Byline: Kim Friday

It’s 11 p.m. on a recent Friday night. Local scensters have had a bite to eat at Hotel Cafe, sipped a cocktail or two at The Room, then scored a quick manicure at The Beauty Bar. What’s a girl about town to do next? Get Blest of course.
Open until midnight Thursday through Saturday, Blest Boutique, located on Cahuenga Boulevard in swiftly gentrifying Hollywood, is a new kind of retail experience — one that’s equal parts shopping stop and hipster hangout.
A little bench in front of the 700-square-foot store sets the scene, its presence encouraging passersby to grab a seat and talk trends. “Unlike a lot of stores,” said Christina Carey, who co-owns Blest with partner Liz Khader, “we encourage people to hang out.”
Once inside, inhale the scents of burning candles and incense filling the air. Peruse a dainty selection of panties piled on ceramic plates.
Once you’ve got a few finds to try on, join the other shoppers dishing in the open Japanese style platform screened-in dressing room, filled with still more candles and a smattering of chairs.
Khader and Carey, who both have backgrounds in retail and wholesale, partnered up in December of 2000. Their first objective: Find the perfect space.
Five months later, it presented itself, just south of Hollywood Boulevard, in the form of an empty printing factory. The address on first thought would appear an odd choice, said Carey; Cahuenga is still more than a little rough around the edges. But there’s more than meets the eye to this block.
“The neighborhood reminds me a lot of New York. There’s a cafe, a couple of bars, a playhouse, and people are always running around.” And the fact that the Academy Awards will soon have a home — currently under construction — just around the corner at Hollywood and Vine, isn’t lost on the proprietors.
Carey said that while the shop, which opened in August, “sticks out like a sore thumb at the moment,” that’s precisely the reason they didn’t choose a street like Melrose. “We didn’t want to be meshed in with a bunch of stores that all carry the same stuff. [Being on] Cahuenga gives us more individuality.”
An added edge comes from Blest’s witty mix of local and international talent. The Angelenos represented there including knitter Kate O’Connor, contemporary lines Corey Lynn Calter and Shawn, vintage revamper Ynnub, junior label Planet Yum Thing, and accessories by Michael Schmidt, Trash Bags and Anne Cherico form the foundation. Out-of-towners Amanda Uprichard, Hand Kuffs accessories and Cedella Marley’s Catch A Fire add oomph.
Nice Collective and Orient Express outfit the men and babies can sport Lucky Devil. There’s even home accessories by Headless Designs, whose kitsch hand-painted visuals adorn everything from toilet seats to hair brushes.
Retail prices run the gamut from $30 for one of Blest’s private label T-shirts to $1,200 for an hand-knitted silk evening gown by Kate O”Connor.
Carey describes the Blest customers as stylists, actresses and fashionistas with money to burn. “We’re a destination point store,” she noted. And while they’ve gotten a good response from the late-night bar scene, she feels that “most customers want something different and are out looking for it.”

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