I heart Los Angeles. I really do. I know it might be down to the novelty or the fact that I haven’t had a proper holiday in over five years (i.e. one that wasn’t a blog/work-related trip) but I’ve not had tingles about a new place in a while. The sort of tingles, where thoughts of “I could possibly live here!” bubble up in the brain. It’s been far too short a trip to really think seriously about such a notion but I’ve seen enough to know that the exciting part is that I’ve only just scratched the surface of this sprawling, space-filled, open-to-all and up-for-it strange city. That means I’ll return for sure. No empty promise there. Steve and I will make it our annual soul-nourishing pilgrimage. I thought I’d compile a text/pic postcard round-up of just a smattering of things I saw/did/bought/loved/ate, guided by recommendations from friends as well as Joy Yoon’s 1,001 ideas book. There was definitely more though. In the words of California’s current Governator and L.A. resident, “I’ll be back.”
- It’s true what they say about the light in California. The sun beats down in ways that I’ve never experienced. It’s almost as though the sun decided to beam down its rays vertically to cast the strong shadows and blind you into willing submission.
- It’s also true what they say about dreamers and chancers in this town. We saw bellmen, bouncers and waiters/waitresses all expressing their ambition to write/direct/act. My own silly dreams (Ballerina? Astronaut? Concert pianist?) died a death an age ago so I’m glad people out there are willing to dream their way into adulthood.
- Best take-home quote? A girl called Jackie, who I met at my hotel Sunset Marquis, said to me “You’re a cool bitch doing your thing.” Right on.
- The Opening Ceremony in Los Angeles is momentarily my favourite one out of their stores, just by virtue of being housed in what was once Charlie Chaplin’s dance studio and I love the way it’s spread out into different annexes and rooms. Oh, and I have to thank Carol and Humberto for recommending Korean joint The Corner Place, where we had cold vegetable broth noodles – truly a revelation.
- Nick Metropolis prop store on La Brea (a great drag of shops in general) would be my furnishing store of choice if I did live in LA. Who doesn’t want a giant Homer Simpson statue, an Elvis-themed dollhouse or a diner booth in their house? They have anything and everything here.
- Speaking of furnishings there are a lot of dumped sofas in Los Angeles. I spotted at least three along Venice Beach. They somehow don’t look out of place.
- I can see what all the fuss is about with Rene Holguin’s RTH store. It’s so intrinsically rooted to California with its curious mix of tie-dyed sweaters, American West crafted jewellery, leather goods, all scented with heavy cedar. Steve got himself some beaded safety pins and I got a giant bandana print leather-trimmed tote that I could possibly climb into if I need shelter.
- I didn’t hit up every single shop on my exhaustive list but in general, I loved the boutique scene in LA. Highlights include the very zen, very wabi-sabi New High (M)art, the selection of local LA designers at The Well and the hard-to-find roster of designers at Weltenbuerger.
- There seem to be an abundance of oh-so-cute, bordering-on-twee and well-curated lifestyle/stationery/general goods stores. Poketo near Little Tokyo and Reform School in Silver Lake were my faves. I discovered local jewellery label Highlow at Poketo and duly bought one of their Embrace polymer clay cuffs…
- Ok, I didn’t technically drive but driving around Mulholland Drive, the canyon roads and along the Pacific Coast Highway with The xx, Nico and Biggie respectively as a soundtrack really was a treat.
- It goes without saying that I ate well in LA. Very well in fact. Great tacos/Mexican food, Korean food and sushi are a given. For particularly “me” type of food, I loved the sweet n’ sour flavour combos at Baco Mercat, the insanely good lobster rolls at Son of a Gun and a meaty triumph breakfast to challenge the hardiest of carnivores (chicken fried steak slathered in sausage gravy) at Village Idiot.
- The whole reason I went to LA was because I had extended a press trip to visit shoe maestro George Esquivel, in celebration of his upcoming collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger (more about that later) and they had collectively planned out a truly classic night out in LA – drinks and dinner at the legendary Chateau Marmont followed up by a session of bowling at the Spare Room at Roosevelt Hotel. Was it a cliche? Maybe. Sometimes the plainly obvious works for a reason though. The best thing about the two-lane old-fashioned bowling alley at Spare Room? The chance to wear well-worn, beautifully crafted bowling shoes made by Esquivel.
- How much did I love cycling along Venice Beach/Santa Monica? This much. Yes, I’m hopelessly goofy.
- I wasn’t ready to subject Steve to the sprawl of Rose Bowl Flea so we took it easy with Melrose Trading Post flea instead, where there are definitely veritable bargains and concise opportunities for browsing. Never though have I seen so many racks of denim cut-off shorts. I’m afraid this is one LA-ism I just can’t get onboard with. I particularly dislike the super-short, super-ripped, pocket flap-exposing ilk of denim cut-offs. Could that be why people instantly detected I wasn’t a local (one girl in a store immediately said to me, without hearing my accent “Oh my god you look so cute… where on earth did you come from?”).
- The Abbot Kinney stretch of shops and restaurants in Venice is so pretty to walk around. Browsing the stores almost converts you into a cheesecloth shirt, thong sandal and hippie beaded jewellery devotee. I liked the touches of Tokyo-style retail here with the Stussy Livin’ General Store selling Japanese lifestyle wares (they even had a Japanese wood carving workshop going on in the back yard) and Americana textiles king Kapital.
- I love a street crazy. LA seems to have the best of them – these eccentric characters roam the streets looking like they’ve been there forever because nobody bats an eyelid at their crazy get-up. I’ve always wanted to follow one around discreetly just to see what they get up to.
- Speaking of the weird, I loved the premise and concept of Echo Park Time Travel Mart – a storefront cooked up by 826LA, a non-profit organisation supporting creative writing in young people. It sells an array of clever copy on clearly spoofed-up products, with anything from dinosaur eggs to bottles of bittersweet juice. It was there that we were recommended to take a trip to Museum of Jurassic Technology, which was a whole other level of spoof. You go in knowing what you know and come out questioning everything. Scientific fact will never be the same again. No wonder we saw a guy high on pot there, taking in this “educational” experience. If you need to take a breather from the overload of fact/fiction fusion, go up to the tranquil rooftop and have a cup of tea.
- I will never tire of looking at palm trees. Especially when you’re driving on a freeway and you see them dotted around in rows, towering over the city.
- Ditto for the street art which looks properly ingrained into the city’s landscape as opposed to randomly popping up in small enclaves.
- Ditto with the Hollywood sign. Was especially jealous of the view of Hollywood Hills from Scott Sternberg’s Band of Outsiders studio.
- In-n-Out burger really is the real deal. I’m now going to feel forever cheated when I do Meat Liquor/Market/Mission in London. We made it our last pit-stop before going to the airport and it really hit the spot. I rapidly demolished a 3X3 animal style (from the not-so-secret-secret menu) much to the bemusement of the table of Chinese tourists next to us…
Marc by Marc Jacobs cardigan, Topshop slip dress, Christopher Kane clutch
Carven printed top and shorts, Birkenstock blue sandals
Subtle Luxury embroidered blouse
Whistles swimsuit, L’Wren Scott sunglasses, Purl Harbour knitted shorts