‘Dukes of Melrose,’ second-hand celebs
Lots of Hollywood name-dropping in this new Bravo reality show
March 5, 2013
In reality shows about the work lives of people with a peripheral connection to show business, there comes a point, usually in the premiere, where the people brag about all the A-list stars they’ve worked with. For some reason, we never see them actually working with those A-listers.
Bravo’s new series “Dukes of Melrose,” set in an L.A. store that deals in vintage fashion, takes this scenario to such an extreme that it’s possible the series is trying to parody it. In any case, the real stars of the show are the high-end and haute couture clothes and accessories that the shop’s owners acquire.
Although shopaholics will probably have a good time drooling over the merchandise, the show’s other claims to our attention — the peripheral glow of celebrity and the shticky banter between the store’s two owners — come up short. If the names Louboutin and Givenchy don’t excite a viewer, neither will the show.
Premiering this Wednesday, March 6, at 10:30 p.m., “Dukes of Melrose” stars Cameron Silver and Christos Garkinos, who are partners in a secondhand clothing boutique called Decades. Cameron buys and sells his merchandise; Christos handles his on consignment, which is much less risky financially.
“I’m the Robin Hood of fashion,” Christos tells us. “I consign from the real rich and I sell to the less rich.”
Having only recently combined their businesses, the two men clash constantly. Christos is more cautious, or perhaps that’s the way he has been instructed to act for narrative purposes.
So when the partners are negotiating with an L.A. socialite over the purchase of some ’80s couture gowns, Christos is outraged when Cameron seems to help the woman up her prices.
Although this could be a result of the editing, Cameron comes across as one of those people who try to make their every utterance witty, with a strong emphasis on double entendre. Describing their most difficult business period, Hollywood awards season, Cameron says, “Some things are going to be easy and some are going to be rock hard.”
Sitting side by side, the partners tell us what the season is like: Cameron says, “Awards season is filed with celebrities, stylists — everybody from Gwynnie — Gwyneth Paltrow — Nicole Kidman . . .”
“Nickie,” says Christos.
“Riahnna — Reeree,” says Cameron.
“Madge — Madonna,” says Christos, concluding by saying, “I mean, how much name-dropping do you want?”
One likes to hope that the partners are in on the joke when we immediately cut to a visit from one of their celebrity clients: the actress and comedian Rachel Harris. Looking for a dress to wear to the Independent Spirit Awards — the first two episodes of “Dukes of Melrose” were shot during the 2012 awards season — she settles on a Jil Sander dress that Cameron and Christos’ style consultant Eri is wearing.
Eri lends her the dress free of charge, sending Christos into a tizzy.
The celebrity clients in the second episode are more recognizable. Christos helps find a dress for the TV actress Garcelle Beauvais to wear to Elton John’s Oscar-night party. When she invites him to be her plus-one, he says he feels like he’s going to the prom.
Cameron is enlisted to come up with a look for Melissa McCarthy, a Best Supporting Actress winner last year for “Bridesmaids.” Since she isn’t couture size, he has to find a suitable dress that can be knocked off by a tailor. (Like Madge and Reeree, Missy is nowhere to be seen in these episodes.)
As usually happens in workplace reality shows, the partners are up against a deadline and the producers manage to create a crisis, namely that McCarthy has lost some weight, so her dress needs last-minute alterations. “Trying to find a tailor on Oscar weekend,” Cameron says, “is like trying to find the very last vial of Botox in Hollywood.” Or like trying to say something witty every time the camera is pointed at you.
Fashionistas won’t care about the level of wit when Christos and Cameron visit various stylists and socialites and rummage through their treasure troves of vintage dresses, bags and shoes. What non-fashionistas will take away from these scenes is the waste. Christos says that most women “hunt and gather” fashion. Once they buy something, he says, they might not even wear it.
The aforementioned socialite says that she purchased one gown from a Paris couture house for $55,000 to $65,000 in the ’80s but then she was photographed in it at the White House, so she hates to wear it again. Cameron and Christos offer her less than one fifth of the gown’s original price, not adjusting for inflation.
Of course, if “Dukes of Melrose” were funnier, those thoughts wouldn’t occur to anyone.
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