WHM WEST HOLLYWOOD MAGAZINE
THE ART OF THE AUTO Heritage Classics: a museum-worthy showroom
Whatâ€™s behind her sense of style
ARCHITECTURE AS ART How Leland Bryant met a primal need
TOM SANDOVAL A day in his West Hollywood life
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TABLE OF CONTENTS THE CHEF
Daniel Elmaleh at the Doheny Room 22
ART IN SHOPS Design Showrooms That Show (and Sell) Art
MICHAEL LIN INTERIORS
Designing Interiors Around the World 36
LELAND BRYANT The Man Who Turned Shelter into Art
STANDING ON THE CORNER West Hollywood’s Evolution Reflected on Santa Monica and La Cienega / 44
The Art of the Automobile
KIM DOWER The City Poet and Her Pink Muse / 58 62
TOM SANDOVAL This Actor’s Ideal Day in West Hollywood
What’s Behind Her Sense of Style? 72
PEDRO RUBIO A Clothier Finds His Paris on Fairfax
CHARLIE’S ANGELS Alive and Well on Hacienda Place / 78
SANTA BARBARA The Ocean Laps and the Wine Pours
LOOKBOOK Local Fashion, for Real / 92 98
BEDTIME STORIES What a Logo Star Does When he Crawls Into Bed
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Food (and Fashion) After the Sun Goes Down
LA CIENEGA DESIGN QUARTER The Vision of a Few Evolved Into a Reality of Art and Design
THE LOT STUDIOS Hollywood Still Hums Behind A Long Beige Wall
NIEMEYER ON SUNSET
The YouTube Star Who is The Voice of West Hollywood
The Eccentric History of the Building Mark Mothersbaugh Calls Home
Shaping the Cityâ€™s Form and Function
The Art of the Designer
Making Style With Sticks
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WEST HOLLYWOOD MAGAZINE
Publisher / Editor-In-Chief Henry E. Scott firstname.lastname@example.org Creative Director Matthew Morgan email@example.com Copy Editor Terry Randazzo Photo Editor/ Social Media Director Erick Stryker Contributing Writers Nate Berg Todd Bianco Maria Bertrand Greg Firlotte Gabe Saglie Jason Gibby Gus Heully James Mills Marc Yeber Contributing Photographers Mike Allen WIilliam Callan Aldo Carrera Paolo Fortades Nate Jensen Ryan Jerome Elizabeth Lippman Nico Marques Aaron Jay Young Contact Us firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising (323) 454-7707 email@example.com Advisory Board Chair Darren Gold Advisory Board Members Amanda Browning Christopher DeMartino (Soho House) Alle Fister (Bollare) Thomas Lavin (Thomas Lavin Inc.) Merry Norris (Art Consultant) Jorg Wallrabe (BrandingIron Worldwide) Joshua Zad (Alfred) Cover Photo HervĂŠ Willems by Mike Allen Follow Us westhollywoodmag.net facebook.com/westhollywoodmagazine Instagram @westhollywoodmagazine
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C O N T R I B U T I N G P H OTO G R A P H E R S
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 @artmarketstudio
A native San Diegan, William’s love affair with photography began early on in life. This passion led him to the Commercial Photography program at Brooks Institute, where he graduated with a Bachelors of Fine Art in Photography, and soon found himself immersed in the entertainment industry of Los Angeles. If he doesn’t have a camera in hand William usually spends his time marking things off his bucket list and drinking enough coffee to power a small country. Instagram @williamcallan
Aldo Carrera is a Mexican-American fine art and fashion photographer. His work has a cool, impromptu style that creates a documentary-type feel. This allows the viewer to feel like they are part of the process more intimately. Influenced by the Renaissance painter Caravaggio, his style involves the use of dramatic lighting paired with observation of the natural state of mind.
Paolo Fortades is a Los Angeles-based photographer with a passion for urban exploration and lifestyle photography. He thinks photography saved his life and is 100% obsessed with it. Instagram @paolo.fortades
AARON JAY YOUNG
Aaron Jay Young is a Los Angeles-based portrait photographer. Influenced by his passion for psychology, he creates stunning images that reflect the vulnerability and authenticity of his subjects. He believes that each of his portraits has the capacity to change ones self-perception, to heal and empower.
Born and raised in the Midwest, Nate Jensen was eager to explore the world from a young age. He studied in Rome before moving to L.A. where his photography career took off. Both his personal and collaborative work have international visibility spanning advertising campaigns for fashion labels and luxury hotels to Hollywood’s A-listers.
Ryan Jerome is a renowned celebrity and fashion photographer & co-founder of Eggy Production. After being based in some of the fashion capitals of the world, his recent move to L.A. has had a profound effect on his photography, bringing a film industry-influenced cinematic quality to his imagery. Instagram @ryan_jerome
A recent NY to LA transplant, film maker/ photographer Elizabeth Lippman is the cocreator of “Life As A Runway” in The New York Times. Her clients have included nearly every major fashion brand and her work has appeared nationally and internationally. Elizabeth enjoys blasting Randy Newman’s “I Love LA” while enjoying the palm trees in her yard, the avocados on her plate, and her proximity to the Pacific. Instagram @lizlippphoto
Nico Marques’ background in architecture has given him an edge in drawing out subtleties of designs with his photography, and a deeper understanding and respect for what it takes to turn an initial sketch into a structure. He is a Portuguese transplant based in Los Angeles and more of his photographs can be seen at nicomarques.com. Instagram @photekt
Maria Bertrand, a Montreal native, is a screenplay and freelance writer. As the Director of Marketing and Content for a fashion/tech company, she happily spends her days producing fashion shoots, interviewing trendsetters and writing content. Always in search of fascinating people, brands & ideas to bring to life through storytelling, L.A. is the perfect palette of inspiration. Instagram @inspirebydoing
Tim Chan is the founder of the arts and culture publication, Corduroy, and a regular contributor to magazines and newspapers around the world. A native of Toronto, Canada, Tim has also worked in Montreal and New York both as a writer and creative consultant for emerging fashion and lifestyle brands. He currently lives in Los Angeles. Instagram @mrtimchan
Jason Gibby draws heavily from John Carpenter and the cyberpunk genre. Camp also informs his work, allowing him to playfully comment on the realities of urban life. As a native Angeleno, the perpetual motion of the Los Angeles landscape keeps his work on its toes.
Bianco is a life-long car enthusiast. From his early childhood counting air-cooled VWs to his current life in WeHo counting Teslas, Todd has always followed the evolution of cars and the local car culture. He’s owned several classic cars, including a ’69 Mercury Cougar XR-7 convertible, a ’73 Porsche 914 and a ’72 Cadillac Eldorado convertible. He never did get that red ’66 Mustang convertible he lusted after as a kid, but he drives a modern muscle car, a Dodge Charger and still owns and drives a diesel Mercedes from the years when the brand was still run by the engineers.
Firlotte’s West Hollywood design career began in 1981 as an editor of Designers West magazine. He’s gone on to have his work featured in Architectural Digest, Veranda and West Hollywood magazines, interviewing such luminaries as Helmut Newton, Ed Ruscha and Richard Meier. Firlotte also served as marketing director for J. Robert Scott and Phyllis Morris, and has served on various local boards.
Gus 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. Twitter @GusHeully
Journalist James F. Mills has written about an array of subjects in his career, but considers covering West Hollywood to be his greatest pleasure. He has reported extensively on the ever-evolving city and its endlessly fascinating residents, serving as the editor of the West Hollywood Patch website and later as a correspondent for WEHOville. com. Mills was born and raised in North Carolina but found where he belonged upon moving to West Hollywood. Tony Bennett may have left his heart in San Francisco, but Mills’ heart is in West Hollywood.
Gabe Saglie is senior editor for Travelzoo and has appeared as a travel expert on CNN, NBC’s Today Show and FOX News, as well as news programs in major markets such as New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago. He also writes a travel column for ABC News. Gabe has been a wine columnist for 15 years and is based in Santa Barbara, where he lives with his wife, Renee, two sons, Gabriel and Greyson, and newborn daughter, Madelyn.
Marc Yeber is design and planning principal for Cont-X Studio and VP of Public Information for APA California. He is also the editor-in-chief for CalPlanner, a bimonthly publication on planning in California. With degrees in architecture, urban planning and landscape architecture, his focus is on the design of the public realm and natural environments. He is a former member of the planning and historic preservation commissions for West Hollywood.
PUBLISHER’S LETTER HENRY E. SCOTT
We’d Like to Introduce You to Some of Your Neighbors
e have several goals with West Hollywood Magazine. The first, which we hope is obvious, is to highlight the strong culture of art, architecture, design and style for which this city, in my opinion, hasn’t gotten the credit it deserves. We also want to introduce the city to visitors, who can find this magazine in the guest rooms of hotels such as the Mondrian, the Andaz and the Chamberlain. When they’ve checked in, we want them to use West Hollywood Magazine to check out the city that surrounds them. We also aspire to introduce you, dear readers, to some of your neighbors—the incredibly creative and sometimes wonderfully eccentric people you may not know who live, literally or figuratively, next door. We’ve realized that last goal with several stories in this issue. Consider Mike Pingel, the Hacienda Place resident whose passion for Charlie’s Angels has inspired him to create a collection dedicated to the three characters of that insanely popular TV show of the late ‘70s and the 2000 movie. Then there is Pedro Rubio, who has managed to find his own Paris on Fairfax Avenue, where he has used his sense of style and his sewing skills to create his own fashion line in a shop just south of Santa Monica Boulevard. Another creative resident profiled in this issue has finally gotten the local attention she deserves. In October Kim Dower will assume the role of West Hollywood poet laureate. It’s a role she will fill with the help of her “Pink Tornado,” a practical and inspirational tool that is all too rare in this digital age. Oh, and you may have noticed a change on our cover. We’re still West Hollywood Magazine, the only magazine focused on this creative city. But just as I’m Hank (the nickname for Henry), WHM (or “the mag”) is the affectionate term we use when we talk about this publication in the office.
PHOTOGRAPH BY AARON JAY YOUNG
Fall @ The Wallis THE WALLIS & CODY LASSEN PRODUCTION OF
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THIS PRODUCTION IS MADE POSSIBLE BY GENEROUS SUPPORT FROM DAVID C. BOHNETT.
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Carmen de Lavallade: As I Remember It Zukerman Trio NOVEMBER 4-5
Kyle Riabko: Bacharach Reimagined NOVEMBER 22 – DECEMBER 18 MICHAEL ARDEN’S
Merrily We Roll Along
It was Halloween three years ago when SBE Entertainment Group closed Mercato di Vetro, the restaurant that sat between Dan Tana’s and the Troubadour on the western end of West Hollywood’s Santa Monica Boulevard. But this Spring, the restaurant, nightlife and hotel company, decided to give it another try. They opened the Doheny
Room, named for the border that sits a block away between West Hollywood and Beverly Hills, and installed Daniel Elmaleh as chef. In his role as SBE’s corporate executive chef, Elmaleh has played a key role at many of the group’s restaurants including The Bazaar, Cleo, Gladstone’s and Katsuya.
