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LA (BEVERLY): THE BEST RIBBON DRESSES

By Nora Zelevansky / March 17th, 2009

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(Kao Pao Shu Ribbon Dress; Front & Back)

Like most cities, LA has an unofficial uniform; and that uniform involves more jeans, pastel tees and flowing maxi dresses than it does dramatic black capes or asymmetrical pantaloons.  Perhaps the relaxed style is driven by mild weather or the mellow vibe.  For whatever reason, though there are naturally exceptions, LA's signature style is not known for being extreme or particularly intense.  And, lest you try to argue that skull bedazzled wife beaters or cleavage-revealing shirts are edgy, let me remind you that there is a difference between forward fashion and, well, trying too hard.

So, when I arrived this week for a Fashion Week preview at newish boutique Kao Pao Shu, I was surprised: designer Naida Begeta hails from Sarajevo (via Milan) and sews all of her (mostly one-of-a-kind) avant-garde pieces herself.  Her interest in fashion tip toes into the arena of conceptual art, as she's motivated as much by an interest in the idea of unbroken lines (and using uninterrupted strips of found fabric), as by silhouettes.  Kao Pao Shu's name was inspired by an actress in a kung fu flick and, whether Begeta intends it or not, her style does seem sort of wacky in an Asian-inspired way.

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(Designer Naida Begeta In One of Her Scarves and Me In One Of Her First Fall/Winter Jackets That Riffs On a Classic Plaid or Tweed)

While she started out making bags, for me, Begeta's interesting pieces are her ribbon dresses, textiles designed from her sketches (upper left hand corner) and jackets (the first sneak peek into her fall/winter collection).  As I've mentioned before, my style skews more classic.  So, Kao Pao Shu might seemingly appeal more to someone like my Comme des Garcons-loving, contemporary curator mother or seem most appropriate on a runway.

But, you know what they say, sometimes you just have to go to extremes.

xo – N.

P.S. Keep your eye out for info on a LACMA Muse event on April 5th at the Kao Pao Shu boutique.

LA (AND BEYOND): CRUMPLED TWENTY

By Nora Zelevansky / March 10th, 2009

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(A Monocle Comme des Garcons Candle Collaboration & The Monocle Shop)

The Best Link Today:

So, I was attracted to Blackburn + Sweetzer's story about this British shop Monocle (conceived based on their Monocle mag) soon-to-land in Brentwood for several reasons: first, I actually lived off Marylebone High Street–the original shop's location–for like a year in college.  (I did the usual junior year abroad thang, but loved it so much that I took another semester off and stayed to work at a documentary production company there called Uden Associates).  So, I admit it, nostalgia drove my initial interest: ah, the freeing days of being totally broke, out every night until 8am and hungover everyday until going out again.

Suddenly, sipping my peppermint tea and snacking on raspberry granola, I feel like a grandma.

Second, naturally I'm no stranger to the concept of a store evolving from another medium–from Giant Robot stores on Sawtelle and in Silverlake (closing sale through March 28th–FYI) to the former Vice store at Sunset Junction to airports' CNN, USA Today and Fox News (barf) stores–BUT Monocle doesn't seem like a design-only magazine, so it's an interesting crossover.

The peeps at Monocle (mag edited by Wallpaper founder and Financial Times columnist Tyler Brûlé) collaborate with designers or design houses to create unique items like linen-back notebooks with Germany's Brandbook, Hinoki candles with Comme des Garcons, scarves with Drakes London.  They're opening shops in Tokyo and NYC this year too.

Third, this high-end cool kid shop has decided to open up shop in . . . Brentwood?  Brentwood Country Mart seems like such an odd choice, as the neighborhood is quaint, but hardly filled with edgy shoppers (more like bleached blonde, Ugg-sporting moms noshing on Pink Berry and pushing babies in Bugaboos or toting around their legging and Ugg-clad toddlers).

But we shall see.  Time will tell.  A bird in the hand . . . what am I talking about???

xo – Grandma N.

Disclaimer: I'm so tired today, I'm not thinking straight (too much wild tea and granola last night), so bare with me.