Viewers of the Bravo reality show “Dukes of Melrose” will know Christos Garkinos as the stable co-owner of “Decades” vintage clothing store in West Hollywood. The popular nationally-aired series which ran from March to May shows Garkinos and business-partner Cameron Silver’s crazy life buying and selling vintage and modern fashion in the Melrose store, a popular resource for celebrities, stylists and chic women of all ages. Schiaparelli, Gernreich, Balenciaga, de la Renta are just a few of the designers to be found at Decades, described as “the premier destination for pre-loved luxury vintage and modern designer clothing and accessories.” “Dukes of Melrose” gained success on Bravo as part of the network’s ‘Fashion Wednesday’ lineup, back-to-back with shows featuring stylists Brad Goreski and Garkinos’ friend Rachel Zoe. Since the 12-episode series began, Garkinos and Silver have been featured in Vanity Fair, Elle, Glamour, NY Times, WSJ to cite a few, applauded for their contribution in promoting fashion as a collectible art form. Their pop-up stores have appeared in San Francisco and New York, and they have curated exhibitions.
The elegant and genuinely sweet Garkinos met with the Larchmont Buzz to discuss his career and personal life, zipping around the area in his red Mini-Cooper. First, Christos confirms that the dynamics between him and the quirky Silver is as portrayed in the series. Christos plays the “Ricky” to Cameron’s “Lucy” as Cameron overspends at NY Fashion Week, in local closet-buys, etc. Wearing an almost chronic expression of concern and frustration on the show, Christos is the responsible business manager with his eye on the bottom line. It’s no wonder Christos is cast in that role — with a U. of Michigan business degree and working for twenty years as an exec in consumer products and retail for Clorox, Disney (US and Europe), and US Virgin Mega-stores. In the 1990s Garkinos left the corporate world to follow his passion, opening a modern fashion business on Melrose across the hallway from Silver’s vintage shop — with the two finally combining their enterprises in 1997. Christos describes his interest in couture forming as a child, observing the elegant women dressed up in Chanel suits, etc. at the Greek Orthodox church in his native Detroit. His business sense started as a five-year old when his grandmother stood him up at the cash register to make change in the family’s restaurant.
Currently residing near the LA Tennis Club with his partner Brett Greenstein, a casting director, and family dog, Christos loves the Hancock Park area. He opted to move into the area because it reminded him of the “Grosse Point” neighborhood in Detroit – “with the rows of stately homes and charming main street.” Christos and Brett can be seen on weekends running errands in Larchmont Village at some of their favorite spots, including the farmers’ market and Malin + Goetz. Viewers of episode 9 know that Christos is extremely close to his Greek-American family, often visiting his mother back in Detroit. When he met with LB, he was on the way to a birthday party for one of his many god-children living locally. The generous Garkinos has helped fundraise for the Greek-American Foundation Project.
How has the show changed his business? “I can’t tell you how many times I pose for photos now with tourists coming by,” Christos jokes. He quotes some advice from Richard Branson “It doesn’t matter if shoppers leave the store without buying something, if they have fun, they’ll return.”
Is there more vintage fashion to be discovered in L.A.? Christos cries “Yes! Including in Hancock Park” and describes Decades’ very straightforward process for customers wishing to leave costume on consignment. With over 3,500 consignments, Christos proudly cites that their very first customer is still devoted to the store. Is there a collection that got away? “No”, but Christos describes a major fashionista in Dallas he hopes will call him one day.
Christos hesitates to say if “Dukes of Melrose” will run another season, having other projects in development, including another proposed reality show and a book based on his many celebrity relationships.
Decades is located at 8214 Melrose, phone 323-655-1960. Check out their bi-annual shoe sale Saturday July 20 from 9am-4 pm which attracts lines of customers down the block, anxious for Louboutin spikes or vintage Dior pumps.Decades 8214 Melrose Avenue LA 90046 (323) 655-1960 Website – Decades