West Hollywood Magazine March/April 2015

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the Builder Jason Illoulian: Moving forward with an eye on the past

TICKLED PINK The rosy life of Kitten Kay Sera

THE SIREN CALLS And a fashion line is born

Tying the Knots

A world of rugs born of revolution


The CLOUD, PEPPER MARSH and OYSTER collections. Available at the Gloster Los Angeles Showroom

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A culinary and cultural adventure



Only one color makes this kitten purr



Why Eastern carpets moved West


BEHIND THE WALLS Inside the private world of Patio del Moro

CAREER IN COUTURE A Greek designer finds a new home / 48



Jason Illoulian shapes the new West Hollywood


KALEIDOSCOPE OF COLOR Spring blossoms with bright accessories



Fashion and design bloom in Palm Springs



Ed’s is where the creative get homey


What we’re wearing and why / 94


Putting pen to paper



A couple’s dramatically different worlds


Where can you go to find the very best that Southern California has to offer? Follow your dreams to a city unlike any other. Where the legendary Sunset Strip meets the stylish West Hollywood Design District. Where eclectic dining meets electric nightlife. Leave everything that’s conventional, expected and mundane at home, and go big, go bold, go WeHo. visitwesthollywood.com


Some people deny the theory of evolution. It’s hard to do that in West Hollywood, which is proof of the theory, at least in a civic sense. While the City of West Hollywood officially celebrated its 30th birthday in November, West Hollywood was alive long before that. It was the late 1700s when the Tongva Indians gave way to the Spaniards and Mexicans who eventually were nudged aside by Anglos from the East Coast. Prominent among them was Moses Sherman of Vermont, whose Los Angeles Pacific Railroad’s collection of shops, railroad yards and “car barns” led to the area being named Sherman. Dirt roads became Sunset Boulevard and Route 66, the “Main Street of America,” which is now Santa Monica Boulevard. It was 1925 when residents of shabby, blue-collar Sherman started referring to the area as “West Hollywood” in an effort to identify with the chic and growing community of film stars next door. “Like a healthy, outdoor child, Sherman has suddenly burst all her old dresses and thinks while she is getting a wardrobe suitable for a fully grown girl, she might as well discard plain ‘Mary’ and become up-to-date ‘Marie’,” the Los Angeles Times reported in 1925. Architects and builders such as Leland Bryant and Arthur and Nina Zwebell helped doll up West Hollywood with projects that gave us the Spanish Revival and Art Deco ambiance we now treasure. Then there were the casinos and nightclubs, whose owners and customers were looking for a place where the heavyhanded Los Angeles Police Department couldn’t bust them. Thus was born the Sunset Strip. Safety from the police also was a reason for the influx of rockers, hippies and lesbians and gays, all looking for a place where they could be their creative selves. And in the late 70s and 80s, West Hollywood became home to Russian-speaking Jews from Eastern Europe looking for a safe place to call home. That West Hollywood continues to evolve is evident in two stories in this issue of our magazine. Gus Heully tells the history of the Zwebells’ Patio del Moro, one of their iconic Spanish Revival apartment buildings in West Hollywood. And Nate Berg profiles Jason Illoulian, a local developer whose appreciation for the city’s history and passion for creative design may make him the Zwebell of West Hollywood’s future. Both exemplify style with substance, which is what West Hollywood and West Hollywood Magazine are all about.






Style & Substance


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Mike Allen is a Los Angeles-based abstract artist and photographer specializing in shooting portraits. He draws inspiration from old cinema, analog processes, and interior design. His work can be seen at mikeallenphoto.com. Instagram @iammikeallen


Nate Berg is a Los Angeles journalist who writes about cities, architecture, urban planning, design and technology. His work has been published in publications such as The New York Times, The Guardian, Wired, Metropolis, Fast Company, Dwell and Foreign Policy. He is a former staff writer at TheAtlanticCities.com and was assistant editor at Planetizen. Twitter @nate_berg


Maria, a Montreal native living in California, is a freelance and screenplay writer excited to bring a little je ne sais quoi to the page and screen. Always in search of fascinating people to make her stories come to life, Los Angeles is her perfect palette of inspiration.


Instagram @inspirebydoing

Gustave is a West Hollywood-based designer and writer with an interest in architecture and urbanism, both historic and contemporary. His writing and outlook have been shaped by a range of experiences: as a designer in L.A. architecture offices, as a local resident and as a teacher, researcher and curator in academia.



Los Angeles-based photographer Nate Jensen’s striking visual images have made him a soughtafter creative for advertising campaigns, top fashion labels and luxury hotels. His work is distinguished by its expressive color, delicate lighting and sensual undertones. Instagram @inn8creative

Twitter @GusHeully

Ian became interested in photography during high school in suburban Seattle. His passion is shooting portraits of people, be they models, neighborhood regulars or inhabitants of places he visits. Morrison lives in Los Angeles, where he regularly shoots for designer Thomas Wylde and Flaunt magazine. Instagram @imorrison

juliette mutzke-felippelli

Juliette is a Los Angeles-based interior designer who has been writing about design, art and electronic music for six years. Juliette finds inspiration in the bold colors and concepts of contemporary French designers and in the wild urban landscapes of her favorite destinations like Rio de Janeiro and Bangkok.

Cassandra Plavoukos

Cassandra is an L.A.-based photographer with a lifelong passion for the visual and performing arts. Her study of the formal, athletic and whimsical nature of movement is integral to her commercial work and portraiture. Instagram @cplavoukosphotog

Instagram @jfelippelli.


Natalie started out her journalism career covering crime in a small town in the Central Valley before returning home to Los Angeles to get her master’s degree in journalism from USC. If traveling were free, no one would ever see her again. On a warm summer evening, you can find her happily curled up on a chair on her porch with a glass of wine and her Kindle Paperwhite.


Joshua is a Los Angeles-based editorial photographer. He brings a photojournalistic approach to his editorial images by trying to catch the unconventional and unplanned moments of life. Instagram @joshuaspencerphoto

Twitter @JournoNat80



Instagram @davecvaughn

Instagram @samantha_west



David is an editorial and portrait photographer living in Los Angeles. Having grown up in rural Texas in a ranching family, he has an appreciation for the everyman and those seemingly ordinary occurrences that often go unnoticed. Steeped in the principles of photojournalism, he values transparent and honest storytelling above all else.

Steffanie says her suburban upbringing in Orange County left her with a hunger for culture and diversity and an obsession with shadows, shapes and a look that can stop you in your tracks. She creates in her studio or on sets, and in her spare time captures live music and takes portraits of friends. Instagram @steffwalk

Samantha was born and raised in New York City. After attending university in the UK, she returned to New York to pursue fashion and portraiture photography. Her work has been published and shown nationally and internationally. Now in L.A., she brings her unique and intimate style of photography to the West Coast.

Naomi is a photographer and illustrator based in Los Angeles who has worked as an art historian at the Getty Museum. Her interest in photography and painting led her to build her own studio where her work emphasizes the natural beauty of life by using an analog approach or medium. Instagram @naomiyamada


WEST TO EAST A COLORFUL CULINARY JOURNEY By Natalie Ragus Photographs by Samantha West


traktir he early Friday evening rush is in full swing at the deli connected to Traktir, the beloved Russian eatery near the intersection of Havenhurst and Santa Monica Boulevard. Animated conversations conducted in Russian fill the intimate space. Dmitri Kunets approaches the counter and places his order, alongside an elderly woman picking up several sizable containers of the deli’s classic borscht to go. Kunets leaves with five plastic bags bursting with delicacies ranging from various meats to Russian chocolates, to pear juice (“it goes great with vodka,” he opines) to take back to his Lancaster home.

Armenian, Georgian, and Jewish chefs staff the kitchen, infusing every dish with a dash of flavor from their respective cultural roots.

“I came here to recapture a piece of my childhood,” the Ukraine-born Kunets said.

Atroshenko, with his parents, came to the United States from Ukraine in 1976 at age 11 at the behest of Praisman. Rina Atroshenko and her family had arrived the year before. They were part of the RussianJewish Diaspora that occurred in the mid-’70s, when the Jackson-Vanik Amendment — a key addendum to the U.S. Trade Act of 1974—opened the floodgates for emigration from the former Soviet Union. Hostility towards Jews in Russia prompted many Jews to take the opportunity to leave their homeland for a fresh start abroad.


