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Valentino's - Costumes for Ghouls and Boys

By Paula Jessop & Rachel Heller

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No matter who you fantasize becoming on Halloween. You'll find your perfect costume at Valentino's.


Since 1997, Valentino's Costumes in Van Nuys has outfitted countless stage productions, movies, private parties, and Halloween festivities with high-quality, hand-crafted garments. It isn't hard to see how the shop has garnered its loyal clientele. 





This is a place where the costumes come to vibrant life and still on their hangers; they are characters themselves. But the most wonderful character is no costume at all -- he is the store's proprietor and costume designer, Shon LeBlanc.


LeBlanc's twenty-year expertise in costume design is evident in the elegance and period-precise style of his shop's collection. The storeroom houses over 40,000 costumes and accessories from the 300 or so theatre, television, and film productions LeBlanc has designed in the L.A. area over the years. For his painstaking work and unwavering attention to detail, LeBlanc can claim nine Dramalogue Awards, three Garland Awards, and numerous other recognitions.

As you may have guessed, doing this amount of work allows the costume stock at Valentino's to grow and change every month. In fact, it is a goal at Valentino's to add to its inventory by way of acquisitions and made-to-orders. "It is very important to have new and fresh costumes for clients to choose from," says LeBlanc. Along with costume rentals, Valentino's also does custom-made costumes for individuals or productions.



Far more than picking an appropriate costume a visit to Valentino's is an education in history delivered by the phenomenally knowledgeable LeBlanc (who actually flies to San Francisco to teach courses on costumes). For example he informed us about a Roman Gladiator costume which caught our eyes that it was a replica of an outfit which would have been worn by a Roman General to the Coliseum. LeBlanc is not the only expert available at Valentino's, everyone who works there knows which period every costume comes from, along with the proper names and uses of each separate piece in a costume. To top off the excellent service you receive at Valentino's, once you have chosen your costume, LeBlanc will come along and make sure that your Elizabethan costume doesn't have a Baroque or Edwardian piece mixed in with it.





The friendly and helpful staff is involved in making sure that you get the best possible costume for your event.  The staff is fast and efficient; they can look at you and calculate the perfect size and style to suit your individuality. Once they have you trying on a costume they flitter quickly back and forth, weeding through the thousands of pieces on hand, in search of the perfect slip or cravat for your outfit. I was particularly impressed during a recent visit when we couldn't find shoes to match a costume and they offered to spray a pair of black shoes white and add buckles to make it work for the outfit.


There is a wide variety of colors and sizes in each type of costume and they are all clean, well maintained and don't have that musty smell associated with old clothes. If you aren't sure what you want they have look books available to browse through. Separated into permanent binders corresponding to periods in history there are numerous examples of costumes to choose from. Valentino's extensive collection includes not only pieces that have been used in movies or copies of pieces from famous movies like a Cleopatra headdress made from the same mold as the one Elizabeth Taylor wore in Cleopatra, but actual vintage pieces from by-gone-eras.

As a costume rental house, Valentino's builds entire wardrobes for play actors. They are worn through a production and then added to the store's collection to be re-mixed and re-matched for later use. Almost half the store's business comes from individual rental as well; customers come in searching for the perfect Halloween costume, masquerade party outfit, or even a custom-designed wedding. Imagine snaking down the aisle as Cleopatra, getting hitched at a highway chapel in a sand-blown dress, or holding your guests spellbound as you dream of Jeannie. Poof! LeBlanc already has it done. Just a few of the categories of costumes available are Ancient World Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Viking, Barbarian; Medieval ? Gothic; Elizabethan/Italian; Renaissance; Cavalier/Georgian; Regency/Directiore; 1890's -1990's; Indian; Kimono; Harem; Cowboy; African.


Whomever you'd like to be for one enchanted evening, you'll find that alter-ego among the racks of Valentino's. Somewhere amidst the rhinestone-heavy tiaras, cases brimming with glitzy glam jewelry, and well-loved threads, you may find your own inner Roman soldier, peacock, or perhaps even apostle's wife.







Valentino's Costumes
13812 Saticoy St.
Van Nuys, CA 91402
(818) 508-9933






email: [email protected]

Published on Apr 23, 2011

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