Thursday, July 19, 2007

Shopping Safari in Rodeo & Venice

By Jamee Gregory

Shopping in Los Angeles is quite diverse! Rodeo Drive, the obvious choice, is filled with familiar shops like Louis Vuitton, Tod’s and Ralph Lauren. In the latter, I find my favorite salesman from Southampton, Vic.

Peter in the flower-and-fountain filled atrium that leads shoppers into Ralph Lauren's elegant LA emporium.
The store begins its welcome with a garden-like hall, decked with ferns and other flora, making a nice backdrop for the fauna, the shoppers. A fountain and tables filled with books and candles delight the eye before one enters.

Spacious and large, stocked to the brim, I find charming men’s seersucker blazers on sale, which fail to entice my husband. Heading upstairs, I’m excited to find khaki- cotton slim pants and a white turtleneck with matching suede quilted elbow pads and shoulder patches. Even though I’m not a hunter, this outfit, will keep me warm in the fall!

Back on the wide street, traffic ebbs and flows, with options for free parking. No one does much walking in LA, but this area is an exception. Ladies look very different from their Fifth Avenue sisters. Hair is blonder, veering to platinum, lips puffier, boobs bigger, heels higher, and colors more pastel. Underneath these superficial differences, they share a zest for the fray, clutching armloads of shopping bags, marked Bottega Veneta, Wolford, Prada and Neiman-Marcus. The shops are light, airy and lovelier than at home. Sunshine permeates the street and pours through the shop windows.
Husband Peter and daughter Samantha (left) standing in front of the umbrella-covered second floor and green walls of Fred's restaurant. Inset: Window at Fred Segal: mannequin among the techno-colored mushrooms, very LA!!
Moving onward, to something more exciting, my daughter takes us to Fred Segal, an establishment that occupies its own little village.

Brilliant displays, like the one pictured, make shopping here great fun!
A huge parking lot makes it easy to stop for lunch in its trendy hot-spot restaurant, or to grab a sandwich and take time for an iced tea on its outdoor deck. Shopping here is terrific.

Youthful California looks, hoodies in cashmere and cotton, hand-painted tees, Dries Van Noten striped shirts and silver pants for men, sexy bras galore, an entire shop devoted to sandals all catch my eye.

I fall for a weathered black tee-shirt with the word “warning” lettered in bright metallic red across the chest. Its cost benefits global conservation programs and looks great too. An entire area, devoted to colorful and sexy lingerie captures my fancy. Home wares from all over the world merit a once over. Pastel plastic Marc Jacobs’s ballerinas with bows are worth bringing home.
The sexy lingerie display, what Angelenos must wear under their hoodies!
Next stop: All the trendy boutiques near Venice, filled with strolling young couples on the look out for 50's furniture, wicker, garden ornaments and planters. How lucky they are to live where it’s summer all year round! These shops are stuffed to the gills.

I am particularly taken with Brick Lane, filled with goodies from London’s leading designers like Alice Temperley. I find a mail box in the shape of a birdcage but my daughter declines. She shows me her favorite shop, where a myriad of chic fabrics have been treated for life outdoors. Bold Stripes, floral patters, tropical flowers all cry out, hoping to land as cushions on someone’s naked wrought iron or wicker furniture. Matching laminated trays and Lucite chairs designed by Jordan Cappella add to the mix.
Inset: Getting ready for our stroll along Venice Beach's charming shops. Above: Brick Lane, a shop as charming outside as inside. It's adorable street displays lead one to a treasure trove of trendy English designer's latest creations.
Sadly, the day is over and it’s time to return to Shutters, our charming hotel that sits directly on the beach, simple and majestic. Santa Monica here I come.
Top to bottom: Pinkberry! Yum! This brightly decorated Korean yogurt shop is a hit! Bright decor, color-clad helpers, appetizing displays, wonderful flavors like green tea and tart vanilla make this shop popular. Lines snake down the street as customers decide between fresh fruit and candy toppings.

An aging sixties hippie band makes music for the shoppers and picnic-eaters lounging on blankets and on the grass at the incredibly popular Sunday Santa Monica Fair.

Tumbleweed and Dandelion-a chic little shop offering unique objects like the birdcage mailbox I wanted to buy for my daughter!