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Category: Downtown

Tarina Tarantino takes her talents to South Broadway

Sparkle Factory 908 South Broadway

On Wednesday, jewelry designer Tarina Tarantino and her business partner and husband, Alfonso Campos, unveiled ambitious plans for a historic seven-story building in downtown Los Angeles.

If and when fully realized, the building at 908 S. Broadway that housed L.L. Burns’ Western Costume Co. nearly a century ago will be reborn as Tarantino’s “Sparkle Factory,” a mixed-use space that will be home base for the jewelry and accessory brand, including its design and production facilities, a 3,000 square-foot boutique, an art gallery/photo studio, and three floors of office space the pair hopes can be filled with like-minded fashion art and media tenants.

It will be the third home for a label that launched out of the couple’s apartment in 1995 and moved to a West Hollywood studio in 1997 before relocating to a downtown loft space in 2003, the same year they opened a showroom at the New Mart building in the downtown Los Angeles Fashion District.

“We love downtown – and the Fashion District -- and it’s important for us to be down here,” Tarantino said, “because it’s convenient for our buyers and our vendors and we see so much potential for this area.”

Once they moved downtown, the couple noticed the vacant 23,800-square-foot building. “We’ve parked in the parking lot next to that building for many, many years," Tarantino said. Press conference photo“We would always pull into the parking lot and say: ‘What a neat little building that is -- look how cute it is.’ Also it has this Gothic Revival façade, and right at the very top there’s a part that makes it look like it’s wearing a crown, and I remember thinking:  ‘How appropriate is that?’

"I’d always had this fantasy of having our own factory where we could do whatever we wanted –- where we could make all of our creative dreams  come true – and one day we’re pulling into the parking lot and they’re literally putting the For Sale sign on the building and we just jumped at it.”

That was in 2007. Now, four years later, Tarantino and Campos are ready to sketch out their vision. “We went into it kind of naively,” Tarantino said. “There was a lot of red tape because this is a historical building and we discovered all the things we needed to upgrade, all the codes. There were a lot of road blocks and a lot of hurdles, but now we’re finally at the point where all of that is ironed out and we’re ready to start.”

"But we both love history and living in a city that under-appreciates history, it's a real treasure. That's why I think [the city's] Bringing Back Broadway initiative is fantastic  --they’re been supportive of what we’re doing once they found out what we intended to do with the building, they sat down with us and asked how they could help."

(Other projects under the aegis of the Bringing Back Broadway initiative include the recently announced plans to put an Ace Hotel in the United Artists Theatre building across the street from the future Sparkle Factory.) 

Tarantino said the company plans to move its headquarters, design and light production facilities into the building’s top two floors in July, with the ground-floor boutique bowing sometime in the fall.  “We’ve been talking to different art galleries about doing something on the second floor,” she said. “Because we’re both lovers of art and the second floor is a perfect gallery space with two long windowless walls and a higher ceiling than on the rest of the floors. And since there’s a Banksy on the side of the building that makes it all the more appropriate.”

Finding out that the spray-painted image of a girl on a swing was the work of the underground street artist (Tarantino said there’s a picture of it posted on Banksy’s website) is but one of the myriad surprises the building has served up so far. Built in 1914, it was designed by Meyer and Holler, Architects (the same firm responsible for Grauman’s Chinese and Egyptian theaters) and was best known as an early home of the Western Costume Co. (faded evidence can still be seen on the back of the building in the form of a ghostly logo.

“One of the cool things we found out is that scenes from the silent film “Safety Last” with Harold Lloyd were filmed on our building –- including that famous scene where he’s hanging from the clock -- and we were just blown away,” Tarantino said.

“This building keeps on giving and giving.”


