California Dreaming: Quintessential California Style

March 12, 2012

Riding The Waves: Beach House Architecture

Beneath Venice Beach

Los Angeles style can no longer be stereotyped as derivative and celebrity-driven.  Interior designers inspired by the 350 warm, sunny days a year, curate their West Coast stores with collections that reflect easy chic and laid-back sophistication. California fashion has evolved as well, and the most treasured items are those that transition easily from a day at the beach to a night on the town.

California style is “a mix of modern and traditional,” says Asher Richter, California native and owner of Weego Home in Santa Monica. “No matter the season, with the weather here I always have colors in the store inspired by the beach and our natural surroundings…blue, greens and neutrals; furniture pieces that can live both indoor and outdoor.” Exemplifying this credo is the Acapulco hammock chair  – equal parts mid- century modern and California comfy.  The chair comes in a dizzying array of vibrant colors.

Weego Acapulco Chair, $450

Shabby Chic, who?  The organic lifestyle and vintage casual feeling seeps into the home with Pom Pom in Santa Monica.  Made out of 100% organic linen from Belgium, Pom Pom linens are available for your bed and your table. Owner and designer, Hilde Leiaghat, says, “The California lifestyle is about being organic, relaxed and comfortable; yet at the same time always elegant.” Organic fibers are not only very important to her customers, most request reclaimed wood or vintage tables in their homes as opposed to new.

Pom Bed and Linens by Pom Pom, $105 - $495

100% Organic Belgian Table Top Linens by Pom Pom, from $90- $290

If you tend to opt for a more active California approach with true vintage appeal, Obsolete’s 1940’s European Cruising Bicycle, all with original parts is the one for you.  In this Venice outpost, fine art and one-of-a-kind antiques are carefully curated by owner Ray Azoulay. Beach cruising has never been so stylish.

Circa 1940 European Cruising Bike, $1200.00 at Obsolete

Traveling on the well- worn path in Southern California has never looked better for men. The Viajero Leather Weekender with hand-stitching and custom brass hardware by Kendall Conrad has that bespoke feel.   According to fifth generation Californian Conrad, “California style is easy yet tasteful.”

Viajero Weekender by Kendal Conrad, $1200.00

Layering refined delicate baubles with yellow and rose gold accents like those from Mannin have become a timeless LA tradition.  Suzanne Donagan,  says, “I am influenced by my surroundings…there is nothing better than living and working in a charming 1940’s beach bungalow minutes away from the golden light of the ocean.” Jaimie Geller, who carries the line at her namesake store in the Pacific Palisades adds, “My clients love designers with collections that can be casually layered but yet remain timeless and elegant.” It’s no wonder celebrity fans like Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Lopez flock to her shop.

Fine Jewelry by Mannin, starting at $330 at Jaimie Gellar.

A story about California designers is certainly not complete without including James Perse, founding father of the easy, modish style for which Los Angeles has lately become known.  He continues that tradition this season with subtle and supple updated tie-dye tees, long sandal-grazing hemlines, cool blue striped jersey pants and open stitched lace sweaters. Even East Coast habitués have taken up Perse as their own.

Stripy Pant in Super Comfy Tencel Mini Jersey by James Perse, $225.00

Mini Jersey V- Neck Tie Dye T in Black by James Perse, $75

Echoing the James Perse non-fussy style, designer Staci Woo mixes “stripes with prints, vintage with new, designer pieces with bargains.” This unique recipe results in effortless seaside cool that looks just as fabulous with Louboutins or flip-flops. Her ditto pom dress, with playful crocheted pom detail, will have you packing your bag for the beach. It’s a must-have to pair with a floppy hat and flip- flops.

Cotton Crochet Collar and Cotton Poplin trimmed with crochet by Woo, $145

Always sourcing lines with one-of-a-kind flair, Nilou Ghodsi owner of Heist on Abbot Kinney in Venice, lines her racks with pieces from designers like Isabel Marant, one of Nilou’s personal faves. “My store is a bigger version of my own closet… everything I buy for the store is what I want and do wear,” she says.   One of the season’s hottest trends, floral inspired patterns in silhouettes and bright colors beg for long lunches with friends while basking in the warm sun. Pair it with the Splendid canvas wedge and it is an instant nod to easy, breezy California bohemian style.

Cotton and Silk Floral Everyday Dress by Isabel Marant, $535.00 at Heist.

Lily woven wedge by Splendid, $119

Worn-in but certainly not worn-out styles create an eclectic mix that is at once comfortable and sophisticated.  Heirloom quality baubles, hand stitched leather, bright pops of color, soft organic linens, not-so-70’s tie-dye and beautifully laundered cotton all speak to the style that is the California coast. In fact, Southern California, with its own rich designer landscape icons, could become the next stop after the shows in Paris and New York.

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