One of the few reality-show contestants to open a brick-and- mortar shop, The Fashion Show’s Andrew Christian brings drama to the retail realm with male man- nequins diving from the ceiling, surfing in the window, and running across a floor that looks like a pool deck. the underwear line at the core of Christian’s label features police, marine, and fireman motifs as well as butt-lifting and frontal enhancements. other garments include Levi’s jeans, t-shirts by hank and Local Celebrity, and shorts by Paperback and howe. Down the street, the andrew Christian remix store carries seconds at lower prices. Hotcake: “Shock Jock” boxer with removable cup, $32. »Boutique: 8943 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, 310-734- 8590 Remix: 7750 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, 310-746-5400.
Floral dresses, vintage jewelry (such as green and gold clip earrings), and lingerie are the centerpieces of the beach adjacent boutique with an all-white interior. Lingerie suggests Old Hollywood glamour in satin and lace, ruffles and bows, polka dots and pinstripes. Exclusive: Ava + Aliria’s line of leather jackets with ruffled sleeves, $375 to $600. »912B Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach, 424-206-1884.
Do we need another Frenchman selling us designer denim steeped in Americana? Robin Chretien hopes so. Saks and Nordstrom carry his Robin’s Jean line, but the full collection is available only in his boutique, surrounded by the shoes, belts, and shirts the designer thinks work best with them. An area reserved for the jewelry brand Avant Garde (whose pieces cap at $300) returns a favor: Avant Garde’s West Hollywood shop has featured a rack of Robin’s Jean for several years. Hotcake: “Marilyn” jeans, $189. »:313 N. Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills, 310-786-7813.
Owner Mikey Mizrahi built this showpiece of a store himself, using reclaimed wood and metal fixtures as well as flooring he embedded with old keys and bottle openers. His goods include leather jackets by Grai, denim by J Brand, and celebrity mug shot T-shirts. Vintage finds compose half the shop’s merchandise, among them leather-bound books published before 1940, distressed- wood stackable end tables, and leather-trimmed aviator glasses. Cheap thrill: Items in a “found objects” bin, $5 to $20. Hotcake: T-shirts by OpportUnity Work- shop, a company Mizrahi owns, $32 to $95. »1211/2 N. Larchmont Blvd., L.A., 323-463-4485.
The sleek glass exterior, minimalist architecture, and tightly packed clothing racks at this Australian import smack of other Promenade megastores such as H&M and Zara. But the deals here (sale items start at $2) take cheap and chic seriously: Soft cotton sundresses in floral prints go for as little as $13. There’s a branch in the Glendale Galleria, but this is the only one in the states that offers exclusive merchandise like stilettos and booties from the company’s Rubi shoe line at double-take prices ($15 to $30 a pair). Intimate wear and stationery (go figure) round out the goods. Best value: Tank tees, two for $10. »1418 3rd Street Promenade, Santa Monica, 310-394-0179.
A visit to intimacy can start, if you’d like, with a free consultation. In a purple dressing room, you try on bras in cup sizes A through K from such brands as La Perla and Chantelle. Buh-bye, digging straps, lopsided pooch, and structural sup- ports that gnaw notches in your rib cage. Prices range from $48 to $200, and alterations are free. Cheap thrill: Stretch lace thongs by Hanky Panky, $23. »Westfield Century City, 10250 Santa Monica Blvd., 310-734-8598.
The label started as classic but quirky menswear, grew to a global lifestyle brand, and set its first U.S. outpost in L.A. Of some 50 Paul & Joe stores world- wide, this is the only one that carries all four of the company’s lines: men’s, women’s, a less expensive women’s collection, and children’s. Embodying French designer Sophie Albou’s taste, the boutique sells five-color glitter eye shadow, kitten-heel shoes, and toys such as a stuffed hippo. The company collaborated with fashion house Pierre Cardin on a line of monochromatic jersey caftans. Cheap thrill: lipstick in the shape of a cat’s head, $34. »138 S. Robertson Blvd., L.A., 310-270-4620.
In a large corner store formerly occupied by Armani Casa, the armani exchange concept store stocks more clothing, spaced far- ther apart, in a fancier setting than you’ll find at other A/E locations. The interior’s gray and black palette is almost funereal (never mind the wall of speakers and the floor sculpture of the word lust) and feels a tad grand for T-shirts and denim, but other pieces in the sportswear collection bear out european refinement: a gray polo shirt is piped in neon yellow, black-and-white stripes are visible under a jacket’s white nylon overlay, and rompers have more seams—meaning a better fit—than the myriad others on the market. Cheap thrill: Quilted gold clutch, $58. » 157 N. Robertson Blvd., L.A., 310-270-4322.
