Cheryl shops...L.A.
When I go on vacation, I generally like to 1) shop, 2) eat, 3) look at art, and 4) tan, in that order. As one might expect, I was able to do all four (yes, even look at art) on my vacation last week, but since this is a shopping blog, I'll be focusing mainly on the shopping part (which, with maybe the exception of eating, I definitely did the most).

Sunday, MW & I (with the lovely HG) had macrobiotic brunch, then hit Melrose for some upscale and vintage shopping. Our first stop was the revered Fred Segal, which I found...extremely disappointing. First of all, the layout of the store is extremely kooky--it seems cobbled together from multiple buildings, some of which you can get to from another, but others you have to go outside. Not to mention, the whole thing was mazelike in layout. The Ron Herman part had some cute stuff, but everything I liked--mostly tanks and tees--was $80 (more on that later). The top floor is pricey designer stuff--Pucci, Marni, etc., and none of it was on sale. And aside from the lovely girls in Apothia (the toiletries boutique), the store had some of the snobbiest salespeople I encountered in L.A. (but, again, more on that later). Fred Segal was, however, the site of my one and only celebrity sighting in L.A.: Isla Fisher, the redhead from Wedding Crashers (and, for the record, she's so tiny, I could put her in my pocket). We also hit Decades, the vintage emporium that's more like a museum--I saw a vintage Chanel suit (with original tags attached), several Mary Quant dresses, a crocodile Kelly bag, and more drool-worthy items. Downstairs is Decades Two, which has more recent, pre-worn items, but, from what I saw, at prices not terribly lower than the upstairs boutique. We also hit the two Marc Jacobs boutiques--the Marc store is like a party, and it's where I fell in love with the delicious Cotton fragrance. One of my favorite stops of the day was the Bodhi Tree Bookstore, which came highly recommended by my acupuncturist, Julie, and did not disappoint--I have never seen so many macrobiotic cookbooks in one spot. We continued the crunchy-granola theme of the day with drinks at the next-door Urth Caffe, then headed back to the vintage end of Melrose, which, we all decided, reminded us of 8th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues in the Village. I got an awesome I. Magnin sweater dress with satin cuffs (it's a blatant Chanel ripoff) at The Wasteland (which, coincidentally, has an awesome selection of hip, pre-worn, recent clothing--think Marc by Marc Jacobs and Miu Miu, at pretty reasonable prices); MW got a black velvet jacket (which I've been suggesting he buy for over a year now) at Aardvarks, which, we all decided, had a great selection and the most reasonable prices of all the vintage stores we hit that day.

Monday, MW and I were on our own, so we hit Beverly Hills, baby! It was ridiculously hot that day, so we opted to drive along Rodeo Drive, instead of walk--after all, who were we kidding? It's not like we were actually going to buy anything there. But since I make a personal point to hit as many Barneys as I can, we headed over to the Beverly Hills Barneys on Wilshire. It was, in a word, a jackpot. While MW had to physically drag me away from the shoe sale racks, I managed to escape up to the Co-op floor, where I plundered the racks. Just as I suspected, Angelenos have yet to appreciate the genius of Daryl K., so there was a ton of her stuff on triple-markdown. (And while there was a lot of stuff on sale, the racks were totally ransacked and a mess, and a lot of the clothing had stains and tears--I feel like that would never happen on Madison Avenue.) For good measure, we also hit Saks and Neiman Marcus, but both were kind of a mess (it was "last call" sale time), and when a woman started going ballistic when someone's kid hit her on the head with a shoe at the latter, we decided we'd had enough. And because it was well into the mid-90s by then, we needed to beat the heat and thus headed to the Beverly Center, a ginormous, quintessentially Californian mall. We didn't spend much time there, since, after all, it was a mall, but I am happy to report that the Macy's stores on the West Coast are much nicer, and carry Seven jeans (the real ones) and Marc Jacobs.