INTERVIEW BY HENRY SCOTT PHOTOGRAPHS BY ELIZABETH LIPPMAN
Daniel Elmaleh: A Life Reflected in His Menu for The Doheny Room Where are you from originally? I was born in Israel and moved to Japan when I was nine and lived in Japan for 18 years, and then moved to the States. What’s your earliest food memory? I remember seeing street vendors grilling lamb on their little charcoal grills in Israel. My mom is Japanese, and my dad’s family is Moroccan. Growing up in Israel, we ate a mixture of Japanese food and my grandmother’s Moroccan couscous. There was always a mixture of different foods on the table. I also remember eating Chinese food. It was normal for me to have Asian, Moroccan and Israeli food in one setting. This is why I am more open to bringing all sorts of different foods into my kitchen. How did you get your start in the restaurant industry? My dad entered the restaurant industry when he was just 13 years old, and ended up opening up the first Moroccan restaurant in Japan. I didn’t want to be in the business, but that changed when I was about 16 or 17. I was initially unsure if I wanted to go into the hotel industry or the restaurant industry. I debated attending a school in Switzerland to study the hotel business, but ended up landing in New York City at the Culinary Institute of America when I was 18. How would you describe the food at Doheny? When it comes to Doheny Room, my goal was to open a lounge with an amazing food program keeping our clientele in mind. My style is simple rustic food with big flavors. For Doheny Room, I wanted it to have very indulgent foods like the Mushroom Toast and Lobster Poutine. The Salmon Carpaccio and Green Papaya Salad are also very indulging. The Vegetable Sushi also offers a unique twist and is a great vegan option that is easily shared amongst diners. Doheny Room allows you to indulge and
eat healthy at the same time. My goal was to have a little bit of both and focus on sharable plates. What are some of your signature dishes? The Mushroom Toast and Lobster Poutine. Is there an ingredient you use a lot that would surprise people? Fish sauce. Is there an ingredient you don’t like using? As long as it’s good quality, I will use it. Are there any trends in restaurants that you think are overrated? Avocado toast. Are there any trends that you think are going to be big? I think there hasn’t been a Chinese concept lately that has truly shaken things up. In terms of ethnic food, when you look at Chinese cuisine, there needs to be a Chinese concept rather than the typical Asian fusion style. What would we find in your kitchen at home? Whenever I cook at home, I try to be simple taking up no more than 1520 minutes of time. I like to keep things really simple and really quick. What’s your favorite meal to make for friends? I like to do things like Shabu Shabu or something Korean barbecue-style, for which I will do all the prepping and seasoning. If you could eat anywhere in the world, where would that be? There are a lot of places I still want to go. I travel to Japan once a year and am hoping to still make it over there this year. I will usually pick a place I haven’t gone to and go once or twice a year. I do this based on restaurants to taste food and to eat. AUTUMN 2016
SCOTT ROBERTS, FULLER + ROBERTS
SHOPS AS GALLERIES Design Showrooms that Show (and Sell) Art
Art is everywhere in West Hollywood—on the sides of buildings, in MOCA’s location at the Pacific Design Center and in the center divider of Santa Monica Boulevard. On a more intimate scale and with a more eclectic selection, art also can be found in shops and showrooms around the city.
These spaces are great for seeing a huge variety of artworks— paintings by younger artists, sculpture by locals or vintage movie posters. Many stores even hold opening parties and, unlike at a museum, it is possible to buy some of the pieces and take them home with you.
BY GUS HEULLY PHOTOGRAPHS BY MIKE ALLEN & PAOLO FORTADES
Fuller + Roberts An intimate single-room furniture showroom fronting La Cienega Boulevard, Fuller + Roberts is currently featuring a small collection of Belgian portrait paintings from the 1930s along with portrait photography and vintage large format movie poster art. Scott Robertsâ€™ particular love for portraiture is clearly on view. When Roberts comes across art, furniture, sculpture or other objects that catch his interest, he curates his room around them. Then, about twice a year, most of the furniture is cleared out of the space for a more formal art opening. Fuller + Roberts has even hosted music and other types of performances. The result is days when the space is more like what would be seen at a gallery than a furniture showroom. 729 N. La Cienega Blvd. Tel (310) 652-1522 fullerroberts.com Hours: Monday - Friday 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
BY TRACY PATTIN PHOTOGRAPHS BY RYAN JEROME
CAMERICH Stephen Bianchi and Michael Lin run the three-year-old Camerich showroom on Robertson Boulevard. In their clean and minimalist space, they have always had at least one big wall of art. It’s often bright pops of color in their otherwise calm space. Working with an art consultant, they change this wall every few months with work by up-and-coming Los Angeles artists. Being new and lessknown, the work of these artists is not only less likely to be found elsewhere but is also more reasonably priced. In addition, an opening often accompanies the changing of the art on the wall, an opportunity to meet those involved and enjoy seeing something fresh and new. 461 N Robertson Blvd. Tel (310) 881-6199 camerichla.com Hours: Monday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Sunday by Appointment
WITKE SHOP Witke is a bright and open oneroom, year-old showroom on Melrose Avenue. Started by interior designer Bret Witke, the showroom features a mix of furniture, lighting and art. The artworks on display come from an array of places, partly from Witkeâ€™s own collection and others bought at auction or created by artist friends. Most of the furniture in the showroom is vintage, something that Witke includes in every one of his projects to lend a bit of history and mix up the space. The art on view has the same feel. It is a mix of African masks from the 1950s, prints and photographs from the 1970s and both paintings and sculpture made recently. Itâ€™s a refined mix of old and new in a space where one feels fine casually dropping in. 8281 Melrose Ave. Tel (323) 782-1757 Hours: Tuesday - Saturday 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
HARBINGER The space of Harbinger, the showroom of Joe Lucas, is eclectic and homey. The art on display throughout the showroom complements the lush varieties of wallpaper, furniture and other objects on display and helps to tie the space together. Art at Harbinger comes from all over the United States. Some works are by friends of Lucas, some by artists who have approached the showroom about being included, and there is even work by artists that has Lucas discovered. The dense combinations of things on display make it easy to imagine how a piece of art might fit into ones own life. Itâ€™s a very different way of viewing art than seeing it in a white walled gallery. 752 N La Cienega Blvd. Tel (310) 858-6884 harbingerla.com Hours: Monday - Friday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
MICHAEL LIN Based in West Hollywood, this Designer’s Work Ranges from the Bird Streets to Shanghai Michael Lin was born in Taiwan, educated in Argentina and the United States and has traveled the globe for business for well over a decade. For 30 years, Los Angeles has been his home. “My career in interior design was a natural progression of all the things I was passionate about from a young age—which includes the world of fashion as well,” Lin said. “Today, I fuse both of these passions to create beautiful spaces and furnishings. And West Hollywood and Los Angeles is the perfect market for me to work in.” Lin founded his eponymous design firm in 2002. But before that he already had been at work on prestigious assignments here and abroad, like collaborating with designer Peter Marino on a chair for Chanel’s international boutiques which was exhibited at the renowned furniture fair in Milan. Lin has worked as a consultant and designer of interiors for nightclubs, restaurants and hotels (such as the Sunset Marquis) in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills. His overseas projects include the Huashan Square luxury retail and residential property in Shanghai, for which he conceptualized the layout and curated furnishings for the lobby, public retail spaces, restaurants and guest rooms. “I enjoy creating a difference in the choice of materials and combination of colors,” Lin said. “As I work I try to think each project all the way through, even the simplest piece of furniture, considering usage, practicality and proportion. I believe proportion is the key to beauty and style.” Lin and partner Stephen Bianchi opened the Camerich Los Angeles showroom in 2013 on North Robertson Boulevard in the heart of West Hollywood’s design district. “My design practice was expanding so rapidly that, rather than turn to a traditional office space, I decided to create a blended retail and design space to showcase my work in a more relaxed setting,” Lin said. The spacious, light-filled showroom that he designed is where one can find Washington-state-based Camerich contemporary furniture mixed with modern
lighting and accessories from an array of high-end British, Italian and German sources. “The decision to represent Camerich came from my using the line for several contract and hospitality projects,” Lin said. The current boom in the Los Angeles residential market has been favorable to Lin’s design practice. “We’ve seen a large influx of new home buyers,” he said, “and it has been rewarding to work with these new clients from around the globe. And not only residential, we are expanding our office and hospitality services as well.” Among Lin’s newest projects is the renovation of a $32-million home perched high in the famed “Bird Streets” enclave in the Hollywood Hills above West Hollywood. “The house belongs to a self-made entrepreneur and his family who has an innovative sense of style,” Lin said. Parked outside the house are a Porsche and a McLaren, both sky blue, that make a style statement of their own. From inside, breathtaking views of the city below are balanced with the design of rooms whose soaring ceiling heights add even more drama. Each space is a study in a restrained “monochromatic elegance,” which is how Lin describes the overall concept. Contemporary furnishings are carefully placed and balanced with a modern art collection that provides a colorful counterpoint to the furniture and accessories. A grand piano in the spacious entry hall seems to float in a wash of white, a sort of visual cue that one is almost floating above the city as well. “The clients are young and hip,” Lin pointed out, “and so I selected a suite of Miles Aldridge fashion photographs to reflect their attitudes and to give each room a personality.” In starting any of his projects—from residential to commercial—Lin spends time with every client getting to know his or her personal style and needs, creating a platform from which to develop his design concepts. “I am lucky to have a photographic memory,” he said, “which helps me pull inspirations and elements together from my many travels, life experiences and my love of fashion.”
BY GREG FIRLOTTE PHOTOGRAPHS BY NICO MARQUES AUTUMN 2016
MORE THAN A PRETTY FAÃ‡ADE The Lost Art of Leland Bryant
BY MARC YEBER, ASLA PHOTOGRAPHS BY PAOLO FORTADES
ravel on Fountain Avenue in West Hollywood and you will quickly realize your trip is defined by a fabled story. It is a journey framed by an imagined lifestyle housed in former palaces of Hollywood nobility from a time since vanished. Clustered between La Cienega Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue in the area loosely known as MidCity, these post-World War I residences are notable for their period architecture, but cherished for their association with the classic age of cinema. To the casual observer, they are the grande dames of apartment living, undeniably stately and always graceful. They have become the de facto cairns of our journey to a time long past. Their presence connects us to a bygone era and a time where adornment conveyed taste and status. This collection of buildings represents the skilled crafting and elevating of arguably one of our most primal needs, the development of shelter. Each of these anchors our community’s origins and history. Wrapped within their mythical walls there is a story rarely told. Apartment houses erected from the mid 1920s to the early 1930s mixed a variety of period revival styles from Spanish Baroque (aka Churrigueresque) and French Normandy (aka Chateauesque) to Art Deco and Zigzag Moderne, and this helped define cultivated
urban living in the Los Angeles area. Built largely to accommodate burgeoning film production— United Artists and Fairbanks Studios were located mere blocks away—these apartment buildings were designed to house a broad cross section of studio folk, from executives and actors to designers and artists. As a real-life stage for living, these environments mimicked the theatrical artistry and defined a faux opulence commonly found on film production sets of the time. No architect was more accomplished in mastering this type of luxury apartment house in West Hollywood—or Hollywood for that matter—than Leland A. Bryant. While others of this era were known for other types of buildings, like S. Charles Lee for theater palaces and the Zwebell’s for courtyard housing, Bryant displayed a penchant for designing residential buildings with a dramatic flair. In only eight years, starting in 1924, Leland Bryant proposed and/or built nearly 300 buildings throughout Los Angeles and adjacent areas such as West Hollywood. This is remarkable when you consider today’s development process, where a single project can take that long to get entitled, permitted and built. It is this fact, along with other significant changes in how we approach planning, architecture and development, that makes the design of such buildings a lost art. To understand the conditions that shaped development in Los Angeles, it’s important to
know that the early 1920’s consisted of large swaths of undeveloped land, much of which was still used for oil fields and orange groves. The population was well under 100,000, a little more than one percent that of New York City. Comprehensive zoning had not fully reached the hinterlands of downtown Los Angeles. The automobile was in its infancy, with less than half a million registered in all of Los Angeles County. Freeways and a fully realized street network were still just a discussion. This context was framed by L.A.’s first building boom, which lasted until the Great Depression. Perhaps the most significant cultural factor influencing the development of these buildings was the budding film studio system. When these buildings were being conceived, the studios were just starting to take root, and the industry was in the middle of a significant expansion. In fact, some 800 movies per year were being made in Hollywood alone. It was also a time that gave rise to the “movie star.” One cannot consider these buildings without understanding who the projected end-user was or the studio craft employed that shaped the film culture at the time. While period revival was occurring throughout the U.S., Hollywood’s access to the artistry and skill were unmatched elsewhere, and therefore few residential buildings mastered it to the same degree as those here. Leland Bryant was an interpreter of the time within the unique context with which he was presented, and this gave him the freedom to innovate and experiment with the housing type.
