Tuesday, 14 August 2012
The Big USA Comedown, pt1 Los Angeles!
OK, hello long lost '99ers.
I have two weak excuses as to why I have been so inactive on the blog front.
I was, till not too recently, away to the USA, and if you follow me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook you would have seen (still, no excuse right..).
This morning, while still in a mindset that had me day dreaming my way back to the hot sun of California, the hustle and bustle of New York and the overall madness of Las Vegas, I realised that to get 'over' America, I needed to get it all off my chest for you to read and be able to somewhat share in my trip, and then I could return back to life in Melbourne (the world's most livable city it seems!)!
And so Voila! Pictures included, here is an almost step by step revision of my time away, to be written in 5 separate posts as to not overwhelm too much!
Friday the 15th of June was a truly busy day. I had a morning appointment, an afternoon appointment, and one in the evening. Still needing to prepare outfits, fold and pack, there was not one minute of rest. That's not to say I didn't love every moment; some great things arrived, some great things left, champagne was drunk, cake was eaten, dressups were played! And in the meantime, should this jacket come?, no, too hot. What about this one? And this shirt? Shorts, I don't have shorts! Aha, here's an old pair of linen ones hiding in the back of the wardrobe! You all know the drill, the excitement, the rush, the ups and downs of packing!
Of course being super organised, and wanting to sleep till 5:30 instead of 5 :s, I tried to check in online, but the ever faithful QANTAS website was down, and in the morning I could still not check in early. Oh well, off to Tullamarine with my lovely parentals in tow.
We in the Ron family have a tradition of eating Hungry Jacks/Burger King every time we are at the airport, not sure why it started, not sure why it still keeps going, but it has become I guess almost a superstition that if we don't do it, something won't be right.
Breakfast down the hatch, suitcase into the belly of the plane, I took my seat, perfect, right in front, 'Premium Economy' I guess they call it these days, though at no extra cost which was nice ;), with loads and loads of leg room, hooray!
After watching almost every episode of Modern Family throughout the flight, maybe a couple of hours of that awkward aeroplane 'sleep', 2 not too bad meals and 15 hours later we touched down at 6:30am at LAX, three hours earlier than we had left, hmm, go international time zones (of course I'd lose a day on the way back, but who cares, back in time is so much more exciting than forward haha)!
Now some of you may have known, in preparation for the trip, I decided to have my hair cut at one of LAs top salons, and after much research I settled on Sally Hershberger, she who does Meg Ryan, amongst others of course. I booked a cut with Chris Rios, Janet Jackson's main cutter, at 9:45am, leaving what I thought was ample time to make it from the airport to my hotel, The Palihotel, on Melrose and Fairfax, the! location I wanted to be at.
Well, to cut the suspense, I did make it on time, just, due to the never ending stretches of road that make up LA, and that the shuttle service (yes, yellow and blue striped minibus) had not heard of the hotel, it having just opened three months earlier. Dropping people off all over the place; backpackers, other mid-priced hotels, Hollywood Boulevard, until finally I was the only one left. At 9:15 we arrived at the newly lacquered wooden building, literally on the cusp of fabulous, and not so fabulous Melrose Avenue.
The inside, gorgeous shabby chic; old wooden tennis racquets on the wall, funny little dolls, typical Parisian posters, lots of damask upholstery, at once familiar but a bit aloof, just the way I like it. (They don't like photos inside the hotel, so I respected this..)
Quickly dumping my bags inside the luggage cupboard, literally, I started my brisk walk down Melrose Ave, deeper into West Hollywood. Wow, Agent Provocateur, Resurrection Vintage, further along Decades (OMG), then as I made the turn along Melrose, there was Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen, Monique L'huillier, big elegant boutiques, fabulous!
At 9:40, in the nick of time, I got into the lift of the inconspicuous building that houses Sally Hershberger's LA salon. Bright, open and spacious, and with some truly expensive magazines (we are talking Purple and Self Service here), the fabulous people of Los Angeles crowd here on a Saturday morning. I asked for a coffee, and a giant mug full of badly frothed milk arrived, but hey, it is American coffee right?
