Talking Shop: One Door Closes, Another Opens

WWD has reported today that Kaviar & Kind, one of Hollywood's best-known shopping destinations, is closing after four years of business.

According to the story, the shop's owners, Katherine Azarmi Rose and Sunrise Ruffalo, are "ending their business relationship," which explains why one of LA's seemingly most successful boutiques is shutting its doors so suddenly. Fans of the shop shouldn't break their bank accounts on last-minute impulse buys just yet, however - Rose has won custody of the duo's retail space, and is planning to open a new shop in its place. Her new endeavour, Roseark, is set to be a "lifestyle boutique with an emphasis on jewelry," ensuring that her stretch of Sunset will continue to sparkle even after K&K shuts its doors.


Talking Shop: Pop in to a Pop-Up

Once considered edgy and subversive, the pop-up shop has kind of become fashion's equivilent of absinthe. Even the most mainstream of brands are getting in on the act, watering the concept down beyond all recognition - think the Target pop-up on Melrose a few years back & you'll see my point.

When it comes to temporary retail, it takes a lot to grab my attention - either a great concept a la New High (M)art or a serious financial incentive, like the recent The Way We Wore discount outpost. So it's kind of surprising that two pop-up announcements have made me take notice this week.

First, there was the news that Comme des Garcons will be bringing their pop-up concept to downtown LA on February 16. CDG were basically the pioneers of the guerrilla retail movement, which is why I'm so excited to finally be able to check out one of their shops - it's set to be open for an entire year, so I imagine they've got more planned than just flogging t-shirts.

Then, I got an e-mail yesterday announcing that Nina & Lola, one of my favorite online boutiques, will be opening their first ever popup next Thursday & Friday in London. I obviously won't be able to attend this one, but would definitely recommend it to anyone in the area. As much as I love the shop, a lot of the items I'm interested in are the sort of things you'd need to really see and try on in person, as they're a bit more 'directional' than the normal pieces you'd normally buy online. Not to mention prices at up to 70% off...

Comme des Garcons Guerrilla Boutique, 125 West 4th Street, Los Angeles

Nina & Lola Pop-Up Sale, Grosvenor Chapel Mayfair, Garden RoomSouth Audley Street/Mount Street Garden W1

Runway Report: Paris Couture (Part 2)

Sorry for the delay, am sure you were all hovering in nail-biting suspense to read the second half of my couture report...so here they are, the final set of lessons to be learned from last week's Parisian festivities:

Elie Saab's Bolero: The New Accessory Craze?

Now that you can find pashminas on every street corner and Kate Moss-style vests in midwestern shopping malls, a new 'It' accessory is due - and I think that the bolero, like the ones all over Elie Saab's runways, are a brilliant option. I'm not a huge fan of boleros over dresses, as I think they're a tad Golden Girls, but would totally wear one over a thin cotton tank and jeans - the more sequins, beads and sparkles, the better.

John Paul Gaultier's Mermaids: The New Pirates?

Ever since Johnny Depp tied that stripey bandanna around his head and feigned that weird accent, it seems like the world's gone pirate mad. I mean, even my mom dressed up like Jack Sparrow for Halloween last year - and you know when a middle-aged suburban housewife is getting into a trend, it's reached cult proportions. After flipping through the photos from Gaultier's show, I have a feeling that mermaids are going to be the next big thing - his fishtail hems, scaley prints and boho-meets-barge netting are the perfect mix of theatrical and cool. And with The Little Mermaid now firmly established on Broadway, my hunch is that it's only a matter of time before costume shop owners start bulk-ordering faux fish tails and seashell bras...

Givenchy's Gothic Romance: The New Season's Mood?

The spring runways were all about sweetness and light, with enough rosettes, chiffon, floral fabrics and ruffles to give even the girliest of girls a toothache. Ricardo Tisci's collection for Givenchy seems to be the natural progression of the trend into the darker days of fall, with ruffles rendered in black silk and flouncy A-line skirts crafted out of what looks like black leather. It's like the romantic girl-next-door from spring switched high schools and fell in with a bad crowd, dying her hair black and filling her iPod with Evanescence - and I have a feeling we'll be seeing a lot more of this on the runways starting next week.

Valentino Red: The New Classic

I've always thought of Valentino as being outside the realms of fashion - his aesthetic hasn't really changed over the course of all these years, he basically ignores the fashion world's constantly evolving trends and fads, yet his work still manages to look totally fresh each and every time. His final collection was more of the same - little pastel skirt suits, high-luxe ball gowns, and, naturally, a procession of perfect red dresses to close the show. Now that he's retired, I think it's safe to say that those perfect red dresses will be his lasting legacy, taking their place alongside Coco Chanel's tweed jackets and Yves Saint Lauren's Le Smoking as his most notable signature. I'm really interested to see how Alessandra Fachinetti interprets the label when she shows her first collection for the house in a few weeks...