Indeed, nostalgia is an integral part of Traktir’s allure, says Oleg Atroshenko, who, along with his wife Rina and uncle David Praisman, owns the restaurant and adjacent café. Traktir serves up authentic Russian comfort food like vareniki (Russian-style dumplings), lamb shashlik (lamb marinated in herbs and spices), and mouth-wateringly delicious chicken blintzes (crepes filled with ground chicken). Ukrainian,

“You get a little bit of everything,” Atroshenko said. Traktir (Russian for trattoria) boasts a casual, homey ambiance. On a pleasant evening, one can sit outside on the restaurant’s spacious patio, which provides an unmitigated view of the bustling nightlife crawling along Santa Monica Boulevard.


You had that feeling that you weren’t wanted,” Atroshenko said of the rampant anti-Semitic attitude in the former U.S.S.R. at the time. A local Jewish family services center and cheap rent attracted the first wave of Russian-Jewish immigrants to what would become West Hollywood, and others quickly followed, says Tatiana Rodzinek, liaison to the city’s Russian Advisory Board. The board advises the city council on issues pertinent to West Hollywood’s Russian-speaking residents. West Hollywood has the second-largest concentration of Russian-speaking people in the United States (after New York)—an estimated 13 to 15 percent of the city’s population. However, skyrocketing housing costs are driving many of them to fan out to the valley and settle in communities like Tarzana and Encino. Regardless, the Russian influence will forever remain an integral part of the city’s identity. “We grew up together,” says Russian Advisory Board Chair Vika Safrigina. West Hollywood was incorporated in 1984. “The Russians have always been a part of the city. I’m not saying it wouldn’t be West Hollywood, but the Russian community definitely shaped what the city is today.”

Indeed, the imprint of the Russian-speaking community is undeniable in West Hollywood, particularly on the city’s Eastside. Numerous delis, bakeries, and Russian grocery stores dot the stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard between Gardner and Fairfax. Several of these businesses not only have a variety of offerings to please the palate, they also sell an array of tchotchkes, jeweled eggs, and even delicate porcelain dinnerware. Odessa Grocery and Cherry Garden have the most extensive selections of black and red caviar available in the area. Meanwhile, the variety of smoked fish available at New York Deli will make your head spin. And you can’t miss Stolichnaya Bakery. They bake their own breads and cakes from scratch onsite. Be sure to try one of the bakery’s belyashis, a savory Russian meat pie. Owner Vasily Chapaev likes to joke that he opened the bakery 100 years ago after the idea came to him in a dream one night. Still, no dream comes true without hard work. “When you dream, you have to wake up. That’s the secret of life,” he says with a wink and a jovial laugh.


Don’t be intimidated by the initial gruff manners of some of the deli employees and owners. Express a genuine interest in Russian culture, and they will instantly become your best friends. If you tell them you are planning to visit Russia, you will leave an hour later with a long, detailed list of places you need to go and sights you need to see. For an occasion when a casual deli just won’t do, head to Mari Vanna in the Melrose Place neighborhood to experience fine dining, Russianstyle. The West Hollywood location is the second in the United States, the first being in New York City. Russian lore has it that a woman named Mari Vanna, who lived in St. Petersburg “once upon a time,” hosted legendary gatherings in her home. In the ultimate show of hospitality, Mari Vanna gave favored guests their own key to her home so that they could drop by whenever they wished. At Mari Vanna, frequent diners who ingratiate themselves with restaurant staff receive their very own key to the restaurant and are encouraged to use it. “Come here for Russian hospitality,” said manager Leana Raynauli. “We really are like family.” The restaurant, decorated in shabby chic motif with mismatched cushions, over-stuffed couches, birdhouses and other touches designed to evoke the feel of a Russian babushka’s home, is popular with patrons for its beef stroganoff and extensive flavored vodka menu.

Stolichnaya bakery 26

However, Russians are not just known for their hospitality and food; you haven’t truly experienced a proper day spa until you’ve visited a Russian one. A biochemist back in the former U.S.S.R., Raya Taver opened Raya Spa on La Cienega in 1982. Taver formulates all skin products used at the spa, which are produced at Taver’s factory in North Hollywood. As a bonus, Raya Spa has not raised its prices since 2006, so treatments are surprisingly affordable. But if you really want to get a solid grasp of Russian culture, read a book. Interbook Co. opened in the mid-1990s and sells cook books, Russian novels and CDs, and popular children’s books translated into Russian, along with traditional Russian fairytales. The Russian fairytales are especially popular with parents and grandparents, who cherish the chance to share the beloved stories of their childhood with their own children. “It helps them keep in touch with their roots,” said Interbook owner Olena Nemchenko. And it’s all about connecting with culture, whether it’s through art or food, said the advisory board’s Vika Safrigina.

INTERBOOK “ E v en if you ’ v e ne v er h a d any in t ere s t in R u s s ia a t all , t h a t i s a g oo d rea s on t o co m e t o W e s t Hollywoo d b ecau s e you m i g h t fin d ou t t h in g s you d on ’ t k now . ”


LA VIE EN ROSE Dress by Winnie Couture


But by the end of 1982 “pink was all I could think,” she said. “It started with pastel, now it’s all shades. Do you know how hard it was to find pink shoes in the ’80s? I dyed a pair of Doc Martens pink, and I was so proud of them!” A picture of the pink Docs can be found on the back cover of Kitten’s CD, “Sex Kitten,” on which twenty-time Grammy winner Beyoncé does the backup vocals.

Cotton candy, rose, deep, powder, pastel, shocking, baby, hot. It’s all pink to Kitten Kay Sera and her pink pooch Miss Kisses, who share a monochromatic life in pink. “Pink makes me happy,” Sera said. “Why not surround myself with things that make me happy?” Suddenly her phone rings with the theme song from the “Pink Panther.”

Living in pink has certainly paid off for Sera. Her pink persona and talent have scored her roles on over thirty-five television shows, several movies, lots of commercials and some music videos.

Kitten Kay Sera’s West Hollywood apartment is a collection of pink everything—a custom-made bubble gum pink couch, a pink guitar, pink lamps, pink sofas, pink blankets, pink clothes and pink hats (lots and lots of hats). Even her wall-to-wall carpeting is pink. “To maintain an overall pink appearance, I searched high and low for the perfect cotton candy-colored carpet in Los Angeles,” Sera said. “When I finally found it at Linoleum City I nearly fainted! It was pinkfection!”

“Miss Kisses and I were discovered as we were walking to the coffee shop one day”, Sera recalled. “This guy stopped his car, rolled down his window and asked if I was the pink lady of Hollywood. I ended up running across the street to give him my last business card. I got a call three days later with an offer to be in the Disney movie Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2.

At the beginning of the ’80s, Sera was dressing in black, white and pink.

Styling by Bruno Lima / Hair by Rozy Duggan / Makeup by Dianna Esteves Vieira


I understand that there is a lot of attention drawn to myself for wearing all pink, but I am seriously not worried about

it one bit. No one should stifle their creative self just to fit in.

—Kitten Kay Sera


Sera appreciates people who appreciate pink. “I have a funny date story,” she said. “I was set up on a blind date, and the guy came over to pick me up. I opened the door, he looked around, was very polite and we left for dinner. Not a word about the pink. Halfway through dinner, I couldn’t help but ask ‘Are you going to say anything about the pink?’ He said ‘Oh, are you wearing pink? I’m color blind so all I see is grey’.” Sera paused for a moment and smiled. “That was the last date we went on. I need someone who can appreciate the pink!” Does Sera ever get bored with pink? “A thousand times NO!” she said. “It’s easy to pick out an outfit since pink goes with pink. I can create any look I want—punk, glamour, Country, Fifties, Sixties, and it’s really easy to do laundry!” Another pinky perk is that Sera gets free stuff. “I got a couch and I’m waiting on a bed that I’m so excited about! People send me pink stuff they want to promote all the time.” Sera knows that her obsession with pink might puzzle some people. “I understand that there is a lot of attention drawn to myself for wearing all pink, but I am seriously not worried about it one bit.” she said. “No one should stifle their creative self just to fit in.” Sera is raising money to do a documentary on other people who live monochromatic lives—albeit in different colors. She recently flew to New York City to meet with Val Blue, a woman who lives her life in blue. “She designs blue shoes. Only blue. I was laughing and crying at the same time when I met her,” Sera said. Her goal is to find people who live in all colors of the rainbow. Why the documentary? “People love it when they see me,” Sera said. “They smile and talk to me. I think when people see me, it somehow will give them the inspiration to just be themselves.”

