On Location: Los Angeles

LA_opener by Remy Pearce and Jonathan Forgang
The City of Angels has long been overwhelmed by its reputation for traffic, smog, and Paris Hiltons. Unbeknownst to New Yorkers, however, Los Angeles has maintained a thriving community of artists and entrepreneurs whose avant-garde style combines the elegance of Hollywood's golden era with a smart, modern aesthetic. Consider also the geographical elements—beaches, mountains, gorgeous great weather—and Los Angeles isn't looking too shabby.
Though the city itself spans far and wide (across five counties), this edition of "On Location" spotlights the West Hollywood and Miracle Mile neighborhoods, ground zero of the city's current fashion renaissance. This is the antithesis of Rodeo Drive, centrally located and teeming with inviting, intimate shops and restaurants but without any of the pretense or expansive superstores of Beverly Hills.
Here is a roundup of our favorite shops:
Des Kohan, 671 Cloverdale Avenue (Miracle Mile), 323-857-0200, www.deskohan.com
Owner Desiree Kohan, who traveled the world as a trend forecaster for Marc Jacobs, Miu Miu, and Gucci before setting up shop in Los Angeles, has a deep respect for the clothing she hand-picks, displaying the pieces in a Modernist interior adorned with organic accents like fossils, coral, and limestone. Since opening last spring, Des Kohan has established itself as an L.A. epicenter of sorts for directional fashion. Inside you'll discover her signature line of knit tops, dresses, and skirts which combine unique design work with luxurious fabrics. In addition to the Des Kohan line, the store carries Viktor & Rolf, Hussein Chalayan, Martine Sitbon, and Giulia Persanti (a former designer at Miu Miu and Costume National). You can also find exclusive pieces created just for Des Kohan by local stars Pegah Anvarian and Ella Moss, as well as Milan-based designer Alberto Incanuti.
LA%28kendo%29Kendo , 7218 Melrose Avenue (Hollywood), 323-934-9450 , www.kendo-la.com
Old friends Vladimir and Arsen opened Kendo back in 2003 when these two sneaker-obsessed entrepreneurs came up with a brilliant concept: A sneaker emporium for women. This was no mere ploy to meet girls, as a lot of their customers are men who have trouble finding smaller sizes. The shop (located on the recently flourishing Melrose Avenue) is inspired by the turn-of-the-century brownstones Vlad admired growing up as a kid in Washington Heights, New York. The regal décor includes dark brown wood floors and moldings and an ornate chess table ready to be played. But the real eye-catchers are the shoes: Kendo has a unique and broad assortment of women's trainers, including Nikes in every shade and style imaginable, Y3 Adidas, Pumas (both the Nuala and 96 Hours lines), Marc Jacobs for Vans, and plenty of limited-editions, and store exclusives.
Creatures of Comfort, 7971 Melrose Avenue, 323-655-7855, www.creaturesofcomfort.us
Shop owner Jade Lai grew up in both Hong Kong and Los Angeles, which explains her worldly, somewhat eclectic sense of style. She employed all her talents when she opened this sweet boutique by designing the interior and graphics as well as selecting an impressive roster of lesser-known, up-and-coming designers. The sparse but vibrantly colored space is home to must-have pieces by Eley Kishimoto, United Bamboo, Mary Ping, Imitation of Christ, Vena Cava, and Michelle Lowe-Holder (COC is the only store in the U.S. that carries this London-based designer). Be sure to check out Lai's selection of shoes and jewelry, including L.A.-based jewelry designer Madley.
Satine, 8117 West Third Street (Hollywood), 323-655-2142, www.satineboutique.com
Specializing in wearable, beautiful garments that seem to embody California cool, Satine has perfected the idea of contrast. The shop stocks Balenciaga and Roland Mouret alongside Stella McCartney swimsuits (we were surprised how few boutiques carry swimwear in L.A.), plus urban-chic khaki Chloe shorts mixed in with So-Cal-friendly Marc by Marc Jacobs green moccasins. You'll find finishing touches as well, including, one of our personal faves, Tom Binns earrings.
Scout, 7920 West Third Street (Hollywood), 323-658-8684, www.scoutla.com
Pooling together their backgrounds as art curator and vintage clothing collector, Greg Armas and Joseph Grana opened this shop devoted to the fashion forward, including pioneering designers such as Jessica Ogden, Jeremy Scott, local designer Grey Ant, and, for men, ACNE Jeans and Henrik Vibskov, among others. The store also carries exclusive shoes and bags and tons of exquisite jewelry by the likes of Alex & Chloe and Vivienne Westwood. Many of the international designers found in the front of the store, such as Nom*D are available in the U.S. exclusively at Scout; the back of the shop is home to Scout's exceptional vintage collection located inside a tiny room that's equal parts walk-in closet and prized personal library.
South Willard, 8038 West 3rd Street (Hollywood), 323-653-6153, www.southwillard.com
This boutique, which opened in May 2004, is stocked with beautiful, often exclusive collections from A.P.C, Rachel Comey, Band of Outsiders, Bruno Pieters, and Veronique Branquino. Opened by stylist Danielle Kays and her boyfriend Ryan Conder, South Willard specializes in sophisticated American and international designers whose collections are otherwise impossible to find in L.A. proper. The petite space is named after the street in Vermont where Kays grew up and contains a great selection of art books alongside the couple's sleek men's and women's wear.
Farmer's Market, 6333 West 3rd Street (at La Cienega Boulevard), 323-933-9211, www.farmersmarketla.com
The beloved L.A. Farmer's Market is one-stop shopping for some of the best quick and inexpensive culinary options in this sprawling city. Choosing from so many offerings can be challenging but among the favorites are The French Crepe Company—delicious, beautifully prepared French-style crepes—and, arguably the city's best pizza (since 1949) from Patsy D'Amores. There's also Loteria!, a standout Mexican lunch counter in a city known for its authentic south of the border fare.
Doughboys, 8136 West 3rd Street, 323-651-4202
West Hollywood is rife with hot star-spotting lunch spots—Urth Café, Joan's on Third—but for something a bit less paparazzi'esque, try this irresistible bakery and restaurant; they've mastered simple, scrumptious sandwiches, soups, and salads that seems to exist outside the Hollywood circus.
M Café de Chaya, 7119 Melrose Avenue, 323-525-0588
If you really want to live like a proper Angeleno, try this macrobiotic cafe at the intersection of Melrose and La Brea. Gwyneth Paltrow's former personal chef created the menu, and our favorites are the lentil salad and sesame noodles.
Dominick's, 8715 Beverly Boulevard, 310-652-2335
This sexy old-Hollywood restaurant and bar originally opened in 1948, and was recently restored back to its Rat Pack-era roots. Snag a seat in the stunning garden patio among 30-year old olive trees, and tuck into a plate of their spaghetti and meatballs, which immediately renewed our faith in this satisfying standby.
El Carmen, 8138 West Third Street, 323-852-1552
Here is a bar that's all heart and kitsch with Mexican wrestler masks adorning the walls, rainbow-colored Christmas lights, and over 300 varieties of tequila; if you have a taste for sangria, their house concoction is among the most flavorful and fruity you can find locally.
In the first of three installments, Refinery29 goes On Location in Los Angeles and discovers a thriving fashion scene in West Hollywood and Miracle Mile.

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