Runway Report: Paris Couture (Part 1)

One of my main goals in life is to make it to the Paris couture shows one day - even in photos, the artistry of couture pieces is enough to render me awestruck, so I can only imagine what the effect would be in person.

Even though most of us won't be forking over thousands of dollars for a feathered and fringed gown any time soon, we can still take away some ideas from the couture shows - after all, couture is kind of a lab for generating ideas that will one day be modified for ready-to-wear, so those who pay attention to the trends now are sure to be ahead of the curve before they hit Forever 21.

The main lessons from the first two days of the show:

The New Skirt Shape: Armani Prive's "Crater"

First we had the bubble, then the tulip - and then, probably sensing an impending weird-skirt-shape-fatigue among the masses, designers returned to a more traditional pencil for winter and full a-line for spring. But if Giorgio Armani has his way, we might be back in the throes of sartorial confusion come fall, as his couture presentation was filled with "Crater" skirts. I'm not a designer, so am not sure how easy the shape would be to recreate for RTW, but I, for one, am all for it - is an interesting interpretation of the dropped waist look for day.

The New Proportion: Chanel's Micro-minis & Little Girl Shoes

The mini-and-flats combination isn't exactly new, but am very much digging the combination of sexy draped minis with kindergarden-style flat mary janes and white tights - again, great way of making a mini appropriate for day, and a really refreshing means of styling the traditional Chanel tweed jacket, which tends to look grandmotherly when worn on its own.

The New Decadance: Christian Lacroix's Grey Gardens Print Mixing

The fashion world is obsessed with the eccentric ladies of Grey Gardens, with just about every major glossy running a spread based on the theme in their fall issues. Lacroix's couture show immediately brought those spreads to mind, but with a luxurious twist, with models parading down the runways in layer upon layer of garments in every color, shape and print. Sailor stripes juxtaposed with Scottish tartans, leopard prints worn over painterly brushstrokes - the end effect was one of extreme decadence bordering on mild insanity, a woman who has seen and done it all and is reliving the memories of her rich life through fashion.

The Not-So-New Color: Dior's Jewel Box Brights

Again, jewel tones are nothing new, but John Galliano's show for Dior just reinforced why we love them so - despite the gorgeous hand-painted detailing on his gowns, it's the vibrant amethyst, ruby and sapphire color scheme that catches your eye - and your breath - before anything else.

The New Focal Point: Anne Valerie Hash's Shoulders

Yeah, I know, this one's not so new either (guess that says something about this year's shows, no?), but I do love a big shoulder, and Hash's collection at least sort of moves the trend forward - from volume to geometric, architectural structure.



Talking Shop: Remix Vintage

As much as I love the look of vintage shoes, I can't quite bring myself to ever buy a pair - or even try anything on. There's just something about the thought of slipping my feet into shoes that countless other unknown feet have been in that grosses me out just a little.

So that's why I'm so excited to have discovered Remix Vintage Shoes. The 15-year-old label takes its inspiration from vintage shoes from the early 20th century, recreating them to the tiniest detail in brand new leather. The only thing that's really modernized is the color, with most styles crafted in at least two shades of leather in every tone imaginable.

My favorites are the range of pumps from the '20s and '30s - especially the Deco (below left), Savoy (middle), and Grammercy. Am also loving the Babyjane (above), a wingtipped mary jane inspired by a style from the '40s. Sure, there are a lot of imitation vintage shoes out there, but nothing that's recreated so faithfully to the original - the only thing missing is that unpleasant vintage shoe smell.

Remix Vintage, 7605 1/2 Beverly Boulevard, http://www.remixvintageshoes.com/


Mark Your Calendar: Lisa Kline Blowout Sale

I normally think Lisa Kline is kind of gross, both because of its tacky mudflap girl logo and its incessant blasting of e-mails filled with pap shots of Z-listers in their clothes. There's obviously a huge audience for that kind of thing, as they're one of the most well-known boutiques in the country, and I totally respect them for it - but it's simply not my bag. However, their most recent e-mail might have persuaded even me to stop by for a few minutes...

For the next ten days, Robertson's finest will be in the final stretch of its New Year sale, with 50-75% markdowns. What really caught my eye, however, was the mention of $10, $15 and $20 bins. Sure, they'll probably be filled with lightning bolt necklaces and bad remakes of vintage band tees - but this writer is working on all long-lead assignments at the mo, and probably won't be getting any checks for the shopping fund for at least the next two months. Desperate times, and all that...

