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Melrose Is the Place

How a leafy street in West Hollywood emerged as the go-to spot for fashion-savvy Angelenos.
By Betty Goodwin
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Monique Lhuillier

monique lhuillier among the designers now on melrose place is monique lhuillier Among the designers now on Melrose Place is Monique Lhuillier.

Foley & Corinna

foley & corinna foley and corinna The New York design team offers a mix of gauzy, feminine dresses and lacy tunics.

Alexander McQueen

alexander mcqueen l.a. alexander mcqueen A full array of men's and women's clothing and accessories are on display at the new L.A. address.

Opening Ceremony

opening ceremony l.a. opening ceremony in los angeles Opening Ceremony has a lot to check out, including Rodarte cocktail dresses and highlights from the Topshop line.

Comme Ca

comme ca los angeles comme Ca in los angeles A classic brasserie from chef David Myers.

Kumo

kumo los angeles kumo in los angeles Kumo is Michael Ovitz's second L.A. foray into Japanese cuisine.
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One of the newest arrivals to this suddenly chic shopping area is the boutique of Monique Lhuillier, the Los Angeles–based bridal- and evening-wear designer. A uniformed maid serves refreshments in the space where recent bride Ashlee Simpson was fitted for her wedding attire amid crystal chandeliers and mink-pillow-strewn couches. Once Lhuillier outgrew her original space, in Beverly Hills, "nothing felt right" there, she says. "It's so charming here. The beautiful trees, the mix of antiques stores, being off the beaten path—I love everything about it." 8485 Melrose Place; 323-655-1088; moniquelhuillier.com.

Three-block-long Melrose Place has become the magnetic force field for the city's fashion set. Meanwhile, neighboring Melrose Avenue and La Cienega Boulevard are experiencing a renaissance of their own.

Melrose Place

Once known for haute Hollywood Regency apartments, high-end antiques shops and hair salons to the stars, Melrose Place hasn't been the same since the Marc Jacobs store arrived three and a half years ago, followed by a Marc Jacobs men's store across the street and a Marc by Marc Jacobs shop around the corner on Melrose Avenue. Except for a few stalwarts such as Rose Tarlow's Melrose House, the Melrose Place art and antiques dealers have left, construction crews have taken up residence, and fashion-driven proprietors are moving in, including Chloé later this year.

Carolina Herrera (No. 8441; 323-782-9090) is set beside a lush courtyard filled with olive trees. Sunlight dapples the elegant shop, which is furnished in the New York designer's trademark chocolate-brown-and-white-striped furniture. Many of the clothes are sold in colors and fabrics that are Southern California appropriate and unique to the store.

A discreet brick path bordered with boxwood and jasmine leads through another courtyard to the Regency-style Oscar de la Renta store (No. 8446; 323-653-0200), where open French doors capitalize on perfect SoCal weather. Ready-to-wear, shoes and accessories are on the ground floor in high-gloss room after high-gloss room, while up the stairs, de la Renta's home collection is shown in glamorously furnished chambers.

When a proprietor chooses a milieu, it doesn't hurt for the space to have a little Hollywood lore attached to it. Mary Norton (No. 8436; 323-852-1800), opened by the designer of the same name, from Charleston, South Carolina, is located in a building where Neil Diamond once lived. Don't miss the singer's former swimming pool, which is now awash with flowers, in the courtyard of the adjacent John Frieda Salon. Norton is known for Italian-made handbags and shoes, many embellished with jewels or feathers (starting at $395 for a pair of flats with jeweled medallions). She's given the space what she calls "a 1950s Bergdorf feel mixed with Southern charm," installing hand-painted cherry-blossom-patterned silk wallpaper; a big baby-blue mohair banquette; and low-voltage, jewelry-store lighting.

Melrose Avenue

Longtime fashion destinations Maxfield and Fred Segal were joined on Melrose Avenue by a batch of exciting new restaurants as well as a Diane von Furstenberg store and the now-famous, shocking-pink Paul Smith edifice.

England's Alexander McQueen (No. 8379; 323-782-4983) announces its new L.A. address with a nine-foot, male, anatomically correct, stainless-steel angel literally bursting through the roof and out of the store. A full array of men's and women's clothing and accessories are on display, including a Union Jack–motif leather clutch with a jeweled skull clasp ($1,575), made exclusively for the shop.

At Foley & Corinna (No. 8117; 323-944-0169), a small shop painted with angels, the New York design team offers a mix of gauzy, feminine dresses (starting at $300) and lacy tunics of the sort favored by Paris Hilton and other young stars, along with countless variations on its signature City Tote (starting at $400).

After making your other stops, do as the Angelenos do and move your car to Balenciaga (No. 8670; 310-854-0557), a retailer that has blessedly ample parking. The label's designer, Frenchman Nicolas Ghesquière, had a hand in creating the space-age store, whose LED lighting and sensor-operated glass doors that constantly open and close contribute to the mother-ship feel. It's an over-the-top setting for Lariat bags galore and generously spaced racks of clothes from the men's and women's collections. The silver-leaf VIP dressing room, with its silver-tiled washroom, is a must-see.

La Cienega Boulevard

La Cienega Boulevard was always a place to go for restaurants; home-decor, antiques and carpet stores; and the behemoth Beverly Center shopping mall. Now it's basking in the glow of the nearby fashion explosion and will soon welcome stores Catherine Malandrino and Alberta Ferretti.

Los Angeles native Humberto Leon, of Opening Ceremony (451 North La Cienega Boulevard; 310-652-1120), thinks the car wash next door and the vegan place across the street give his store a desirable "slightly off" feeling, like its downtown New York counterpart. Located in Charlie Chaplin's old dance studio, it is on a somewhat scruffy stretch of La Cienega. Feed your meter, because there's a lot to check out, including Rodarte cocktail dresses, highlights from the Topshop line by Kate Moss and remakes of 1930s cotton underwear from Germany's Scheisser.

Taking a Breather

For sustenance, at any point you can drop your bags and have lunch at L.A. favorites Lucques (8474 Melrose Avenue; 323-655-6277), Ago (8478 Melrose Avenue; 323-655-6333) and Sweet Lady Jane (8360 Melrose Avenue; 323-653-7145), or luxuriate in a three-course alfresco meal at Bastide (8475 Melrose Place; 323-651-5950). The hot newcomer, Comme Ça (8479 Melrose Avenue; 323-782-1104), a classic brasserie, is from chef David Myers, who's got the area covered with Sona restaurant (401 North La Cienega Boulevard; 310-659-7708) and Boule bakery (408 North La Cienega Boulevard; 310-289-9977), and rumor has it that he plans to open an Italian restaurant this fall. For drinks or dinner, make a reservation at Nobu Los Angeles (903 North La Cienega Boulevard; 310-657-5711), a colossus that was crowded the minute it opened this past spring and is located blocks from Nobu Matsuhisa's original restaurant, Matsuhisa Beverly Hills (129 North La Cienega Boulevard; 310-659-9639). Also new is the serene Kumo (8360 Melrose Avenue; 323-651-5866), Michael Ovitz's second L.A. foray into Japanese cuisine. Later this year, Spanish chef José Andrés joins the neighborhood when he takes command of the restaurants at the brand-new SLS Hotel on La Cienega in Beverly Hills.

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