 Downtown L.A. theater and office building to be turned into hotel

Tarina Tarantino is pretty in pink at Trina Tarantino Beauty for Sephora launch fete

Tarina Tarantino re-envisions Barbie

-- Adam Tschorn

Photos: At top left, jewelry and accessories designer Tarina Tarantino, right, with husband and business partner Alfonso Campos. (Credit: Tarina Tarantino). At top right, the seven-story building at 908 S. Broadway where Tarantino plans to move her business by July. Credit: Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles Times. Middle, an artist's rendering of the completed Sparkle Factory on dispaly at the Feb. 1 press conference.(courtesy of Tarina Tarantino)

Moss Adams Fashion Innovator Award goes to Nally & Millie

Style Fashion Week LA

This post has been updated. See below for details.

The third night of Style Fashion Week L.A. at Vibiana kicked off with the presentation of the Moss Adams Fashion Innovator Award to local women's contemporary label Nally & Millie.

Before presenting the 2011 award to the label's owners Nally and James Park, accounting firm Moss Adams LLP's director of apparel, Martin Hughes, said the award is intended to recognize "a designer or company who has done something unique and innovative within the last year," and cited the label's use of color and pattern.

Past recipients of the award, which includes $5,000 worth of consulting services from Moss Adams, includes Corey Lynn Calter (2003) Frankie B (2004), Petro Zillia (2005), Rozae Nichols (2006), Juan Carlos Obando (2007) and Katy Rodriguez (2008). The award was not presented in 2009 or 2010. [For the record, Oct. 22, 12:35 p.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly spelled Corey Lynn Calter's name as Corey Lyn Calter.]

The announcement was followed by a series of runway shows featuring up-and-coming local labels including men's swimwear label Robert Joseph, women's loungewear and sleepwear label Unspoken, men's label Angelino, women's swimwear line Odina Surf, action sports brand The Continuous Line, Marisa Kenson and Coco Johnsen.

The event, dubbed "California Dreaming," was hosted by "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills'" Taylor Armstrong and comedian Brett Walkow and was organized as a fundraiser for local nonprofit Fashion Business Inc.


Concept LA Fashion Week spring/summer 2012

Zoe Saldana to host Gen Art's return to L.A fashion week

Style Fashion Week Day One: Alternative Apparel's oasis of color

-- Adam Tschorn

Photos, from left: Taylor Armstrong, left, and Brett Walkow welcome the crowd to a fashion fund-raiser at the former St. Vibiana's Cathedral in Los Angeles on Thursday; designer Nally Park expresses her thanks after her line, Millie & Nally, won the 2011 Moss Adams Fashion Innovator Award. Credit: Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles Times

Downtown Los Angeles stars in new Gap ad campaign

Gap New LA Design Studio

In case you missed it in Monday's Los Angeles Times, San Francisco-based Gap has made downtown Los Angeles the focus of a new advertising campaign for its 1969 Premium Jeans line.

Creative design offices for the 1969 line relocated to a 5,400-square-foot space in a former cigar factory in downtown Los Angeles last year, our Business section compatriot Andrea Chang notes in her report, in hopes of boosting the authenticity of the 1969 brand that launched in 2009, "and to better position it against the region's high-end labels such as True Religion, J Brand and 7 for All Mankind."

Monday, the company announced that the loft space is the star of its new "1969: L.A. and Beyond" marketing campaign, which will use video vignettes, fold-out magazine spreads and Gap store window displays across the country to acquaint potential customers with the West Pico Boulevard space and its L.A. environs.

According to Chang, the vignettes will be posted at Gap's Facebook page as well as online video sites, and the print campaign is expected to appear in fashion magazines like Vogue and Glamour.

"This is the center of creativity," Chang quotes Gap's newly hired global chief marketing officer, Seth Farbman, as saying in reference to the City of Angels.

As the Image section staffers roll up their sleeves and get ready for an upcoming issue devoted to all things premium denim, we couldn't agree more.


Patrick Robinson out as Gap design head

That was the week that was: Gap's new logo quickly put out of its misery

Gap tees up for the American woman

-- Adam Tschorn

Photo: The creative design offices of Gap’s 1969 Premium Line, located in downtown Los Angeles, are featured in Gap’s new marketing campaign. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

Standard Issue opens new vintage clothing store in downtown L.A.

There's one more reason to visit Little Tokyo, aside from ramen and sushi: vintage clothing.

