Amalgamated Costume and Design Studio has been donning theater and film professionals in vintage attire for nearly a decade. The Arlington shop’s most recent projects of note? Providing costumes for new Netflix hit Hollywood, which debuted in the spring, as well as 2019 Academy Award nominee The Irishman. Here, owner Shelley White talks about her passion for both curated vintage and the Northern Virginia region.
What inspired you to open Amalgamated Costume & Design?
When my partner and I met in 2001, we discovered we shared a common interest in collecting vintage clothing and had both been doing it since we were teens. After being together several years, we decided on a lark to do a show in New York City to sell off some of our inventory and were approached by HBO about providing clothing for the 2011 remake of Mildred Pierce, starring Kate Winslet, Guy Pearce and Evan Rachel Wood. Not having a clue about what we were doing, we dove right in and actually started the business doing rentals for film and stage while we were both working other jobs. The year following that film, we began getting several requests for wardrobe, so I left my job with the Department of Defense and opened the business in April of 2012.
What do you love most about vintage clothing?
I am drawn to vintage because I love finding pieces that I think no one else will have! With fast fashion, I always have disliked seeing the same pieces being worn on so many people. Wearing a vintage garment always allows for greater expression of my creativity and personal style.
If you could go back in time to live in any decade, which one would you choose and why?
If I had to choose, I’d love to be teleported back to the 1920s. I’m in love with the literature, music, architecture, fashion and style of that entire decade.
We’ve all been quarantining for a while. What is something new that you discovered about Northern Virginia during this time?
It was heartwarming to discover that so many local small businesses stepped up in the community to help the less fortunate by providing everything from masks and other PPE to meals to families and individuals most affected by the shutdown. Throughout the coronavirus crisis, it has been so uplifting to hear stories of our community coming together helping one another.