Gentle reader,

As you most likely have heard, the weather in Los Angeles is usually wonderfully pleasant, which is probably why so many goddamned people want to live here. There are, however, those sporadic days during the summer when it gets a little too hot in our lovely jewel box above Hollywood and the tour buses and Hollywood Bowl traffic make me want to drop pipe bombs at regular intervals along Cahuenga Boulevard. Yesterday was one such day so, after my trainer and an abbreviated hike in the hills, I decided to have a cool shower and get the fuck out of there.  I’d been dying to see my friend Mary since we both ventured forth from the Armani fold last month and it seemed a great time to visit her new home at The Row on Melrose Place, the very first boutique for the brand in the whole entire world.  And they must have air conditioning, right? Now, I know that many people feel a little intimidated going into those little shops on Melrose Place but, in my experience, most of them don’t last very long with the exorbitant rents, so if any of those bitches give you attitude, just look them up and down like you know they’re going to be looking for a job pretty soon. Remember to say “Bye, Felicia!” on your way out.

The Row is neither little nor intimidating, with nearly 4,000 square feet of sunlit, casual California brilliance, where clothes and vintage furniture and jewelry are displayed in a very homey atmosphere, if your home were one that you rent out for W Magazine photo shoots.  Threadbare Persian rugs on concrete floors and a pool in the glassed-in courtyard give a feeling that you could just hang out for the afternoon, but it’s not long before you’ll be moving toward the racks of simple, beautifully made daywear garments almost entirely in solid colors of black, ivory, navy, olive and mink.

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The knitwear that made them famous—the brand originated from a search for the perfect t-shirt, after all—is expert and much of it from Italy, but everything else is made in the New York City’s garment district.  The designers Ashley and Mary Kate Olsen are passionate about keeping their production domestic. It’s a wonderful ambition for which they should be applauded.

This might be a good time to admit that I’d not taken a serious look at The Row before now, even though it’s been around since 2006, because I thought the Olsens were just a couple of party girls who decided to do fashion because the tabloids wrote a lot about them dressing like rich homeless people or something.  It turns out that they’re quite well versed in tailoring and design, in a large part from watching costume departments cut racks of clothes down to their tiny sizes for the television series they were doing.  Then Ashley interned with Zac Posen and Mary Kate with Annie Leibovitz, and then they launched The Row, to which many women of style and substance have since become addicted.  Newsweek may have described the line best: “…the Gap meets Jil Sander:  basic, minimal, adult and extremely expensive,” although I don’t think it’s really that expensive if you’re shopping luxury goods of this quality.  And I’m at Gucci, after all!

If you’re in the market for something fabulously chic and minimal or even a little vintage hippy-fab, I hope you’ll go see Mary at The Row at 8440 Melrose Place, Los Angeles.

Much love,

xxJames

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