Lucky me, Ms Rios was running a little late, which was good, I had some time to simmer down after my power walk. Shampoo later, and there I was in the chair, talking about Paris '99, my aim to network with who's who of American society to plunder their wardrobes (you know what I'm talking about...), and listening to her tales of brushing shoulders with the rich and the famous. What a start to the trip!
Feeling all fabulously haircutted, I left the salon and continued along Melrose until I hit my destination, Urth Caffe, the place to be if you are a West Hollywood scenester after freshly prepared, organic, environmentally friendly food, where the servings, compared to the rest of America, are reasonably small. Well, my medium latte was about the size of 4 coffees in Melbourne, but you know what, it was pretty alright. My panini was yummy, and would fill me up for the rest of the day for sure, read, it was huge!
Unfortunately I didn't spot Vincent Chase, or Turtle, or Drama, or even E, but then again, it wasn't TV haha :S.
My tiredness was starting to catch up with me, but as it was still too early to actually check into my room I kept walking, and walking in LA as you may have heard, is not the best mode of transportation. Things are far away from each other, with stretches of not much in between. And everything is hidden away. It's not a city that opens itself up, you need to know where to go. But I had done well so far, so why turn back? :)
My next stumbling was Maxfield. The legendary LA designer emporium, like Colette, but a bit more edgy dare I say. I tried on, for fun, duh, a $15,000 Isaac Sellam brown croc skin jacket. It was divine. (but not as divine as the next one I would see...;)).
Then a stripy blue thing caught my eye. A Junya Watanabe cotton jacket, with contrast striped undercollar, and not to mention the incredibly constructed interior, a patch work of blues and white, with covered shoulder pads resembling some kind of 1960s-esque space uniform. And at 70% off I kind of had to have it! So my fatigue told me. Add the tax, lets just say I was a lot more sobered once the card was swiped, but the deed was done. Now ladies and gents, dont worry, it worked out well, I wore the jacket 6 times during the rest of my trip, and since my return have worn it a further 10 times, I love it, and cost per wear is right down haha! Photos taken back in Melbourne, hope you like as much as I do!
After about a 45 minute walk back from Santa Monica Blvd I made it back to the hotel where my room was ready and waiting, and a small schloof ensued, schloof for non Yiddish speakers (and I'm not fluent don't worry) is a nap, well deserved might I add!
The rest of the evening went as follows;
A visit to Decades, meeting the darling Cameron Silver, the king of Vintage Couture, and actually a whole store full of modern designer pieces too, amazing things. He was kind enough to point out further places of interest; fashion, food, places to be. He would be off the next day to set up and exhibition he had curated in Savannah, how exotic!
The discovery of my favourite place to eat in LA, Froma. As luck would have it, Froma is right next door to Palihotel, and is a cafe-cum-deli-cum-bottle-shop-cum-sandwich bar-cum-everything! Owned by the lovely Francine who has an incredibly mixed up accent, I had the chicken, the pork, pizza, cheese, dessert, and fabulous wine throughout my stay, and everything is made fresh in front of your eyes right behind the counter by Dan, who looks ravishing in his khaki green cooking jacket!
So yes, you are pretty much getting every detail of my trip, and though its a great release for me, I hope you are still reading at this point!
I will try to be more succinct in what I write, I realise time is precious.
Next morning would be a very long and incredible day indeed. I started early, with a coffee from Ruth, an Irish girl with the wildest, reddest hair, much like the character from Disney's 'Brave', which had just premiered. Ironically Ruth told me she was the voice double for Kelly McDonald, everyone has a story in this town haha, but hers I could believe, and she also made a mean coffee, having lived in Australia for a while and barrista'ed here. I thought I'd try the 'slightly less so' side of Melrose, and luckily, as there was a Sunday Market on the grounds of Fairfax High School just a couple of minutes walk away.