PREVIOUS PAGE: SAVOY PLAZA; THIS PAGE: SUNSET TOWER
So who was the clientele for these buildings? It has been suggested that many of Leland Bryant’s dwellings were pied-à-terre for industry talent that lived in the outer reaches of “Hollywoodland.” To give credence to such a notion, one only needs to recognize the mobility limitations of the time. Where today’s oneway commute from Malibu might take an hour or two of driving, that same commute during the 1920’s would take half a day when you consider that a single paved lane was the closest thing to a freeway, and that driving 30 miles per hour was thought to be practically reckless. Whether it was a period revival or art deco building, Leland Bryant believed there was value in designing units with modern amenities and unparalleled detail that only the millionaire’s home would feature. Starting with the Afton Arms Apartments in Hollywood in 1924 and spanning to the Moffitt Apartments (now Hayworth Towers) in West Hollywood in 1931, these buildings offered the latest in modern home conveniences such as electric ranges, ventilation and dishwashers. In between, he designed and built countless notable luxury apartment houses including La Fontaine, Savoy Plaza, Colonial House, El Palacio, Les Maisonettes (now The Four Gables), and of course the Sunset Tower Apartments, to name a few in West Hollywood. These represent 38
a minority of his portfolio. Numerous other examples of his mastery are dotted throughout Hollywood and the Mid-Wilshire area, also known today as Koreatown and a number of them have historic designation associated with them. Flats, townhomes, split-level units and efficiency apartments all had a higher than expected level of convenience and a superior degree of whimsy. This is not to diminish Bryant’s architectural innovation and skill at organizing space. From air shafts for natural ventilation and base isolation devices for seismic resistance to split-level vertical spaces and double-height volumes, Leland Bryant established many firsts for this architectural typology. Even the siting of his projects emphasized the approach and sequencing as one navigated a building and grounds. Arguably, Bryant’s most notable apartment house, and one of his last, was the Sunset Tower on Sunset Boulevard. This building was the culmination of everything he attempted to achieve in a city dwelling. He intentionally sacrificed elaborate public facilities for individual units brimming with amenities, such as unobstructed panoramic views via floorto-ceiling bay windows, decorative fireplaces and ultra-modern conveniences that were substantially ahead of their time. This was Leland Bryant’s design philosophy for all his projects. The announcements,
advertisements and editorial of the day make clear that these buildings were not only outfitted with the latest in amenities, but displayed a high degree of craftsmanship. From gable finials and ornate friezes to pronounced sashes and raised quoining, few areas of Leland Bryant buildings were left unadorned or without devices that further anchored its vocabulary. However, these visual delights are only part of the story. Unbeknownst to the average viewer, these buildings possess numerous conceits adding to the folly of these architectural gems —remember this a town revered for makebelieve. These elements would foreshadow a few of the principles of post-modernism that came into fashion 50 years later. For example, a casual glance at the slate tile roofs of his French chateaus reveals several chimneys that are mere props of adornment. That’s right; theatrical devices straight out of your local prop shop. These are associated with imitation fireplaces inside, where today’s occupants and visitors lament the loss of a fire that never was. Further inspection presents ornamental ceiling beams anchored by carved heads that are easily disguised as the work of skilled woodworkers when actually they are nothing more than plaster molds. Though these architectural gimmicks and other devices allude to some other place and time, they actually establish their own place in history.
PREVIOUS PAGE, LEFT: THE HAYWORTH; RIGHT: SAVOY PLAZA LOBBY INTERIOR THIS PAGE, ABOVE: EL PALACIO; BELOW: THE COLONIAL AUTUMN 2016
“Wrapped within their mythical walls, there is a story rarely told.”
LA FONTAINE COURTYARD
HOUSING AS A LOST ART So why do these apartment houses remain admired today among their later equivalents? Many suggest it’s a massing and articulation that harkens to an expensive art form that now is rare given today’s focus on economic return. Others point to a style and detailing that has become a lost art in a climate of value engineering. Some simply offer that these buildings are part of the built narrative that stitches our urban fabric. Though none of these are incorrect in their assessment, they miss an even more important consideration: today’s laser focus on real estate value has led to housing that is commodity-driven and less focused on creating shelter as our individual sanctuary. Indeed, these architectural gems represent the embodiment of delight and retreat from the daily grind of urban life both then and now. What is less evident to the average passerby is what lurks within these historically protected envelopes. Inside, the organization of space and unparallelled grandeur matches the exterior of these buildings. The typical unit has a deceptively modest footprint by today’s standard. A two-bedroom townhome
averages less than 1,200 square feet while a one bedroom flat is less than 700 square feet. But gracious volumes and large windows make the apartments feel larger than life. Hallmarks include double-height vaulted ceilings and dramatic staircases reminiscent of Norma Desmond’s grand descent, and plaster carved faces and decorative fireplace mantles that would inspire an Auntie Mame soirée. Even in the most modest of apartments, attention was paid to the quality of the space, including orchestrated transitions from room to room. With the onset of the Great Depression, this type of luxury housing faded and was further waylaid by World War II. Then the postwar single-family housing boom gained traction and cultural tastes gravitated to a “form-followsfunction” attitude. With that, the architectural whimsy of Leland Bryant fell out of favor. By this time however, his legacy had already been cemented via a multitude of buildings with a widely-admired attention to detail. Yet, for numerous reasons, these buildings could never be built today. The lack of willingness on the part of the development community or the loss of skilled craftspeople is only part of the story. Local zoning regulates lot coverage, number of units, height, open space and required parking,
and most of these buildings would not meet today’s development standards. For example, under current regulations, buildings such as the Four Gables or Beau Sejour on Fountain Avenue would have their units reduced by half; the height of the Savoy Plaza and Granville on Crescent Heights Boulevard would be trimmed by nearly 50 percent, and the walk-ups and unit diversity of the El Palacio on Fountain and Piazza Del Sol on Sunset Boulevard would disappear. Further, these structures do not conform to the codes regulating building, disability, fire safety and energy and the sustainability requirements of today. To make matters even more complicated, all these regulations are overseen by agencies that operate in an often-siloed fashion. And then there is the sometimes-contentious political climate and prolonged review process that can be burdensome and unpredictable in approving a project. All told, the current regulatory environment presents a situation where an architect of Leland Bryant’s caliber today would be inhibited from doing the very thing he or she is chartered to do...design a building with what Vitruvius described as firmness, commodity (i.e., functionality) and delight.
These buildings represent more than a snapshot of a previous time, an ornamentation sacrificed for economics, or a lifestyle whose charm has waned. They demonstrate a lost art of detailing, and they conjure an imagining of the glamour long associated with a period that has given way to a less-storied time. These vestiges remind us of what is missing in our attitude towards planning, development and the architecture of housing today. They also highlight the impediments that interfere with creating housing that is not simply humane, but becomes a private haven. The gracious orientation, dramatic entrances, spacious interiors and majestic stature of Leland Bryant’s apartment houses point not only to a philosophy of developing housing, but of building community. Their presence not only reveals an earlier design sensibility, but suggests a more noble purpose to guide future development and art of housing.
A LIFE OF RELATIVE OBSCURITY Born in Santa Cruz in 1890, Leland Bryant was a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and trained as an architect and engineer. He began his architectural legacy shortly after relocating to Los Angeles in the early 1920s. He rode the wave of L.A.’s building boom, carving out a niche in luxury apartment houses. During the Great Depression, much of the development world lost its appetite for the grand statements of such buildings. It was at this point that his fame fell into obscurity. But this is not the end of his story. After the 1933 Long Beach earthquake, Bryant provided hands-on help to rebuild the public schools using concrete construction
techniques. During World War II, Leland Bryant co-developed, and was awarded a patent for a “mastering tooling dock” that could retrofit damaged planes in a fashion that was more efficient and less reliant on highly skilled jig builders. His tooling dock was used in the production of automobiles, ships, tractors and railcars where manufacturing was more dependent on expediency. Bryant went on to establish a partnership and company known as the Geometric Mastering Corporation in Los Angeles, where he would earn a second patent for inventing the “universal panel mastering fixture.” But for all his accomplishments, it is his masterful hand and long reach of architecture that ultimately defines his body of work. LELAND BRYANT
STANDING ON THE CORNER
BOWLING, SKATES, FASHION & PHARMACY
The Story of La Cienega at Santa Monica Boulevard We pass it nearly every day; it has become part of the background, something banal that goes unseen. But while a CVS Pharmacy may seem totally uninteresting, the building at the corner of La Cienega and Santa Monica Boulevards is not a typical CVS. Its previous lives linger, obscured in our memories. Its forms are there but their placement is not immediately apparent. With carefully cut and spaced wood siding, sculptural concrete stairs, a brightly tiled swooping
front, a round ramped forecourt planted with a tree, large custom skylights, oversized exposed steel frames and giant bow ceiling trusses, it has a relaxed rawness that clearly comes from intensive design and iterative change. This location housed a string of businesses that, through their deep connection to cultural trends, are each representative of the time when they were there. They live large in local memory and have appeared on a regular basis in film, TV and other media.
BY GUS HEULLY
La Cienega Lanes The building began its life in 1940 as a bowling alley, La Cienega Lanes, owned by radio and television personality Art Linkletter, who was best known for Kids Say the Darndest Things. Bowling was extremely popular in the ’40s, so much so that the Los Angeles Times even had a regular bowling column, “Down Your Alley,” to cover the various leagues around the city. Linkletter was a household name at the time, and the inclusion of his name on the lanes lent them the same kind of popularity that his promotion for “The Game of Life” and the “Hula Hoop” did. The lanes survived until 1979 and then the building was transformed to catch the next new hot thing—roller skating. Flipper’s Roller Boogie Palace was a youthful and sexy replacement. Its doors opened on July 4, 1979.