Lisa Kline, 140 S. Robertson, Sale ends January 27th

Fash Bash: The Girls of Ghettogloss, Rodan v. Griffith Trunk Show

Even if the rest of the world is taking it easy for January, there's apparently no rest for the fashion crowd - case in point, this week's two-for-one installment of Fash Bash.

First is tonight at Ghettogloss, Silverlake's first and most famous gallery and boutique in one. They're launching their new exhibition, entitled 'Girly Group Show' and featuring just about every young female artist in LA worth knowing. According to the invite, you can expect to see "Butterfly, Shana Nys Dambrot, Danyi Deats-Barrett, Yami Duarte, Fiora, Flopi, Amy Frederick, Jessica Lee Garrison, Niki Hass, Anabel Lee, Sue-ling Hyde, Hannah Hurrle, Noel Ill, Jenny Mollen, Rebecca Paul, Vanessa Prager, Karyn Raz, Annie Sperling, Alexis Walker, Kim West, Jeanne Yern, and many more." If that's not enough to convince you, perhaps the promise of champagne and penguin pinatas will be more tempting...

And then! Rodan v. Griffith will be holding a trunk show / sample sale / cocktail party next Thursday (24th), from 7-11. They're going to be featuring three designers in particular - Lorun (one of my favorite LA labels), Quail (which I had never heard of, but is actually really rad), and A.T. Moreno jewelry (which I can't find any info on, so more reason to stop by the event). There will also be music by Mighty Might, so basically your standard good night out on W. Third, with shopping.

Admittedly, shopping under the influence might be a bit risky at this time of year, when we're all kind of broke - but I can honestly say that some of my best purchases have been made after a few martinis, so am definitely not going to let that excuse stand in my way...
Ghettogloss, 2380 Glendale Blvd, Silverlake; Rodan v. Griffith, 8207 W. 3rd Street, Los Angeles

l.-r.: Quail SS08, Lorun AW07 from revolveclothing.com


Best of the West: From Lounge to Lunch

So we may not have any hundred-year-old couture houses or a fashion week that people actually go to, but there are certain things that LA does better than anyone else when it comes to fashion. Basics and lounge clothes are the obvious ones, but there are definitely others, which is why I've decided to start this new category of posts called...wait for it...'Best of the West'. It'll basically just be a regular, themed top 3 list of West Coast brands that deserve a bit of recognition for what they're doing, whether it's something traditionally 'California' or not.

So, to start, I thought I'd go with something we've probably been doing a lot of lately - nothing. It's new year and, for the next few weeks, at least, everyone I know has taken a vow of sobriety and relaxation - which naturally brings with it lots of PJ-wearing. LA is obviously known for its laid-back lougewear, so check out my picks for the top 3 West Coast brands that work equally well for bed or brunch, if you're so inclined - after all, no one can stay in ALL the time:

1. T Luxury

If you're more yoga-in-Malibu than kickboxing-at-Equinox, T Luxury is probably the brand for you. The brainchild of Laguna couple Joe and Jacqueline Krafka, the line is full of supple and soft loungewear basics in blends of Supima cotton, silk and cashmere. Its stretchy simplicity makes it ideal for relaxing in child's pose.

Available at www.bluefly.com

2. Seaton
Not sure about you, but I often wish I could wear sweats all day, every day - and the thing is, I probably would if they weren't so lumpy and unattractive. So it's probably a good thing I haven't spent any time in shops that sell Seaton. Yet another husband-and-wife line (interesting...), Seaton is a line of perfectly fitted-and-faded fleece hoodies and drawstring pants, going perfectly from DVD marathons to marathon training when the January funk has passed.

Available from www.revolveclothing.com

3. Saint Grace
A favorite of the Hollywood set, and with good reason - with fabrics like Egyptian cotton, wool jersey and luxe cashmere, this line was made for only the most pampered of princesses. Launched by designer Quinn Thompson in 2001, Saint Grace is full of lounge-worthy basics with a slinky 70s twist - think ultra wide-legged pants and retro stripey sweatshirts.


Talking Shop: Foley & Corrina Sale

To Melrose, where I came across a fantastic surprise whilst sale shopping. I didn't have much luck at the sales I came specifically to see - The Way We Wore popup shop (underwhelming), Madison (still too pricey for my pathetic budget), Ron Herman (disappointing), and Creatures of Comfort (eh).

