Elie Tahari, Jonathan Adler go big at Fashion Island

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I set sail for Fashion Island in Newport Beach on Thursday night, for the twin grand-opening celebrations of Elie Tahari’s newest store (which our colleague Emili Vesilind told you about here) and the Jonathan Adler outpost right next door.

Both boutiques were mobbed with well-heeled Orange Coasters (Orange Coastians? Orange Coastites?) -- no doubt a good sign for the two local charities that were each getting 15% of sales at the private cocktail party (Four Pearls of Beckstrand Cancer Foundation and the Orangewood Children’s Foundation).


Clocking in at 2,500 square feet, Tahari’s new space is the designer’s first freestanding boutique in California (and largest outside New York), and showcases the women’s, men’s and accessories collections. Designed in collaboration with Italian architect and interior designer Piero Lissoni, it’s an elegant midcentury space appointed with pieces like an Edward Wormley Dunbar sofa and magazine tables, a Noguchi coffee table and a pair of Hans Wegner cane chairs.

But the neighboring Jonathan Adler space next door felt positively cavernous by comparison. ‘It’s twice as large as our previously biggest store,’ said company President David Frankel of the 4,600-square-foot cavalcade of color and warehouse of whimsy that replaces a 900-square-foot pop-up that once existed elsewhere in the same shopping center.

‘Our plan is to use it to showcase all of the prototypes of new things we want to experiment with,’ Frankel explained, pointing to a turquoise ceramic tile and wood coffee table flanked by gray fabric and Midcentury Modern chairs. ‘[Jonathan’s] been doing a lot more furniture so we can display a lot more of that.’ The result was something you might find if Jonathan Adler gave an Ikea store a makeover -- entire bedroom sets not just with upholstered headboards, dressing room screens, etageres and throw pillows but with their own crown molding, walls and flooring to boot.

The namesake interior designer was in the house too, beseiged by fans hoping to have their assorted vases, books and tchotckes autographed, and when I managed to steal a moment to ask him about it, the man who never seems to be without a genuine smile plastered across his face seemed to grin a little bit wider.

‘I’m really happy with it,’ Adler told me. ‘It gives us a chance to give things a lot more context and to do a lot of the architectural touches like adding marble flooring tiles [in a bedroom set] and that kind of thing.’

It seems like Adler’s got a lot to be smiling about too -- in addition to upcoming remodels of his Miami and Madison Avenue boutiques, he’s getting ready to launch a new home decor line called Happy Chic by Jonathan Adlerthrough HSN, and that makes its on-air debut Oct. 12.


-- Adam Tschorn