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DRINK AND PLAY: “Where else can you walk in and get a case study in dollhouses and Bordeaux?” asked Susan Brink, co-owner of West Hollywood’s gift boutique Venokado. The 1,100-square-foot store, in a circa Twenties trolley stop, features a cheeky array of gifts alongside a handpicked selection of high-quality wines from around the globe. The shop’s esoteric epithet — a combination of the Italian vino (wine) and French cadeau (gift) — characterizes the mix-and-match mentality shared by Brink and her sister and partner, Molly Brink, who created Venokado with film editor and sommelier Tracy Hof.

L.A. NIGHTS: As Los Angeles Fashion Week winds down Oct. 17, a grand-scale party will mark the soft opening of the 35,000-square-foot Versus nightclub. Transforming the vast Stock Exchange Building into a Hollywood fantasy, Versus delivers glamour via an expansive marble staircase snaking toward the dance floor, pools, fountains and luxurious couches. A wraparound balcony and VIP skybox are perfect for people-watching or voguing with a cocktail from the downstairs bar. “You feel like you’re walking into a wonderland of entertainment,” said Nico Bacigalupo, director of marketing, sponsorship and events. He envisions Versus not only as a dance club, but a full-scale entertainment venue. A fashion show by LRG during the launch will feature its 40-foot-long catwalk, while the stage hosts up-and-coming bands. “Overall, we’re looking at revitalizing downtown L.A.,” Bacigalupo declared.

This story first appeared in the October 2, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

CHOCOHOLIC: Jin Patisserie, a sanctuary of sumptuous, hand-crafted chocolates and pastries that hails from Venice, Calif., is opening an outpost this month at the Intercontinental Los Angeles Century City Hotel. Pastry chef Kristy Choo’s latest offering is a special hot chocolate tasting, with a weekly rotation of three premium chocolates guests can mix to their liking. The minimalist interior is punctuated by bold bursts of apricot orange and sage green. Display cases inspired by jewelry store shadow boxes play up the keepsake quality of Choo’s sculptural sweets, like sea salt caramel with a rich, chewy interior coated in a thin layer of coca powder. For a silky, melt-in-your mouth sensation, Choo’s Passion cake offers a medley of mascarpone, fresh mango and passion fruit.

PICTURE PERFECT: Fresh from the National Portrait Gallery in London, Vanity Fair’s epochal exhibition of 130 portraits from 1913 to 2008 of some of the world’s most famous faces will grace the galleries of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art this fall. Conceived by Vanity Fair editor in chief Graydon Carter, the show offers an intimate appraisal of the fixation with larger-than-life personas. Artists, politicians and Hollywood stars of Vanity Fair’s early years (1913 to 1936), under the gaze of photographers like Edward Steichen, Cecil Beaton and Man Ray, collide with celebrities of the magazine’s current incarnation (1983 to the present) as captured by Annie Leibovitz, Helmut Newton, Mario Testino and others. Prints of Pablo Picasso, Katharine Hepburn, Fred Astaire, George Clooney, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Kate Winslet preside over looping projections of Vanity Fair shoots and assorted paraphernalia from the publication, providing access into the high-gloss world of global celebrity chronicled by the magazine. “The second period of Vanity Fair is all about Hollywood,” said Charlotte Cotton, curator of photography at LACMA. “It fits perfectly into the narrative of our institution.” The portraits will be at LACMA from Oct. 26 to March 1.

CONVENIENT STORE: Imagine, as Locali Conscious Convenience co-owner Melissa Rosen implores, “a cross between a Japanese quick mart and a European corner shop.” In early November, this marriage of grab-and-go ease and eco-friendly quality opens with aplomb in a spare, sleek spot on Franklin Avenue. Serving organic snacks free of refined sugar, hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup and genetically modified products, Locali Conscious Convenience lives up to its name by promoting local farmers and restaurateurs. The shop is open every day, and anyone can utilize its compost recycling program or beat lingering late-summer heat with a glass of reverse-osmosis-filtered water. Every facet of the store’s interior — from its solar panel-powered tankless water heater to its rich reclaimed wood cabinetry and a display of organic and biodynamic wines — reflects its mission to promote a healthful lifestyle for customers. “It’s a tiny store, but we have lofty ambitions,” Rosen said.

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