse crammed with period clothing from multiple eras.
Few would guess that, just upstairs, Christopher Plummer’s jacket from “The Sound of Music” is rubbing elbows with Vivien Leigh’s Walter Plunkett-designed buckboard dress from “Gone With the Wind,” not far from a feathered headdress once worn by Cary Grant in “To Catch a Thief.” The latter’s outsized plumage brushes against both a dress worn by Mitzi Gaynor in “South Pacific” and the colorful jackets worn by the brothers Gibb in “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”
There’s a tumult of top hats, tank tops, tunics, ‘20s-era trousers, breastplates, bowlers and beads that have circulated in and out of the low-profile building to high-profile appearances on television and movie screens, theater stages and video-game consoles for nearly 100 years.