Compared with dazzling new boutiques opened recently by designers such as Alexander McQueen and Phillip Lim in Los Angeles, Smockshop is a study in austerity.
There’s no fan to flush out the summer heat in the 800-square-foot shop at 936 Mei Ling Way, facing a local favorite dive bar in a Chinatown alley. Interior design is loosely interpreted as one sewing machine, colorful spools of thread, pincushions, a large mirror leaning against a wall and about 70 smocks on display.
With the Web site smockshop.org, however, Smockshop markets more than fashion. It sells a creative concept: Twenty-three artists use the same pattern to create one-of-a-kind smocks, to be worn or to decorate homes.
The melding of fashion and art is a recurring theme in the work of Smockshop’s creator, Andrea Zittel, who last year exhibited handcrafted dresses that she made and wore over a period of 15 years. They ranged from a striped knit tank dress and a black shift to a crisp white button-up shirt worn with suspenders and a full black skirt, and were on display at Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art. Dividing her time between Los Angeles and Joshua Tree, Calif., she created the pattern for the smock two years ago. Since Zittel and the other artists started making smocks two years ago, they have sold 200 smocks, mostly to other artists and art collectors, largely through galleries and art events.
Some of the first pieces she and fellow artists made were displayed in September at Manhattan’s Susan Inglett Gallery during New York Fashion Week. What was new to Zittel was attempting a commercial venture.
“Retail is really a mystery to artists,” said Zittel, who culled advice from retail-savvy volunteers and how-to books such as “Small Business for Dummies” to launch the pop-up shop last month. “I’m interested in creating a different market to see if artists can support their art without going through the traditional route of a gallery.”
At Smockshop, which is open through Sept. 21, there’s a dress for every occasion. A woman could get married in Tiprin Follett’s $540 floor-length gown crafted out of ivory silk doupioni pinned with a raw-edged brown bow, and then boogie on the dance floor at her reception in Jason Villegas’ $440 flapper-inspired frock with a sheer pleated skirt and sequined collar.
Or she could garden in Tony Koerner’s $340 baby blue apron dress cut out of industrial Styrofoam housewrap.
Michelle Brunnick stitched a $340 black cotton mesh smock paired with matching leggings, accentuated with a red heart patch on the knee.
Mixed media artist Ashira Siegel learned how to use a sewing machine to whip up an A-line dress in red plaid with fluorescent orange trim — think schoolgirl-meets-construction worker. Still, she said the task was fun.
“I love the idea of having a structure and having people work within that structure and see how different and beautiful everyone’s stuff is,” Siegel said.
London’s newly opened @designmuseum will look back on the life and work of Azzedine Alaïa in a show that the designer helped to curate before he died of heart failure last month. The retrospective, which Alaïa had worked on with Mark Wilson, chief curator of the @groningermuseum, will look at the impact of his work worldwide. The show, “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier,” will run from May 10 to October 7. Read more about the exhibit on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @zefashioninsider)
@Pharrell and his wife Helen Lasichanh were among the stars that came out to celebrate @rimowa’s first pop-up concept shop. The space, which is located on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, draws inspiration from airport luggage carousels and lounge areas – and features the company’s luggage and accessories. If the pop-up is successful it could pave the way for addition temporary shops throughout the world. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA)
@carineroitfeld celebrated @crfashionbook’s first calendar last night with a dinner party at Spring Place in Manhattan. Photographed by @stevenkleinstudio, the calendar takes on a fitness theme and features @joansmalls, @gigihadid, @danielle_herrington_ – pictured here – and more. “[Carine Roitfeld] wanted me to feel sexy and she wanted me to be myself and feel it out on my own and do what I felt was right,” said Herrington, aka Miss October. #wwdeye
@saintrecords and @virgilabloh last night at @americanexpress’ “A Night With Success Makers” event. “I always bring it back to community because without that I wouldn’t have the courage,” said Knowles when asked how she has gotten where she is now. Read more highlights from their conversation on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @lizdoupnik)
This Just In: Industry sources have told WWD that Anastasia Soare is rumored to be considering selling her beauty business, @anastasiabeverlyhills. According to those sources, Soare has tapped investment bank Imperial Capital to explore sale options for her eponymous beauty brand –– and with at least $340 million in net sales, this would be a big deal. Put in context of other recent transactions for makeup companies, Soare’s price tag could be in the billions if she were to sell the whole thing. #wwdnews #wwdbeauty (📷: @clint_spaulding)
@assouline’s latest book, “The Spirit of Bentley: Be Extraordinary” captures the adventurous attitudes and opulent lifestyles of @bentleymotors’ most creative owners and enthusiasts throughout the U.K. The 292-page hardcover has a section dedicated to showing its team of skilled artisans and photos of its most colorful owners, from George Bamford to designer @alicetemperley, pictured here by Aline Coquelle. #wwdeye
@google released its report on the most popular search terms this year. For fashion brands, the list was led by @gucci, the luxury brand that stunned the market last October when it pledged to stop using fur. Runner ups were @supremenewyork and @fashionnova, along with more established brands like @louisvuitton, @chanelofficial and @ysl. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)