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Locals Only

For the city’s designers and artists, Local means home sweet home. The new Local boutique, in a Twenties Craftsman-style house, has by default become a showcase for locally based talent. Situated at 4431 Sunset Drive in the trendy neighborhood...

Chandra Dewall owns and runs Local in Los Feliz, a forum for Los Angeles designers and artists.

Chandra Dewall owns and runs Local in Los Feliz, a forum for Los Angeles designers and artists.

Donato Sardella

For the city’s designers and artists, Local means home sweet home. The new Local boutique, in a Twenties Craftsman-style house, has by default become a showcase for locally based talent. Situated at 4431 Sunset Drive in the trendy neighborhood of Los Feliz, it’s also the first floor of a three-story home owned by former stylist Chandra Auge Dewall and her photographer-husband Steven.

Inside an antique living room appointed with plenty of windows, dark hardwood floors and a green-tiled fireplace are the usually edgy clothes from Karen Bravo, Alicia Lawhon and Petro Zillia. Handbag designer Kim White, also an Angeleno, converts vintage automotive fabrics from the Seventies and Eighties into chic carryalls.

Even Dewall has gotten in on the action, selling her cotton T-shirts stenciled in vintage-esque motifs by her artist friends. She plans to launch her own collection of “retro functional pieces,” called Auge, next year.

The store is 700 square feet. Dewall declined to reveal first-year projections but stores of that size in that neighborhood could do about $500,000 in sales per year, according to analysts.

Designers on consignment are especially welcome.

“I like to work with people as personally as possible,” said Dewall, noting she prefers small designers’ business flexibility as well as their ability to create unique pieces for the store. “Bravo, for example, embellishes and silk-screens clothes herself. She works in whatever color I want.”

Since Local’s June opening, Dewall has been a one-woman show, giving personal service to the Los Feliz and Silver Lake set, many who stop by after movies at the nearby Vista Theater, an Art Deco landmark where Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards converge.

Retail prices run from $26 for a T-shirt to $240 for a coat. Jewelry pieces, also by local artists, range from $30 to $300.

Equally jazzed by art as she is by clothing, Dewall introduces an art installation here every three months. Currently, Jill Simonsen’s painted triptychs of vacant rooms with chairs and doors hang alongside Hollywood set designer Gary Smith’s paper three-dimensional dioramas of a lonely guy named Milo inset in old computers and TVs.

The pieces are so compelling, a shopper almost forgets to shop.

This story first appeared in the October 30, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“I’m always pursuing people who have a new, fresh style and rich imagination,” she said. “People who make things from their heart and with their hands have a personal touch on everything they do.”

“I think it’s a great merchandising concept,” said Nony Tochterman, designer for Petro Zillia. “I love stores that are more than just about fashion. Stores could be more lifestyle oriented. It makes it more interesting for the consumer.”