The late ‘70s and early ‘80s were the days of Cher’s “Hell on Wheels” and Olivia Newton John’s “Xanadu.” Nearly every television program of the day had at least one roller skating-focused episode. Angelenos were skating everywhere, from Venice Beach to the Valley, and Flipper’s was at the center of it all. Three young British music
producers, Denny Cordell, Nick Cowan and Ian “Flipper” Ross, arrived from London with the idea of building a roller rink in L.A., and they saw the corner of Santa Monica and La Cienega as an ideal location. This trio also brought on as a business partner Berry Gordy, chairman of the Motown record company board, who had not long ago moved Motown to Sunset Boulevard. Cordell, the leader of this pack, had been highly successful as a music producer, working with the Moody Blues, Joe Cocker and Tom Petty, among others. The roller rink, originally conceived as an exclusive members-only club, was a new direction for the group. According to a 1979 Billboard magazine interview, Cordell bought the building with his partners for $1.5 million and spent $600,000 renovating it. Their plan was to buy the property as an investment, capitalize on the roller skating craze and, when the fad was over, demolish it and build a new 14-story headquarters for Motown records. Motown at the time was renting its nearby space on Sunset. For the design, the three young men brought on a fellow Brit, John Kosh, to create the hip interior of their roller palace. Kosh, a Grammy-winning designer, was best known for his album cover designs, which included the
Beatles’ 1969 Abbey Road album, with its nowclassic crossing photo. In the 1960s, he had also been a designer for the Royal Ballet and Royal Opera House in London. As was the case for many British èmigrès, L.A. became Kosh’s home. In interviews, Kosh described his concept for the design of Flipper’s as “deliberately vulgar, Copacabana kitsch, the Beverly Hills Hotel gone bad, the ultimate in bad taste. Flipper’s will have that sort of flash-trash feel. Yet it will also have class.” This seemingly contradictory post-Disco vision was realized in Art Nouveaustyle, Brazilian jungle motif murals, full-size artificial palm trees and a foliage-covered bar, restaurant and skate shop. The interior was a sex-charged, kitschy, jungle Eden. While no physical evidence of Flipper’s exists today, it can be seen through its numerous appearances on the small screen. Pull up episode nine, season four of Charlie’s Angels “Angels on Wheels,” and Flipper’s is central to the episode and plays itself, giving a glimpse of both the interior design and the extent of the skating craze. Walls covered in murals of dense tropical foliage, strings of lights, framed squares of pastel colors and banks of small candle-topped tables on one side where one could take a rest and watch the beauties roll by.
Beauties apparently were not in short supply. Flipper’s was dominated by celebrities. Cher, Olivia Newton John, Cheryl Ladd, Robin Williams, Jane Fonda, Aretha Franklin, Jacqueline Bisset, Patrick Swayze, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and many others come to mind. A few years into its run, when the whitehot popularity of disco roller skating had begun to fade, Flipper’s began to feature live music for people to skate to, showcasing the new scene of punk and new wave bands like the Go-Go’s and the Ramones. Prince even performed there in 1981. This musical variety was reflective of Cordell’s distinctly anti-disco musical tastes. For a time Flipper’s was the shining center of everything that was hip, popular, beautiful and new, but like other spaces that burn bright within popular culture, its life was short. Flipper’s was only open from 1979 to 1983. Photo by MrBurlesk
Esprit While the roller skating fad ended on this particular corner, a fresh new venture was ready to take its place—a company looking to take itself and the corner of Santa Monica and La Cienega in a whole new direction. In 1984 the building was purchased by the quickly-growing clothing retailer Esprit. Founded by the husband and wife team of Douglas and Susie Tompkins, who were environmentalists and clothing tycoons, Esprit until this point had predominantly been a mail-order operation run out of San Francisco. Esprit had one store in Germany but none in the United States. The Tompkins’, along with their art director Tamotsu Yagi, sought out the top design talent in the world to develop Esprit, and all of the pieces came together in the West Hollywood flagship. The store was designed by the New York architect of high-tech minimalism, Joseph D’Urso, with an interior display structure by Italian architect Ettore Sottsass, who had designed the first Esprit location in Germany. The project had a tremendous renovation budget of $15 million. The West Hollywood Esprit featured sunken geometric concrete moats, raw metal catwalks, gangways and scaffolding, industrial light fixtures and black metal grids. This minimal shell was selectively coated with swathes of Zolatone automotive speckle
paint, outfitted with sandblasted glass, black waxed cement floors, stainless steel mesh and staffed with young sexy sales people who had been instructed to keep their interaction with customers chatty and friendly. Much of the exterior of the Esprit flagship survives today in the precisely ordered wood and concrete sides, the sculptural parking structure stair, the large steel-framed window display and even the ghostly outline of the Esprit logo, with its classic vertical-less E, is visible on the outer wall of the parking structure. While the intense interior of Esprit is gone, like Flipper’s it lives on through its screen appearances, the most notable of which is in the Steve Martin film L.A. Story. Martin meets Sarah Jessica Parker, his very young and constantly squirming love interest while shopping at Esprit (called NOW! in the film) and, like the actual employees of Esprit, she is unusually friendly. A rain-drenched scene of awkward romance uses the tree-planted front entrance court, while an earlier shopping sequence shows off the not-very-concealing dressing rooms, theatrical lighting, D’Urso’s now classic industrial aesthetic, thumping club music, and Esprit’s latest fashion. The closing of what was an otherwise very successful Esprit location, like the downfall of the Esprit company as a whole in the mid’90s, was a result of the messy divorce of the
company’s founders. When the two split, Esprit became a battleground. As part of the divorce battle, Esprit was put on the open market in an attempt to reduce the debt that would result from an internal buyout. And to twist the knife in the back of whatever partner was outbid by an outside interest. After the lawsuits ended and blood stopped flowing, the once-seemingly unstoppable company had been nearly destroyed, brought so deeply into debt that nearly all of its locations closed, including the West Hollywood flagship. The corner of Santa Monica and La Cienega was last an Esprit in 1994.
WeHo Makes A Move The City of West Hollywood began negotiating with Esprit to purchase the building in 1995. In May of that year, the city’s offices had moved into their new City Hall on Santa Monica at Sweetzer, but the maturing city was still looking for space to replace the City Council chambers and the library housed in undersized aging structures in West Hollywood Park. Esprit likely wanted much more money than the relatively young city could afford, as the clothier had spent so much renovating the building. The deal fell through, and one is left imagining how profoundly sexy a library and council chamber the building would have made, especially with few changes to the flashy and industrial Esprit interior.
Rx The building’s history from this point is decidedly less flamboyant. A group with a deeper pocketbook, the SaveOn drugstore chain, took control of the building in the early 2000s. CVS acquired all SaveOn drugstores in 2006, and the building has remained a CVS drugstore and pharmacy ever since. While not exactly exciting, the CVS Pharmacy is, like occupants before it, quite reflective of the current state of West Hollywood. The city was growing when bowlers were knocking pins, pushed itself into flamboyant independent existence when Flipper’s was rolling, built its cachet when Esprit was booming, and now West Hollywood seems (for better and worse) a city grown comfortable, in need of a pharmacy, not a fad. CVS is one of the largest pharmacy chains in the country, which makes it a particularly stable owner, much more so than one connected to a pop culture trend. But CVS will not be in this space forever. Even corporations as big as CVS transform.
Next! Were CVS to leave, or more likely dramatically downsize its space, what would this building become next? Large highly-flexible buildings that are well located in dense urban areas are rare, and as we have seen, can host a wide range of activities. As a mirror of West Hollywood’s maturation, will it become a hotel and collection of smaller shops? This is the direction that The Factory, one of West Hollywood’s other large and flexible culture boxes, has taken. Or will it follow the trend of some big retailers to open smaller stores within stores, providing a diversity of offerings in one space and sharing customer bases. CVS has already toyed with this idea, taking over the pharmacies of Target stores. Or it could follow a more dramatic path, like some under-utilized big boxes have, transforming the space into a school, museum, open office or a park. Regardless of the direction taken, we can hope the corner of Santa Monica and La Cienega will retain the building’s form and flexibility, the features that have allowed it to continually transform into what West Hollywood needs when it needs it, or what it wants when it can’t resist it.
“Now West Hollywood seems, for better and worse, a city grown comfortable, in need of a pharmacy, not a fad .”
HERITAGE CLASSICS Hervé & Solange Willems Find the Art in Automobiles
t was 1981. Ronald Reagan had just taken the oath of office and the Cold War was still very warm when a young Frenchman took a leap of faith and came to Los Angeles at the invitation of an uncle. Hervé Willems had had a life-long love affair with classic cars. His experiment with the American dream started when he sold a 1962 MercedesBenz 220 SE Cabriolet here that he had acquired in Europe. That first sale turned into two, two into four and Heritage Classics Motorcar Company was born. Heritage Classics now sells approximately 250 cars a year. Two years after coming to California, Hervé met Solange, the woman who would become his wife and business partner, in West Hollywood. Fate? They married soon thereafter and lived their first five years together here. They’ve been life and business partners now for 33 years. Hervé does all the buying and oversees the restorations and repairs and Solange does the administration and website. Heritage Classics opened in its present location on Santa Monica Boulevard in 1992. The building, in front of The Factory and on the corner of Santa Monica at La Peer, was a European car dealership prior to their occupancy, so it’s a natural showroom with a small service bay in back. Most days they open the large sliding glass doors so the fresh air wafts in, and thousands of daily drivers and countless gawkers in Hollywood tour buses are treated to the amazing auto eye candy inside. At night, the lit showroom glows like an Edward Hopper painting. Heritage Classics owns most of its inventory. Only if a car is perfect will Hervé consider taking
it on consignment. Once you are a customer, you are a customer for life. If you want to sell it back or trade it for another, Hervé is happy to do it. Most of the cars come to him needing varying levels of work, and Hervé knows all the right people to do the work. Heritage Classic’s stellar reputation in the classic car community means that all the cars they sell must be not just cosmetically beautiful but mechanically sound. Hervé doesn’t need to scour the Internet to find cars. After all these years, people know to call him when they want to buy or sell a classic car. He also has great relationships with new car dealers. New car dealerships don’t keep classics in inventory, so if a customer comes to the dealer with a classic to trade, Heritage Classics gets the call and Hervé facilitates the trade both by appraising and then buying the classic car. But the hardest part is finding the right cars to buy. There are so few good examples left that finding a buyer isn’t as hard as finding that one great car. Heritage Classics doesn’t sell on eBay or other auction sites. Its own website drives the international traffic and the perennially strong Southern California classic car market drives the walk-in business. Today’s customers are looking for the Double D: Design and Drivability. They want a classic car that they can drive, even if it’s just for a short time on a Sunday. They don’t want to just stare at it in a hermetically sealed garage or private museum. And that’s where Heritage’s reputation comes into play. Heritage Classics sells authentic classic cars (not reproductions or reclaimed wrecks) that start and can be driven on the road. It’s not unusual for a customer to drop a ton of money on a classic car he sees online without ever driving it or seeing it in person. Of course, if you have that
BY TODD BIANCO PHOTOGRAPHS BY MIKE ALLEN GROOMING BY DANIEL MARTINEZ
kind of money, you just send your personal representative out to look at it for you or hire a local mechanic to check it out. The current trend is away from American muscle cars and towards fine, classic European sports cars. While all types of cars have graced the Heritage showroom, what Hervé finds and sells over and over is the original 19541963 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing and Roadsters. At this year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, a particularly rare all-aluminumbodied Gullwing 300SL caught his eye. Only 29 were built for special delivery to racing customers and restored examples easily sell for more than $5 million. While Heritage Classics has a wide variety of inventory at different price points, the most expensive car it has sold to date was a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California for $6 million. Think Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Earlier this year, a similar Ferrari sold at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance for a stunning $17 million. You want unique? How about a Cadillac that you’ve never seen before—the 1961 Cadillac Jacqueline. Never heard of that model? Neither had I. This beautiful hardtop coupé was a oneoff model, coach-built by legendary Italian car design house Pininfarina for the 1961 Paris Auto Show. First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy’s unique grace and style was the inspiration for the car. One of its most striking features was its stainless steel roof, which seemingly floats over the car supported by only thin, graceful front and rear pillars. It was never presented to Mrs. Kennedy, and it stayed in Italy at Pininfarina until Hervé bought it. It’s sold now, but you can see pictures of it on the Heritage Classics website.