Standard Issue, a unisex clothing store specializing in apparel from the 1930s to 1990s, opened its doors late at night Aug. 14. Although it is prominently located on the corner of 1st Street and San Pedro, the store is hard to spot because a retro neon sign from a previous real estate business hangs above the door.

“That’s why we have these two huge 1890s American flags hanging on the wall,” said store co-owner Vinson Ferrer. “It grabs people's attention” as they walk by.

Like the flags, the clothing has a classic Americana, rustic edge. Items for sale include old rock band T-shirts, flannels, leather and jean jackets, hats, worn leather belts and cowboy boots. The store is tiny, with Chimayo rugs adding color to the terra-cotta tiled floor and antique props such as wooden crates, ladders and rusty stepping stools serving as tables to display accessories.

Ferrer and his business partner, Masa Ono, are longtime vendors at the Sunday Melrose Trading Post flea market at Fairfax High School. Although the two men have separate booths there, they have similar fashion sensibilities and would frequently trade items with one another.

Ferrer said that his customers at the flea market, which he said include the likes of Drew Barrymore and Scarlett Johansson, always ask if he has a store.

“It’s great to be able to say that I do now,” he said, “and that I have an even greater selection here.”

The store is open from noon to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and noon to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Standard Issue, 301 E. 1st St., Los Angeles; (213) 626-1555

--Jessie Schiewe

Photo: The interior of Standard Issue, with its eye-catching flags. Credit: Standard Issue


Macy’s Passport show heads east to downtown L.A.’s Orpheum Theatre

After 14 years of holding its annual fundraiser/fashion event at the Barker Hanger in Santa Monica, the Macy’s Passport show is relocating to the Orpheum Theatre on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles.

The show will make its “Broadway” debut on Sept. 16 with singer Macy Gray as the headlining act. The event, called “Macy’s Passport presents Glamorama” will no doubt have its usual over-the-top presentation and upbeat choreographed dancing. This year designer looks will include Marc by Marc Jacobs, INC International Concepts, Tommy Hilfiger and Just Cavalli. It will be interesting to see how they make use of the historic theater setting as opposed to the vast, industrial space of an airplane hangar, and whether such a visible event will stimulate others like it to explore the downtown venue options.

“Macy's is excited to be part of the trend to bring iconic events to downtown Los Angeles, said Larry Hashbarger, special productions director for Macy's Parade & Entertainment Group.  " 'Macy’s Passport presents Glamorama' is reinventing and reimagining runway as theatre and moving to the Orpheum Theatre means the event will be part of the dynamic change and energy of a revitalized downtown.”

The Passport event started 28 years ago in a Macy’s employee cafeteria and has grown to raise more than $40 million for HIV/AIDS services and research.

-- Melissa Magsaysay

Photo: The runway at the 2009 Macy's Passport show. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

Alternative Apparel debut grabs the spotlight at L.A. fashion week's three-ring circus


Los Angeles label Alternative Apparel staged its first-ever runway show on Monday night at its new downtown Fashion District headquarters and showroom space on Spring Street, and the choice of a vintage circus motif to present its fall/winter 2010 "The Show Must Go On" collection couldn't have been a more appropriate theme for the chaotic big top atmosphere of Los Angeles Fashion Week.

Four blocks south of the maiden voyage of last-minute fashion week Concept  -- which boasted a colorful audience of its own (attendees at one show included a ghostly bleach blonde sporting a garish toy version of a Native American war bonnet, a camouflage-clad faux flower child and what may have been the world's oldest living Mohawk hairstyle framed by the glare of male pattern baldness) -- the familiar faces of fashion weeks past including Smashbox Studio's Davis Factor, Cameron Silver, Michael Baruch, and the ever--present and snapping Cobra Snake, mingled with Hollywood starlets like Lilly Collins and Nikki Reed.

Continue reading »

Downtown Los Angeles Brooks Brothers closes its doors after 71 years

In case you missed my compatriot Shelby Grad's recent mention of it, Monday is the last day of business for the downtown Los Angeles Brooks Brothers store, which has occupied its 604 S. Figueroa St. location for more than two decades.

