Fashionably Great

Dishing about fashion with professional stylist Clydia Richardson.

By Leslie A. Westbrook

Photo by Michael Moore

Richardson in a lime green Bohemian maxi dress, circa 1960s and handmade from Egyptian flax seed sheer linen. Talbots slip-on shoes with gold and crystal brooches and gold jewelry are also vintage.

Walking into the Green Goddess Boutique in Old Town Camarillo is like looking through your grandmotherís hope chest, stylish best friendís closet and then some. Packed to the gills with ďrepurposed and recycledĒ designer, vintage and resale contemporary clothing, there is much to be discovered amidst the sparkle, satin, leather and fur. From accessories to casual wear to ball gowns (and everything in between), boutique owner and professional stylist Clydia Richardson has curated a wide-ranging collection of styles from many periods in all sizes.

Richardson has lived in Ventura County her entire life and opened her first boutique, Bags to Riches, 14 years ago (which she consolidated into Green Goddess six years ago). But sheís been a fixture in the fashion world much longer, and thereís not much that she hasnít done. She has styled for fashion designers, coordinated and directed fashion shows, covered red carpet events for E! News and even done some work with fashion magazines Focus on High Fashion and Basic. Here the fashionista offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the world of high fashion in Southern California.

How did your interest in fashion begin and develop?
Iíve had the good fortune of growing up in Ventura County my entire life. Biking and skateboarding, being a tomboy, surfing and being a beach girl. My favorite things are sports, music, dance and ďweird fashion,Ē as my parents always said. I grew up watching my mom, grandmother and aunt sew. So I took up sewing my own clothes. Honestly, I couldnít stand dresses at the time! I think I designed 250 Barbie doll outfits.

My family taught me the meaning of hard work and being self-sufficient. I left home when I was young, working several jobs while putting myself through college and beauty school. I opened my first business when I was 18 years old. I operated a boutique and salon on Silver Strand Beach for 25 years and I made many of the pieces I sold there. I put on my first fashion show when I was 19 years old at the Whaleís Tail restaurant on Hollywood Beach while Ike and Tina Turner took their set break. Everyone loved it! I also enjoyed raising my four kids there as a single mother (after my divorce) with the support of an amazing community and great beach friends. Later, we moved to Camarillo where I decided to open stores in Old Town, opening my first boutique, Bags to Riches, in 2004.

Tell us about your work in Hollywood as a personal stylist.
I really donít talk about my work in Hollywood much, but WOW, itís been a dream come true! My first opportunity years ago was styling for St. Johns of Beverly Hills. I was picked up in a limousine that had a briefcase with the clientís credit cards and profile that I was to shop for and style.

My next big opportunity came that same week. I set a goal to go to Fashion Week the following year. After styling the owner of a magazine several times at my store (I was not aware of who she was), she asked me to represent her and her magazine at Mercedes Fashion Week. That moment in time brought new meaning to my life and opened doors that led to many opportunities in the fashion industry.

How do you ďsize upĒ a client to help them develop or enhance their own personal style?
First I evaluate each customerís needs, interest and their comfort zone. Even though I know and will suggest what colors would look best on them, I ask what colors they like and dislike. I ask about their lifestyle, to create a connection and understanding. Otherwise, itís a shot in the dark! The most important thing is to take notice of each personís body shape. There are many different body types and each requires a different cut and style. Itís most important to look at the waistline and determine if the person has a high or low waist and if they have a thick or long, lean waist. The same dress, top, pant wonít work for everyone. When my clients understand what to look for, they save a lot of money and time shopping.

I tell them: Letís put on the right clothes to create a new you! I also teach how to combine textures and accessories and how to switch up pieces to create new looks. Itís awesome to see women and men light up when they really get it! It changes peopleís lives when they look and feel great.

What are your biggest challenges when working with clients?
Honestly, I find that most women shop and want to buy what they see and like because it is beautiful. But often times they donít get the right fit or colors suited for their body and skin type. Women tend to pick out clothing pieces that are too small in size. For me, the biggest struggle is when I can assist in fitting them to make it simple and they wonít accept the help. They become frustrated and it can be quite simple if shown the basic cuts that work for their body type. Sometimes we can create a better image by accentuating what we have to work with. When we share this information and they really understand, itís great to see their excitement.

Which designers do you admire?
Oscar de la Renta has been one of my favorite designers. I enjoy studying his work. His fashion style was unique, wearable, elegant with a bit of attitude and so very classy. . . . Sue Wong made me dream of being a designer. She has the finesse of putting on fashion shows with shear perfection and elegance. Iím so blessed.

I understand you are developing your own clothing line.
My love for styling, costuming and designing has inspired me to give it my all. I am focusing on launching my own line, Couture by Clydia Richardson, Green Goddess Boutique, Made in the U.S.A. Itís in the process. (Shhhh!) My concept is a bit of a secret. It will be a collection with many seasons (styles) that change. Iíve designed hats, handbags, jewelry and clothing for all sizes and style genres. I have many prototypes and sketchbooks ready. Itís quite costly and will take perhaps six months to a year for me to launch it. I hope I make it! [Richardson hopes to launch next fall at LAís Fashion Week.]

If you could live in any other time period Ė from a costume or style point of view Ė when would it be and why?
My favorite era is from the turn of the 19th century through the 1920s and 1930s and the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods. Iím fascinated by the handcrafted pieces Iíve collected. Artisans took great pride in making their finest handmade custom designed wares of the highest quality and design. The fine fabrics of French handmade lace, silks, velvets made of silk, wool and cotton that flows and moves as though itís dancing in the wind. I also love the poise and properness of women of those times in history.

Best fashion show you ever attended?
The most exquisite fashion show Iíve had the pleasure to experience was Badgley Mischkaís multimillion dollar launch of his wedding design and bridal wear. The show was staged in the 1920s period. I was in the front row, dressed to the nines in original 1920s garb from head to toe, with tears in my eyes saying to myself, ďPinch me!Ē

Any last thoughts?
Iíve been in the fashion industry since I was 18 and seen manufacturing become a huge, wasteful industry with abuse to the laborers and the environment and clothing made of poor quality. There needs to be a shift in our thinking! We must be mindful of what we buy, how much it costs and where it comes from! There is a price that someone else has to pay for our lifestyle of throwing so much away in a dumpsite. 10.4 million tons of old clothing waste! It costs 45 cents per ton to dispose of and it takes 100 years for clothing to break down. All in the name of fast fashion. Resale is recycling and buying quality.

Green Goddess Boutique
2215 Ventura Blvd,. Camarillo

Clydia Richardson in a Bertha Lace dress and a black lace choker, circa 1900s.

Green Goddess Boutique is filled with garments of every style and era as well as a beautiful array of accessories to go with them. ďWe have countless varieties of shoes and jewelry to coordinate with our vintage clothing,Ē says the chic proprietress.


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