The part-industrial, part-country-school ambience fits the funky chic of the store’s sunset Junction location. New and vintage clothing (ponchos, overalls), furniture, and flea market finds such as globes, coffee-table books, and vinyl albums are displayed in an organized mélange. Owner David Browne makes his own rustic furniture from reclaimed timber; each item goes for less than $1,000. Cheap thrill: Vintage California postcards, $1. »3938 W. Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake, 323-644-1272.
Lofty Ceilings, cement floors, an origami swan chandelier: E.P.I.C. may have a crunchy granola name, but its interior and stock of clothing and accessories by more than 40 local designers bring a new level of sophistication to the neighborhood. Owners Tristan Scott and Rhianon Jones offer athletic menswear from God’s Prey and women’s draped pants from Himiku. Exclusive: Le Sang des Betes women’s line. »1712 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park, 213-483-0260.
Along with Zainab, this boutique has turned the neighborhood into a destination for esoteric fashion. Maison Martin Margiela, Kris Van assche, and Hussein Chalayan are among the better-known names on the racks. Co-owner Brett Westfall’s Unholy Matrimony (mainly) T-shirts and jeans was once the only menswear available in the boutique; now the shop carries fall selections from several European men’s labels. Exclusive: Pieces from Manish Arora and Undercover. »138 S. La Brea Ave., L.A., 323-932-0899.
The dark-palette interior contrasts with the romantic bohemianism of Vera Wang’s sequined and softly draped dresses. The store is the first to offer her ready-to-wear as well as bridal couture lines under one roof. An “eternal flame” installation separates the rooms of vampy cocktail dresses with bejeweled necklines from the nook where sweeping, multilayered wedding gowns look like works of art. Cheap thrill: Ballet flats in leather and satin with crystals, $250. »8445 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, 323-602-0174.
Vegan fashion isn’t a contradiction at this spot, which sells kitten-heel mary janes, jewelry that resembles Murano glass, and hemp belts trimmed in faux leather. During its four years in Orange County, the company cultivated numerous suppliers before moving north. The goods encircle a large branch from a 100-year-old Indonesian coffee tree. Exclusive: Wire-wrapped jewelry, whosesales benefit Concerts 4 Cats,which provides care to abandoned felines. »2717 Main St., Santa Monica, 310-581-1369.
This Los Angeles-based label specializes in thin leather dresses and separates—some laser-cut, others perforated. A single rack of clothing fits in 600 square feet, yet the room feels airy. Handbags are displayed on one wall, and two chairs (in leather, of course) fill the space between. Hotcake: “Crunch” leather motorcycle jacket, $627. »1638 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, 213-623-5055.
The family-run Italian company known for its colorful zigzag knits has clad its spacious corner boutique in undulating white strips of wood bathed in light from high windows. Plaid wool trousers and thick patchwork sweaters for men may seem counterintuitive for our climate, but women’s apparel—from form-fitting dresses to floaty blouses to Wellington-style boots—are perfect for autumn. Swimsuits attached to flippable panels can be viewed like posters, and home goods such as pillows, rugs, and throws get their own space. Cheap thrill: Aqua eau de toilette, $60 (50 ml) »469 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills, 310-246-3060.
Few retailers would dare sell frocks for more than $1,000 within spitting distance of Pink’s and a Jiffy Lube. But Zainab Sumu has been a maverick since her arrival in 2004 from Sierra Leone by way of Paris. In her boutique, black crystal chandeliers lend a Gallic air, as do collections from the French houses Cacharel, Azzedine Alaïa, and Azzaro. The most intellectual of L.A. lines can be found here, too, from Gregory Parkinson to Jasmin Shokrian to Jerome Rousseau. Exclusive: Clothing by Jeremy Laing. »7021 Melrose Ave., Hollywood, 323-930-8951.
Last year Moods of Norway brought its kaleidoscopic sweaters to Robertson Boulevard. This year Odd Molly, a Swedish import, opened its first U.S. location on the celebrity shopping strip. Comparable to a high-end Anthropologie, the clothing is all ruffles and romance. Cheap thrill: “Dolce” silk and lace panties, $80. »104 S. Robertson Blvd., L.A., 310-858-9311.