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Make It a Double

Inside a Castro couple’s costume bank.

David Laudon (left) and Randy Laroche in their Castro home, built in 1895. They call these double-breasted pinstripe suits their “Gatsby look.” The stickpins and jewelry are from Shreve & Co.

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The pair wore these 1920s ensembles to the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. The black-and-white photo behind Laroche depicts him at 18. “Even then, his style was exceptional,” says Laudon.

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These Victorian-style three-piece suits were custom-made at Patrick James, and the malacca canes are from Malaysia. Laudon had Shreve & Co. convert an antique griffin cameo ring into a stickpin to match Laroche’s heirloom.

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The couple purchased these green silk suits on a recent trip to Vietnam. They own over 30 pairs of hats and 20 pairs of suspenders.

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David Laudon and Randy Laroche have been dressing in duplicate for over a decade. “People ask, ‘Are you guys brothers? Performers? Magicians?’” says Laudon. “We always get waves and thumbs-up when we’re walking to Muni.”

The duo discovered their shared flair for costumery early on, having met at a square dancing club on Halloween in 1996. “I was dressed as a Russian sailor boy, and David was dressed as a bunny rabbit,” remembers Laroche. “I always say I didn’t have any fashion sense—I married into it,” adds Laudon, a software engineer. “When I met Randy, I had one suit and one sport coat.”

Seventeen years later, the Castro-dwelling pair’s wardrobes span two closets, an armoire, and a special plastic-cased compartment that they call the costume bank. As patrons of the Symphony, Opera, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Asian Art Museum, Legion of Honor, Victorian Alliance of San Francisco, and Art Deco Society of California, Laudon and Laroche look to jazz up the typical dress code, whether that means customizing their tuxedo vests with penguin patches or modeling a vintage twist, like the 1900s-era suits that they wore to the Earthquake Centennial. “Believe it or not, it’s very practical,” says Laroche. “It helps us find each other in a crowd of black and white.”

Their look is frequently topped with pocket watches, suspenders (“Larry King got us inspired,” remarks Laroche), jewelry, stickpins, and hats. Though they occasionally commission clothing when they travel—Asian robes and hats in Vietnam, traditional Argentine boots in Buenos Aires—they tend to rely on local favorites: Patrick James and Cable Car Clothiers for suits, La Rosa Vintage, Shreve & Co. for jewelry, and Berkeley Hat Company and Top Hatters in San Leandro for hats.

They’re also repeat shoppers at the Opera’s periodic costume shop sales: Their most recent find was a pair of 16th-century courtier outfits from a production of Don Giovanni—a get-up that they’ve yet to trot out. “A lot of people think you get too old for that kind of dressing up,” says Laroche, “which might be true—but we don’t care.”


Originally published in the September issue of San Francisco magazine

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