Paul Brockman is not only a man’s man, he is a woman’s man. How does a man collect 55 Thousand Dresses and maintain his masculinity? The same way my own contractor fiancé does: by shopping garage sales, estate sales, and store windows for his woman while he is driving from job site to job site.
The Secret: Now retired, Mr. Brockman spent years working as a contractor in California. In his free time, he and his wife Margot enjoyed ballroom dancing. Fascinated with the taffeta, silks, satins, and embellishments on his wife; Paul sought to provide a new dress for his lovely bride at every dance.
After retiring, the day eventually came for the couple to reveal their secret to the rest of his family. Brockman had collected over 55,000 dresses. With two shipping containers and a garage still full, Brockman has begun selling what he had room for in the warehouse: about one-third of his collection. Slowly but surely, he sells one diamond of a dress at a time to all of us vintage lovers in-the-know at his monthly sales.
Up for Sale: Brockman’s collection was first widely revealed to me and the Los Angeles community through a beautiful photo shoot and article by L.A. Weekly. I read through every word of the article and waited with baited breath to ask my fiancé to buy me a dress for my birthday. Of course, he said yes. I found their Facebook page and waited for the next sale announcement. I got my delicate peach and cream prom dress a few weeks later.
Located in Gardena, California; the “entrance fee” was $5 and worth every penny and more. The rows and rows of vintage dresses organized in a rainbow of colors made me feel that I just may stumble into Narnia at the end of an aisle. Every color imaginable (and the shades they don’t make anymore) hung overhead and brushed my arms with sparkles and lace crying out with a wink, “Even if I’m not your size, I can be altered!”
Get Yours: There was a vintage store owner from Las Vegas purchasing racks of clothing for her customers. I accidentally shopped her rack of potential purchases and she thrust the peach and cream dress in my arms like a loving shove into the wading pool. A certain someone was shopping for a vintage dress to wear that night to a Hollywood awards show! Since then, two of Brockman’s dresses have made it to the Oscars and two to the MTV Music Awards shows.
While Brockman said that he would love for the entire compilation to be bought by a collector or store owner, he was a gentle and chivalrous salesman to each and every woman that approached him. I got my photograph with the sweet couple, an autographed copy of the article that opened the door to their wonderland, my beautiful birthday present dress from my own sweetheart – plus two more skirts – and I want more!
Do you want more, too? For more on the inside scoop, read my interview with Paul Brockman. “Like” 55 Thousand Dresses on Facebook. Watch with me for our monthly invitation to view – and buy – another vintage gem from this Guinness World Record winning collection!