Above: Solange & HervĂŠ Willems; Below: 1965 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III
Above: 1957 Ford Thunderbird Convertible; Middle, left: 1949 Chrysler Town & Country Convertible; right: 1962 Facel Vega Facel II; Below: 1967 Mercedes-Benz 250 SE Cabriolet AUTUMN 2016
Above, left: 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Split Window Coupe; right: 1984 Aston Martin Volante; Below, left: 1967 Mercedes-Benz 250 SE Cabriolet; right: 1957 Ford Thunderbird Convertible
There are wacky buyers too. One day in the late 1990s, the FBI came to visit Heritage Classics. Most of the time, you don’t want the FBI knocking on your door. But that day, FBI agents spent hours crawling all over the building, checking exits, looking for security flaws. Hervé was told that some VIP wanted to shop. Now celebrities are no strangers to Hervé and Solange; they’ve had celebrity clients for years but none of them had an FBI advance team. This was something different altogether. The FBI asked who would be assisting this VIP. That salesperson was given instruction as to how to address royalty! Come closing time, still nothing. Then it all happened quickly. The FBI shut down Santa Monica Boulevard, in both directions, at 6 p.m. rush hour for about 20 minutes. The royal, King Hussein of Jordan, came in for about 10 minutes and bought one of the least expensive cars on the floor, a 1949 Cadillac Convertible. The next day the car was paid for and shipped off to Jordan.
While King Hussein died shortly thereafter from lymphoma, the car remains in the Royal Collection in Jordan. Then there are the celebrity stories that never die. Several years ago, Heritage Classics had an authentic, original 1960s-era Ford GT40 racing car. These cars are exceedingly rare, and only slightly more than 100 were produced during its original run from 1964 to 1969. The GT40 won the 24 Hours of Le Mans four years in a row, from 1966-1969. It’s a legend. Local car collector, talk show host and comedian Jay Leno heard about it and wanted it, but he didn’t want to pay the asking price of $330,000. Hervé didn’t want to give him any discount, but for the publicity, they agreed to sell it to Jay for $300,000. It was arranged for Jay to pick it up himself that coming Saturday. Come Saturday, Jay showed up with the promised cashier’s check for $300,000; but he wanted to hear the car started first. Hervé hadn’t started the car in a while because it was so loud it woke the dead. After all, it’s a racing
car, not a Lexus. When Hervé turned the key, the starter wouldn’t kick in—it needed a jump, nothing more. Jay got upset, said you knew I was coming, and walked away from the deal. The next day, another customer called, heard about the GT40 and bought it for the original asking price. A few days later, Jay called back and asked if the car was ready. When Jay found out that someone else had bought it, you could see the fumes coming all the way from Jay Leno’s garage in Burbank. To this day, Jay is pissed that he didn’t get that GT40. Now GT40s sell for millions of dollars. And if it has race-winning provenance, prices can top $10 million. Hervé and Solange have a son and a daughter. Unfortunately, neither of their children are interested in the business. As a lifelong car enthusiast, I can’t fathom why anyone wouldn’t want to be surrounded by gorgeous rolling art every day. Heritage Classics is a little slice of classic car nirvana right here in West Hollywood.
1948 Buick Super Convertible
CARDIGAN + SHIRT: ALEXANDER MCQUEEN PANTS: J BRAND SCARF: STYLISTâ€™S OWN SHOES: ALEXANDER MCQUEEN
STYLE CLASSICS Clothes that Complement the Car PHOTOGRAPHS BY MIKE ALLEN MODEL: LEIF, DT MODEL MANAGEMENT STYLING BY APUJE KALU, ASSISTED BY BJ GRAY GROOMING BY DANIEL MARTINEZ ON LOCATION AT HERITAGE CLASSICS
SUIT: HUGO BOSS SHIRT + SHOES: ALEXANDER MCQUEEN
SHIRT + PANTS: DOLCE & GABBANA
JACKET: ALEXANDER MCQUEEN / SHIRT: THEORY PANTS: RAG & BONE / SHOES: CHUCK TAYLOR ALL-STARS
SUIT + SHIRT: ALEXANDER MCQUEEN SCARF: STYLISTâ€™S OWN
SHIRT + PANTS: DOLCE & GABBANA SCARF: STYLISTâ€™S OWN
SHIRT: DOLCE & GABBANA
Green is the New Pink
Her Pink IBM Selectric Is Our City Poetâ€™s Muse
Happy is the new stupid Depressed is the new smart Vodka is the new ice-cream Gelato is the new sex Sex is the new heroin Heroin is the new vacation Sunset is the new Fountain Gay is the new straight Green is the New Pink Pink is the new black Death is the new death
Kim Dower from Air Kissing on Mars Published by Red Hen Press, 2010
BY JAMES MILLS PHOTOGRAPHS BY ELIZABETH LIPPMAN
I Love a Man Who Exfoliates
oet Kim Dower has a device in her office that few people under the age of 35 have ever seen. Some probably don’t even know its name, but this ancient apparatus helps her create stirring, evocative poetry. She calls it her “muse.” The instrument is an electric typewriter, an IBM Selectric II. What’s unusual about Dower’s Selectric II is that it isn’t black, grey or beige, the standard colors that they came in. Such blah colors won’t do for a woman as creative as Dower. Her typewriter is pink. Bright pink. She calls it the “Pink Tornado.” “This typewriter speaks to the world and creates poems,” explains Dower, a New York City native who has called West Hollywood home for more than 30 years, save for five years in Laurel Canyon. “This typewriter puts me in the zone, focuses me, reminds me.” When she does her work as a book publicist/media trainer at her company, Kim-From-L.A., Dower uses her MacBook Air, but when she turns to her Pink Tornado, she is a poet. The pink typewriter helps her describe events, people and places in concise, but visual and rhythmic ways. In fact, the “muse” has done such a good job of guiding the lady, she has been selected as the City of West Hollywood’s official poet laureate. The second person ever to hold the honor, she assumes that role in October. Dower’s duties during her two years as city poet will include organizing poetry readings, workshops and panels, as well as writing poems. She also has an ambitious plan to create a communal city poem for National Poetry Month in April, getting residents to provide lines of poetry. “As city poet, my job will be to enhance the presence and appreciation of poetry and the literary arts in the city of West Hollywood. It seems like the best way to do this is to bring the city together with one poem that we’ve created,” explains Dower. “I want to get all the diverse voices across the city, from La Brea on the east side to the Sunset Strip on the west side. I’ll give people a prompt, they’ll give me a line and I will sew together one poem, á la Walt Whitman’s “I Sing the Body Electric.” So it will be “I Sing the City of West Hollywood Electric.”
Standing in the aisle searching for leave-in conditioner, I see him—tall, giant faced cornflower blue tee shirt his wife standing six feet away, holding the cart, his daughter squirming inside the plastic bars. He yells to mother and child, “I want a good exfoliater, something just for me, I don’t want to worry anyone else will use it.” “Here,” she says, pointing to a puffy white loofa hanging on a long string, “this can be yours we won’t touch this.” “Can I use it on my face?” His giant face must take hours to exfoliate! What might he be scrubbing off? Years of sweat worrying people use his things, eat his sharp cheddar, housed in its own lock box in the fridge. He squeezes it to rate its coarseness determine if it’s capable of obliterating his skin cells, does it have the power to sandpaper his forehead down to subconscious, I blurt out, “I love a man who exfoliates.”
Kim Dower from Air Kissing on Mars Published by Red Hen Press, 2010
“I write poems that lead you in gently.”
The Raccoon on Willoughby
I’m in the city of L.A., on Willoughby, traffic, hamburgers flipping, bellybuttons pierced on every corner, a raccoon wanders out of a stranger’s yard, braided eyes, dark mask like in books, his tail like Davy Crockett’s cap. He acts guilty like he knows something, looks behind him as he claws up the fence. We make eye contact, I’m still in my car afraid to get out, afraid he might bite spit rush lunge, give me rabies. He’s a super raccoon in a super town, alone on a raccoon mission, or a drifting waiter, ex-actor a genie turned into a raccoon, cursed, searching for a prince or princess to kiss, make him human again. I stay in my car watch him from my rear view mirror as he gets smaller and smaller, scrambles his way down the broken raccoon sidewalk to find the one who can break the spell. It could have been me.
Kim Dower from Last Train to the Missing Planet Published by Red Hen Press, 2016
Trying on clothes in the backroom of Loehmann’s, a stranger invites me to feel her breasts, a stranger trying on dresses that don’t fit and I can see her breasts are larger than they want to be, and she can see I’m watching, asks me to help zip her up and I struggle to pull her in, smooth out her sunburned skin, tug, ask her to shake herself in, she tells me she just got them, didn’t know they’d come out so big isn’t sure she likes them, not even her husband cares, he’s not a breast man, she says, he’s an ass man but I’m not getting an ass job, good, I say, because how do you even get an ass job, do you want to feel them, she asks, and I do, so I do and they feel like bean bags you’d toss at a clown’s face at a kid’s party, I squeeze them both at the same time, cup my hands underneath them, she says, go ahead, squeeze some more, it’s not sexual, aren’t they heavy, I don’t want to have them around every day, her nipples headlights staring into the dressing room mirror, red scars around their circumferences, angry circles I want to run my finger around, you should have seen them before I had them lifted, they were long drooping points, couldn’t stand looking at them anymore, can I see yours, so I show her, so small hers could eat mine alive, nipples like walnuts, do you think I should make mine bigger, and there we are examining one another’s boobs, touching, talking about them like they aren’t there, don’t matter, forgetting how it felt when we were twelve or thirteen, one morning when they first appeared sore, swollen, exciting, new, when they had the power to turn us into women we no longer knew.
Kim Dower from Slice of Moon Published by Red Hen Press, 2013
Dower has always been drawn to poetry. As a shy kid, she would gather her Barbies and stuffed animals together and perform poetry recitals, reading Dr. Seuss and A.A. Milne. She was entranced when her grandmother from Kiev recited the poems of Alexander Pushkin in Russian. “I was charmed by the sound of poetry in another language,” she recalls. “I knew it was music. I didn’t know what the words meant since I don’t speak Russian, but I knew it had emotional power and resonance beyond anything I could imagine.” She wrote poems as a child and teen, but it wasn’t until she took creative writing classes at Boston’s Emerson College that she came into her own, truly realizing the power of poetry, which she says is “seeing something and being able to describe it in a way that it hasn’t been seen or described before.” Her poems were published in literary magazines including The Emerson Review and Ploughshares. She also taught creative writing at Emerson for two years after graduation. Despite her gift for poetry, Dower took a 25-year break. Oh, she would jot down a poem here and there, but the rhymes took a back seat to family and career. However, ten years ago, when her son, Max, left for college, she returned to her poetry. “There was never any doubt that Kim would write poetry again, it was just a matter of when she was ready,” says her husband, the artist, musician and teacher Thom Dower. “But when she did return, it was like an avalanche.” Dower wrote a poem a day. Not all of those poems were perfect, but she was back in her element. Her Pink Tornado helped her produce three books of poetry—2010’s “Air Kissing on Mars,” 2013’s “Slice of Moon” and
2016’s “Last Train to the Missing Planet,” all published by Pasadena’s Red Hen Press. Her poems are also included in several poetry anthologies, including 2015’s acclaimed “Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond.” “[During the years of not writing poetry regularly], I created a very successful company and a wonderful family, but I felt something truly important was missing in my life,” says Dower, who lists her favorite poets as Frank O’Hara, William Carlos Williams, Sharon Olds, Erica Jong, and Thomas Lux, who was her creative writing instructor at Emerson College. “When poetry came back, those moments during the day, seeing things the way I hadn’t seen them in a long time, the craving for it, it all flooded back and the poems start pouring out. It was like my first love returned.” Steven Reigns, West Hollywood’s outgoing poet laureate, has long been a fan of Dower, calling her generous and unpretentious. Reigns encouraged her to apply for the city poet position and believes she will be “outstanding” as his successor. Dower’s verse speaks of things she encounters in her everyday life. A raccoon crossing the road begot “The Raccoon on Willoughby.” A couple buying skin conditioner at Target on La Brea Avenue sparked, “I Love a Man Who Exfoliates.” A woman showing off her breast implants while trying on clothes at Loehmann’s inspired “Boob Job,” a poem frequently requested when she does poetry readings. “I write poems that people can identify with,” she says. “I write poems that lead you in gently. They’re not puzzles, I want you to be able to understand them. They’re funny. They touch people . . . poetry should be for everybody. Poetry has given me so much joy in my life; I’m excited to share it.
