Real estate developer Rick Caruso welcomed guests into his Brentwood home on Tuesday in anticipation of the September grand opening of Palisades Village, his forthcoming 125,000-square-foot Main Street-style retail property in the Pacific Palisades. Billed as a "welcome dinner" for designer Andrea Lieberman and her contemporary clothing line A.L.C., the night also drew co-hosts and fellow Palisades Village tenants Elyse Walker and Jennifer Meyer as well as a slew of local tastemakers.
"It felt so natural for us to be a part of the project," said Lieberman, who will soon move with her family to the area. "I feel so excited to be surrounded by all these strong women that I've always been in awe of," she added. Lieberman said she wants her new store to "honor the area that we're from" by incorporating "arches and beautiful, classic Southern California, Spanish architecture in a clean and modern way."
Meyer's jewelry boutique will be located next door to A.L.C. in Palisades Village, which is at 1030 Swarthmore Ave. (The new shopping property is scheduled to open Sept. 22). "We're going to be neighbors," said Meyer, who has known Lieberman for 20 years. "It's amazing that I get to open my first store next to her."
The Malibu-born, Brentwood-based jewelry designer admitted, "Opening a brick-and-mortar wasn't something that was in my immediate plans." However, Meyer shared that she couldn't resist once Caruso "showed me how the space was going to look and feel." Meyer said she was one of the first business owners to sign on. "I was like, 'I'm in. I love it. I'm so excited. And I'll figure it out.'"
Meyer said she looks forward to having "a home" where shoppers can "see and feel and touch and experience." In addition to offering classic pieces and limited-edition collections exclusive to the store, Meyer wants her jewelry boutique to be family friendly. "I want you to come in and bring your kids and look at the fancy sparkles," she said.
As a longtime Pacific Palisades business owner, Walker said she's ecstatic about the company she'll soon be keeping. "I've waited a very long time for people to join me in the Palisades. So this is a dream come true," she said. "I have struggled for two decades — trying to bring food, nails, anything [to the area] — because you want to build a community." Walker said the area has certainly seen growth since she opened her first boutique in 1999, but she admitted, "This is a whole other level, a whole other stratosphere. I was lucky enough to walk through the site with a hard hat the other day. It's beautiful."
Walker will open Towne by Elyse Walker, a curated version of her original boutique. "We didn't want to open another store that would compete with our existing store," she said. "This one will be more lifestyle, luxury, and it's going to be coed — men and women. I've never been more excited about a project." Walker also made a point to mention that she'll carry Tina & Gigi Caruso's swimwear line, GiGi C.
In line with the spirit of the evening, guests enjoyed an exotic four-course dinner by James Beard Award-winning chef Renee Erickson, whose custom coffee and doughnut shop General Porpoise will be part of the forthcoming retail property. "I've never cooked for an entire room of women before," the Seattle-based chef told a table of 60 female guests who were seated beneath a poolside tent within the Caruso family estate. Shortly after musician Milck performed her hit "I Can't Keep Quiet," chocolate caramel layer cakes by fellow Palisades Village tenant Laurel Gallucci of Sweet Laurel Bakery were served.
Maria Shriver had to miss dinner, but the former first lady of California made a point of stopping by for cocktail hour. "The Carusos are great friends of mine," said the Westside resident. "And Elyse Walker, who is hosting this, I've tried to help mentor her a little bit in her social nonprofit work. I also wanted to be here because there are so many women who are opening stores in this thing. So I wanted to be a part of coming to help in any way I could. This will be a great addition to our community."
Other guests included Jaime King, Selma Blair, Minka Kelly, Molly Sims, Giada De Laurentiis, Emily Current, Meritt Elliot, Petra Flannery, Elizabeth Stewart and Marissa Hermer. Palisades Village tenants such as the Little Market's Hannah Skvarla, Carbon38's Lisa Kraynak and Botanica Bazaar's Bethany Mayer and Leilani Bishop were also at the dinner.
Over dinner, Caruso was quick to point out that 20 tenants of the new retail project are female entrepreneurs. "That's going to breathe life into this project," said the founder and chief executive officer of Caruso, the developer behind the Grove in Los Angeles.
"We could build something cool that looks great, but it needs a soul. And all of you are going to give us that soul," he told the crowd.
Sims, a resident of the area, said Palisades Village is a much-needed destination. "I love this," she said. "It's bringing entertainment and culture and food and fashion to the Palisades. We need it and we want it."
Sims continued, "I haven't lived west of the 405 in 20 years. I'm two years in and I think it's phenomenal. I love raising my kids here. We go to the YMCA and do soccer and baseball, and my husband's the coach of the tee-ball [team]. I love this community. It's really small, and we all stick together."