Blouse by Manthey Collection


Ahmad Ahmadi

art & history in knots Revolution Brought Fine Carpets to West Hollywood By Maria Bertrand Photographs by Joshua Spencer


“A rug is a timeless beauty. A piece of art. A piece of history in knots.” - Ahmad Ahmadi Ahmad and Alex Ahmadi, their sister Nadia and their mother Kobra are part of a family that has been in the rug business for over 80 years. The Ahmadis were the first in Afghanistan to make rugs solely from silk and their perfectionism, creativity and talent gained them recognition with European buyers in the ’60s and ’70s. Their lives changed forever in 1979 when the Russian Army invaded and the Ahmadis were smuggled out of Afghanistan one by one. They left behind everything except their passion for rug making.

Carpet manufacturing got its start in the United States in 1791 when William Sprague opened a carpet mill in Philadelphia. The Northeast remained the center for carpet manufacturing until the 1930s, when manufacturing of tufted carpets took off in Dalton, Georgia. In 1928, Marshall Field introduced a machinemade rug that looked like an Oriental carpet and created the Karastan Company. But today’s most exquisite carpets still trace their history to, and usually are manufactured in, the Middle East, where carpets began to be hand woven as early as the 2nd and 3rd Centuries BC. “They weave the choicest and the most beautiful carpet in the world,” Marco Polo said of the carpets he encountered during a trip through Turkey in the late 1200s. “They also weave silk fabrics of crimson and other colors, of great beauty and richness, and many other kinds of cloth.” It took revolutions to move the best of the carpet business nearly 8,000 miles across the world to West Hollywood. Mansour Fine Rugs’ Benjamin Soleimani, Aga John’s Jerry Illoulian, Mehraban Rugs’ Sam and Soheil Mehraban, Modern Rugs L.A.’s Sasha Masjedi, Jimmy’s Rugs’ Mohaber Jimmy, Ariana Carpets’ Ahmadi family. They are a few of those who fled or are the descendants of people who fled countries such as Iran during the late 1970s and early 1980s after the fall of the Shah and Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion to prop up the communist government.

Alex and Ahmad Ahmadi, early ’90s


PHOTO BY U. Roberto Romano

Workers washing Ariana carpets in Afghanistan


After living in Germany for six years, the Ahmadis moved to Northern California with high hopes, but unfortunately work wasn’t as easy to come by as they had expected. So they headed south. “West Hollywood was known for its design industry. It had, and still has, so much to offer a person in search of beautiful things,” said Ahmad Ahmadi. In 1986, the Ahmadis settled into a small apartment in the heart of West Hollywood. Ahmad would repair rugs out of his living room, working from 8 a.m. until 2 a.m. while listening to American television so he could learn English. On weekends he and his brother Alex would make the long drive to San Francisco to buy used rugs they would repair and sell in Los Angeles. Four years later, Ahmad was finally able to order a container of flat weaves from Afghanistan, and Ariana Rugs was born. Although West Hollywood is home, the Ahmadis have never forgotten their roots. In 2001, with Afghanistan free from the Taliban, the Ahmadi family reestablished a factory there.

Afghan women weaving carpets in Kabul


PHOTO BY U. Roberto Romano

“We started with nothing,” Ahmad Ahmadi said. “No infrastructure, no electricity, no running water. But we were dedicated and determined to make it happen. We had employees over there that we felt obligated to.” With a few looms and some employees that were more than happy to return to work for the Ahmadis, the rug making began. The rug makers wove and loomed as they had done 24 years earlier, creating magnificent pieces of art, some taking up to three years to finish.

radius, and I’m still not sick of it, from the beautiful restaurants to the beautiful showrooms to the amazing people. The people are so friendly. It’s a place where you are free to be yourself and not be judged. I am inspired by this city every day.”

The Ahmadis have advocated for change. Ariana Rugs is the first company with workers in Afghanistan to be recognized by Goodweave, an organization focused on ending child labor in the hand-woven carpet industry. “Afghanistan is synonymous with rugs, and its beautiful craft and artwork that has been handed to us,” Ahmad Ahmadi said. “We are responsible for taking it to the next generation. We want the world to see that these rugs are made by professionals, not by kids, and there is no child labor used to make our products.” In 2003 Ariana Rugs made its debut at the Atlanta International Rug Show with 32 rugs made in Afghanistan. The show was not a success for Ariana, but the Ahmadis had hope. In 2005, their determination and dedication paid off, and Ariana Rugs sold the most expensive rug in the Atlanta Rug Show’s history. In 2009 Ariana Rugs won the Magnificent Carpet Award, the rug and home industry’s signature event in Atlanta, and the winning piece was displayed in the Museum of Asian Art in Moscow for one month. That same rug is now hanging in the West Hollywood Library. According to Ahmad Ahmadi, the key to the success of Ariana Rugs is more than attention to detail. It’s attention to all of the details—the materials, the rug- making process, the presentation and what their customers want. While Ariana Rugs makes rugs that look as if they are 300 years old, Ahmadi says they use colors and patterns to make them fit today’s fashion. “The younger generation”, he said, “wants quality but has its own idea of style and design.” Ariana Rugs is nestled in the heart of West Hollywood on Robertson Boulevard. Ahmad Ahmadi said he finds inspiration in his surroundings. “I spend most of my time in a one-mile


PHOTO BY U. Roberto Romano

PHOTO BY U. Roberto Romano

Inspecting the wool after it’s dyed

The family is as close knit as the rugs it creates. The business is run by Ahmad and Alex with their mother, Kobra, and sister, Nadia. “I adore my business partners, best business partners in the world. I couldn’t do it without them,” Ahmad Ahmadi said. From repairing rugs on a living room floor to selling rugs nationally and internationally, they have come a long way. “You have to enjoy what you do,” Ahmad said, smiling as he looked up at the slowly rotating ceiling fan at Tortilla Republic restaurant down the street from Ariana. “You have to create self-fulfillment. That’s what ‘making it’ really means.” Ariana Rugs is located in the West Hollywood Design District at 666 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood 90069 (310) 289-8800 arianarugs.com



A Design that Blends a Love of Cars with a Passion for Privacy

By Gustave Heully Photographs by Steffanie Walk 39

Both hailing from the Midwest, Nina studied music at Northwestern University while Arthur (who finished his formal studies in the eighth grade) focused his design passion and skill on automobile bodies. The pair were married in 1914 and moved to Los Angeles in 1921 where they went into the development business. Arthur served as contractor and designer while Nina focused on the interiors and a furniture design and manufacturing business. When the lucrative Twenties ended with the 1929 stock market crash, the Zwebells no longer could build and turned instead to the design of film sets and furniture.

Los Angeles is well known as a private place, blanketed with enclaves that carve out private pieces of a vast plain. One manifestation of this enclave impulse is the courtyard apartment complex, a building type with roots in the Spanish missions that dotted California, providing outposts from which to colonize and proselytize. As a housing type, courtyard apartments create intimate communities, protect one’s privacy from the larger public world and provide tenants access to semi-public amenities like gardens and pools not available at the same price in other building types—features that help explain the continued popularity of courtyard housing today.

While only active as builders for little more than a decade and not licensed architects (they relied on Leland Bryant, architect of many other notable buildings in West Hollywood, to secure permits) the Zwebells produced some of the most skillful and influential examples of Spanish Revival courtyard housing around. Their first development project, a neighbor to the Patio del Moro, was the 1923 Villa Primavera. Spanish Revival in style, the Villa Primavera would set the direction for most of their developments.