A DAY WITH
The Reality TV Starâ€™s Ideal Real Day in West Hollywood
BY MARIA BERTRAND PHOTOGRAPHS BY NATE JENSEN @INN8CREATIVE GROOMING BY CHRISTINA GUERRA @ CELESTINE AGENCY
om Sandoval is an actor known for “Behind Your Eyes,” “Puppet Master: Axis of Evil” and the Bravo reality show “Vanderpump Rules,” which follows the lives of the staff of Sur restaurant in West Hollywood, where Sandoval works two nights a week. Sandoval has lived in West Hollywood for 10 years. “It is by far my favorite area to live in L.A.,” he said. “It’s the place you can catch almost any L.A. vibe you want—super-upscale Beverly Hills, upscale trendy, snobby Silver Lake, super-exclusive Hollywood, historic, famous, mom and pop, super healthy, super not healthy, vegan, worldly, farmers market, food trucks, sports bar, super dive, trendy dive, hand-crafted prohibition style, The Abbey, clubs, lounges, rooftops—the list goes on and on. One of the biggest things I love about living out here is that you can do whatever you want, the sky is the limit.” “If you want to dance,” he said, “you gotta go where the music’s playing.” “My favorite days for adventure are Sundays,” Sandoval said. “I start off with a hike to the top of Runyon Canyon, and on my way home I stop to grab the best vanilla latte in WeHo at the Kings Road Café. Not only to they have the best coffee but I love their paninis.” Sandoval lives with his girlfriend Ariana Madix, who also is on “Vanderpump Rules,” and after a hike, latte in hand, the two of them head to the Fairfax Flea market, which Tom says “is full of hidden gems.” When Madix heads out to the L.A. Equestrian Center, Sandoval is “off to my friend Schwartz’s to hang by the pool at his building. If we decide to get a little ‘Hollywood’, I kidnap him and head to the SkyBar pool” at the Mondrian Hotel, where Sandoval had his first job in LA. Then, “depending on how Hollywood we decide to go, we might walk down to the Standard for some ping pong and a drink or two.” A Spanish-Irish-Native American-Italian guy with bad boy looks, Sandoval is known for his metrosexual grooming habits. Sitting at Lemonade on Almont Drive, he talks about using make-up. “All of my guy friends laughed at me when I started wearing concealer,” he said, “and then I’ll put concealer on them and they‘re like ‘whoa! That’s great!’ There’s nothing wrong with covering up blemishes and under-eye circles. I’m definitely a straight male who is comfortable with openly talking about wearing concealer and using a flat 64
iron and all things people consider feminine. I embrace who I am.” Sandoval believes every guy should have “dark jeans and a cool pair of shades.” “We (actors) have to do a lot of stuff, we are our own content, so I need to have stuff going on in my life,” Sandoval said. “It’s time consuming. We have to have ridiculously active social lives to keep things interesting.” After his Sunday afternoon hanging poolside and playing ping pong, Sandoval heads home. “I head back to my place, meet up with Ariana and go to dinner at Ink on Melrose,” he said. “Ariana and I are both fans of Michael Voltaggio.” After dinner, Sandoval and Madix “meet up with some more friends on Sunset and stop by the Viper Room for some live music. Then we cross the street to Pearl’s to say hi to my buddy Mindy, who works there. After being fully liquid-encouraged we head over to say hi to Dillon, who owns The Belmont on La Cienega, for some epic karaoke with my favorite karaoke DJ, Rob. I’ve been going there for so long that as soon as I shake John’s (the doorman) hand, Akari, the bartender, will have my drink waiting at the bar by the time I get there. She rocks!” For anyone wondering, Tom’s karaoke faves’ are “Oh Sherrie” by Steve Perry, “B.O.B.” by Outkast and “Maneater” by Hall and Oates. “If I’m extra inspired, I’ll do ‘Paradise City’ by GNR,” he said. If you’re not into karaoke and looking for a more chill date night, Sandoval recommends the L.A. Improv. “It’s reasonable price-wise,” he said, “and you can get to see some big names. It’s also super-relaxed and not pretentious at all.” And if the date goes really well, the next day you may want to check out Voda Spa. “It’s a spa with a difference, “ Sandoval said. “They have a full bar and even a rooftop patio and my favorite is the cold pool, it’s kept at 60 degrees. Great after a workout or hangover cure. It will wake you up better than a cup of coffee.” Sandoval sees confidence as one of his biggest assets. “I’ve always firmly believed that what one person can do, another can do. That mentality is what has gotten me to take large leaps forward in my artistic endeavors and career.” Where does he see himself in five years? “Hopefully alive.” he said. But for now, you can see him on “Vanderpump Rules” on Bravo, Monday nights at 9 p.m.
“If you want to dance, you gotta go where the music’s playing.”
PREVIOUS PAGE: MORNING WORKOUT IN WEST HOLLYWOOD PARK THIS PAGE: HAIRCUT AT SHORTY’S BARBER SHOP LUNCH AT LEMONADE WITH GIRLFRIEND ARIANA MADIX
SHOPPING AT TRAFFIC, BEVERLY CENTER
AT WORK AT SUR, CATCHING UP WITH TOM SCHWARTZ AT THE BELMONT
A SENSE OF STYLE
ABBE LAND The Edge of Vivienne Westwood with the Basics of Target Creates a Look All Her Own
f one were to write a love letter to West Hollywood, there would be no better author than Abbe Land. As a former mayor of West Hollywood (and an elected City Council member), Land is one of the city’s biggest champions. She’s known for her work at incorporating West Hollywood as its own independent city and her work as an activist for women’s issues and gay rights. Along the way, she’s also developed a reputation as one of West Hollywood’s city’s best-dressed women—a formidable tour de force of fashion—though she demurs when asked about her status as a style savant. “I don’t know if I actually have a personal style,” Land says, modestly. “I dress as the mood suits me. I favor simple classic styles that are comfortable, but I do like to give them a bit of edge so they reflect current trends.” In person, Land is always impeccably dressed, in knee-length dresses worn long and tailored or nipped at the waist, or structured, androgynous blazers draped over a chic skirt. Her style is bold without being overbearing, a feeling that’s perfectly captured through her chunky statement necklaces and signature, rectangular-framed specs. Another signature: Land is also almost always in some variation of black. “I am not great at matching colors,” Land confesses, “so long ago I realized that if I stayed with neutral colors, I had a much better chance of having my outfit looked pulled together.” Land’s looks work because they’re as confident and inspired as she is. She loves the adventurousness of Vivienne Westwood and the prints at Alice & Olivia, deftly mixing them in with classic pieces from Theory and basics from Target. A long-time West Hollywood resident, Land’s home near Sunset Plaza means she’s also a regular at BCBG and H&M. It’s an eclectic mix that reflects her appreciation for fashion past and present. “I loved how the old Hollywood stars dressed, like Katharine Hepburn in her trousers and flats, and Audrey Hepburn in those lovely cocktail dresses,” Land says. “But I also love the outrageousness of Miley Cyrus.
“Not that I could wear her outfits,” she jokes, “but they help me think outside of my box.” Land credits her husband, artist Martin Gantman, with helping her develop her personal style. “He has been very influential in helping me understand what classic simple lines look best on me, and he is great at helping me accessorize,” she says. Still, Land’s true beauty lies in the way she carries herself—a mix of elegance and passion. It’s a feeling that’s reflected in her work with The Trevor Project, a national non-profit organization focused on suicide prevention for LGBTQ young people. As the executive director and CEO of The Trevor Project, Land’s love for fashion pales in comparison to her work for the LGBT community. “Every 95 minutes a young person takes their life,” she says, “and LGBTQ youth are three to four times more at risk to attempt suicide than their straight peers. We all need to be involved, we need to educate about this public health issue, we need to understand the signs of suicide, we need to advocate for change and we need to let our LGBTQ youth know we are there for them.” To that end, Land has spearheaded a number of initiatives, from the annual “TrevorLIVE” fundraiser in Los Angeles, to tapping digital star Tyler Oakley last year as part of an effort to engage YouTubers in future fundraising efforts. And though she’s posed with Ellen Page on the red carpet and has rubbed shoulders with the likes of Katy Perry and Rihanna, at the end of the day, Land says, your true personal style is best revealed when the clothes and makeup come off. “We put a lot of undo emphasis on how we look and what that means about who you are and what you think,” Land says. “I feel self-confidence comes from accepting who you are and what you like. Once you do that, you have found your personal style, and if it works for you, then it won’t matter whether or not it works for others.”
BY TIM CHAN PHOTOGRAPHS BY ELIZABETH LIPPMAN STYLING BY APUJE KALU, ASSISTED BY BJ GRAY HAIR BY FABIAN, THE ROSS JULIAN STUDIO
FROM FAIRFAX WITH LOVE Pedro Rubio Realizes His Paris Dream at His Studio and Store in West Hollywood
BY JASON GIBBY PHOTOGRAPHS BY WILLIAM CALLAN MODELS: ALEX KUZJOMKIN, MSA MODELS AND MICHAL IDAN PEDROâ€™S ASSISTANT: CARLOS GOMEZ
Walking up the mirrored staircase at 31 Rue Cambon in Paris, with his feet on the same steps upon which Coco Chanel so famously sat, Pedro Rubio had to pinch himself. “Here I am inside Coco Chanel’s apartment in Paris, and as I’m walking up her mirrored stairs, I think, ‘How the hell did I even get here?’” The visit was a high point in Rubio’s decades-old dream—one that began near the corner of Fairfax Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard, the always-bustling shop that now bears his name in fine chrome print. You’ve no doubt seen his store, with the stone columns and clean red brick, while shopping at Whole Foods or grabbing an espresso at Coffee Coffee, or maybe even on your way upstairs to YogaWorks. Or perhaps you’ve been inside to shop and seen his exacting—and, at times, delightfully fretful—enthusiasm for stitch work firsthand. Or the fanciful, occasionally off-thewall scenes on display in his window. Whatever the case, if you’ve been on Fairfax, you know his store. Which is why it’s odd to think of a time when it wasn’t there. While I’m with him, he repositions the same set of jeans at least three times as we speak, making note of each movement, and commenting with, “This is how it’s done.” His laser focus on the fine points borders on compulsive at times, but always, when watching him, one can see that his allegiance, like his vision, is bound, perhaps even obsessively, to the details. When Rubio came up to West Hollywood from San Diego, green as grass from the Pacific coastline, he brought with him the seeds of an idea: “maybe someday,” the then-19-year-old thought as he strolled up Fairfax, “one of these stores will be mine.” But for two decades, the thought, tenacious as it was, remained just a thought. So, for the time being, Rubio got to work. To make ends meet, he got a job at the Gap in Glendale. On the floor, while hawking fast fashion, he watched woefully as the window display filled with neutral, corporate humdrum. It was a theater to which he had a front row seat, but the show left him wanting. He wanted desperately to change the tops and the bottoms; the wigs and the footwear; the spring collection and the smart fall fashion.
(Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled mannequins.) “Listen,” Rubio finally told the manager. “I want to do visuals.” Which visuals? The ones in that window. So they struck a compromise: half of Rubio’s work would be retail, and the other half would be visuals. The deal’s terms swiftly altered: at first, to some retail and mostly visuals, but then, as Rubio excelled, a lot. So much that the Gap soon nixed his one spot position to give him free rein over the region’s windows. From then on, Glendale to Pasadena was his, at least visually.
“I didn’t want to be a conceptual designer. I wanted to know how to do it myself..” To celebrate, Rubio did what any other twenty-something would do: he went to Rage. There, in the smoky, strobe-lit bar, he bumped into another window display expert—this one from Rodeo Drive. Over drinks, the two floated a collaboration. But the next day, there were no calls, and there was no offer. So, like the night, Rubio let the collaboration fade. Then, months later, when their late night rendezvous at Rage had grown distant, like the fog of a long departed hangover, the phone rang. “Come to Gianfranco on Rodeo Drive,” said the voice on the line. Day One was spent on the portico of
Gianfranco Ferre. Day Two was at Chanel. Just to be clear, Chanel is to Rubio what Disneyland is to small children. If that’s not enough, at one point during our interview, he describes the fashion icon as the love of his life. Imagine, then, what he felt when, at just 24, he stepped into the Chanel on Rodeo—not as a customer, but as their new window designer. Suffice it to say, he left the Gap. “We did Yves Saint Laurent, too. When he was still alive, actually,” adds Rubio. “We did Versace, Bulgari. It was like a dream come true.” A few years into his stint on Rodeo, while awash in the silken fabrics of his idols, an itch crept up on Rubio. Like those big names, whose windows he now garnished with spectacle, he, too, wanted to design fashion. “But I didn’t want to be a conceptual designer,” says Rubio. “I wanted to know how to do it myself.” So he signed up for a hands-on tailoring program at a local trade school. “World’s oldest profession,” he smirks unequivocally. But the nearly-certified tailor soon skipped out on school when his then-boyfriend whisked him away to New York City. Fresh in town, and pining for a gig, he rang an old contact from Chanel, now the general manager at Gucci in NYC, to ask for a job. At first, to feel things out, she put him on the floor. But Gucci, as it turns out, was seeing unprecedented growth. At the time, around 1999, Tom Ford still designed for the label and, with his hand behind the brand, a boom in clients became a daily—and sometimes soulcrushing—occurrence. To meet the new needs, the general manager created a position just for Rubio: manager of alterations. But even his staff of ten couldn’t accommodate the workload that seemed to increase exponentially. For two years he ran packages on foot to the local FedEx—“faster than taxis,” he says as the stress washes over his face. “I would load up a bag with fifty thousand dollars of clothing, throw it over my shoulder, and run, dressed head-to-toe in Gucci. And then I’d run back to the store to fill another order.” In one three-day stretch, the store raked in over a million dollars in sales, eighty percent of which required alterations, which meant, of course, eighty percent of which required Rubio.
“It’ll always be my Paris dream.”
“That was my The Devil Wears Prada story. I was that girl. Not that my friend was like Meryl Streep; the job was Meryl Streep.” Finally, in 2001, an exhausted Rubio booked a flight home. And, soles worn flat from sprints down Fifth Avenue, he returned, upon landing, to what he knew best—to his first love, Chanel. There, as before, on the sunny, palmlined streets of Rodeo, he filled its windows with the same sweet scent that had first drawn him to the icon. Soon word spread that the new Chanel store on Robertson needed a staff. “So,” Rubio thought, “why not be the first to sign up?” He did, and for nearly ten years, that’s where he stayed. Ten years until he opened up an old dream on Fairfax Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard. Ten years until he made good on a promise to himself. Ten years until, in 2010, he finally launched his store…and left Chanel. But a few months into his second year, lost for once in his own visions, in his own look books, the telephone beside his cash register
rang a familiar number. On the line was a mistress just shy of two decades. On the line was Chanel. “I was having an affair,” he says. “I was with my store, my own business, but I was having an affair with Chanel. It was that old love I couldn’t move on from.” They offered him a new spot at the store on Robertson—this time as a ready-towear specialist, a gig, Rubio soon learned, that entailed a firsthand look in Paris at the ateliers who designed his beloved brand. It was irresistible, and he did what anyone would do: he said yes. And as he stood in Coco’s apartment, on those marble steps at 31 Rue Cambon, he was at last intimately in touch with Chanel’s point of origin. The tail end of the high point came after Paris, when a new customer walked in on Robertson—only he didn’t bring cash or credit. He brought a gun. The robber forced Rubio’s silence, the subtext of potential violence roaring between them, strolled casually through the store, picking out items in a
feigned, large-scale purchase. “After he got what he wanted, he looked at me, dead in the eye, and said, ‘Now I’m going to leave, and I don’t want you to say anything for five minutes, because I know where you work and who you are.’ So I waited five minutes,” says Rubio, “and then I told the manager.” Implicit in the encounter was the traumatic end to what had for years been coming: a close to Rubio’s chapter with Chanel. And a new beginning for the store he had neglected— his own. In his workroom, he pulls out a black coat with raw stitch work. “Just the finishing touches left,” he notes. The bare threads roll through the fabric like white waves on a sea of black cashmere. “Camel hair, too,” he adds when I ask about the material. “It’s like high-end, high-end.” “I know what I know,” he continues. “When I opened this store, my thought was, ‘I may not be on Rodeo, but I’m going to make it as close to that as possible.’ And in my mind, no matter the location, it’ll always be my Paris dream.”
THERE’S A NEW CHARLIE IN TOWN Mike Pingel is in Heaven with Charlie’s Angels
s we sit on the edge of his bed, the Angels stare from painted tin lunch boxes and cereal box trading cards. Slivers of wallpaper peek out from behind the angelic pinups in teenie weenie bikinis, and, of course, signed and framed is Farrah Fawcett in her iconic red one-piece. Those are just a few gems from Mike Pinkel’s prodigious Charlie’s Angels collection, a shrine to the fanfare of the late ’70s in his unassuming Hacienda Place apartment. Tuning in for a few minutes on Pinkel is like hopping on one of those open-roofed star tour buses: “You know the CVS on La Cienega and Santa Monica?” he starts. “It used to be ‘Flippers’ in the ’70s—a famous, famous roller skating rink. That’s where they filmed ‘Angels on Skates’.” “The first Charlie’s Angels’ office was here in town, too,” he goes on. “If you’ve ever been to Chin Chin, it’s across the street, just off Sunset Plaza.” Insider Easter eggs spill from his mouth in a litany of diehard fandom. He can’t help it. This must be shared. His knowledge is encyclopedic. Were Alex Trebek to announce “Jeopardy, Angels’ Edition,” Mike would be your first choice. And, in all likelihood, your second and your third, too. Which is to say, he knows his Angels. And they know him. “Stay in the cool, stay in the cool,” he says, encouraging me to stay in the temperature-controlled back room—with his collection, of course— as he brews a fresh pot of coffee. It’s as much an act of hospitality as it is a ruse to allow me, all on my own, to bask in the sheer magnitude of his stockpile, like a priest leaving you to think for a moment before commencing with confession.
When he returns, coffee in hand, he tells me that this is actually his second collection, and that the first one, the original, started in California but grew when his family moved to Germany—a land awash at the time in now hard-to-find European collectibles. There, he snatched up life-size posters to pin above the plastic baubles and the campy, snapshot puzzle boxes. But never, notes a stillsad Pinkel, could he have the Angels dolls. “Since I was a boy, my parents said ‘no’ to them.” And in high school they said “no” to his collection. It was the old parental trope: “You’re too old for this.” So they threw it away. All of it. “Big regret,” Pinkel says, surrounded, floor to ceiling, by a comical abundance of Angels’ memorabilia. He mentions this as if taking an emotional inventory of all those lost items: the collector’s pillows and the puzzles and the trading cards. It’s as if Pinkel can see those mint, first-edition relics, guarded in their seethrough plastic sleeves, rotting at the bottom of some distant European trash heap. Oh, what he would do to find them… Enter the Pinkel home: the pinball machine, tucked in a corner, blinks desperately for attention beneath the swirly initials on the prized Farrah Barbie Doll. Call it collector’s entropy: the more items in the collection, the less any single piece stands out. The long-dead childhood collection, with whose successor I now share a room, began anew when Pinkel set foot in a friend’s house in California for a party. On the walls he saw them, their halos glowing like bottled-up moonlight, the kind of glow cast only by things forbidden in childhood. There they were…the dolls. Yes, the very same dolls embargoed by his parents. The ones that got away.
BY JASON GIBBY PHOTOGRAPHS BY NATE JENSEN
“He knows his Angels. And they know him.”
He had to have them. And so he did. And the rest—as evidenced by his home—is history. Let’s just say, once the cork blew off, it never went back into the bottle again. Pinkel began courting other fans at makeshift conventions and ad hoc meet-and-greets—real tent and table affairs. Surely there must be a newsletter, he thought. Something, anything at all, really, to keep up on the Angels—the signings and the book releases; the toys and the photo shoots. No, the other fans said. No newsletter. “So I started one,” says Pinkel. “The Jolly Coven.” He also acquired charliesangels.com, a url that’s been long contested, but still is his to play with. On goes the entropy… But in the gaps, between the dolls in Pepto pink and the plastic hair care sets, another collection begins to surface: photos of the Angels—some decades old—with Pinkel at their side. “Here we are at the Emmys,” he says, pointing at a photograph. “I went while I was Farrah’s assistant. That’s the closest I ever got to the Angels,” he says, his eyes rolling back, “It was like being on an episode of the show.”
In the end, he spent two years with Farrah. Two years begrudgingly stuck as Farrah Fawcett’s assistant. At least that’s how he frames it, but his knowing smirk—as if to say, “not really, I loved every minute of it”—betrays his soft con. And it informs the blues that wash over him as he brings up her cancer. “We didn’t know she had it at the time,” he says. “So it was tough when we found out. But she fought hard.” He casually offers up facts that only a friend could know, but speaks of them with the reverence one might find a priest showing the pope. He has a self-awareness shared only by fan club presidents, a soft, brushstroked blur between fan and friend—close to both, yet at the same time neither. He hands me a business card protected behind thick glass. “This is Cheryl Ladd’s,” he says. “It’s one of the original cards she gave out as Kris Monroe on the show. She, uh, gave it to me for my birthday once,” he utters, hoping for a follow-up. So I bite: “Your birthday?” I ask. “Yeah, my 45th. The place is packed with people,” he starts… And as I listen, I see them on the walls.
THE GETAWAY: THREE DAYS IN
SANTA BARBARA Where the Ocean Laps and the Red Wine Flows
As you’re driving into Santa Barbara County, it occurs to you: next time, you’ll take the train. That final stretch of tracks, after all, provides a beautiful ride on the coastline and open-air views of the Channel Islands just offshore. Amtrak drops you off in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara, too, walking distance to the beach. But you’re behind the wheel on this Friday morning and decide to start your Santa Barbara weekend escape with a meal. You exit in Montecito, the modish enclave just south of your destination, where the
historic Four Seasons Biltmore draws well-heeled travelers and discerning foodies alike. The gourmet Sunday brunches at the Bella Vista restaurant here are legendary, but the breakfast scene the rest of the week is quiet and relaxed, and no less satiating. You sample international cheeses and homespun muffins at the buffet and savor your made-to-order omelet slowly as you sip your spicy Bloody Mary. The ocean view has been beckoning all along, so, after brunch, you cross the street and stroll along the soft sands of Butterfly Beach, past joggers, dog walkers and the occasional celebrity.
