In West Hollywood or Beverly Hills, you just never know. You might find yourself sitting next to Tom Cruise in a restaurant or, even better, trying on a pair of the boots he just dropped off at a charity consignment shop. Ask yourself, what do the showbiz luminaries do with the stuff they’re tired of? They get rid of it, and now here you are with a guide to the hot local resale shops. There are many in this area, packed with stuff at prices you won’t believe. These treasures are ready to be snapped up, often at a fraction of their original cost.
First, do good at Out of the Closet (8224 Santa Monica Boulevard, Tel: 323-848-9760. www.outofthecloset.org). Buying anything here means every dollar goes to HIV/AIDS charities. (Three doors down is a lab ready to do anonymous HIV testing.) In the shop, I found high-end jeans and shorts, a Ted Baker suit for $45, a Barney’s jacket for $25, and a tuxedo in perfect condition for $25. Next- door is a trove of household goods: cut glass, chairs, clocks, candlesticks, comic books, CDs, and old 78 RPM albums. Books are arranged mostly according to the color of their jackets, a little design touch you might not be surprised to find here.
So, who’d dropped off these gems? “We can’t say,” is the mantra of this retail outlet and most other shops selling this exotica. “We use anonymity and discretion,” according to Jen Bordman, store director at Decades (8214 Melrose Drive, Tel: 323-655-1960. www.decadesinc.com), who claims that “high-profile people” not only consign but also shop there. Owned by Cameron Silver and Christos Garkinos, gay business partners, Decades attracts “industry folks” and a “global clientele,” drawn to 60% off retail prices, and items like a purple Paul Smith suit once owned by a famous musician, Gucci leather jackets, and Burberry pants going for $210. For dear mom or those nights in drag, big-sparkle fake jewelry is a temptation that sits center stage in another part of the shop.
The owner and designer of Mr. Freedom (7161 Beverly Boulevard, Tel: 323-653-2014. www.misterfreedom.com), Christophe Loiron, asserts “Denim is King.” Here it is in its pure, vintage or vintage-inspired, undistressed, unbleached, and “curated” form, along with a huge assortment of men’s casual and sportswear items best described as John Wayne macho. The store, whose name was taken from the title of a 1969 movie, has been around for 25 years and claims museum quality stock. That includes old Japanese fashion magazines, tough-guy belt buckles, safari hats, motorcycle cap and goggles, as well as Hawaiian shirts and a rack of madras. Cowboy boots are lined up in many sizes, a customized motorcycle jacket is $1,600. There are also textiles, blankets, and what-have-yous all consistent with the owner’s maven taste.
There’s more denim at American Rag (150 South LaBrea Avenue, Tel: 323-935-3154. www.americanrag.com), a few minutes over the West Hollywood border. A store manager here described it as “California-cool aesthetic,” which means whatever you wish. The denim here is tapered and vintage and only part of their overall inventory. Take a look at the fedoras and sombreros, the camouflage US Army stuff, and plaid wool jackets with plush collars like your daddy used to wear. Check out the khaki motorcycle jackets and collectibles from way back when. The prices here range from $50 to $1,000.
More of the same, and yet a smidge different is at Jet Rag (825 North LaBrea Avenue, Tel: 323-939-0528), which features military outfits, neckties, and team jackets. I spotted a “second edition” jean jacket at $2,000, but also dog tags for $6. Need a cow-skin rug? It’s here. In a scarf-buying mood? Many, in rainbow colors, are hanging on nearby racks. There’s a dollar sale in the parking lot every Sunday. “Tons of celebrities shop here,” I was told, but no names please.
Not too far away, find Nick Metropolis (100 South LaBrea Avenue, Tel: 323-934-3700. www.nickmetropolis.com). You cannot miss this place, which looks like a garage-attic sale/recycling center that attracts you right into its corner open-air showroom. The “King of Collectible” owner says, “We make up prices as we go along. We’re very negotiable.” Here is everything you’ve never needed and didn’t want until you saw it in the flesh and fell in love, like a Marilyn Monroe vintage bowling pin going for $60. And who wouldn’t want a Barbie nun or a spooky David Bowie mask?
Nick is the exception among his fellow merchants because he names his customers: Miley Cyrus, Lana Del Ray, Drew Barrymore, Iggy Azalea, Jason Alexander; according to Nick, they’ve all stopped by.
Time to consider treating yourself to those really high-end pieces you actually have wanted? Off to Beverly Hills, where “high-end” is like a whisper in the air. Once inside Uniquities Consignment House, (266 North Beverly Drive, Tel: 310-550-7000). Look up you are standing under a ceiling of crystal chandeliers that throw a golden light on the spoils of the rich and the celebrated. You are surrounded by temptation; see the Chinese screens, porcelain pillboxes, silver picture frames, Limoges china, Baccarat glass, and right here, an English fish service. Estates have dumped their best at this hangout for the A-list. They buy, they sell. You buy.