HOWEVER, while walking back to my car, I stumbled upon the new Foley & Corrina outpost, which opened up about a month ago, but which I still haven't made it down to see. I've been to their first shop in New York, and although their clothes are stunning, they're not really my thing - lots of sequins and beading and draped stretchy material. Their bags, on the other hand, are basically the stuff of my dreams - big, rich, slouchy leather creations that can fit all of the random junk I tote along with me every day, but still manage to look impeccable.

And this is where the fantastic surprise comes in - just about every bag in the place was 50% off. They're reasonably priced as it is, so with the additional discount, we're talking less than $300. And if you've ever seen their bags before, you'll know that you're getting a LOT of bag for that $300. I spent about a half hour 'trying on' various ones, with the help of the totally sweet salesgirl (is kind of easy to waste a lot of time there - cozy boudoir-style interior makes it hard to leave), but I decided to sleep on it in the end. But instead of deciding against the purchase, which I was kind of hoping I'd do, I'm now contemplating a bulk buy in the morning. After all, a girl can never have too many deeply-discounted handbags...

Anna Corinna bags available at Foley & Corinna, 8117 Melrose, 323.944.0169


One to Watch: Ankh

There's nothing I love more than a good chain. Deliciously tacky to the point of being cool (well, in my mind, at least), the chain is my go-to embellishment to add chutzpah to any boring outfit. Chain handle bags, chain necklaces, bracelets - short of chain belts, I have and proudly wear just about every chain-derived accessory possible. Usually more than one at a time.

Which is why I was so excited to meet the lovely Racquel Honore at a shopping event back in December. She's the designer behind Ankh, an LA jewelry line that is based around - you guessed it, chains. But unlike the chunky variety you might be thinking of, she works only with the most delicate kinds, draping them and layering them and dipping them in fun paint colors to form necklaces, chopping them up and dangling pieces icicle-style from hoops to form earrings. They definitely have a club kid feel, but in the best possible way - all you need is one of her pieces to dress up a big white tee, blazer and jeans. She's also totally happy to make bespoke pieces in whatever color or style you want.

The only thing I love more than a chain is a great piece of abstract expressionist art, and lucky for me, Ankh has that covered too. The limited-edition 'Pollock' collection is made of pieces from a vintage Jackson Pollock puzzle from the 1950s - named the world's most difficult puzzle at the time by puzzle experts. Pieces of the puzzle have been made into charm bracelets and necklaces and earrings, in some cases wrapped in wire - am not sure why the wire, but it definitely does more good than harm.

Say Whaaat?: $20,000 Handbags

Talk about those with more money than sense - WWD has reported that there's been enough interest in Burberry's line of 'superluxe' bags to warrent waiting lists and an international trunk show series. The line, which includes styles like the Warrior, the Knight, the Manor and the Ashcombe clutch, is being rendered in materials like python and aligator - which apparently justifies price tags that rival those of most small cars. At least they're throwing in engraved nameplates and quilted leather boxes to sweeten the deal...

Burberry's certainly not the first label to foray into the superluxe arena - any exotic-skinned bag is sure to be massively expensive, and it's no secret that the aligator and croc versions of the Birkin, the B, and Coach's Bleeker all start at $20,000 a pop. What's shocking to me is that there seems to be such a demand for them. I mean, I'd always figured that they were just showpieces that labels released more for marketing purposes than anything else, with maybe a handful of buyers around the world - kind of like the $160 sandwich launched by Selfridges a few years back. But waiting lists and trunk shows? If this is, in fact, a publicity stunt, these PRs obviously have way too much time on their hands...
Is it just me, or would anyone else absolutely refuse to pay $20,000 for a bag - even if they had all the money in the world?


Talking Shop: Sample Sales for the Lazy

When I lived in London, I lived for sample sales. Most of them were less than a 20 minute tube ride from home, and I was always able to be one of the first through the doors to catch the best bargains before they went.

Since arriving in LA, however, it's a different story. In a city where it takes no less than an hour to get anywhere, where trying to find parking is on par with the quest for the holy grail, and where the sale shoppers can actually be bothered to get up at 6am to be first in line for doors opening at 8, I've found myself very much behind the curve - and, on the few instances I've actually ventured out to a sale here, have been left to pick through piles of size twelves and seasons-old stock.

Which is why I'm so! so! so! excited to have learned about ideeli.com. It's basically an online sample sale filled with the sort of stuff these LA shoppers wake up at 6am for - Pade Vavra bangles, Baccarat pendants, bags by Celine and YSL and Oscar de la Renta and more. Prices are typically over 50% off the original, and sale times are kept secret until the last minute, when all members receive an e-mail saying a sale for a particular item is about to start. You can sign up for text message alerts too, so that you're ready to buy on your Blackberry as soon as the items go up for sale - no matter wherever you are. With deals like the ones below, I might just become a regular sample shopper again after all...

