Gentle reader,

If you read this column somewhat regularly, you probably think I spend my days hiking in the Hollywood Hills or laying by the pool and my nights hopping from industry soirées to gallery openings.  Well, you’re right!  But in between all that hiking and hopping, I log many hours of hard work with clients assembling looks, diverting crises, bolstering egos and finding more and more creative ways to stay ahead in the increasingly competitive world of fashion.  Last week, for instance, I actually heard myself say, “You know, that dress looks better backwards.”

T-Shirt by Raif Adelberg

T-Shirt by Raif Adelberg

And, even though I’m employed at a formidable Italian design house with consistently large collections season after season, I’m always on the lookout for things that are new and fresh for my clients and friends outside the scope of what we can do for them there.  This might involve frog marching a bride-to-be down to Lanvin to snatch up a $10,000 dress for her last-minute Montenegro beachside wedding or, as was the case today, racing into a killer chic boutique on the way to the gym to find out if they really carry Valentino for men when the word on the street is that it’s totally unavailable in the U.S.

This boutique, Just One Eye, is located on a dodgy section of Romaine Street next to an old cement factory and around the corner from an infamous gay sex club called The Zone, which I have never visited.  Okay, I just went in the front door once years ago but then I went right out again.  Anyway, the lovely Art Deco building itself was once headquarters for Howard Hughes’ escapades in film and other enterprises, and those cavernous rooms, long corridors and concrete floors lend themselves well to the curatorial feel of carefully vetted collections of clothes alongside books and amazing furniture and art.  Aside from having heard about the men’s Valentino, I stopped in today on the premise of finding a slim leather portfolio that I could use at our anti-aging skincare company’s national conference in Dallas this week because everyone made such a fuss over my gorgeous Valas Los Angeles backpack at the last gathering that I was hesitant to repeat it.  They didn’t have the portfolio I was looking for—because, of course, the one I want is at Prada—but I’ll be happy to take my Valas bag again and it was a good excuse for me to stop by, even if I was in my gym clothes.

Just One Eye InteriorLooking back, I believe it was the fact that I was wearing my faded gym clothes that makes me feel so warm and fuzzy about Just One Eye.  Everyone from the adorable parking guy to the lovely Farrah in the showroom/gallery space were incredibly sweet and helpful even though my entire workout ensemble probably cost less than their cheapest coffee table book.  I browsed through the racks of men’s clothes, which included several of those coveted basic Valentino pieces and a lot of edgier pieces (with not a print or pattern in sight!) that will do well for many L.A. guys but I got distracted by a pair of black crystal-coated Valentino loafers that looked like they were made of buffed black stingray marked down to around $620.  Am I crazy for not buying them on the spot?  Shit, I hate second-guessing myself!  For ladies, there were so many unique, beautiful things that I lost count after the Paco Rabanne chain mail dresses and the softest black quilted leather Alexandre Vauthier jacket.  The shoes, I can’t even begin to describe.

The shop’s driving creative force is Paola Russo, Maxfield’s former fashion director and there definitely is a “Maxfield” feeling in the just-industrial-enough rooms filled with fabulous clothes, but there is also a happy, celebration-of-great-design element and friendliness that is the antithesis of the dark, soul-sucking feeling that envelopes you as you enter Maxfield’s hallowed halls.  I congratulate them on this amazing achievement.

So, welcome to my favorite new place, bitches!  Well, it would be my new fave place if, in addition to their intriguing stuff on the inside, they had a sidewalk café where I could sip mimosas amongst rare objets d’art watching guys stumble out of the sex club down the street. That’s just how I roll, yo.

Much love,

xxJames

Valentino Black Crystal Loafers

Valentino Black Crystal Loafers

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