SheepThe following statement, released by the company's chairman and chief executive Claudio Del Vecchio, seems to indicate the issue was one of timetable problems rather than declining business or a desire to exit the downtown core:

 “Brooks Brothers has had a presence in downtown LA since the 1930’s and opened the current location 21 years ago.  We believe very strongly in downtown locations and in fact planned to open a (previously unannounced) 11,000 sq ft. flagship store within the Grand Avenue complex.

The delay of the Grand project coincided with the expiration of our current lease and unfortunately we were unable to reach an agreement with the landlord."

Del Vecchio's statement went on to say that the company is "actively searching for alternate locations" in case the Grand Avenue complex never comes to pass.

But, in the meantime, the denizens of downtown will have to head for the hills (of Beverly that is) or Century City to dip their toes in the nearest Brooks.

-- Adam Tschorn

More coverage of Brooks Brothers on All The Rage

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Los Angeles Fashion Week's airbrush with '80s style

On Saturday, the New York-based group TC5 will put on a fashion show unlike any other you're likely to see during Los Angeles Fashion Week.

That's because the members of TC5 (which stands for The Cool Five) aren't fashion designers -- they're graffiti artists who helped revolutionize the urban youth look that came into fashion in the '80s and spawned a multibillion dollar industry that includes lines such as Ecko and Akademiks, streetwear that embellishes basic silhouettes -- T-shirts, jackets and hoodies-- with  PHADE.PUMA graffiti-style images and text.

In fact, TC5 lays claim to kicking off the craze.

"We started that whole thing," said Doc, one of the longest-standing members of TC5 (he's been part of the group, which began in the late '70s, since 1983).  "Once upon a time, if you wanted something customized, you had to come to us."

For this show, TC5 is bringing vintage pieces from New York and has also been decorating some new pieces on-site at the Crewest Gallery. Doc says the new pieces will bridge the fashion gap between then and now, making Saturday's event part fashion show and part history lesson.

“Kids today take it for granted,” Doc said. “[When we started customizing clothes] there was only one kind of baseball cap, there weren’t a million colors. Sneaker companies made three kinds of sneakers.”

As you might recall, airbrushing was a mainstay of '80s street fashion. “In NY, you weren't cool if you didn't have airbrushed clothing with some sort of street art on it,” Doc said.

Street artists have transitioned along with the industry – TC5 now has members who have gone on to design for Rocawear and Sean John, as well as many other familiar labels.

The fashion show will feature clothing from local lines Apliiq and Local Tourist, customized by TC5, as well as live painting on T-shirts and music by the Milky Way and a special set by DJ Computer Jay. Open to the public, no invitation or RSVP required, 6 p.m. to 9 pm. Crewest Gallery, 110 Winston St., Los Angeles.

Crewest's TC5 art exhibit, “Revolutions,” runs through March 27.

-- Samantha Page

Photo: Phade* customizes a Puma T-shirt at the Crewest Gallery in downtown Los Angeles. He and other members of TC5 are staging a fashion show on Saturday as part of a month-long art exhibit. Credit: Ken Scarboro.

*[UPDATED March 18: An earlier version of this post misidentified the TC5 graffiti artist in the photo as Doc. It's actually Phade.]

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Los Angeles Fashion week schedule; 'Concept' announces label lineup

Los Angeles' twice-yearly fashion frenzy gets underway Tuesday and, barring a last-minute addition to the lineup (stranger things have happened), will end on March 24. Below we've compiled the most up-to-date information regarding events and participants -- the most noteworthy additions being the slate of designers participating in the Concept fashion week event, which starts on March 22.

March 16Rage_skingraft

Gen Art hosts an “alumni reunion” at the Roosevelt Hotel, with 20 Los Angeles-area alumni of the Gen Art program, each presenting one model wearing one look from his or her fall 2010 collection in a presentation format. Designers and labels expected to participate include Eduardo Lucero, Elmer Ave, Endovanera, Erik Hart, Grey Ant, Jared Gold, Jeffrey Sebelia, Jovovich-Hawke, Katy Rodriguez, Louis Verdad, Rami Kashou and Society for Rational Dress. 7 to 10 p.m. Open to the public; tickets and additional information here.

