For pre-spring 2019, Rachel Comey mines the long-gone glamour of the former Bullocks Wilshire store


For pre-spring 2019, designer Rachel Comey took inspiration from the landmark Art Deco former Bullocks Wilshire department store on the eastern edge of Koreatown, where she presented the runway collection on June 5.

Built in 1929, Bullocks Wilshire was a legendary shopping destination for decades. According to The Times archive, William Randolph Hearst purchased dozens of swimsuits for his Hearst Castle guests there. It was where Marlene Dietrich bought her men’s trousers, and notable salesclerks over the years included Angela Lansbury and the future Pat Nixon.

The registers stopped ringing when the store shuttered in 1993, but thanks to the restoration and preservation efforts of the building’s current owner, Southwestern Law School, the look and feel of the building remains very much the same. It was this opulence of an era gone by — the texture of the carpet, the glittering chandeliers, the architectural embellishments and the like — that Comey referenced in her collection.


That meant a collection filled with bold patterns and embellishments. Color-blocked wool trousers mixed solids with a swirly camouflage print that could also be seen in high-waisted shorts and belted skirts. Embellished tulle overskirts were paired with silky trousers; a zebra jacquard made its way into a sharp-looking fitted jacket; and a flock of ostrich feathers was deployed to make wide-striped skirts and dresses. Fringe was served up both long (in the form of tendrils trailing from belted waists) and short (horizontal rows criss-crossing skirts and dresses).

Although heavy on the black-and-white color palette, the pre-spring collection had some eye-catching color in the mix too, particularly in the shades of purple, which included a dark, inky shade on a fringe-festooned dress, a top and color-blocked trousers in a lavender hue. A grape purple and baby-blue plaid pattern appeared on dresses and trousers.

Celebrity friends and supporters of the brand that turned out to the June 5 show included Alia Shawkat (“Arrested Development”), Aubrey Plaza (“Ingrid Goes West”) and Jason Schwartzman.

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