By  on January 23, 2012

For a new designer on the scene, Eloise Lapidus’ surname would be carte blanche in her home city of Paris, but she has opted to launch her BoBo House sportswear in downtown Los Angeles.

After studying art history and graduating from the University of California at Berkeley, she took up a family friend’s offer to work as an assistant on the set of a Whoopi Goldberg film that was being shot in L.A. The flick wound up going straight to video, but Lapidus decided to stay in the U.S. During a phone interview Friday, Lapidus said, “I love California. What interests me here is the casualness of L.A. and mixing that with Parisian fashion. It is kind of funny that now on the other side of the continent, France is very interested in L.A. cool. ”

Her father defined cool as the first designer to show jeans on the runway, pioneer unisex fashion and introducing the every day military look for women and men. After Lapidus died in Cannes in 2008, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the designer “democratized French elegance and classicism” and “made fashion accessible to men and women in the street.”

Long before there were “It” bags, Lapidus designed a limited edition white leather bag imprinted with John Lennon’s signature at the musician’s request. Lennon also recruited the designer to make the white suit he wore to be photographed for the cover of the band’s “Abbey Road” album.

“He really was the first designer of the Nouvelle Vague. I think his modernity attracted a lot of celebrities,” Eloise Lapidus said. “I not only remember him as a designer, but also an artist since he was an avid writer especially in poetry. He left us an entire collection of unpublished poems. I believe this is what tied him to many of the performers he dressed such as Jacques Brel, Edith Piaf, Charles Aznavour and John Lennon. He did share this passion with all these artists whom he really admired for their simplicity and brilliancy. Some became lifelong friends.”

Growing up, Eloise Lapidus was immersed in fashion, not only gleaning style tips from her German-born mother and watching her father at work on his collections, but also occasionally visiting her aunt’s boutique Torrente in Paris. “My father always told me, ‘You have to look at the streets and design from the streets,’” she said. “That was the best advice he ever gave me.”

With that in mind, Lapidus often canvases downtown L.A. checking out what people are wearing and the local art scene. And when she gets back to Paris once or twice a year, she likes nothing better than checking out her favorite haunts in Saint Germain and the 9th arrondissement. Lapidus’ mother, Ursula, a former European runway model who lives in Paris, helps to keep her in the loop about trends. “I am very influenced by the streets of Paris. There is a Paris sensitivity and charm to my clothes,” Eloise Lapidus said.

The debut 13-piece BoBo collection, which wholesales from $38 to $87, will be in stores in April. Stripes and other nautical motifs, a favorite look of her father’s, worked their way into the contemporary collection. BoBo is an offshoot of “Bourgeois-bohème,” and is “a very Parisian term and a lifestyle. It combines conformity and untidiness. I like to think of it as kind of dainty with sophistication,” said Lapidus.

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