A dingy strip mall next to a McDonald's and an industrial park isn't the first place you'd think of as a prime shoe-shopping destination. But Chinese Laundry could change that.
The 28-year-old Southern California-based brand of trendy, moderately priced footwear has called a desolate Los Angeles shopping center home for 13 years. The space is a far cry from the glossy department stores that typically carry the brand's runway-inspired thigh-high boots, simple stilettos and colorful pumps. But a surprising array of finds is tucked amid the towering stacks of shoe boxes scattered about the selling floor under harsh fluorescent lights.
A clearance section features vintage pairs plucked right from the brand's warehouse, including brown chunky work boots from the '80s ($29.99), two-tone leather and khaki Western boots from the same era ($39.99) and black-and-silver studded heels ($39.99) that channel Gucci's much pricier foot candy for fall. Additional goodies include unworn, randomly sized styles by the likes of Giuseppe Zanotti, Manolo Blahnik and DKNY -- pairs that once served as "inspiration" for Chinese Laundry's right-off-the-runway looks. They're now deeply discounted, most less than $200 a pop.
Of course, current season goods are here too, most notably $99 patent leather equestrian boots that are a dead ringer for YSL's $640 version.
Further proof that you shouldn't judge a shoe by its box.
3485 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 838-2103. Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. www.chineselaundry.com.
DaftBird Saturday: The L.A.-based line of basics is anything but -- think simple, perfectly broken-in shirts you might steal from your man's closet when he isn't looking. Now that pieces from spring, summer and fall 2007 start at just $5, thievery can be a thing of the past. Find cotton tank tops, tees, dresses, scarves and long-sleeve shirts, regularly $50 to $80, now $5 to $25. Cash and credit cards are accepted, but fitting rooms are nil, so leave the boyfriend at home. 112 W. 9th St., Suite 710, Los Angeles. (213) 629-3238. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. www.daftbird.com
Onesipkim: After working a corporate job for nine years, Kim Madolora threw in the towel and opened her own boutique. Favorite SoCal designers such as Rachel Pally, Trovata, Development and Jenny Han are in Madolora's mix. But the real draw here is a selection of styles by emerging labels with Asian roots. Standouts include cropped, eco-fabric tuxedo blazers by Filipino designer Raissa Gerona's Brigid Catiis label ($275), a white button-down blouse with heart cuff links by Thai clothier Nuj Novakhett ($264) and a vibrantly colored, bird-patterned silk dress from Kim Phan's Yumi Kim line ($154). And if Chan Luu scarves and Andrea Brueckner bags aren't evidence enough of the fun to be had here, there's the store's name to consider. It comes from Madolora's inability to hold her liquor in college -- apparently one sip was all she could handle. 110 W. Green St., Pasadena. (626) 396-4926. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. www.onesipkim.com.
FOR THE RECORD: The following item misstates Loehmann's sale. If you donate $5 you will get 15% off your purchase price, not $15 off your purchase price.
Loehmann's Shop-a-thon Thursday: Help the off-price behemoth promote ovarian cancer awareness while scoring designer duds for even less than normal. Donate $5 at the register of any Loehmann's location nationwide and instantly receive $15 off your purchase price. Your entire donation goes to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, which aims to find an early detection method, and a cure, for the disease. 333 La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 659-0674. 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. 851 N. San Fernando Blvd., Burbank. (818) 842-0061. 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. www.loehmanns.com.
MAC Gold Fever launch Saturday: The cosmetics company known for turning heads is launching Gold Fever, its latest collection of gilded metallic makeup. Metallic is not the easiest look to master, but at the MAC counter at Nordstrom, 40 brand makeup artists will teach the tricks of Gold Fever's shimmery copper colors. At 7 p.m., stick around for a performance by New York DJ duo Andrew Andrew, a mysterious pair who dress exactly alike down to their nerd glasses. Nordstrom, 189 The Grove Drive, Los Angeles. (323) 930-2230. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. www.maccosmetics.com.