Tag Archives: Los Angeles

graham keegan dyes with foraged plants


On assignment for Cloth Paper Scissors magazine in December, I spent a day with LA textile designer Graham Keegan. He uses plants such as bougainvillea and sumac from the streets of his Silver Lake neighborhood to dye accessories and bulk yardage. I got to help him pick Peruvian pepper on Sunset Boulevard, brew the leaves into a dye bath, and block-print a scarf in two shades of olive.

Was I in an artist’s studio or a witch’s lair? It was a little hard to tell at times.

I took all the photos for the article, too, which was a first for me. My story is in the July/August issue, but you can catch a sneak peek below.

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modern ‘hood: cliff may’s rancho estates

Orange and gray modern ranch

If I ever build a house, I’ll drop a stack of Cliff May home photos on my architect’s desk for inspiration. In southern California, May was a pioneer of building characteristics that we think of today as the hallmarks of midcentury modern ranches — clean lines, open floor plans, and an indoor-outdoor feel. So on a recent trip to Los Angeles for Andrea’s work, we spent an afternoon in Long Beach cruising May’s Rancho Estates tract neighborhood, built in 1953-54.

The Rancho homes have opaque facades and high privacy fences that reveal little about their interiors. If you’re nosy curious like I am, you can mine real estate sites such as Rancho Style for photos of light-soaked rooms, swanky pools, and lush courtyards. Although I had to imagine what modern treasures lay beyond the walls, I gleefully shot the sculptural plants, rock gardens, colorful gates, and vintage cars visible from the street. Unless otherwise noted, all photos were taken by me from public property.

Photo via ranchostyle.com
Photo via ranchostyle.com
Photo via ranchostyle.com
Photo via ranchostyle.com

Charcoal and yellow ranch home

Modern concrete and stone courtyard with red gate

click for 6 more home photos

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shop spy: hotel de ville in los angeles

Hotel de Ville on Best Vintage Shops map by Finely Crafted
Illustration by Cindy Tomczyk

It’s amazing how many looks can be achieved with two lenses and a frame. Like our clothing, shoes, and hairstyles, eyewear evolves radically with the times. The Los Angeles optical company Hotel de Ville is dedicated to preserving vintage glasses and designing new silhouettes that salute memorable moments in fashion.

Hotel de Ville
Photo via Hotel de Ville.

Whereas a chain optical store may turn away vintage glasses or ask you to waive its responsibility for any damage, Hotel de Ville specializes in old specs. Its services include mending broken frames, making Rx lenses, adding tint and mirror coatings, and even creating one-of-a-kind glasses for the fashion and entertainment industries. It also has its own brand of vintage-inspired frames, like these:

Hollywood Boulevard and Newmar, two original frame designs by Hotel de Ville.

I’m inspired by the way HdV employees use their blog and Instagram feed not just for self-promotion, but as a visual record of remarkable eyewear. They post mainly historical images of musicians, actors, models, and even comic characters who, even if I don’t recognize them, tell me something about their era and story through their shades. This may be just a clever sales strategy, but to me it feels personal, as if true fans are swooning along with me over Twiggy’s avant garde glasses.

Photos via Hotel de Ville's Instagram feed.
Photos via Hotel de Ville’s Instagram feed and blog.

I was in LA last week for work, so I popped into the Beverly Boulevard boutique to snap a few photos and get my Tura cat-eye glasses adjusted. They’ve been sliding down my nose all summer–the blazing Atlanta heat must have warped the aluminum!

Salesperson Sylvia made a quick frame adjustment at no charge. While she coaxed my shades back into a head-hugging pose, I admired the small but glamorous showroom that evokes both an antique apothecary and a starlet’s dressing table. Follow me after the jump for photos of the interior and inventory.

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LACMA showcases stanley kubrick’s modernism

I shared highlights of my day at Los Angeles County Museum of Art with you here. But–sneaky me–I reserved a special morsel till now: the Stanley Kubrick exhibit. On display through June 30, this multimedia look at the late director’s career features film clips, movie posters, original costumes and props, production photos, story boards, and much more. While Andrea hovered mesmerized over a backlit display of movie lenses (my husband’s a gearhead), I did inner cartwheels over the modern furnishings and props from 2001: A Space Odyssey. I last saw the movie in college, and my strongest memories are of HAL 9000, the eerily soft-spoken computer that undermines the mission. I’m excited to watch 2001 again, primed to spot organic seating, Danish flatware, and futuristic timepieces.

The Djinn loveseat and chair, designed by Olivier Mourgue in 1965, are better known as “2001 chairs” because of their prominent appearance in the film.
Production photo of the space hotel, where scarlet Djinn chairs and loveseats provide the only pops of color.
The Discovery I astronauts dine in style with Arne Jacobsen’s minimal flatware.
Kubrick commissioned Hamilton to design substantial-but-sleek watch props for the 2001 flight crew.

my favorite modern exhibits at LACMA

Last weekend we balanced our flea market marathon with a trip to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. I had heard good reviews, but nothing specific. I wasn’t prepared to see important works, icons of modernism, that confronted us before we even made it inside! Here are my favorite moments.

On our way to the ticket window, we fell into trance watching three Alexander Calder mobiles in a lovely water garden.
Next we walked through Michael Heizer’s “Levitated Mass” installation, a mashup of primitive boulder art and modern engineering.
We spent several minutes in the courtyard watching these kids play with “Penetrabile,” by Jesús Rafael Soto. This little girl’s broken arm didn’t hold her back one bit!
Just after entering, we wound through Tony Smith’s monumental “Smoke.”
I’m in love with the color combination in Matisse’s ceramic “La Gerbe.” A local couple commissioned it for their patio in the 60s.
Didn’t expect to turn a corner and run into Josef Albers’s “Homage to the Square” paintings.
Looking closely at Lichtenstein’s “Cold Shoulder,” I was surprised to see many pencil marks and paint smudges. I always assumed that his imitations of mechanical printing were extremely precise. This discovery made me feel I could ease up a bit on my own perfectionism.