She once bristled when anyone put down Los Angeles—but not anymore. “Now,” says fashion designer Rodriguez, “I think it’s better if people don’t get that L.A.’s a truly modern and diverse city. It’s our secret.” Of course, she isn’t exactly helping to keep our cultural profile hush-hush. Her eponymous line has been a favorite of New York fashion editors since 2006, when the “Criss Cross” cocktail dress debuted and quickly became a must-have for Hollywood’s young and restless. Since then, the co-owner of bicoastal vintage mecca Resurrection has been designing collections that often toast a deliciously misspent youth.

Rodriguez garners her local inspiration in various ways, from surf sub­cultures to L.A. fashion brethren. “I love James Galanos and Rudi Gernreich, who were designing here in the ’50s,” she says. Rodriguez’s longtime boyfriend, skate legend Tony Alva, is also constantly turning her on to new neighborhoods and underground scenes. But it’s her ultracool vintage boutique—akin to a high school smokers’ lounge sans the ciggies—that ups the city’s collective fashion IQ. Actresses, stylists and artists drop in to chat passionately about style setters like Ossie Clark or Federico Fellini in a salon-like atmosphere. It serves as her creative laboratory. “You have these tiny girls running around, and I think, How small can I actually make this skirt?” she says with a laugh. “And they love it and wear it.”

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