Designer Sue Wong previews her fall 2010 collection at her atelier/design studio at 3030 W. 6th St., Los Angeles; 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Invitation only.

March 17
Fashion Group International Los Angeles celebrates its 75th anniversary by hosting its second “Meet the Designers & Their Muse”  event. Designers on tap include Lloyd Klein, Sue Wong, Ina Soltani and James Galanos. The Standard Hotel Downtown L.A., 550 S. Flower. Red-carpet reception starts at 6:30 p.m. Open to the public; tickets and full schedule available here.

March 18

International debut of the Molly Crabapple collection, Ron Robinson Fred Segal, 8118 Melrose Ave., 6 to 9 p.m. Invitation only.

Designer Yotam Solomon presents his fall/winter 2010 “Native American Collection” at an undisclosed location (provided upon RSVP), 8  p.m. Invitation only.

March 19

Directives West hosts the First.L.A. runway show focusing on contemporary’s up-and-coming design talent and key merchandising statements for fall 2010 at the Cooper Building penthouse, 860 S. Los Angeles St., 5 p.m. Open only to industry and media.*[UPDATED: 3/16/10]

Continue reading »

Los Angeles Fashion Week: 'Concept' on the calendar

Score one for the fashion cowboy. Friday afternoon the be-hatted Brady Westwater confirmed for All the Rage that his efforts to rope, throw and brand a fashion week is moving ahead -- although it appears to be kicking like a bucking bronco; its hooves are hammering a stretch of the calendar from March 19 through March 24, with a dust storm of details still to settle.

Rage_Vensel Still, it's a bright spot; as we mentioned a few days ago, it was starting to look like tumbleweed might be the only thing rolling through downtown during the traditional time frame for Los Angeles Fashion Week. Then Westwater -- whose past efforts to bring fashion-related events downtown include working with early incarnations of BOXeight and more recently starting a Downtown LA Fashion Walk -- saddled up and rode into the thick of it, announcing his willingness to work with local designers and the management of the Spring Arts Tower at 453 S. Spring St. to use that space for a few extra nights (he'd already reserved it, he says, as part of an upcoming Fashion Walk event).

Soon Mike Vensel (the designer, photographer and organizer of a short-lived Kitten Fashion Week held at the downtown Standard Hotel back in 2007) was saddling up beside him, and as of this writing, the newest dynamic duo of downtown is trying to circle the wagons and nail down all the details.

Westwater is short on specifics such as potential sponsors (beyond the building's management), participating designers and schedules, allowing only that the calendar is currently configured to entertain runway shows, art installations and  the like from March 19 through the 24th, with two of those days (Saturday the 20th and Sunday the 21st) already booked with shows.

"Right now we're in the phase of reaching out to designers to see what their needs are," he told All the Rage. "We're going to be flexible so that everybody who wants to stage a show can." He said that hopes are to line up sponsorships to cover the cost of staging the shows, said to be "a couple hundred bucks." "But we don't want anyone to be turned away for inability to pay," he said.

One important specific that has been hammered out is the name. "We're calling it 'Concept,'" Westwater said. "We wanted it to be something that was simple and easy and elegant."  While the Concept website is still under construction, interested parties should contact Westwater directly at

While it remains to be seen what sort of event ultimately arises (we'll keep you updated as sponsor and designer lineups are confirmed), we're optimistic about its chances.

After all, everybody knows nailing the concept is the hardest part of any project.

-- Adam Tschorn

Photo: A look from designer Mike Vensel's runway show at BOXeight on March 15, 2008, at Los Angeles Fashion Week. Vensel and Brady Westwater are spearheading a group that's working to provide runway space at the Spring Arts Tower for designers to show their wares to press and buyers in downtown Los Angeles, through a just-announced show dubbed "Concept." Credit: Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times.

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