One of the most exquisite examples of courtyard housing in Los Angeles is the Patio del Moro. Briefly but no longer for sale as a whole, with some individual units available for rent, the complex is on the National Register of Historic Places (it was listed in 1986) and is also part of the local Harper Avenue and Courtyard Thematic historic districts. Located on Fountain Avenue between Harper Avenue and Havenhurst Drive, the Patio del Moro was built in 1925 and designed by the self-taught husband and wife team of Arthur and Nina Zwebell. 40


But not the direction of the Patio del Moro, which also incorporates the Moorish influence of Southern Spain and North Africa—an imperative of their client, a doctor who had traveled there extensively. Its Moorish features include pointed and horseshoe arches, arabesque patterning in the brickwork and plaster and a Tunisian-inspired pigeon tower that tops the complex. A long, narrow building, the Patio del Moro fronts Fountain Avenue with a tall, flat, pink wall. This narrow frontage is punctuated by screened car garages, wrought iron-accented windows and a brick horseshoe-arched main entry that tunnels back to the inner garden. The complex has seven units, each with a unique name and character—Villa del Rey Moro, La Casita, Casita para una Estrellita, Casa del Sol, Patio del Fuente, Casa del Orienta, and Casa del Alegria. The units are highly three dimensional, with two-story spaces punctuated with Juliet balconies and intertwined private terraces and patios that create a variety of communal and fully private outdoor spaces. Some even have secret passages to other units within the complex. One such passage (through a door disguised as a closet) is rumored to have provided Charlie Chaplin access to his thenmistress Paulette Goddard. Their quality far surpasses the trite celebrity of their long list of Hollywood occupants. The apartments of the Patio del Moro are an exquisitely detailed and elegant combination of exposed wood ceilings, large walls of whitewashed plaster, ornamental tiles, horseshoe and pointed arches and fireplaces adorned with a crescendo of peacocks and vines in white plaster relief.


The excellent condition of these apartments today can be attributed to the sweat and love of the building’s current owners, Kevin and Susanne McConnell, whose lives share uncanny parallels with those of the Zwebells. He’s a restorer of cars, and she is an interior designer and faux-finish painter. They left their jobs when the complex came into their hands (it had been his grandmother’s) to fully restore it. The work was painstaking—layers of old paint and plaster were removed to reveal original detail and decorative inlaid tile, all of which was restored by their hands and accented by expertly painted period detail. Its elegant spaces, accented by furnishings selected by Susanne McConnell, skillfully balance the masculine and the decorative. Given their passion for the building, it is understandable that they took it off the market when they couldn’t find a buyer with a similar mentality. An inarguably beautiful building, it is easy to see the Patio del Moro and the other projects in the Zwebell’s oeuvre as pretty totems of the Spanish Revival style or as fetishes for those nostalgic for lost Hollywood glamour—even the Zwebells described themselves as “ancients.” But these buildings can also be seen in a different way, as complexes with distinctly modern innovations that begin with their attention to the automobile. Arthur Zwebell loved cars, having invented a tire vulcanizer and designed streamlined racing car bodies for Ford chassis. His automotive acuity can be seen in his design of innovative parking layouts for their developments. He brought the car into the building itself, making parking an integral part of the building mass instead of hiding it away underground or in a detached garage. His was a sensibility that considered the car an asset instead of an architectural nuisance.


When built, the Villa Primavera and Patio del Moro were among the only homes in the area and shared the neighborhood with the more explicitly modern Schindler (1922) and Dodge (1916) houses on nearby Kings Road, by Rudolph Schindler and Irving Gill respectively. While stylistically more decorative, Patio del Moro deployed standardized elements and the clever creation of variety with repeated unit plans and parts, much as both Schindler and Gill did in their designs. Later in life, Arthur Zwebell would revisit ideas of standardization in his last foray into architecture, a series of houses mass-produced in a factory, much like Nina’s furniture, an impulse that reveals interests shared with the most modern minds of their day. While most view the Zwebells solely as makers of beautiful and protective enclaves for Hollywood elites, this overlooks the innovation of their architecture, which aspired to incorporate modern technologies and techniques to create a housing type for a wide section of the population of Los Angeles.

this page and previous, charlie chaplin apartment


Summoning the Sirens A Greek Designer Builds a Couture Empire in West Hollywood

By Juliette Mutzke-Felippelli Photograph by Cassandra Plavoukos 48



ith its large windows framing a view of the sparkling pool below and a combination of elegant Mid-Century Modern furniture and contemporary art, the airy West Hollywood studio of women’s wear designer Michail Sykianakis reflects his fashion aesthetic. That aesthetic is rooted in the sensuous and sophisticated, with designs created directly on the body. Born in Greece and raised by a mother who worked in the trade as a dressmaker, Sykianakis says he grew up around women and became fascinated with them at an early age. This environment influenced his decision to pursue a career in fashion and to design for “the modern siren,” his nod to the dangerously seductive half-bird, half-woman of Greek mythology who lured sailors with the sweetness of her song.


Formally educated at London’s renowned Central Saint Martins, Sykianakis began his career in fashion working for designers such as Matthew Williamson and Julien Macdonald. In 2008 he was offered a position in Los Angeles as head designer for Max Azria. Sykianakis had only been to Los Angeles once for a short business trip, but he fondly remembered how the sun warmed his skin after months in dreary London and the friendly reception he received from Angelenos. The environment reminded him of his childhood in Greece. He quickly relocated, first to downtown Los Angeles and then to West Hollywood where he currently lives. After two years with Max Azria, which Sykianakis describes as a “big success” with incredible experiences dressing celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Zoe Saldana and Lucy Liu, Sykianakis set out on his own, first as a consultant and then launched his own line last year. As a selffinanced venture, it hasn’t been easy. While designers working in New York or Milan have limitless resources to support couture manufacturing, in Los Angeles such resources are difficult to come by. Sykianakis described the Los Angeles market as being driven by casual clothing, where brands are making millions off t-shirts and jogger pants, but the designers wanting to create gowns in silk chiffon must deal with manufacturers that overpromise and underdeliver.


Despite this, Sykianakis thinks Los Angeles has potential for fashion designers. He has found a handful of talented and dependable manufacturers and has learned to anticipate issues and over communicate specifications when working with manufacturers. He also believes that because the entertainment industry in Los Angeles is the strongest in the world, it creates a magnet for international fashion houses—everyone wants to be in Los Angeles to dress celebrities on the red carpet. Sykianakis remains confident and focused on expanding his label. With two collections under his belt for Fall 2014 and Fall 2015, he is set to unveil his Spring 2016 collection at Fashion Week London to the press and potential investors. He describes the inspiration for the new collection as a “notion of suspension,” influenced by the architecture of bridges and the movement of acrobats. His new collection will be a departure from the dark blues and blacks seen in his previous work and will focus on softer colors for the warmer seasons. Already in talks with Bergdorf Goodman and Net-A-Porter to buy the 2016 collection, Sykianakis is optimistic that he will find an investor who believes in his body of work. In the meantime, the Grecian designer is working on becoming a United States citizen, an act that he feels will confirm his identity as an American designer. Photographs Alvin Nguyen Model Anya Kazakova Styling Mary Fellowes Hair and Make up Tracy Moyer


JASON ILLOULIAN photograph by ian morrison



Building a Modern West Hollywood While Being Mindful of Its Past a courtyard that have been cleverly staggered and rotated to create a varied texture on the street and give tenants a bit more separation. Located on the long-empty site of the annual Mr. Bones Pumpkin Patch and Mr. Greentrees Christmas tree lot, the project includes thirtyeight condos as well as twelve affordable apartments that Illoulian will donate to the West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation. All of the project’s amenities will be shared, and homeowner association fees for the required affordable units will be waived—a not-insignificant reduction of his profit margin, but a savvy PR move.