Big names are also regulars at the Second Time Around Watch Company (160 South Beverly Drive, Tel: 310-271-6615. www.secondtimearoundwatchco.com). Owner Jon Goldfarb wears the 1971 Day-Date Rolex President that belonged to Elvis, and although 99% of the watches sold here are big-ticket, he claims there are bargains to be had in Patek Philippe, Vacheron, and Tiffany brands, many used in TV shows and featured in top magazines. Or, you’re welcome to trade in yours. If you need a 1900’s pocket watch turned into a wristwatch, it’s hip and it’s also here. James Gandolfini and Elizabeth Taylor were customers.
Love the excitement of bidding? I.M. Chait Gallery (9330 Civic Center Drive, Tel: 310-285-0182. www.chait.com), runs about 18 auctions annually, always on a Sunday. Headed by the three sons of its Viet- nam War vet founder, Chait opens its doors the week before each auction. Need a European Gothic coat of armor? Some Egyptian and Greek artifacts dating back to 2,000 BCE. “Some antiques are genuine, some are in the style of,” according to forthright Josh Chait. He and his two brothers have fielded many offers to do a reality show because the reality is, “It doesn’t pay,” Josh explained. Estate auction prices run from $50- $10,000 and occasionally but rarely go into six figures. Call 310-285- 0182 for auction dates before visiting.
WHERE TO STAY
To save your money for shopping, the West Hollywood Ramada (8585 Santa Monica Boulevard, Tel: 310-652-6400. www.ramada.com/WestHollywood) is a good budget-minded option. It has duplex rooms, which put the sleeping quarters a flight above the living space, or suites, featuring sink and microwave. There’s a Trader Joe’s on the corner, which allows for a DIY breakfast, snacks, and maybe lunch in front of your big-screen TV.
In rarefied Beverly Hills, the newly refurbished Mosaic Hotel, (125 South Spalding Drive, Tel: 310-278-0303. www.mosaichotel.com) is an upgrade to posh. Everywhere you look, it’s bright, beautiful, and easy to love. There are marble bathrooms and gray plush robes, a cozy lobby bar, and a swimming pool light- ed for your evening dip. No crowded lobby here and consistently helpful service; Wilshire Boulevard and Rodeo Drive are just a hop, skip, and jump away.
WHERE TO EAT
In Beverly Hills, the recently opened Spice Affair (50 North LaCienega Boulevard, Tel: 310-400-6800. www.spice-affair.com), is a highly rated Indian restaurant, designed by the owners to be a polished, dimly lit space, perfect for a romantic dinner. The menu is long and varied and includes traditional, well-prepared dishes using authentic Indian spices. A sampler dish might include a bit of chicken, a fritter, a taste of salad and fish. Ask for a hot mushroom naan, and if you’re resisting the Bourbon La Rouge, Lassi is a very popular yogurt drink. The mango mousse is a must for dessert. Stevie Wonder, Britney Spears, and Randy Jackson were revealed to be among the many red-carpet patrons.
In West Hollywood, lean back against the cushy banquettes at Gracias Madre (8905 Melrose Avenue, Tel: 323-978-2170. www.graciasmadreweho.com), a reasonably priced “plant based” Mexican, restaurant. The terrace, with its ancient museum-specimen trees, looks like a movie set. At lunch, you might spot Jennifer Lopez or Leonardo di Caprio sitting under one of the big umbrellas. Try the grilled peach salad or one of the healthful bowls, filled with kale and quinoa. The mango iced tea is mild and refreshing.
Cecconi’s (8764 Melrose Avenue, Tel: 310-432-2000. www.cecconiswesthollywood.com) was formerly the site of the legendary Morton’s. The restaurant has a busy marble bar, and is known for its power lunches. Ahi Tuna Tartare is a favorite dish, the green cauliflower is popular, and there’s an extensive wine list. Don’t miss checking out the Butterfly Room, with its Damien Hirst heart, featuring many impaled butterflies. Look around and see if you can spot Channing Tatum or Susan Sarandon, among the lineup of its A-list clinetele.
Connie and Ted’s (8171 Santa Monica Boulevard, Tel: 323-848-2722. www.connieandteds.com) is the go-to spot for fish, prepared in time-honored or newly creative ways. Opened in 1940 by a husband and wife team, it’s now in the hands of their talented grandson, Chef Michael Cimarusti. Updated with Eames chairs and blond wood tables, the place provides the delicious clams and oysters with a young and vibrant ambience. Don’t go home without trying the Hokkaido dog. It’s a “hot dog” made out of scallops, a bit of seafoodie magic, maybe washed down with one of the restaurant’s 24 craft beers. Happy hour is four to six on weekdays.
There is nothing more California than Eveleigh’s (8752 Sunset Boulevard, Tel: 424-239-1630. www.theeveleigh.com). Its dusky, rustic interior is lined with wooden booths and there is a lively bar packed with drinking, eating, and socializing patrons. Out front, screened from the traffic noise, is a more subdued terrace, a bit like someone’s suburban patio. In back, another terrace with a sparkling night city view worthy of inspiring a marriage proposal. The menu is funky. There are snacks, like beer-battered anchovies, lamb meatballs, and a pickle plate. Then there are also serious entrées: a hangar steak or wild Alaskan halibut. If you have a need to eat a live whole urchin, that’s yet another exotic choice. Either way you’ll be in good company: Charlize Theron and Jennifer Aniston have dined here. As it turns out, so has Tom Cruise! Maybe he’ll be back, wearing a new pair of boots.