Libbie Lane, one of Los Angeles’ newest designers, creates dresses that are elegant and classic but have a touch of fantasy. She is influenced by the colors of nature and 19th-century painting. “I’m not concerned with keeping up with fashion trends but am interested in delivering to the customer femininity, beauty and quality,” she says.
Lane uses a variety of fabrics, including velvets, silks and organzas. Flowery motifs inspired by antique finishes are designed, hand painted and transferred onto the many garments by the designer herself. Embroidery, generous sashes of velvet and careful craftsmanship also contribute to the line’s aesthetic.
Although she has been in business for only three months, Lane has already attracted a celebrity clientele that includes Roseanne Arquette and Teri Garr. Presently, her garments are available in Los Angeles exclusively at Commes des Fous.
For those who worry about the environment as much as their skin comes a collection of bath and body products called Forest Essentials. The line consists of soaps, fragrances, candles, body scrubs and lotions that are made from nature’s elements such as honey, gardenia, aloe, beeswax and jasmine. The chief ingredient, copaiba, is extracted from a flowering tree found only in the Amazon rain forest. Natural ingredients, such as chlorophyll, are used to give the products their hue. Some of the products, such as the perfume, do not have any coloring at all.
Half of the fun of Forest Essentials is in the packaging. Products come in split coconut shells, bamboo woven cases, and biodegradable cellophane wrapping. The packaging, which comes from the rain forest, is used to provide alternate incomes for rainforest causes.
The line ranges from $3-$24 and can be found in selected small boutiques or by calling 1-800-301-7767.
A BIT OF HOLLYWOOD HISTORY
A new gem has been mounted into the Sunset Strip landscape. Actually it never left — it’s just been overhauled. The Argyle, formerly the exclusive St. James’s Club, is playing its part in the recent revival of Hollywood Old Guard accommodations. Originally the Sunset Tower Apartment Building, it used to house Errol Flynn, Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable and Jean Harlow. Its stunning streamlined architecture as well as its important place in Hollywood history have earned it a place on the National Register of Historic Places of the United States.
Replicated from the Beaux Arts Museum in Paris and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the art deco furnishings were commissioned by designer David Becker in order to accentuate the atmosphere of the building’s architecture. Each room has a unique piece, handcrafted by “the last generation of art deco master artisans in Italy.” Fit for a star in hiding are the grand terrace, the poolside chaise longues, the library, the health spa and the sauna, (where all the truly big deals are made), and most of all the afternoon tea (15 types, mind you), served by the pool.
Most important, one does not need to venture into the streets of Los Angeles to graze. Instead, guests can dine in a supper club that looks out over the city streets. Fenix, the restaurant of The Argyle, is the child of Ken Frank, the legendary chef of La Toque and La Guillotine. Its menu adds to the Argyle’s elegance with a combination of French and Californian cuisine. French salmon baked in parchment with leek and truffle essence, during the late supper served from 11 p.m. to midnight, is sure to be a treat for weary-eyed hermits as well as the “puppies” of the Hollywood scene.
Tom and Diane Vonderheide, along with longtime friend, Renee Cohen, have tapped into a gold mine of sorts.
The trio opened a 500-square-foot “lifestyle gallery” in their 4,000-square-foot California Mart showroom during the spring market in November, and the buyers went crazy.
Full of gift items ranging from freeze-dried flower arrangements to jewel boxes and unique antique serving trays, the gallery offers apparel buyers one-stop shopping.
“Part of what is so important is that it educates stores to add product [gift items], which create more volume,” said Tom.
They drew the concept from stores like Barney New York and shopped at the gift market in Los Angeles themselves.
It has paid off. During the spring market, they saw more than 35 stores, 70 percent of which wrote orders in the gift gallery.
“When business is more difficult stores need excitement, ideas and examples and that is what we are giving them,” said Diane.