Fashion Fate pix
Edie Cohen -- Interior Design, 4/1/2005 12:00:00 AM
Being at the right place at the right time could be the motto of Los Angeles fashion designer Pamela Barish. At the genesis of her career in the 1970's, she was headed to a boutique presentation in Beverly Hills when she spotted Cher on the street. Armed with pieces from her budding collection, the young designer asked the famous singer, "Want to buy a dress?" Cher bought all five. Since then, Barish's boho-chic styles have been picked up by high-end retailers such as Henri Bendel, Barneys New York, and Neiman Marcus. Some 30 years later, though, Barish wanted to shift from wholesale.
"I waited five years for this space," she says of the diminutive Venice, California, site that's now home to her first salon. Formerly a gallery in a 1920's building, the 900-square-foot space was a dim warren of rooms with walls coated in chipped paint and floors covered in linoleum. But Barish, who's good eye extends beyond fashion to interior design, saw its potential. Underneath the floor were the gallery's original black and white mosaic tiles, and she envisioned the cramped attic as a charming studio aerie.
Working with architect John Rock, Barish began by ripping out the attic. On the 500-square-foot ground floor, she installed new drywall and removed the floor. "I painted everything matte white," recalls Barish.
Upstairs, they dropped the floor and raised the ceiling from 5 to 9 feet. At the rear, 4 feet of floor space were lopped off to accommodate a balcony and a new oak stair; a dressing room is tucked into its base.
"I put in as few things as possible," says Barish of the furnishings, an artful arrangement of the sleek and the ornate. Just past the entry and a 1940's Louis Vuitton trunk, two sets of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's white-leather Barcelona chair and ottoman abut a 10-foot-high mirror, crafted from old ceiling tiles and crown molding. A pair of zebra-print cowhides lead back toward a pair of Philippe Starck's Louis Ghost armchairs, set in front of a beveled-glass shelf. Toward the rear, an American cast-iron dental cabinet, circa 1920, gets new life as a jewelry display. Hanging from the 12-foot-high ceiling is a 1920's Italian chandelier.
In the 400-square-foot studio, the floor changes to oak. A 1940's cut-glass mirror, propped atop a primitive New England altar table, reflects the clear forms of Starck's La Marie side chairs. Across from the balcony, a 6-foot-diameter French clock is wired to the rafters for support.
Speaking of support, Cher hasn't been by the shop yet. But since their auspicious encounter, Barish has dressed the likes of Rosanna Arquette, Anjelica Houston, and Meg Ryan.