You know how much I love a good market, and this one was big, think Camberwell, and times it by 2, or so. Anyway, big. I'm walking past stalls, lots of stuff, lots of stuff, up some stairs, lots of things, some clothes, but cheap and yucky mostly, more things, and then BAM!
Right in front, maybe 20 metres away, a covered stall, with what looked like a zoo hanging off it. Croc skin here, ostrich there, ponyskin, ooo I thought. Exotics are fun...
I came up close and lifted a creme croc skin bag off its hook. I looked inside and had the feeling that the gentleman at the stall had hunted, skinned, tanned and sewed, or hacked together rather, the bag all by himself. Lets just say customs would not have been approving, it was all a little bit raw, but totally intriguing nonetheless.
Hunting inside his tent, I spied a rack of furs, ran my hand against two, rabbit, rabbit, and then ooo mink. Pulled it out, omg its long, and sleeveless but not curved, there are little 'wings' on the shoulders, full length strips of mink, the darkest sable colour with hidden velvet lined pockets. It looks a liiiiitle small, but it might fit, I don't have to close it, whatever....
I scanned for a mirror. He pointed. I put it on, I had to have it. Done and dusted. How much? $600. Sheeeet... :S I look disinterested. It's summer! Inside I still have to have it.
How much is this bag? I was looking for a bag anyway, when I realised my Jean Paul Gaultier mock croc was not practical at all and was starting to fall apart. $90, hmmm.
I offered a price, crazy price. He laughed. I stroke the mink. It's female he says. I want to see it in the sun. It glistens like you've never seen. He says in winter he gets $900. Again, it's summer, its going to be 30 (90something in their language...). I raise it by $50, cash of course.
I'm obsessed. So obsessed I cart it around with me for the next month and look at it lovingly every day. I would die if I wore it at this point, literally melt.
See if you like ;)
Now I want to go to Rodeo Drive, shops are open on Sunday. It's also Father's Day, maybe there are interesting things happening. It takes 2 hours to walk from Melrose (I dropped the coat back to the hotel room, no need for either of us to suffer anymore in the heat haha) to Rodeo Drive, but I manage it, two bottles of water downed and lost again in sweat, but as I look in the mirror of my first ever Badgley Mischka store, the flagship mind you, I look not too bad. Happy snaps in front of the Beverly Hills sign, I am a tourist after all!
To celebrate Father's day the street is closed and there are 'Hollywood' cars out on display. Thelma and Louise, Batmobiles, James Dean and many more. Honestly knowing me, I'm more excited visiting my first ever Tom Ford boutique (stunning!) and when I get my first ever Barbara Bui and Badgley lookbooks, (hooray!)
Up and back down Rodeo, I find myself inside Louis Vuitton, and being somewhat adventurous and infinitely lucky when it comes to these things, end up on the 5th floor balcony at some VIP bash with Moet flowing freely and yummy waiters serving yummy finger food! This photo of Rodeo (mind my thumb, oops!) from the balcony proves I was there, I swear!
After that I stupidly walked back, via Robertson, and saw a cool looking place, lots of foliage, raised terrace, interesting looking people. Turns out it was The Ivy, a legendary West Hollywood joint famous for their burger. It was ok, a little bit tired, and the service, shocking. I didn't tip. (At that point I didn't actually realise that servicepeeps in America literally make no money apart from tips, it hadn't clicked yet. Later it did click, but then someone told me that people can make 6 figure salaries from tips, all in cash. I didn't feel sooooo sorry anymore.
Santa Monica, Jewish deli, live rock, and of course fashion fashion fashion made up the rest of my first stint in L.A. Tomorrow will be all about San Francisco! Hope you enjoyed, and sorry for the ever changing style of writing, it was all a bit frantic and hectic, so I guess it works to read it like that too!
Take care, stay warm, I'm wearing my mink right now ;)