There's this crazy little dress shop on Sherman Way in Canoga Park, its walls festooned with hot numbers like a stretchy ruched purple cocktail mini-dress and a pink satin off-shoulder club-dancing gown. Off to one side, bent over her work, sits Olga, with her power sewing machine and her handmade book thick with photos of Latina women and the pictures they've brought her, cut from magazines, of their dream dresses. From these, Olga will re-create any fantasy gown in any color and any fabric you provide, and add any twist, all for less than the price of something off the rack (around $100). She peruses your idea, sketches it up, measures you. Her English is broken but the plan is agreed upon. She creates a paper pattern, then cuts and sews the chosen material. You return for the final fitting. “Custom-made!” Olga boasts. And yes, the tiny, blond Olga is a sweetheart.

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