BY GABE SAGLIE PHOTOGRAPHS BY WILLIAM CALLAN
Previous page and above, right: Butterfly Beach; above, left: Stearns Wharf; Below, left: Presidio, right: Canary Hotel
THE GETAWAY: SANTA BARBARA
Above, left & right: Canary Hotel; Middle left, Jamie Sloane Wine; right: Presidio; Below, left: Paseo Nuevo; right: Stearns Wharf
THE GETAWAY: SANTA BARBARA
SHOP & SLEEP The quick drive north into the heart of downtown Santa Barbara delivers you at your weekend homeaway-from-home: the California-chic Canary, a Kimpton hotel. You’re served a local red while you check in and marvel at the Mediterranean motif of the spectacular lobby. Your room is elegantly appointed; stylish touches—from wrought-iron balconies to wooden floors to hand-painted tiles— embody Santa Barbara’s moniker as the American Riviera. The views of the city’s landmark red-tiled roofs that go on for miles are selfie worthy. You grab the complimentary canvas bag before you head out the door. “It’s a nice touch,” admits general manager Ryan Parker, since shopping bags in this town come with a price tag these days. You borrow one of the Canary’s bikes and set off to enjoy a downtown experience steeped in architectural marvels and a wonderful array of hidden courtyards. The nearby Presidio neighborhood is centered around a former Spanish fortress and was once home to Santa Barbara’s Chinatown. Boutique shopping comes easy here: locally crafted furniture at Industry Home, cassettes and old vinyl at Warbler Records & Goods and yoga wear at Drishti. You sip the lineup at Jamie Slone Wines—their pinot just made the wine list at Napa’s French Laundry— and snap a selfie along the Spanish colonial walkway outside before you pedal a block towards State Street. Santa Barbara’s main drag takes you to Paseo Nuevo, a group of high-end shops, and along a row of eclectic shops that ends at Stearns Wharf. This rustic wooden wharf, the oldest of its kind in California, is buzzing with tourists, but you’re here for the breathtaking views: the bustling harbor, the glistening sea and the verdant mountains that envelop it all. You make it back to the Canary in time for the nightly wine hour—Santa Barbara reds and whites are poured every night at 5 p.m.—and unwind in your room before dinner. A ten-minute Uber ride takes you to Convivo, this city’s newest restaurant, right across from East Beach, and you get a patio table under the palms. Many of chef Peter McNee’s dishes are made for sharing and served familystyle, from Italian-inspired antipasti and homemade pastas to seafood and meats roasted over a wood fire. He calls Santa Barbara “a community of artisans” and collaborates with local farmers, ranchers and fishermen to craft a seasonally driven menu. You sip a Fumo—gin, aloe, watermelon, basil—and lean into the evening. You walk the waterfront toward the famous Funk Zone. Here, Municipal Winemakers’ 11 p.m. closing time on weekends allows you to sip a juicy Rhone blend inside a dive shop-turned-tasting room before you head back to your hotel. Above: View from Canary Hotel; Middle & below: Convivo
THE GETAWAY: SANTA BARBARA
Above: Santa Barbara Courthouse; Below, left: Renaudâ€™s; right: Santa Barbara Wine Collective
THE GETAWAY: SANTA BARBARA
DRINK & DINE
Cocktails at The Good Lion
The complimentary homemade granola bars and cold brew in the Canary lobby fuel you up; you peruse the morning newspapers before you walk four blocks north on State toward Renaud’s. The decadent sweet treats at this authentic French patisserie have a cult following, but the organic eggs and chicken sausage, with brioche slices and a large cappuccino on the side, are breakfast at its best. You’re craving culture, so you take Anacapa Street south toward the Santa Barbara Courthouse, a stunning landmark that reminds you of an ornate Spanish castle. Tours are free and offered daily at 10:30 a.m. Docents undergo close to 30 hours of training, and the information you glean from them is fascinating. But there’s magic to be found even by wandering the open hallways and staircases—all adorned with original artwork and in stunning detail— on your own. The 360-degree views from the tower blow you away and, as you pause outdoors in the lush green Sunken Gardens, a quick nap suddenly seems appealing. But your artistic side has been sparked, so you head south to Santa Barbara Art Glass, where the ancient art of glassblowing is alive and well. You take the tour and watch as local artisans, led by Saul Alacaraz, blow, shape and cut everything by hand to create one-of-a-kind
pieces, from chandeliers to perfume bottles to jellyfish pendants. Next time, you’ll sign up for the 2.5-hour beginners’ class. The Funk Zone, which is cradled by State Street and the ocean, is less than a mile away, so you head back for a daytime peek at what’s become an epicenter for art and cuisine. You graze through some of the international fare at Metropulos Fine Foods—the gyro sandwiches that take days to make are famous—and then meander the streets. Wine tasting rooms abound, like Pali Wine Co., Riverbench and the Santa Barbara Wine Collective. You want the experience of a working winery though, so you head to Whitcraft Winery, where Drake Whitcraft has taken over a high-end and handson enterprise founded by his late father, Chris, a Santa Barbara wine pioneer. Depending on the time of year, visitors can watch grapes being crushed or wine being bottled, all alongside oak barrels stacked high to the ceiling. You learn as you sip that Whitcraft makes some of the state’s best pinot noirs and chardonnays, so you take a few bottles home. Nearby Santa Barbara Winery, the area’s first winery established post-Prohibition, is a centerpiece of this area and features a lovely gift shop. You get a little musical inspiration at Guitar Bar and then pop into Wall Space Gallery to wow at fascinating mixed media
works by emerging photographers. You’ve missed wine hour by the time you get back to the Canary, but not to worry: the rooftop bar is open until 7pm. The wide views from here rival the Courthouse tower and as you gaze at the city from above, between cocktail sips and poolside dips, you marvel at its beauty at dusk. Dinner is at Barbareño tonight, a hip hotspot two blocks away where chef Julian Martinez and general manager Jesse Gaddy, both co-owners, curate a locally- and seasonallydriven menu. The bite-size apps are meant for sharing; the chef ’s plate is the ultimate sampler. And once you make your entrée picks, call over wine director Lenka Davis. The young sommelier’s vibrant wine list is teeming with unique varietals and up-and-coming winemakers. You walk to The Good Lion for a nightcap, where the cocktail menu rotates weekly, sometimes daily, based on the availability of local organic produce, and where syrups are made in-house. Santa Barbara cocktail aficionado and blogger George Yatchsin comes often because “it’s classy, classic, sophisticated, yet welcoming. Plus, the whole team knows how to make a great cocktail, or should I say 100 great cocktails, many fabulously farm-tobar.” You order two.
THE GETAWAY: SANTA BARBARA
Left and below, right: Presidio; Above, right: D’Angelo’s Bakery
The Handlebar coffee that pours freely in the lobby—the local roaster is a favorite—helps you recharge before you check out from the Canary. You head to D’Angelo’s Bakery for breakfast, where the poached eggs or the smoked salmon Benedict catch your eye. But you settle, simply, for several slices of homemade bread—the sourdough multigrain, honey whole wheat and raisin rye are big sellers—with extra house preserves and Nutella on the side. It’s Sunday, so the stroll down State Street to the waterfront brings you to the weekly Art and Crafts Walk, which is already drawing a crowd. The gathering of local artisans—from photographers to sculptors to woodworkers—dates back to the 1960s and stretches several blocks along
tree-lined Chase Palm Park. You nab mementos to bring back home. You embark on your drive back home but veer off in Summerland, just south of Montecito, for a brief moment of Zen. Just strolling the Sacred Space, with a lush landscaping designed around Buddhist statutes, lily ponds and exotic plants, brings your brief vacation into focus. And you wonder: is there any way to bring that ornate Chinese altar table back home? Your final stop is in Carpinteria, just a few exits down the 101, where you satisfy the need for a road trip snack with an order of Sly’s famous onion rings to go. You notice the breezy streets in this beachy town, the surfers driving by in convertibles and the ocean view Island Brewery by the railroad tracks. And it’s suddenly clear: you will be back, and soon.
THE GETAWAY: SANTA BARBARA
UP & AWAY
Above, left: Paseo Nuevo; right: Arlington Theater; Below left: Santa Barbara Surfing Museum in the Funk Zone
“Stroll along the soft sands of Butterfly Beach, past joggers, dog walkers and the occasional celebrity”
@hergiehere “Classic modern.”
@ange212 “Feminine, relaxed.”
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“Simple, free, effortless.”
@jesse.emerson “Broke thrift store vintage.”
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Style Described in Ten Words or Less | Outside Alfred Tea Room, Melrose Place
@felishacooper “Whatever mood strikes me that day.”
@ailrick_jr “Simple style that works.”
@26streetsocial “Lots of black, and bright colors on nails & lips.”
@arazebrahimpour “All black with a touch of edge.”
@steflachimea “Simple, chic.”
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@kenrickvrolijk “Grunge alien glitter ghetto fabulous.”
Photographs by Ryan Jerome & Eggy Production
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BEDTIME STORIES Eric Leonardos: Prince Charming Under the Covers
Eric Leonardos is no stranger to West Hollywood, having worked here as a hair stylist and makeup artist. And he has just moved into a new apartment in the city. As is the case for so many people, the move to Southern California has been life changing for him. “I grew up in a conservative religious home in Houston, Texas,” Leonardos said. “My parents asked me to move out at the age of eighteen after I came out to them as gay. I moved to Austin, Texas, a few years later and worked in a salon as a makeup artist. It took time, but now my family is loving and supportive. “Now I live in L.A. and work in a salon as a hair and makeup stylist. I truly love what I do. Helping people feel and look good brings me so much joy. Since I was a child, I had an interest in hair and makeup—playing with my mother’s hair and makeup, and begging to stay at her Mary Kay and Avon parties. I was destined to have a career in the cosmetology field. “This year, I was approached to be one of the suitors on Logo TV’s ‘Finding Prince Charming.’ When I moved into the big, beautiful estate with the other suitors, I did not expect to make many friends, but I ended up walking away from the ultimate dating experience with several new friends. As for who was Prince Charming? You’ll have to tune in to find out!”
Q: Do you have a favorite type of book or genre (fiction or nonfiction, mystery, history, politics, romance, biography, poetry)? A: I like comedy and biography. I also enjoy self-help books. Q: What book are you reading now? A: “The City and the Pillar” by Gore Vidal, and I am re-reading “The Velvet Rage” by Alan Downs. Both of these books are very insightful and relatable. Q: Is reading in bed a habit, something you do every night or many times a week? A: At least once a week, sometimes more. Q: Is there another place where you’d prefer to read? A: I like to read on the sofa, but I enjoy the bed the most. Q: Do you read books on a Kindle or other electronic device rather than reading a book on paper? If so, which do you prefer and why? A: I read on my iPad and paper books. I love paper books because of the smell and the activity of turning the pages. Q: Do you have a favorite author or favorite book? A: I love “Barrel Fever” by David Sedaris. One of the most important reads in my life was a “A Return to Love” by Marianne Williamson.
PHOTOGRAPH BY ALDO CARRERA
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