Thursday, July 10, 2008

Shopping Melrose Place

The Gregory's ready to explore Melrose Place.
By Jamee Gregory

Shopping Melrose Place is a special Los Angeles treat.
Calm, elegant and serene, this is the perfect destination for a peaceful search for luxury items from all over the world. The usual California cars of choice, Mercedes, BMWs, and Bentleys pull up to the valet parkers, dropping patrons off for a leisurely stroll along a tree-covered street with charming alleys off to one side. Each shop is covered in signature foliage from clipped box to ivy and in-between. The area seems removed from the frenzy of other shopping spots as visitors stroll between the beautifully appointed boutiques.

Our first stop is a trendy boutique called Bird where ladies fashions in the California mode are displayed on two floors. Next we visit Carolina Herrera’s chic outpost, decorated with a beautiful photograph of the designer.
Clockwise from top left: Bird on Melrose, our first stop; Carolina Herrera's shop; Summer dresses at Oscar; Entrance to Oscar de la Renta's outpost.
The inviting outdoor terrace that leads to the second floor home furnishing department. A nice spot to linger! The perfectly arranged sitting room, down to the last detain.
Across the street sits Oscar de la Renta’s spectacular outpost. After passing a tree-filled alley, one enters the shop which is much larger than its New York relative. Clothes can really be admired against a light-filled space with stone floors and large glass windows. Two giant rooms display dresses, gowns and sportswear, handbags and shoes fill the walls and table tops.

Visitors are then led upstairs, passing a charming terrace filled with Oscar’s home furnishings. The scene is so welcoming that one wants to sit in the rattan couches, have a glass of California Chardonnay and call it a day! Resisting the urge, one enters a series of rooms all displaying Oscar’s elegant sofas, chairs, cushions, trays etc.

The rooms are so welcoming and perfect that one is tempted to buy the entire scene, lock, stock and barrel! My husband breathes a sigh of relief when we leave the store and my purchase was only some very glamorous green tortoise sun glasses.
A view of the indoor courtyard.
Next we pause at Temperley, the chic English fashion store. We are so disappointed that decorator Rose Tarlow’s shop is closed. I was dreaming to see what the legendary designer had on display, but maybe next year. My attention was captured by Frederic Fekkai’s new salon, but there was no time for a blow dry. The exterior view looked terrific. The entire street is refreshing, the cool California air bends the silvery foliage and eucalyptus perfumes the air. Each courtyard beckons the visitor, as shops are set back from the leafy street.
Clockwise from top left: London's Temperley boutique; Legendary California designer Rose Tarlow's shop; Valet parking in front of Fekkai, one Mercedes after another.
Silvery foliage and charming courtyards mark Melrose Place as a perfect shopping destination. Santa Maria Novella welcomes visitors with its array of scents, creams, lotions and potions, Hand-milled soaps and infusers, all beautifully packaged, seem perfect for California girls as well as Italian contessas.
Clockwise from top left: Marc Jacob's Men; Marc Jacob's Women, covered in gorgeous ivy walls with topiaries; Diesel and McQueen punctuated with a bold circle of blue Agapanthus; Carroll & Co., the venerable men’s’ haberdashery.
Santa Maria Novella, the famous Italian apothecary, has a terrific shop, filled with hand-milled soaps, floral essences and essential oils, all packaged and displayed beautifully in wooden cabinets. Marc Jacob’s men’s shop offers trendy clothes, Mulberry has a wide array of clothes and leather goods, and Diesel’s store sits beside a giant display of Agapanthus, a plant that grows wild in California making me jealous.

Le Palais des Thes, perfect for house gifts.
My paltry pot has to winter over inside in Southampton and sometimes blooms only every other year. The giant blue blossoms run rampant in LA, adding bold color and defining the landscape. Marc Jacob’s women’s store occupies a prominent space, its windows stark, original and inviting, its walls covered in ivy. McQueen’s shop is another great stop for high fashion. Walking down to the far end of the street we learn, to my dismay and to the delight of my husband and daughter, that all the antique shops are closed on Saturday. Oh well, you can’t do everything in one day.

Just to be fair, we stop on Canon so that Peter can visit LA's answer to Paul Stuart, Carroll & Co., the venerable men's haberdashery. He finds some terrific woven braid belts for summer, a cashmere sweater and some trousers.

Meanwhile Samantha and I investigate the wonders of Le Palais des Thes shop; admiring beautifully packaged loose-leafed teas in floral tubes and boxes, perfect for house gifts along with honeys and accessories for the tea service. We are offered refreshing samples of fruit teas and head off to lunch al fresco at the Beverly Hills Hotel. This certainly beats banging the pavement in hotter than Hades New York.

We are greeted in the Polo Lounge and head for the garden. Lunch is served in banquettes around a flower-filled terrace. The sun shines gently through filtering vines which cover over-head trellised canopies. Salads are tasty and delicious, made with just-picked vegetables. I can’t imagine a prettier place. Wish I could come every day!