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Mary-Kate, Ashley Olsen’s Elizabeth and James label opens its first store at the Grove

Ashley, left, and Mary-Kate Olsen, founders of the Elizabeth and James contemporary label, are shown at the brand's new flagship store at the Grove shopping center.
(Elizabeth and James)

Elizabeth and James, the women’s contemporary lifestyle label founded by Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen in 2007, has picked the Grove shopping center in Los Angeles as the home of its first brick-and-mortar boutique, which officially opened its doors on July 22.

The 1,200-square-foot flagship, located next to Crate & Barrel (in the space formerly occupied by Johnny Was), showcases the brand’s ready-to-wear accessories and fragrance collections against a minimalist backdrop of white-painted brick walls and light-colored wood fixtures, a retail environment created by Montalba Architects, the same Santa Monica-based firm that helped team Olsen create the look and feel of the Row’s first retail space, which opened on Melrose Place in 2014 (the Row is the sister’s more upscale designer label, which debuted in 2006) and, more recently, the Raquel Allegra boutique on Third Street.

In addition to the label’s range of laid-back Cali-girl-appropriate sleeveless dresses, ruffled tops and twill trousers -- already stocked locally at boutiques like Ron Herman and American Rag and department stores such as Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue – the new store offers a handful of exclusive pieces that can’t be bought anywhere else including key chains, cashmere scarves and a crocodile-embossed leather tote (the Eloise, $495).

But that’s not all that makes the new boutique unique: it also stocks a designer-curated collection of home decor items (twine-wrapped soaps, sage smudge sticks, handmade Japanese paper), books (“Alexander Girard: A Designer’s Universe” and John Witzig’s “A Golden Age: Surfing’s Revolutionary 1960’s and ’70’s,” were among the titles stacked neatly on the center table on opening day) and other items plucked from flea markets or discovered online at Etsy or EBay. There’s also a deep bench of one-off apparel (think Levi’s trucker jackets and an assortment of floral kimonos) sourced from vintage boutique Spanish Moss. (According to a store representative, some 20% to 30% of the store’s ready-to-wear offerings will be an ever-changing selection of vintage pieces.)

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An interior view of the Elizabeth and James L.A. flagship store at the Grove.
An interior view of the Elizabeth and James L.A. flagship store at the Grove.
(Elizabeth and James )

In addition, the label’s new SoCal space plans to capitalize on the Grove’s high level of foot traffic by serving as a pied-a-terre to showcase upcoming product launches like the two new Elizabeth and James fragrances (Nirvana Bourbon and Nirvana Rose), which will retail exclusively at Sephora stores but be previewed on the premises.

Elizabeth and James, 189 Grove Drive, Los Angeles. www.elizabethandjames.us

For more musings on all things fashion and style, follow me @ARTschorn.

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