Carole Sabas Talks About LA's Reputation as a Fashion Capital

As a foreign correspondent for French Vogue, Carole Sabas has become an adept seeker of new, fun and fashionable things in cities around the world. Recently she has begun a series of fashion guides, putting that knowledge, along with a rich tapestry of tips from insiders, into book—some might say, Bible—form. We are proud to announce, upon the publication of Sabas’s LA Fashion Guide today, the release of a limited edition Braverman inspired by the guide’s illustrations by Caroline Andrieu. This collaboration exclusive collaboration can be seen and purchased at Bergdorf Goodman in NYC October 15-21.  To celebrate the occasion we talked to Sabas about LA’s reputation as a fashion capital and a few of her favorite things.

In doing the fashion guide did you run into the notion that the image factory of the world kind of has a bad image? Or did you in fact find yourself immediately connecting with the glamorous part of the city, the historical part of LA?

If by the glamorous and historical part of the city you mean Downtown, the Sunset Tower, the Beverly Hills Hotel and Liz Goldwyn: yes! 100%. LA is definitely bound to become an important fashion capital, but not necessarily under the usual form (seasonal fashion weeks). It's more about individuals creating amazing sur-mesure, one-of-a-kind pieces for celebrities or chic, appreciative boutiques like Just One Eye, Opening Ceremony, Tenoversix, etc.  I'm thinking of brands like Cerre, Newbark, the Elder Statesman, Co-Collections, Dafne Balatsos, Michael Schmidt, Wren... I'm thinking of eco-warriors entrepreneurs like Blake Mycoskie (Toms). Of streetwise kings like Jeremy Scott and Bernhard Willhelm. The fashion scene owes also its edge to stylists like Sally Lindley or Maryam Malakpour. And to the new generation of vintage dealers/curators as smart as Richard Wainwright from New/Found and Joey Grana from Scout.  Hedi Slimane has just brought a spotlight to that LA fashion scene which is in part so exploded, unorganized, often linked to the night clubbing/red carpeting phenomenon, but so vivid, generous and exciting!  I can't wait for some East Coast or European pros to come over, and create some very much needed high-end showrooms.

I feel like everyone who visits or lives in LA is actually visiting or living in a mythological LA, formed by their favorite movies, books, images, etc. Did you have that kind of fantasy LA in your head? Where does your vision of LA come from?

I'm a sucker for old Hollywood à la Kenneth Anger, but I mean, who's not?  I was starting the guide when a Paris Photo fair event launched its first edition in the back lot at Paramount Studios.  That kind of magic will never disappear, like the Hollywood sign which gives me goose bumps even after a thousand hikes nearby.  There is also the endless touristic fascination for the dark, ghost, haunted LA, from the Black Dahlia to the Family, and actually I met someone who still receives a once a week call from Charles Manson.  Only in LA...  I also once met Aldous Huxley’s widow for a beautiful interview in her garden about LSD.  I think of these two old-European intellectuals who I see every time I dine at Musso and Frank’s.  And of course, Joan Didion. There is no LA, no Hollywood, no California without Joan Didion.

I love the way you were introduced to some of the places here (in NY)—by their proximity to great eateries. LA is obviously a bit more... spread out. How did you come by your discoveries there?

The principle of the guide is that I interview dozens of fashion people to find out where they congregate.  Very quickly, you get the main locations to pass along to your visiting friends from the Paris or Milan fashion worlds: Chateau Marmont—of course—Sunset Tower, Madeo, Sushi Park, Laurel Hardware, Café Gratitude, Gjelina... I trust my tipsters, as they are stylish, no-nonsense foodies, from Kate Bosworth to Erin Wasson, from Angela Lindvall to Paula from Thomas Wylde.  Everyone sent me to the spas in Koreatown, to the Griffith Park trails, and the Kundalini classes at Golden Bridge: these were great discoveries, yes!

Did you spend much time in town working on the guide? Have you been converted?

I spent almost 3 months, and I'm totally in love with LA, ready to move from NYC.  One of the complaints I heard the most was: "isolated".  A general feeling, it seems, but not enough to nullify the awe of that extraordinary light which greets you every morning. 

- Interview by Christopher Wallace

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