Melrose Heights—a shopper's mecca since the eighties—has turned high-end, thanks in part to Marc Jacobs. Here, a door-to-door guide to the area's top 10 stores.
Carolina Herrera 8441 Melrose Place; 323/782-9090. THE VIBE Just one month old, Herrera's space is 3,800 square feet of pure refinement—with zebra-wood finishes and seating draped in the designer's signature brown-and-beige satin stripes. BEST FINDS Fall's richly colored jacquard coat ($4,690); a lace-trimmed satin cocktail dress ($2,990).
Delia 8438 Melrose Place; 323/658- 8685. THE VIBE Shoppers (many of them local starlets) usually find this year-old emporium of lesser-known European designers—hidden away on the second floor above a breezy courtyard—through word of mouth. Among the labels to be discovered are Angelos Frentzos, Antonio Marras (Italy), and J & M Davidson (U.K.). BEST FINDS A long Empire-waist dress by Kristensen Du Nord ($285); a deconstructed silk skirt by Gardem ($435).
Diane von Furstenberg 8411 Melrose Ave.; 323/951-1947. THE VIBE DVF uses frosted-glass panels and mirrored ceilings to create a glam Hollywood backdrop for her updated classics and fine jewelry collection—a collaboration with H.Stern—sold here exclusively. BEST FINDS Leopard-print three-way convertible bag ($1,190); suede wrap dress ($750); and DVF/H.Stern's large crystal Power Ring ($3,000).
Duncan Quinn 8380 Melrose Ave.; www.duncanquinn.com. THE VIBE This lawyer-turned-fashionista's menswear atelier brings Savile Row tailoring and a rock 'n' roll edge to West Hollywood. BEST FINDS Limited-run silk dragon and unicorn ties ($125 each); the color-and-print-saturated "Urban Warrior" collection, with a three-piece Prince of Wales checked suit ($2,950); and—what DQ does best—bespoke suits (price upon request).
Marc Jacobs 8400 Melrose Place; 323/653-5100. Marc by Marc Jacobs 8410 Melrose Ave.; 323/653-0100. THE VIBE Jacobs's main-label ready-to-wear boutique—the neighborhood's beacon of chic—sits at the intersection of Melrose Place and Melrose Avenue. Marc by Marc Jacobs, the outlet for his less-pricey diffusion label, with its playful, L.A.-friendly looks for women and men, is just across the street. BEST FINDS Marc by Marc Jacobs women's black silk-satin jumpsuit ($368); men's midnight-blue tuxedo vest ($228). Launching this month: the designer's digital watches ($150 to $300).
Me & Ro 8405 Melrose Place; 323/ 782-1071. THE VIBE Twice the size of its petite outpost in downtown Manhattan, Me & Ro's Melrose shop has a spare, simplified look, in which Buddhist-inspired jewelry is displayed in unembellished metal cases. BEST FINDS Lotus Mandala Pendant ($2,300); silver Fearlessness bead bracelet ($120).
Paul Smith 8221 Melrose Ave.; 323/ 951-4800. THE VIBE The cleanliness and bright pink hue of Smith's 5,000-square- foot loftlike L.A. flagship pay homage to Mexican architect Luis Barragán. Inside the shop, you'll find the first comprehensive collection of the British designer's signature cheeky aesthetic in the United States—with décor to match. BEST FINDS The small selection of customized furniture, like the Union Jackupholstered chairs (from $6,500); a funky forties-inspired pleated polka-dot clutch ($500); and a Navajo carry-all ($325).
RetroSpecs 8458 Melrose Place; 323/ 951-4925. THE VIBE This bare, sunlit boutique has an impeccable archive of vintage sunglasses (with a specialty in perennially chic aviators) from the thirties through the seventies. BEST FINDS The shop's own line of frames made from south Indian buffalo horn accented with pieces of antique gold inlay (from $595); vintage forties Ray-Bans made by Bausch & Lomb ($1,395).
Suzanne Felsen 8332 Melrose Ave.; 323/653-5400. THE VIBE Felsen collaborated with KoningEizenberg Architecture to create this Modernist space with a glowing white façade—a perfect complement to the gemstone jewelry the shop stocks. BEST FINDS A sparkling 18-karat white-gold ring with peridot and tanzanite ($6,500); 18-karat yellow-gold hoops with fire opals ($1,600); and the money shot—a platinum ring with five marquis-cut diamonds ($12,500).
