A star is born
Edie Cohen -- Interior Design, 4/1/2003 12:00:00 AM
In an era of rampant logo-mania, big-ticket productions, and fashion studios owned by conglomerates, Peter Cohen has a subversive streak. His relaxed apparel sports a discreet gold star instead of a namesake label, and he's remained independent for 20 years, operating from Los Angeles rather than New York, Paris, or Milan. "Clothes are just a trigger to get to your best self," he says. "Provenance doesn't matter."
For years, Cohen was content without a flagship, opting to offer his clothing through 50 points of sale nationwide. Then he discovered a 1930s bungalow nestled amid a semisecret garden in the Miracle Mile district. For Cohen, one of the site's best assets is its privacy. "Set back from cars and pedestrians, it still feels like a house," he says. "People don't live in mirror-and-chrome stores. A homier environment makes customers more comfortable."
To effect the subtle transition from home to homelike boutique, Cohen enlisted Rosemary Peck Interiors. A designer who had traded New York for L.A., Peck was a fashion-interiors neophyte but a longtime Cohen devotee, her favorite black leather shirt-jacket attesting to the fact.
Peck's work complete, the 1,900-square-foot shop opens through French doors. Beyond a square foyer are three rooms that owe their stylish yet personal appeal to the two designers' use of color and choice of unique objects and artwork. "I deal with a customer who's interested in a range of aesthetics broader than fashion," says Cohen.
The main room, where day wear is displayed, retains its residential character, thanks to the vaulted ceiling and original travertine fireplace. By the fireplace stands a leather-covered custom bench; in the center of the existing honey-colored floor is a cream leather-upholstered custom borne. A 6-foot-long stained-maple cash-wrap desk designed by Peck provides balance and visual punch. Behind the desk, a Hans Sandgren Jakobsen–designed Viper screen, made of anodized aluminum tubes, partially shades the wide rear window. Coves emit a rose-tinted glow.
Adjoining a patio, where a fiberglass chaise longue and a vintage perforated-metal mannequin beckon, the front room is enclosed in frosted glass. Both this room, for suits and sportswear, and the main one have walls painted chartreuse. A color favorite in the fashion world, chartreuse is generally too intense to use in large amounts for interiors. Here, it's diluted by sunlight to become a spirited accessory for Cohen's clean-lined garments.
Color calms down in the back room, where customers find evening wear. The compact, low-ceilinged space is painted cream and amplified with mirrors. A playful 1960s vibe emanates from the Cohen-designed faux-suede fringe shades surrounding each of the wood-paneled ceiling's recessed lights. In the shop's two dressing rooms, Peck placed 1960s Fornasetti fiberglass chairs originally designed for a Miami Beach gelateria.
Throughout the shop, contemporary artwork explores color and light. Almost all the pieces are by Maxwell Hendler, an L.A. artist represented by the Patricia Faure Gallery. Faure herself is another regular at the house of Cohen.