Just Opened: Rodan vs. Griffith

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Despite its seemingly combative moniker, Rodan vs. Griffith is a lesson in teamwork—the kind of good-natured communion seldom found in the world of fashion and retail. Its opening chords read like a great romance: Carol Rodan and Chris Griffith meet as students at the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia (she a pupil of sculpture, he taking up photography) and together become dedicated to a rarefied, wearable style despite tenures at retail giants (she Abercrombie & Fitch, Urban Outfitters, and Ralph Lauren, he Urban Outfitters and Mossimo for Target). They even weathered a "Soprano-ish" landlord and spectacular in-store events during their freshman effort, a boutique in Philadelphia.
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Even their Los Angeles store's construction was a communal effort, as Ian Staffer (a friend and fellow Tyler School alum) helped create its interior—a rich, clean study in rosewood cabinetry and cream walls. A futuristic-industrial light fixture and the presence of the word "SAVE" spelled out in funereal carnations on the back wall points to the studied, near philosophical inspiration behind their collection.
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Indeed, the store itself is a breed apart from some 3rd Street stores that seem stiff or overcrowded with options. Griffith himself admitted the clothes are intentionally a bit "anti-California" in their pared-down, washed-out simplicity, all European cut shirts, acid-washed jeans, and hand-braided dresses. In one corner sits a sheer racer-back tank and a cotton tunic, in another dwells a French-cut linen jacket and crisp button-down shirt. The store seems more an homage to the kind of California Rodan and Griffith fantasized about while living across the country—a rarefied, airy, tailored breed of sunny weather-wear. Its seams, however, are authentic California: Rodan vs. Griffith is entirely manufactured locally. "L.A. is overcooked or excessive in many ways," Griffith said. "We wanted to bring Rodeo Drive down to 3rd Street, but with a minimalist, relaxed aesthetic."
Rodan vs. Griffith, 8207 W. 3rd St. (between La Jolla and Sweetzer streets), Los Angeles; 323-951-9220; www.rodanvsgriffith.com.
A cult of personalities brings airy, minimalist chic to L.A.'s 3rd Street.
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