By Tuesday, we discovered that we could beat the heat by heading out around 11 a.m., walking around for an hour and a half, then eating lunch during prime heat hours. So that's what we did that day, heading to the famed Robertson Boulevard. We started out at Maxfield Bleu, which is supposedly the clearance center for the uber-expensive Maxfield boutique; and while, yes, most stuff was marked down considerably, everything was still waaay out of our price range (but now that I know that Rochas is no longer in existence, I'm kicking myself for not having splurged on a collector's item). We also hit Lisa Kline, which reminded me a lot of Scoop and had many $80 T-shirts; Diavolina, which had a fun mix of shoes and mid-range designer clothes; and, of course Kitson, which, considering it was a zoo, was actually kind of fun, however, again, all the T-shirts were $80 (they have a nice selection of starlet-friendly dresses too, for considerably more), so we left empty-handed, although MW was tempted by a $300 cashmere Curious George hoodie (it was cooler than it sounds). My favorite store from this area was definitely Madison (pictured to the right of Kitson, above), probably because its merchandise was the most New Yorky (read: lots of black; cool designers like Vanessa Bruno and Woo) and, perhaps related, its salespeople the most snobby. But I got two really cute babydoll tops on sale, surly salesgirl be damned.

Wednesday morning, our last day in L.A., we hit my final must-see shopping stretch, which was 3rd Street. While this area had everything from a Sigerson Morrison to an awesome travel bookstore to one of those "only in L.A." boutiques called Puppies and Babies, my favorite was the Bead Boutique, where I got to work making an awesome three-strand necklace that, as soon as he saw it, MW remarked was "so Cheryl." It ended up being, um, a bit pricey (and, yes, I'm sure I could probably hit the bead district and make something similar for considerably less), but I console myself with the fact that it's kickass--and one-of-a-kind. I'm sure there's a simliar store in NYC, and I have to find it, because, seriously, I think I could make necklaces all day. It was that much fun. I also hit the much-buzzed-about Satine, which, in a word, rocks. They have a carefully chosen selection, and prices were not totally outrageous. I could've spent hours there, but we had to hit the road to head to Palm Springs, so I settled on a gold Lurex A.P.C. dress that I'd never seen before and that was a sweet 70% off. I'm planning on wearing it to my high school reunion, which is coming up in a few months.

As for Palm Springs, we didn't do much shopping there for several reasons: 1) the daytime temperature was between 110 and 120 degrees the entire time we were there, so we didn't do much of anything (but it was a dry heat!), and 2) all the shops were either closed for the summer or closed at the grandma-oriented hour of 5 p.m. The main shopping district of the area is called El Paseo, and it's technically in Palm Desert, about 30 minutes east of Palm Springs. There are a lot of galleries with cheesy Native American stuff, stores my mom loves (Chico's, Coldwater Creek), and more fashiony stores (BCBG, Saks Fifth Avenue). However, MW and I walked about 20 feet, noticed most of the stores were closed, then decided to call it a day. We had considerably better luck at the Desert Hills Premium Outlets, about a half hour west of Palm Springs. It's owned by the same company as Woodbury Commons, so it had many stores in common, pardon the pun--a Dior outlet, Space (Prada & Miu Miu), Barneys, and Saks, among others. I was disappointed that the True Religion outlet (only in California, kids!) wasn't open yet, but I got a cute striped sweater at Bebe, of all places, and hit the jackpot at L'Occitane, where I found my moisturizer for $2. I bought 10 of 'em, which should last me a year or two. And, this isn't exactly shopping, but I highly recommend the spa at the Spa Resort Casino; MW and I had a couple's massage and the "taking of the waters," and it was truly a transporting experience. And as MW said afterward, "Okay, now I get why people like going to spas so much."

So, okay, to be honest, I kind of loved L.A. Everyone was really nice and mellow (my friend ES attributes this to the fact that everyone is from the Midwest), the weather was hot but still way nicer than the nastiness of NYC in the summer, it was rather easy to stay macro out there, it's just plain beautiful, and this observation took several days to sink in, but it's just not crowded, with the exception of the freeways (which we avoided like the plague). We'd go to stores, and there would be maybe one or two other shoppers there most of the time. At first I thought this was because of the heat, but then I realized that while L.A. is huge and sprawling, it's not overcrowded. And I even didn't mind driving--granted, I was rarely out during rush hour, nor was I on the freeways, but the driving was actually kind of nice. Now, I'm not going to ditch my beloved NYC--I realize that it takes quite a bit of money to live comfortably out there, the people are slightly plastic, and I have no idea what I'd do all day--but I can safely admit that I enjoyed L.A. as, at least, a shopping, er, vacation destination. I know that statement makes me a bad New Yorker (aren't East Coasters supposed to have an intrinsic hatred of the West Coast?), but, hey, I'm from Chicago after all, right?


Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'm beginning to get why people live in LA. But I'm still a New Yorker at heart!
Glad you enjoyed your stay!

Anonymous said...

I've been to the Decades store. I can't really afford their vintage line, but is having a sample sale for their collection tomorrow! I'm excited because this site always has amazing deals.