Jason Illoulian imagines a denser, livelier, more walkable West Hollywood. And with local residents, business leaders and city officials on his side, he’s starting to build it. Illoulian, 32, who lives in the West Hollywood West neighborhood, brings a community-centric, design-focused sensibility to urban development in a city with famously high standards. He has built projects around the city, including a luxury retail showroom on Melrose Avenue and San Vicente Boulevard, and currently has five projects in various stages of development, including a mixed-use building at Beverly Boulevard and North Clark Drive. While he is conscious of meeting and even exceeding the city’s standards, he is even more interested in building projects that will have a positive impact on the West Hollywood community as a whole.

Another high profile project Illoulian is pursuing is a proposed hotel and retail promenade-style development called Robertson Lane on the site of the Factory nightclub building between Robertson Boulevard and LaPeer Drive. Illoulian hopes it will have the sort of impact on the Design District that New York City’s High Line has had on its West Side. The most dramatic part of the design is a thirty to thirty-five foot wide lane through the property, providing a pedestrian walkway between Robertson and LaPeer. Robertson is now a mix of upscale shops (Christian Louboutin, Phillip Lim and Phyllis Morris), restaurants (Sur, Tortilla Republic, Hedley’s) and nightclubs (The Abbey, Here Lounge, P.U.M.P.). By contrast, LaPeer is pretty much desolate.

“The first way I look at everything is through urban design—how does this fit in with its surroundings?” he said. “It’s not just the project. It’s the project and the neighborhood.” The West Hollywood City Council recently approved his housing complex on Doheny Drive, a modernist compound of units surrounding 53

ARTIST RENDERING OF Robertson Lane, view from la peer

of feedback winds its way into the design of projects, Illoulian said, and helps keep everyone happy.

With the proposed walkway, people walking on LaPeer will get a visual invitation to cross over to Robertson, and perhaps to West Hollywood Park, which the project fronts. And those on Robertson will be able to easily walk to LaPeer. To develop the project, Illoulian has partnered with Nate Goller, owner of Phyllis Morris Originals in the Design District.

“He’s a dream developer for us, as a young architecture firm” says Christian Robert, co-founder of R&A Design, designer of the Doheny project and four others for Illoulian. “You have someone who’s very well funded, has a great social agenda, wants to do good for the community, but also wants to push and basically wants to have award-winning design in the city.”

Illoulian is a fourth-generation real estate developer who was raised in West Hollywood. After stints at Georgetown, Emory Law and Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, he came back to West Hollywood in 2009 to follow in the family business. Since then he has focused on working with the community to help guide his projects.

Because of his attention to urban design, Illoulian is taking a hands-on approach to bringing good architecture to the city. “He does push us,” says R&D co-founder Benjamin Anderson. “He does have ideas about what these projects should be, but he’s also willing to listen to us and to let us take risks and show him alternates. That often is what directly contributes to these projects being what we think are above and beyond the norm.”

“Everyone likes him,” said Darren Gold, chair of the West Hollywood Design District board. “Even a lot of the sort of people that are typically against development and against developers he wins over because he is willing to listen, and not just listen for the sake of listening, but to actually listen and act on what people are telling him.”

Though Illoulian has managed to build support for his projects, he also has received some push back. As the city council prepared to approve his Doheny development, a number of opponents rose to the podium, arguing against elements of the project, ranging from parking to traffic to the location of the twelve affordable units within the building. Lisa Strutman, a Los Angeles resident who owns property nearby, argued that clustering the affordable units would be a “recipe for disaster.” Longtime gadfly Jeanne Dobrin voiced concerns about zoning changes on the property, and though she noted that Illoulian is “not a bad person himself.”

“Well, I don’t have a choice,” Illoulian said, smiling. “I have to see them every day.” But it’s not simply a friendly, neighborly approach. Illoulian gains a strategic advantage by turning potential opponents into allies, and maybe even advocates. People speaking in favor of Illoulian’s Doheny project at a February city council meeting talked about how, within days of purchasing the property, Illoulian hosted a dinner for neighbors, soliciting their advice and listening to their concerns. Much of this sort 54

“The goal of the Norms project is to figure out how to preserve Norms while developing the site into a neighborhood retail project,” he said. “We are trying to create something similar to Brentwood Country Mart by curating a small-scale retail and dining experience that feels authentic and organic to the neighborhood.”

Other West Hollywood residents are anxious about Illoulian’s plans to tear down the Factory, a building that once housed Studio One, one of West Hollywood’s iconic gay nightclubs, and replace it with Robertson Lane. “We’re of course very worried about the Factory, which is historic on several major levels,” said Roy Rogers Oldenkamp of the West Hollywood Preservation Alliance, who credited Illoulian for reaching out to the city’s preservationists. “We’re very optimistic we can work together.” Craig Hodgetts, founding principal of Hodgetts + Fung, the architects of the Robertson Lane project, said that from his perspective “It’s really the activities rather than the building itself that distinguish it. We thought that the urban design considerations were far more important in terms of the growth of the community than the Factory building. Illoulian said he wants to honor the history of Studio One. We’ll find a way to pay homage to that.”

“We are looking at several options and have met with the Googie expert Alan Hess to better understand what Norms originally looked like. We will work closely with the community and the conservancy before taking any further steps.” Illoulian said he chose Hodgetts and his partner, Ming Fung, because of their sensitivity to historic preservation issues. “I was brought on to lead the development of the Norms project after some family members had purchased it and realized there were complicated issues associated with the site,” Illoulian said.

Illoulian irked a broader swath of the greater Los Angeles preservation community recently when it was revealed that his company had filed for demolition permits for the Googie-style Norms diner on La Cienega Boulevard. Preservationists and the L.A. Conservancy were quick to jump to its defense. Illoulian does have redevelopment plans for the site, but says demolition was never part of them.

Development can be controversial and contentious but, despite his youth, Illoulian understands the emotions that can come into play. He’s dedicated to working with neighbors and city stakeholders to help his projects make West Hollywood better.


“I live here. I’m going to live here forever. These buildings are my legacy.” 55

Top by CHRIS BY CHRISTOPHER BU Necklace by MARNI Ring by ELODIE K. Fishscale Tikra Mirror Cube Side Table @ MECOX Red Lips Phone, circa 1980s @ JEFF

A Fashionable Collision of Color and Design Photographed by NATE JENSEN FOR INN8CREATIVE MODELS Marina Jamieson @ CLICK MODELS / Timothy Velykodny @ PhotogenicS PROP STYLING by Anais Rodgers STYLING BY Bruno Lima FOR EXCLUSIVE ARTISTS MANAGEMENT / Fashion Assistant Jenny Zhou Hair by Sienree Du Make-up by Leibi Carias MANICURE BY Karen Gutierrez

On location at Cactus Cube Studio, West Hollywood


Top by MOSCHINO Bottom by SEAFOLLY Heels by KONSTANTINA TZOVOLOU camera Cell phone case by MOSCHINO Ring by AVANT GARDE Bracelet by DIESEL Earrings by ERICKSON BEAMON



Jacket & SHORTS by MR. TURK Sneakers by Y-3 @ H. LORENZO Ring by HUCKLEBERRY @ ROSEARK Sunglasses by VINTAGE FRAMES @ H. LORENZO



Jacket by REISS Kanye Wall SculptuRe @ ARTERIORS HOME Necklace by ADINA MILLS @ ROSEARK



On him: Jacket AND PANTS by REISS T-shirt by MCQ at bloomingdale’s beverly center Shoes by THE LEFT SHOE COMPANY




Top, pants & shoes BY VIVIENNE WESTWOOD Bag by JUNAMMI Bracelet by AVANT GARDE Earrings by ERICKSON BEAMON VINTAGE Oversized Pencil and Sharpener @ JEFF

Shirt by BALLY SWISS Shorts by MOSCHINO Shoes by VIVIENNE WESTWOOD Necklace by JARED JAMIN Silver Decorative Balls @ JEFF





Shirt by ASOS Bracelet & rings by CHRISTOFLE ALLURE HOMME FACTICE DISPLAY BOTTLE @ JEFF Coby Clear Acrylic Resin & Teak Stool @ MECOX


T-shirt by MARC JACOBS Pants by BALLY SWISS Backpack by MARC JACOBS


Patrick McDonald, No. 6.

Golf and Retirement are Yielding to Fashion and Style By Rich Ruocco and Henry E. Scott

furniture. The area boasts the largest concentration of homes designed by modernist architects such Albert Frey, John Lautner, Richard Neutra and E. Stewart Williams.

