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Gale Parker's Clothespin opens in West Hollywood

November 16, 2009 |  3:00 pm

On a champagne-soaked Thursday evening last week, Gale Parker’s Clothespin opened with cheerful laughs and a multi-generational crowd perusing her new store. The upscale West Hollywood locale on Melrose Avenue is Parker’s first store, but the New Yorker is far from being a novice in fashion. The designer once served as model/muse for the likes of Valentino and Yves Saint Laurent, as well as the design director for Ralph Lauren women’s collection.


Parker’s vibrant printed dresses, blouses and skirts looked like items girls would steal from their mother’s closets on a warm summer day. It’s easy to picture a wispy surfer girl walking down Abbot Kinney in a Gale Parker design, or a Malibu mom lounging by the playground in the loose comfort of Clothespin’s feminine wares.

“My mother and Teen Vogue’s blogger Jazzi McGilbert both came in here and wanted everything. Can you believe it?” said Noelle Valdivia, a member of the Clothespin team.
The designer explained that her idea for the cross-generational collection came after she won her battle with cancer and felt the need to create. Inspired by her "green" architect husband, she wanted to do something eco-friendly, and so the green Clothespin was born. All of the collection is California-made, with labels sewn right down the street from the shop in Gale’s apartment, and the materials are never-been-worn vintage fabrics from the 1940s.

“Places you go have become so homogenized; I wanted to bring it back to the custom level,” Parker said.

Every item in the store is one of a kind. The designer trotted all around the globe for the materials, which includes lively "conversational" prints (a nod to Chanel), vintage buttons and lace. Parker and her design team offer custom-made dresses from Clothespin’s assortment of over 200 fabrics. The shop will also happily fashion a new outfit from a customer’s beloved old dress or fabric.

Parker boasts that her clothing is made for all body types, with an emphasis on fluidity.

“There’s pockets in everything. I love walking around like a guy and not carrying a bag around,” the designer said.

A large Andy Warhol portrait of a young Parker looks over the Clothespin store. The designer, who hasn't lost the radiance of her youth, has been on many journeys since her NYC beginnings. In Parker’s Clothespin store, her collected wisdom on the importance of sustainability, vintage design and comfort has found a home.

Blouses, $300-$400. Dresses $400-$700. Custom dresses $1,000.

Clothespin, 8654 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood. (310) 967-0108 Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. or by appointment.

-- Sophia Kercher

Photo: Gale Parker (center right) talks prints with Noelle Valdivia. Credit: Billy Zeb Smith