Thursday, April 28, 2011

Street Walker - Abbot Kinney Part II

A phrase on the window of an Art Gallery in progress.
I had to take a picture. 
Most of my personal revelations can be regarded as common knowledge, depending on who you ask and when.  Whether they like me or not often adds another dimension to the obvious. 

That being said, as we continued our stroll down Abbot Kinney, I found it to be completely charming.  Beautiful people rode by on their beach cruisers, while more beautiful people sauntered along tethered to their four legged friends, often saying hello to someone they knew in a cafe or shop.  It was all so wonderfully communal, and slightly European with it's slow paced atmosphere and congenial pedestrians.  There are very few ways that Los Angeles can conjure Europe, so when they come up, you tend to take notice.

I fell in love with the buildings that lined the streets.  If they weren't retrofitted turn of the century red brick buildings ripe with period charm and detail, they were ingeniously repurposed Arts & Crafts Bungalows (an architectural evolutionary map ending with the few Green buildings that had popped up).  Many of the boutiques like Alternative Apparel, Jack Spade, Alexis Bittar and Robert Graham had done this with great results.  The spaces were intimate, quirky, and welcoming.  You felt instantly at ease, and sometimes even familiar with the homes.  Little Craftsman houses like those are certainly commonplace in older sections of LA, and they all share the same general layout.

An interior at Plantation.  I am in love with that Armoire.
And they had a Malachite specimen on that cocktail table
I am in serious lust with.
 Speaking of homes, there were a few great home shops on AK.  The previously mentioned Bountiful, and on the other side of the street, the very chic Plantation.  Where Bountiful was packed to the gills, Plantation (Visit Plantation) was a cultivated collection of Furniture and accessories.  I am an accessory freak, so a place like this was Mecca to me.  Cocktail tables and Credenzas were artfully arranged with unique objet like Malachite stones, adjustable magnifying glasses and Moroccan trays inlaid with mother of pearl.  Foo Dogs shared the floor with Garden Stools.  Chinoiserie cabinets cohabited with tuxedo sofas, both sharing clean lined silhouettes.  They also had a great collection of candles and very unique candle holders and hurricanes.  This is a great place to find something special, and in a sea of Pottery Barns, finding a beacon of individuality is a cause for celebration.

Like all good things, you wonder what took you so long to discover them.  Such is the case with Abbot Kinney.  There are restaurants to try, bars to hop, galleries to visit, and unoccupied weekends and evenings that would be just perfect for such activities.  Though it is somewhat removed from the freeway, I think that's part of what makes it so great.  You really do leave your world and enter into something new and wonderful that is off the beaten path, and isn't that where all the best stuff lies?

- Ian

A turn of the Century brick building houses The Stronghold,
a shop specializing in custom denim.

The Stronghold interior, feeling very much like
a Victorian era Emporium.  A second room houses
beautifully made English shoes, as well as
bolts of fabric for custom jeans.
Visit Stronghold

The display at Alternative Apparel.
I wish I could have been the one to chainsaw
the Rococo sofa.  Opportunities like that come
so seldom.  Don't get me wrong, I j'adore
Rococo, but I also j'adore creative destruction.
Visit Alternative Apparel

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