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So.Cal collector selling off 55,000 dresses, ballgowns

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POSTED April 28, 2013 9:02 p.m.

GARDENA (AP) — It was a sale fit for a princess on Saturday as a Southern California man put up for sale some of the 55,000 dresses and ballgowns in his collection.
Paul Brockmann of Lomita fell in love with the beauty of the frocks as a poor boy in Germany and over 56 years he pieced together a collection from thrift stores, estate sales and department store markdowns.
Some were worn by his wife, Margot, now 76, when the couple went ballroom dancing.
“I didn’t want my wife to wear a dress two or three times,” he told The Associated Press.
Others in different sizes simply caught his eye by their beauty.
“I was hoping (that) someday she’ll lose some weight or gain some weight” to fit in them, he joked. “But that’s not the way it works.”
They were kept in the garage in near-perfect shape until his daughter convinced him recently to sell them.
On Saturday, about 15,000 were on display at a rented Gardena warehouse where the collection is stored. At the end of the day, 30 to 40 had been sold at prices ranging from $25 to $200, said Pilar De Posadas, a family friend.
Other mass sales are planned, along with private sales, she said.
“A lot of girls are having their proms,” she said.
The family also would consider selling the whole collection to a museum and kept track of the “really amazing ones” that were sold so that they could be rebought or borrowed for display, she said.
Brockmann was a struggling, hard-drinking teenager in Bremen, Germany, who loved to watch the girls twirl in their dance gowns when he fell in love with Margot at a dance.
“Daylight came and I woke up,” he told the Daily Breeze of Torrance ( “There was more to life than drinking and chasing girls on the dance floor.”
“What really gets me is the way the taffeta dresses swish when you dance,” he told the Daily Breeze. “They don’t make taffeta like they used to. The stuff now is all synthetic. “
Paul estimated that he spent $1 million on the dresses over the years. But with so many of the dresses unworn, Brockmann said he’s ready to let them go.
“I’d much rather see somebody else wear the dresses and give them another life, you know?” he said. “When I see the ladies here and they try on the dresses, it’s amazing.”
Besides, he added, “I’m now into bass fishing.”

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