July 25, 2011 | By Shannon Kelly
These days, it seems everyone is curating: a new concept, an artisan cocktail, a farm-to-table dinner. And while we love the evolving originality of ideas, the reality is that a lot has been done, popped up, and copied. As trendspotters and trained marketers, we disregard buzzwords and 'best of' lists because good style, fresh merchandising, and an unique perspective will always catch our eye.
And we like to share. So here is a small selection of boutiques from our whirl-wind trip to Los Angeles that did not include malls, Manolos or mediocrity.
Mohawk General Store
First things first- Mohawk General Store is more than just another 'well-curated' lifestyle store. Kevin and Bo Carney have a designed an atmosphere that feels less like a shop and more like a friend’s apartment. The expansive selection of home, clothing, jewelry and accessories- from a wide range of brands- play like an a prized record collection that you will stay up all night to hear. It's easy enough to choose cool things- but another entirely to build a sense of space.
Mid-Century furnishings by Ellen LeComte of Amsterdam Modern provide a backdrop, and often merchandising fixture, for an intermix of mens, womens and home objects from brands like A.P.C, Comme Des Garçons, Rachel Comey and Clare Vivier. From raw denim to a vintage Czech Military Tote, each item has a story highlighting the designer, materials or details. Our purchases included the delicate Silk Arc on Cord bracelet by Kristen Elspeth.
A lot of thought and care has gone into making the space more than just another store. From purposeful merchandising to inviting and knowledgeable staff, this Silver Lake gem is the polar opposite to the "stack it high, watch it fly" philosophy driving much of LA's shopping culture.
Vivier and Bentley
The union of local designers, Vivier and Bentley effortlessly captures the complexities of low-high style that makes simplicity chic. Occupying the front part of a shared studio centered around a handpainted 'rug', the boutique showcases Claire Vivier's elegant leather handbags and Kathryn Bentley's roughly refined Dream Collective high-end costume jewelry along with artwork and mobiles from friends and neighbors. Creativity oozes from the backroom, making the space feel like a community art project gone terribly and extraordinarily right.
Mixed surfaces and materials, from butter-soft leather to angular metal, create visual contrast and make every detail feel like a lost treasure.
The collaboration feels earthy and intimate, with Ms. Bently offering us a quarter to extend our meter as we selected an antique African and beaded brass necklace from her collection. Gracious too.
Prior to our visit to LA, there was one store that was recommended to us time and time again: Iko Iko. Fortunately, we popped by to experience version 1.0 before they relocate in August to West Hollywood. We love the eclectic range of things made by hand, items made within a tradition, and products that read curious and surprising.
Crafts, curiosities, and clothing lie adjacent to Japanese utilitarian objects and vintage art books. There's an underlying restraint to each product and visual presentation within the store.
Above, a selection of jewelry from Hannah Keefe hangs above handcrafted furniture and housewares.
We love the attention to detail owners Kristin Dickson and Shin Okuda bring to everything- from seemingly effortless yet methodical merchandising to poetic descriptions of the supremely talented designs and/or products.
There's a silver lining to every wrought overexposed retail cloud and clearly these stores shine brighter than most. Anyone can 'pick out some cool stuff' (see also curate), but it's the assembly of various parts that make a store/concept/idea visionary.