Friday, November 2, 2001

Los Angeles Times November 2, 2001

Little Shops With Big Impact by Booth Moore

Los Angeles’ indie boutiques favor local talent over big names, popularizing an eclectic West Coast look.

There wasn’t a drop of bubbly for the tattooed crowd, no live models, either – just vodka cranberry cocktails served in plastic cups and a strange film running on a loop with image after image of people knocking on doors.  There were freebies – copies of Vogue magazine – until they were commandeered by a mousy guerilla artist, who defaced each and every Britney Spears cover with stickers that read, “Envy Me Loser,” ”Fantasy With Purchase” and “Style Beyond Your Reach.”
This wasn’t your typical in-store fashion event, but Los Feliz’s Aero & Co. isn’t your typical store.  Neither are Show Pony, LaborFruit, Blest or Beige.  They are part of a new generation of indie boutiques helping to nurture local design talent and popularize the one-of-a-kind, neo-Bohemian looks that have come to define West Coast hip at this moment.
The cranberry-soaked carouse was actually a Trunk Show for designers Katy Rodriguez , 32, and Mark Haddaway, 33.  The owners of the popular Resurrection vintage stores on Melrose Avenue and in New York’s East Village debuted their own line at well-established Henri Bendel in Manhattan last year.  But when it was time to introduce it here, they approached Aero.  They thought the well-edited shop was just the place for their quirky felt coats and handbags emblazoned with and abstract tartan created by artist friend Raymond Pettibon.
“[Aero] has a fresh approach.  You don’t have to have been in this magazine or that one to be here, unlike stores in New York,” says Rodriguez, dressed in one of her own designs, a gray cowl-neck dress trimmed in Pettibon plaid.  “It’s not all about the brand.
Cynthia Vincent, 34, a designer herself, and Alisa Loftin, 33, opened the shop two years ago to feature talent they felt wasn’t getting its due….”The idea was to help designers who didn’t have a voice.  There were people doing amazing things here and selling them to their friends,” said Vincent.  Just off Vermont Avenue in an airy space that could just as well be an art gallery, the store was among the first to feature the lines of newcomers such as Magda Berliner, Ina Celaya and Grant Krajecki.  A few are now selling their lines to stores such as Barney’s New York….