Local cashmere concern and 2012 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund-winning the Elder Statesman label has made its first foray into stand-alone retail with the opening of rustic luxe boutique in West Hollywood just off Melrose Avenue on Nov. 22.
Located in a converted Huntley Drive bungalow, the store consists of 1,600 square feet of open and airy interior retail space framed by blond wood floors, white walls, exposed ceiling beams and round skylights. That is balanced by an additional 1,600 square feet of outdoor space that includes a stone patio, shiny copper drainpipes and roof flashing and a mini-desert's worth of cactuses. A series of wall-size center-pivot doors angle open in between.
The shelves and hanging racks that display Greg Chait's super-luxe sweaters, blankets, beanies and accessories are simple and spare and give the interior of the space an almost gallery-like feel.
While the "retail as art" vibe is wholly appropriate when the wares being showcased include $500 teddy bears and $5,995 blankets, in our opinion the wide-open feel is a tiny bit of a disconnect from the brand's comfort-meets-cocooning aesthetic.
But it's the exterior of the store -- and the way the indoor area leads effortlessly to the outdoors -- that helps make the space feel as uniquely Southern Californian as the Elder Statesman's striped cashmere Baja hoodies and handcrafted buffalo horn sunglass frames. (It didn't hurt that Chait tapped West Hollywood-based Commune Design for the project -- the same SoCal-centric firm that collaborated on the recently completed Ace Hotel project downtown.)
The front entrance is bordered on one side by a raised cactus garden. In it stands a signpost bearing the Elder Statesman name in a single line of pink, nostlagia-inducing neon. At the sides and back, unfinished horizontal boards meet vertical rows of reclaimed railroad ties to form a sprawling patio space.
Just west of the store and dominating the skyline like a cruise ship closing in on a dinghy, looms the Pacific Design Center's Blue Building. At first glance the proximity feels slightly off-putting, but the gleaming blue cube quickly morphs into something that feels more sculptural and almost spiritual.
That view is really what sold me on this place," Chait said at Saturday night's opening party as he gestured to the Pacific Design Center's eastern facade. "It's really magical. The sunsets this summer are going to really be beautiful."
The Elder Statesman, 607 Huntley Drive, West Hollywood, open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.