With over 240 miles of fairways (according to the 2010 Golfer’s Guide to California), the greater Palm Springs area has a well-deserved reputation as a golfer’s paradise. And the sea of grey hair on the sidewalks, in the malls and behind the steering wheels testifies to its fame as a place to retire.

It’s a style now known as Desert Modernism, reflecting the impact of the Coachella Valley cities. And soon Palm Springs will have its own architecture museum with the opening of the Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center in a 1961 bank building designed by Williams.

But Palm Springs today is also a popular getaway for hipsters and stylistas. During its 10th Annual Modernism Week in February this year, Palm Springs and nearby desert cities such as Cathedral City were flooded with admirers of Mid-Century Modernist architecture and

Illustration by Rachel Brown / Title by Erin Miller Williams Photographs by Carrie Shaltz


NO. 6 If one needs convincing that Palm Springs is becoming a haven for the fashion- and styleobsessed, consider that famed New York City dandy Patrick McDonald is now a Desert dandy. After 36 years in New York, McDonald is now in Palm Springs and collaborating with his twin brother, Michael, and business partner Sally Hawthorne, at No. 6. Tucked into the small row of antique, art and design shops on North Palm Canyon Drive that constitute the Palm Canyon Galleria, No. 6 is a home accessories shop that offers homeware by Fornasetti, Santa Maria Novella fragrances and skin care products, and vintage Hermès and Gucci items. Famed for his makeup and stylish top hats, chronicled frequently by photographer Bill Cunningham in the Style section of The New York Times, McDonald says he’ll now switch to straw hats. No. 6 is open Thursdays through Mondays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and other times by appointment. 457 North Palm Canyon Drive Palm Springs 92262 (310) 802-9201


MITCHELLS Then there is Mitchells in downtown Palm Springs, which offers what it calls “groovy” fashions, accessories and furniture spanning the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s and extending into today. Its owner, Mitchel Karp, personally selects each item, including the enormous collection of vintage eyeglasses. “One way to make a customer feel good is to have stylish clothing for them to wear in a size that fits them,” Karp said. “A designer label is nice, but what is most important to me is style. I look for amazing pieces that are interesting and iconic with the goal of putting them in the hands of customers who appreciate them.” The store also features a fine water bar and “extended hours” on Friday and Saturday nights And you can call Mitchells to make an appointment for private shopping or styling sessions. 106 South Indian Canyon Drive Palm Springs 92262 (760) 864-1515 mitchellsps.com


HEDGE East of Palm Springs, in Cathedral City, a block of Perez Road is now home to what they call the “Design Hood.” That cluster of shops includes Hedge, where owners Charles Pearson and Thomas Sharkey offer an eclectic mix of vintage, vintage-inspired, modern and original art pieces and retro and modern furnishings. No less a style authority than Vogue recently called out Hedge and its neighbors, Spaces (metal art, vintage silk neckties, furniture and more) and J.P. Denmark (Danish Modern furniture—and owned by a Dane). Vogue pretty much nailed it by saying Hedge resembles an “upscale Mid-Century Modern shop in East Hampton except its price points are moderate” and remarking on the genial enthusiasm of Pearson, a landscape designer, and Sharkey, once an assistant to Shirley MacLaine. 68-929 Perez Road Cathedral City 92234 (760) 770-0090 hedgepalmsprings.com


Sparrows Lodge If you really want to feel like you’re in the desert, with the quiet and calm that suggests, the Sparrows Lodge is an option. Built as Castle’s Red Barn in 1951 by MGM actor Don Castle, it served as a getaway for Hollywood celebrities. The Lodge was renovated in 2013 and retains the original Red Barn and many of the original buildings. The Lodge offers bungalow- and ranch-style rooms with a mountain lodge motif. Each room boasts a fireplace, no telephone or television and one queen-sized bed. The rooms are arranged by garden view or pool view and are filled mostly with handmade furniture. 1330 East Palm Canyon Drive Palm Springs 92264 (760) 327-2300 sparrowslodge.com

Colony Palms Hotel Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Colony Palms Hotel is what happens around the pool and the Purple Palm Restaurant and Bar. On one side are private cabanas with fine furnishings. Here, guests host parties with food catered from the hotel restaurant and cocktails from the hotel bar. Across from the cabanas is an expansive lounge area where those lucky enough to stake their claim early can sunbathe, nap or lounge, surrounded by people reading style magazines through their Prada sunglasses. The atmosphere is intimate, yet refined and reserved. But then it ought to be, given that the Colony is one of the most luxurious hotels in Palm Springs. 572 North Indian Canyon Drive Palm Springs 92262 (760) 969-1800 colonypalmshotel.com

the purple palm restaurant and bar


Enclave at Sunrise SINGLE FAMILY HOMES FROM THE $600s

Tailored for your lifestyle. Don’t miss your opportunity to own one of only 19 luxurious Mid-century Modern homes at The Enclave. Located in Palm Springs Historic Tennis Club neighborhood, these distinctive homes are a must see! •Sprawling Single-story Floorplans •Mountain Views •Cul-de-Sac Locations

WORKSHOP KITCHEN & BAR After a day in the sun by the pool at one of the Palm Springs area’s stylish hotels such as the Saguaro (splashed with color by New York designers Paul Aferiat and Peter Stamberg), the Korakia Pensione (think Tangiers) or the Casa Cody (founded in the 1920s by Harriet Cody, cousin of Buffalo Bill), you could be forgiven for thinking you’re in New York City after you’ve had a few drinks at the bar at Workshop. Workshop Kitchen and Bar, nestled between BLVD and Not Neutral in the uptown area of Palm Springs, is in the old Paseo building, a former stable converted into a space best described as industrial chic. Owners Joseph Mouriani and Michael Beckman opened the restaurant with a farm-to-table concept,

meaning its menu features food made only from seasonal fruits, vegetables and other products from local farms. As a result, the menu can be a bit whimsical, but diners can count on fresh ingredients and intense flavor.

BEAZER.COM • 760-778-2542 1576 SAVVY CT. PALM SPRINGS, CA 92262

The bar features an array of fine whiskeys and house cocktails. And the alcohol “punch bowl,” which can serve a dozen people, is a good way to make new friends if you’re sitting at the group dining table. 800 North Palm Canyon Drive Palm Springs 92262 (760) 459-3451 workshoppalmsprings.com


*Pricing, features and availability subject to change without notice. Not available with any other offer. Additional restrictions may apply. See New Home Counselor for complete details. Beazer Homes CA BRE No. 01503061 © 2015 Beazer Homes. 2/15 123047


Jake’s Palm Springs Bruce Bloch and Chris Malm named their restaurant after their beloved terrier. Jake’s is an American-style bistro where Chef Mario Curci offers simple comfort foods such as rack of lamb, filet mignon and meatloaf. The specialty cocktails include exotic mixes such as the Hendricks Cooler (Hendricks gin, St. Germain liqueur, fresh cucumber, lemon juice, fresh mint) and the Rosemary Maple Bourbon Sour (Knob Creek bourbon, maple syrup, house-made sweet and sour and a rosemary sprig, served on the rocks). Jake’s is open for lunch and dinner Tuesdays through Fridays and brunch and dinner Saturdays and Sundays.

Vermillion at Escena

664 North Palm Canyon Drive Palm Springs 92262 (760) 327-4400 jakespalmsprings.com


At this gated Palm Springs community, you will relax to majestic views of the desert landscape, enjoy a short stroll to the highly acclaimed Escena Grill or test your skill at the Escena Golf Club, one of the top public courses in the state. • Mid-century Modern Architecture • Outdoor Patios with Mountain Views • Golf Course Living



Near Cheeky’s in the Alcazar Hotel complex are Birba and Jiao. Birba is an open-air Italian restaurant popular for its atmosphere as well as its menu. Open only in the evenings, the restaurant features intimate lighting, loungestyle alcove seating and alfresco dining. The menu is innovative, with an array of salads, pasta dishes, pizzas (also gluten-free), and traditional Italian dishes such as lamb osso bucco and Nonna’s Meatballs. Reservations are suggested, but if you end up having to wait, the bar is a great place to meet new friends and be entertained by bartenders mixing specialty drinks with clever names like the Heated Snake, the Apple Cart, and the Ricky Martinez.