Temperley London 8452 Melrose Place; 323/782-8000. THE VIBE Fans of British It Girl Alice Temperley slip past a canopy of trees to enter her boudoir-style oasis. Inside, animal-print rugs and a shimmering antique chandelier set the mood for romance while you shop. BEST FINDS The Carole cowl-neck knit dress ($1,135) and camouflage intarsia cashmere tunic ($1,245)—to be seen on the likes of Uma Thurman and Sienna Miller, both clients you may run into while browsing. After all, this is Hollywood.
Temperley London, L.A.
Alice Temperley’s modern "Cool Britannia" designs are offered stateside in this boutique on Melrose Place. Inside a former art gallery littered with turn-of the-century antiques, the house’s LA location has personal shoppers are on hand to expertly guide you through the collection, which changes 13 times a year (including Cruise and Pre-Fall collections). Located in the back of the boutique, the bridal salon showcases the British designer’s feminine bridal designs, which includes both made-to-order and current collection pieces. The shop can even be reserved for a private evening event.
Once a 1920s Spanish duplex, Suzanne Felsen’s boutique on Melrose Avenue is now a modernist bungalow housing the designer’s showroom and design studio. Beneath a fluttering ribbon ceiling (made with surveyors tape) sits wood panel display cases filled with her complete jewelry collection, as well as one-of-a-kind pieces. Many of her pieces are brightly hued, featuring semi-precious stones and colored diamonds nestled in unique settings. Besides the selection of rings, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets, Felsen has a silver collection and diamond engagement rings that are especially popular.
The restoration of early-modern antique eyewear is RetroSpecs’ (uncommon) passion. With an extensive cataloging system of more than 3,000 classic designs, the specialty retailer couples each client with his or her perfect fit in period eyeglasses. However, the company’s specialty is the “golden age" of eyewear (1920s through 1960s), when eyewear featured 12K gold-filled wire frames. Founded in 1992, owner Jay Owens originally traveled North America in an RV buying and restoring antique eyeglasses. Today, RetroSpecs sells restored classic eyeglasses stamped with uniquely issued registration numbers from its world showroom on Melrose Avenue.
Paul Smith, L.A.
British designer Paul Smith displays clothing with a twist at this hot-pink landmark on Melrose Avenue. Known for his unexpected design touches, the iconic Brit offers men’s and women’s fashions and lifestyle items in an expansive space divided into boutiques resembling movie sets (a 19th-century Paris apartment and an 18th-century Avignon chateau). The merchandise ranges from clothing to accessories (belts, glasses, and shoes) to even furniture and fabrics, but be prepared to fork over some cash because the designer’s items don’t come cheap (think printed tees for $80).
Me & Ro
Offering “the finest bespoke services this side of the pond,” British designer Duncan Quinn’s West Hollywood boutique sells distinctive men’s clothing with the spirit of a traditional Saville Row shop. The company tailors high quality dress shirts and suits to each client using mostly renewable materials like cotton, wool, silk, and occasionally more exotic yarns like cashmere, mohair, and alpaca. Ties, cufflinks, classic umbrellas and other gentlemanly accessories round out the establishment’s offerings. Besides the made-to-measure items, ready-to-wear collections are also available.
Diane von Furstenberg
Inside Diane von Furstenberg’s only California boutique, pink velvet banquettes, oversized dressing rooms, and plasma TVs featuring DVF runway shows offer the perfect space to shop for her iconic dresses. Creator of the wildly popular wrap dress, von Furstenberg’s affordable couture clothing also includes sportswear, jackets, resort wear, shoes, and scarves, but the shop carries fragrance and books as well. The friendly staff at the Melrose Avenue location will likely offer you champagne as you shop and send you a hand-written thank you note after your purchase.
Carolina Herrera, Los Angeles
Once favored by Jackie O, Venezuelan native Carolina Herrera is known for clothing with feminine flourishes like meticulous embroidery and beading. The designer’s Melrose Place boutique is filled with racks of colorful clothing from her collection, including tweed classics, sleek sheath dresses, pant suits, cropped wool jackets, and gossamer evening dresses. There’s even a collection of colorful Manolo Blahniks in the shop to make accessorizing easy, and Herrera’s wedding-gown designs can be found in the boutique’s adjacent Bridal Salon.
As much a destination as a retail shop, Mark Jacobs’ ivy-covered digs on Melrose Avenue make an elegant venue for showcasing the designer’s iconic bags, shoes, and ready-to-wear clothes for men and women. Like a hipper, more colorful Chanel, the New York native marries sleek modernist lines and retro sensibility to gorgeous effect, epitomizing the current couture favored by young Hollywood. In fact, when the boutique held its grand opening soirée back in 2005, stars like Jeremy Piven, Owen Wilson, and Winona Ryder were among the attendees.