3.1 Phillip Lim, West Hollywood

The charmed designer heads home to open his first L.A. boutique. By Christene Barberich
Some designers just have that midas touch. Well, not really some designers, more specifically, Phillip Lim. We won't go into all the bushels of good fortune (awards…collaborations…critical praise). But if you're a fan of Lim's sublimely wearable creations, you know he deserves every bit of it. Unlike a lot of contemporary designers, Lim seems to really understand the complexities of the young, modern women, crafting beautiful things that are just the right measure of sharply confident and delicately sexy.
And, yes, the Lim legend continues to grow with his latest addition, a sprawling new boutique in the designer's native Los Angeles. The luminous, amoeba-shaped space—gorgeously overhauled from a former auto-body shop—marks Lim's second store in the U.S. (his third in the world), and he tells us this new 5,000 square-foot baby, which officially opens tomorrow, feels like a sort of homecoming. "L.A. was always in the bigger picture," he says. "It's where I'm from, so I had to represent the West Coast!" Here, Lim tells us more about his expansion westward and why going with the idea of "totally maybe" always works.
philliplimportrait0608When did you start planning the Los Angeles outpost?
"Los Angeles was [part of the plan] from the beginning. As far as a physical search, we started to poke around last August, thinking it would be a good exercise in looking at options for when we were ready in the future. And as with everything we've done, it just happened. We stumbled upon our present location and had to just dive right in heart first!"
Why Los Angeles? And specifically, why West Hollywood?
"It's where I hail from! I had to represent the West Coast! To me L.A. is like the new frontier—a sorta gold rush if you will. And the mixture of locals and the newly transplanted are creating this interesting future for the city. The decision to be on Robertson was really determined by the particular space that we fell in love with…it was calling to us."
All three of your boutiques are very unique in terms of design and layout. What were you envisioning for this space?
"A place where imagination, traditions, and boundaries are pushed forward. It's a space where we always say 'totally maybe.'"
Why are all your stores so aesthetically different? Does the geography influence you?
"The ideas of each store are about the context—the locale. Each experience is so completely different from the next. The culture in Tokyo is nothing like L.A., the desires, habits of people, etc. In NYC, there are four seasons, whereas in L.A. it's always beautiful. In the end, it's impossible and artificial to control and dictate. Instead, I like the idea of letting go and learning from all these different experiences."
What details of the store are you most pleased with?
"That's difficult, like having to choose your favorite child. However, if pushed to choose, it would be the use of acoustic foam pyramids that line the interior walls—the texture and balance between hard and soft is genius!"
I'm sure you'll have no shortage of guests at the opening, but who do you really hope makes an appearance?
"At this moment, it's not about wishing. It's about celebrating the present. So, everyone who is coming, they are the ones I wish for! And, if I may take a moment to say thank you…'thank you!'"
3.1 Phillip Lim Los Angeles, 631 North Robertson Boulevard. For more information, go to www.31philliplim.com.
The charmed designer breaks ground on his third full-scale boutique.

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