Pade Vavra Confetti Bracelet, was $700, now $295

YSL Vincennes Hobo, Was $1195, now $495 (!!!!!)

Kotur D'Abo Clutch, was $435, now $189


Where T-bars meet T-squares

If you think the only link between fashion and architecture is that cool Prada store on Rodeo, you're very much mistaken. The history of fashion is filled with designers who trained as architects before swapping classic columns for column dresses - think Alaia and Pierre Cardin for starters.

It's a little bit more rare today, with almost every art school offering courses in fashion design, for designers to come from the architecture world, but the two disciplines are still very much influenced by each other. Case in point - an upcoming exhibition at Somerset House in London called 'Skin & Bones: Parallel Practices in Fashion and Architecture.' It's set to compare the work of designers like Alexander McQueen, Martin Margiela, Hussein Chalayan - basically, every designer you can think of who has a way with a sharp line and an eye for innovative structuring - with architects like Zaha Hadid and Frank Ghery, highlighting the, well, parallels between the two.

Am not sure if it's going to include designers who actually did train as architects, as there are certainly several of them working today, including some of my favorites. I have a hunch that the following probably won't be included, so I will enlighten you all with a list of them here instead:

1. Nicola Finetti
Whoever said Australian fashion is all about unstructured sundresses and empire waists has clearly never seen the work of Nicola Finetti. After studying architecture in Rome and a brief stint in Argentina, Finetti moved to Australia to pursue womenswear design, launching his own label in 1995. His work is all about contrast and contradiction -his collections are always very feminine , consisting pretty much solely of skirts and dresses, yet are still very sleek at the same time. Also, despite the fact that each dress has a very definite structure (a result of that architecture training, I imagine), they still manage to look totally comfortable - I could picture myself wearing any of the ones below to a beach barbie. He also has a way with pattern repitition, like on the skirt above, that reminds me of a frieze on a building:

Photos courtesy of Vogue.com.au ; http://www.nicolafinetti.com/

2. Max Kibardin

In the tradition of Alaia before him, Max Kibardin has mastered the art of creating shoes that manage to be both delicately sexy, yet sculptural at the same time. The ex-model's shoes have all the qualities of a great work of contemporary architecture - they're both sturdy and light, have gorgeously curved arches, and a look that's very distinctly their own. And the color! I challenge anyone to look at a pair of Kibardin's shoes and not start squealing like a kid who's just got her first pony (on the inside, at least). He studied architecture in Russia before moving to Milan for fashion, which sort of explains the jewel tones and ornamentation:

3. Ninaki

Ninaki rings remind me of the Disney Center in downtown LA, and not just because they're big and shiny- they're the kind of thing that you either love or hate, depending on your definition of beauty. I love them, for all of their soaring, steely, imposing, take-your-breath-away magnitude. Designed by SciArc graduate Ninaki Priddy, the collection is a mix of the organic and macabre. The organic is quite clear, with the rings taking on polished, yet strangely amoeba-esque shapes. The noir side, too, is evident, especially in the names she's given the pieces - think Cruella and Contessa:


One to Watch: Dorothy Lee

LA fashion is often deemed "wearable," which is basically a nice way of saying boring. True, t-shirt dresses and $300 jeans are hardly the stuff of six-page Vogue spreads, but most of us will agree there's something to be said for simple, yet flattering pieces that don't require a lot of effort. I, for one, can't say I miss the rigors of London's competitive dressing, where artful layers and ironic accessorizing are as essential to an ensemble as underwear (well, it's essential outside of Hollywood, anyway).
That said, Dorothy Lee's eponymous label is wearable in the best possible way. Yes, the Angeleno's Spring collection involves a lot of jersey tank dresses in neutral colors - but the jersey she uses is so soft, so luxuriously light that it looks like it was hand-woven by cherubs. Yes, she appears to have a penchant for camp shorts, but by cutting a six-inch horizontal slit where cuffs should be, she lends them a sinister, subversive sexiness, making them look as though they were carelessly torn in some sort of illicit tryst. And yes, the line's tops and jackets are mostly of the loose-fitting babydoll variety, but they incorporate the most subtle of draping and pleating and ruffling, propelling them just far enough over the line between classic and interesting. Is little wonder, really, considering Lee's background - anyone who's descended from an architect and interior designer, trained at Central Saint Martins and Parsons, and an alum of Peter Som and Chanel is bound to know how to make less look like so much more.
If the girl who's a fan of this deliciously wearable line is boring - well, I guess I'm Lauren Conrad.

All images from Dorothy Lee's Spring 2008 Lookbook. Collection available at www.revolveclothing.com