Tucked back a short distance off Palm Canyon, across from Birba’s, is Copley’s Restaurant. Occupying Cary Grant’s 1940’s guest house, the restaurant has an intimate atmosphere with a small bar area dividing two dining rooms and outside air seating. Chef Andrew Copley offers mostly traditional American dishes like lamb and pork chops, but elevates them to the level of fine dining. For food enthusiasts, Copley offers cooking classes during happy hour (see website for dates and times) at which patrons can learn tips and tricks for making a gourmet meal in a snap. Wine pairings and appetizers are included in the experience.

622 North Palm Canyon Drive Palm Springs 92262 (760) 327-5678 birbaps.com

621 North Palm Canyon Drive Palm Springs 92262 (760) 327-9555 copleyspalmsprings.com 80

BEAZER.COM • 760-459-1111 1425 PASSAGE ST. PALM SPRINGS, CA 92262

GET MORE IN A NEW HOME *Pricing, features and availability subject to change without notice. See New Home Counselor for complete details. Renderings are artist’s conception and may not reflect actual homesites. BRE License No. 01503061. © 2015 Beazer Homes. Additional information and disclosures regarding Escena are available at Escena.com. Escena is a registered trademark of New Valley PS LLC. 2/15 123047


a designer’s diner By Manny Rodriguez and Henry E. Scott Photographs by David Vaughn

“A cute little coffee shop, takes you back to the 1950s-70s. Makes you think of the Brady Bunch.” —Yelp

“ Best cheap b-fast spot in WeHo, funny seeing $250,000 cars parked in front of a small diner.” —Yelp


W h ere crea t i v e s t a k e a b rea k fro m ar t , fa s h ion an d s t yle Chasen’s, Palm, Dino’s (Dean Martin’s own Sunset Strip dining spot). West Hollywood has been home to some of the most famous restaurants of their time. It’s still a place where the paparazzi camp out. Think of places like Craig’s, Dan Tana’s (still, all these years later) and sometimes even Urth Caffé.


But in a world where the average lifespan of a restaurant is five years, there’s a 55-year-old diner on Robertson Boulevard that’s still going strong without flashing cameras outside.

In 1960, Canadian factory worker Ed Blumstein and his wife Sybil needed a change. They packed up and moved to Los Angeles for the weather and the opportunities. After a short time selling men’s shoes, Ed came upon a small restaurant for sale on Robertson Boulevard in the then-unincorporated town of West Hollywood. Neither Ed nor Sybil knew much about running a restaurant, but they knew Ed’s brother ran a successful “lunch bar” in a Montreal office building. So why should this be any different? Ed sat at the counter for days watching how the business was run. A regular customer told the woman who owned the restaurant that she should sell it to the well-groomed young man with the starched shirt sitting at the counter. “If he takes that good care of himself,” he said, “he’ll do the same for the restaurant”.

In October 1960 Ed and Sybil took over and renamed the restaurant “Ed’s Coffee Shop.” They only planned on operating the restaurant for five years. But five years later, business was good, they’d come to love their extended family of loyal customers, and their daughter Ada was born. Ed and Sybil weren’t going anywhere. Ed Blumstein passed away in 1995. Ada had been working at the restaurant since she was a child. When she was 17 and attending Beverly Hills High School, she’d take the bus to Ed’s on Tuesdays and Thursdays to help out. In the late 80s, Ada was studying for a master’s degree. “I was so bored,” she said. “I hated it. I said to my parents, ‘I’m going to come work at the restaurant. I like to cook. I know everybody’.” Ada has been managing Ed’s for 26 years now and has created a new family of long time customers. The relationships are deep and long standing. “I’ve seen some of our customers go from being pregnant to the kid graduating from college,” she said. One of her customers knew Sybil Blumstein when she was pregnant with Ada. She even has some customers to her home at Passover.


Other close members of the Ed’s family are its longtime employees. There’s Danny Munoz, who became a server at Ed’s 30 years ago. Outside of Ed’s, Munoz is president of the Associated Historical Society of Los Angeles County and co-founder of the Echo Park Historical Society. And there’s Jesus Rangel, who’s been working the grill for almost 29 years. Rangel will sometimes personally serve the day’s special dish directly to the table of his favorite customers. He remembers that in the beginning, Sybil pointed her finger at him and said “I know you know how to cook, but you’re going to cook my way”. The pressure of learning Sybil’s cooking ways “would keep me up at night” he said. But he soon realized that her way was the right way.

Alberto Guzman, known as “Choco,” another 29-year veteran, is the oneman delivery department and soup cook. He knows every house and business address in the neighborhood, and everyone knows him. Rangel’s son Junior, as his name suggests, is the newest member of the Ed’s family. As a little boy, his dad would sometimes bring him to work. Everyone saw Junior grow up, and at 19, he became Danny’s serving partner. Eleven years later, he says, “I know everybody!” Ed’s menu has changed slowly. “Our most popular dish when my parents were around was beef meatloaf,” Blumstein said. “Now turkey meatloaf is more popular. My parents were disgusted when I told them I was going to add that to the menu.”




But while the menu hasn’t changed all that much, the world around Ed’s has changed a lot, says Blumstein. Where once her customers were mostly in the interior design business, more and more are now from the entertainment business or are people who live nearby. “It was all strictly interior design then, a lot of antique shops, wallpaper, carpeting”, said Blumstein. “In the late ’80s and early ’90s, we started getting a lot of art galleries around. Then the rents started going up and a lot of the interior design businesses moved to the PDC (Pacific Design Center).” When she started working at Ed’s “this was strictly a gay neighborhood,” Blumstein said. “Now there are more and more straight people. Sometimes on Saturdays it’s like a preschool with a dog park.” Blumstein said she has felt a special connection with her gay customers, especially during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Her husband was a hemophiliac who contracted HIV while being treated. He died 22 years ago. “What are the odds that I would meet the one Jewish hemophiliac in California?” Blumstein said. “I somehow think that up above we were all meant to connect.”

In the heart of Hollywood with a pulse on contemporary style, Gramercy is close to it all. Only a few steps away from community dining and entertainment, you also have the perfect place to host guests on your 4th floor roof deck or second floor balcony. PANORAMIC VIEWS




Ed’s customers worry about Sybil’s health and whether Ada Blumstein will decide to retire. But for Ada, retirement is not in the cards. “As long as business stays good, as long as my knees and my back keep going, I’ll stay put,” she said. Ed’s Coffee Shop is located at 460 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90048 (310) 659-8625 86

Pricing, features and availability subject to change without notice. See New Home Counselor for complete details. Renderings are artist’s conception and may not reflect actual homesites. BRE License No. 01503061. © 2015 Beazer Homes. 2/15 123047

MARCH 2015

Meet The Agency’s

John McCann





An international associate of Savills

SELLING HOLLYWO SECRETS TO A SUCCESSSFUL RELAUNCH WITH ERIC LAVEY Another broker held the Hockey Trail listing for three months. What was your pitch to the owner to make it your own?

The seller learned of my success in this neighborhood and contacted me upon ending his relationship with the previous agent, who had the listing for 3 months with no offers. He asked what we would do differently. We discussed a relaunch strategy, which included raising the price. Once the listing was yours, what were the first steps you took to market the home?

after sitting on the market with another broker and no offers, I’m blown away…

When I toured the home, I felt the square footage advertised didn’t match how large the home was, so we called in a floorplan/measurement company and discovered that the previous brokers were 25% short on the actual square footage. We brought in a top design team, through our relationship with Meridith Baer, and restaged the home. They brought it to the correct level of sophistication within 3 days at a fair and reasonable price.

How did you price the home vs. what it was with the previous agent?

When pricing, we look for two things: How the property will compete with others in the category and how can we be the “king or queen” of the Category? With Hockey Trail, we felt that this property competed on the top level, and while the owner was open to a price adjustment, he was floored when I suggested a price increase. Pricing is both an art and a science; and it’s not just about price per square foot. With the first open house events, how did you generate excitement for a home that had previously been on the market for three months?

