L.A. is a town that is all about the mix—high and low, new and old, understated and over-the-top all collide to create our city’s one-of-a-kind style. So, it would make perfect sense that our most stylish shop-owner, Des Kohan, would have a natural ability to blend cutting-edge design with old-world flare. Though Des is a clothing curator whose shop off of L.A.'s Miracle Mile is filled with high-end designers like Juan Carlos Obando, Mark Fast, and Azzedine Alaïa, she’s also a vintage-lover with a knack for turning her thrifty finds into beautiful pieces of furniture for her A-list boutique. To see how this entrepreneur-ess gets inspired by our fair city and channels Cali-cool into her insanely enviable wardrobe, we let Des play guide to her favorite and most inspiring local haunts—and take a style lesson or two from her outfits, too!
Photos by Michael Flores
What is your golden rule for dressing well?
Feel good in what you’re wearing because confidence is what makes an outfit great.
Outfit details: Rick Owens pleat drape pants, Helmut Lang T-shirt, a metal and coral necklace found in an Istanbul bazaar, and Dries van Noten shoes.
Where do you score your amazing vintage?
While I’m close with many of the contemporary L.A.-based designers we feature at the store, I also love to scour Hidden Treasures in Topanga Canyon (ask to see the gowns in the back room!), The Rose Bowl Flea Market, and Long Beach Antique Market for great vintage pieces, and furniture for the store. I found this set of vintage luggage from the ‘50s and ended up restoring them. They now live in one of our dressing rooms!
Azzedine Alaïa leather heels, Zuni Indian Turquoise cuff, silver and coral necklace from Istanbul.
Who are the most exciting L.A.-based designers you love and sell?
There is so much design talent in L.A., and I love being able to work closely with local designers and customize pieces for my clients. Juan Carlos Obando and Annie Costello Brown do a capsule collection for the store, and I also love Azature and The Bare. Almost all of the designers I carry are great friends, so it’s a real pleasure to work so closely with them on special projects.
Left, outfit details: Juan Carlos Obando for Des Kohan black vest, Sophia Kokosalaki for Des Kohan mauve hand-pleated skirt, Kendal Conrad cuff, and Azzedine Alaïa cranberry heels. Right, outfit details: wears a vintage dress, Annie Costello Brown for Des Kohan belt, and Azzedine Alaïa heels.
What do you love about this LACMA installation?
It’s amazing that this Chris Burden Urban Light installation is on the street. I love art that you don't have to pay to see. Plus, LACMA is only five blocks away from my store, so I love coming here with clients and eating at the outdoor café.
Outfit details: Comme des Garçons knit stripe dress and blue suede Céline shoes.
Why is this cafe one of your go-to spots?
I love La Brea Bakery because they are so great at what they do. They have the nation's best pastry chef, and it's a neighborhood cafe where everyone really does know your name. It's a perfect walk from the store to grab a quick snack and picnic on the bench outside.
Outfit details: Azzedine Alaïa suede stud belt and white Beatrez dress.
How did you come to start designing your furniture and displays?
I was looking for the perfect coffee table for the store where we can sit around and have tea with clients. I am very inspired by nature and wanted the table to look like a big rock, so I sourced honey and beige-toned onyx from an L.A.-based quarry. I designed the shape and the cut of the edges to give it a very light feel and worked with my metal smith to customize the legs. I also created a shoe display from an Art Deco hanger found at the Long Beach Flea Market, and all of our jewelry displays are vintage dollhouses from the Rose Bowl! L.A. has the resources to create anything you want.
What do you love about your hood?
Everything! I picked this location because I love Miracle Mile—its ornate architecture, and Art Deco style is very inspiring. I wanted the Des Kohan store to be near art galleries and museums, which suite what we are about more than any shopping districts in LA. I also love bringing art into the store—the paintings of horses and hummingbirds on the walls are by a local artist named Neilah Meyers. She actually also works at the store, too!
How would you describe your style?
I asked my friend and L.A.-based designer Juan Carlos Obando how he would describe it and he said, “extremely understated and super-sophisticated with attention to detail. A mix of feminine and Avant-garde."
Outfit details: Vest by Juan Carlos Obando, designed exclusively for the Des Kohan boutique.