We plan each property launch like a premiere, carefully and deliberately marketing even before we are out to the public. This creates a sense of urgency for buyers. We presented the property in its best light, with the photography and marketing pieces (print, electronic, social). We had almost 100 agents and buyers in the first open house.




OFF MARKET $3,999,000


You closed on Hockey Trail within 30 days. What else do you want to share?

My success has to be attributed to how we collaborate at The Agency. Our approach to understanding who the buyers are, how we tailor our marketing to these buyers and how orchestrated our approach is to bringing a home to market are unmatched in the industry. The sellers were ecstatic, and Mr. Kim’s testimonial says it all: “the story of the Hockey Trail sale has gone viral amongst my friends and colleagues. I am genuinely impressed by how your constant communication, paired with your innovations, abilities and dedication, worked to facilitate an amazing listing experience. You have done an absolutely extraordinary job.” Eric Lavey is the Director of the Estates Division at The Agency. He’s advised some of the most cultured and detailoriented clients from Brentwood to WeHo; Hancock Park to Santa Monica. Eric is also responsible for pioneering video marketing properties, earning recognition from Good Morning America, Inside Edition and the Wall Street Journal in the process. ELavey@theagencyre.com | 310.908.6800



SOLD OFF MARKET $6,500,000

SOLD $3,449,000



As a West Hollywood resident and property owner, John McCann, Director of Residential Division at The Agency, has his finger on the pulse of market conditions and property values to help assist his clients. John McCann attributes his successful 20 year career as a real estate broker to his ability to achieve the highest level of customer service through an extreme attention to detail and by giving the same level of attention to each and every client regardless of the size of the transaction. Whether you are looking to sell, buy or lease, John McCann and his team are ready to assist you with all of your real estate needs. 340.998.0423 JMcCann@TheAgencyRE.com


John McCann









@sabrina33burton “ Sandals, comfy dresses and clever handbags, no matter the season”

@nadiabee “Less is more”

“ Tailored and effortless”

@morthyn “Denim driven”

@kinseymaei “ Pour yourself a drink, put some lipstick on, and pull yourself together”

Look Book






@kristinebmakeup “Casual, edgy & comfortable!!”

@chrisamoremua “Wake up and go with the flow”

@jdc_life “Simple sleek black attire”

@stephenhyao “ Dangerous, creative, sexy, simple, classic”

“ I woke up like this”

Styles Described in Ten Words or Less 94






@relishrose “ Sassy inside and out”

@alexandradelhoyo “ How close can I get to wearing pajamas without people knowing?”

@andyb.photography “ Modern, classic and casual”

@surfski64 “Eclectic boho-chic”

“ Seniorly seriously fabulous”







@colorsnthings “ Colors”

@razanmadani “Chic”

@severety “ West Coast Kennedy”

@alliecow “ Sassy, wild and fun”

@wildbonesjones “ Going with the flow, instinctual. Try to keep it easy and natural”

Photographs by Naomi Yamada 95

LEAVING LAS VEGAS An artist comes alive again in her work While tourists know Las Vegas for the glitz and glamour of The Strip, Lindsey Labrum knew another side of Sin City. Labrum and her twin sister, Anise, grew up on the city’s east side, home to many of the 20,000 gang members that inhabit Vegas. If she skipped a day at school for a juvenile adventure, Labrum might have seen a stranger overdose on cocaine or watch a friend get shot—stuff most children only see on TV or at the movies.

As if being surrounded by crime weren’t enough, at 17 Labrum discovered she had thyroid cancer, something she shared with only her closest friends. After four years of radiation treatment, she decided she had to get away and made a move to Los Angeles. Life felt normal for the first time. She found work as a writer and found love. Then her grandmother died, and Labrum flat lined emotionally. She’d lost her most reliable confidant, and her writing career now seemed meaningless.

It was not something she could bring herself to talk about, except to her grandmother. “I was too afraid of what might happen if it got out that my family or myself knew anything,” she said. So Labrum began chronicling what she felt about the life around her in another way— through art. It was something she excelled at in school, and her drawing skills gave her pride.

“I felt like nobody truly knew me because I never fully shared who I was with anyone but my Grams,” she said. “I felt that if people really knew all the crazy things I’d gone through and witnessed, growing up in ‘Sin City’, that it would scare them off. In my head I felt alien, different, doomed to lurk alone in my unforgiving world.”

Photographs by Mike Allen


Labrum headed to South America looking for something to “wake her up.” But no matter what she did, her sadness didn’t dissipate. Feeling no change in her heavy heart, Labrum moved to Northern California to her family’s horse ranch. Oddly, it was another blow—a recurrence of cancer‑that sparked a new life for Labrum, who was determined to stay alive. She turned to art, the same thing that had saved her as a child. By expressing her life in a cartoon or hyper-detailed drawing, she reclaimed a bit of herself. Labrum had no formal training, but long hours of pen work made her hands steady and precise. Before creating, she would give each project intense thought and research. She started with a silhouette or light pencil marks before getting more detailed as she filled in the piece with various precision ink pens. Her work is visually stunning, but Labrum also wants to incorporate meaning and history in her pieces. For example, when working on her large Horses piece, Labrum started with her own horse and then elaborated with different cultural and historical versions of horses she found in her research. She is inspired by a variety of artists, most from the mid-’60s. Her grandmother and great aunts had been close friends with political artists such as Erté. Lindsey would stare at his paintings hanging in the hallway and lose herself in the detail and perfection of his work. Another very different artist who inspired her was Shel Silverstein, whose cartoons and funny poems found something to laugh about in the darker side of life. Combining highly technical designs with humorous characters is something Labrum has become known for. Earlier this year, recovered from her second bout with cancer, Labrum left Northern California for West Hollywood in a search for positive energy. West Hollywood is a place where she finds people to be friendly, accepting and open-minded. She has reunited with an old friend, Mike Allen, who now represents her art for his interior design clients. Labrum splits her time between writing for television shows and creating art that has given her a new outlook on life.


BEDTIME STORIES Sarah Ivory & Carl Gambino For him it’s all about self-improvement. For her, it’s coming of age or controversy and crime. In the same bed in their apartment in West Hollywood, Sarah Ivory and her husband, Carl Gambino, dive into dramatically different worlds with books in hand. Ivory runs an eponymous marketing and public relations firm that represents clients in the worlds of fashion (Elodie K and JustFab), media (Refinery29) and entertainment tech (Colaborator.com). “I love fiction books about characters coming of age or family dynamics,” she said. “If there is a murder or crime theme involved, even better. I do like some non-fiction books too, but they have to be about controversial topics for me to get into them. Whistle blowing and political secrets uncovered are particularly interesting to me. Basically, if there’s scandal and drama involved, I’m in! By contrast, Gambino focuses on self-development. A real estate agent at the West Side Estate Agency in Beverly Hills, he is also an actor and screenwriter. “I am currently re-reading The Law of Success by Napoleon Hill,” he said. That book is an all-time bestseller, with 20 million copies sold when Hill died in 1970. Gambino recently finished The GodFather’s Daughter by Rita Gigante, which he is adapting into a screenplay with Gigante. “Both of our families are from the same neighborhood in New York City and knew each other growing up so it’s kind of cool to be doing something creative with her now,” Gambino said. He prefers self-improvement writers from the early 1900’s. “They inspire me and motivate me so I try to get my wife to read them too but she refuses,” he said. “I buy her new editions and modernized versions and sneak them on her bed stand, but she’s stubborn.” Ivory now is reading Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & The Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright. “The beginning feels a little slow to me, she said. “I definitely want to skip forward to the part where celebs start believing in Xenu but I get that they are establishing a historical precedent for L. Ron Hubbard. It’s shocking.” In this digital age they both prefer old-fashioned print, although Gambino will listen to audio books when he’s in a car. “I spend a lot of my day on the computer so at night I like to give it break,” Ivory said. “I love books and the smell of them. I like trading them back and forth with friends, creasing the pages and wearing them out.”

“I love books and the smell of them.”

Photograph by Ian Morrison


City of West Hollywood California 1984


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