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“I wanted to write a book about shopping now because there is still so much joy in it,” writes former longtime L.A. Times Fashion Editor Booth Moore in the introduction to her new book “Where Stylists Shop: The Fashion Insider’s Ultimate Guide.” Moore, who prides herself on being an Olympic-level shopper since she was a schoolgirl in New York City, is now senior fashion editor at The Hollywood Reporter. Here she has compiled a handy global guide tapping into favorite haunts of stylists, aka “the industry’s gatekeepers/ultimate insiders.” The book contains fashion intel from 175 people in the industry including celebrity stylists, designers, bloggers, editors, bloggers, street-style stars, models, costume designers, store owners and tastemakers about where to shop in fashion capitals NY, London, Milan, Paris, L.A., and Tokyo; cutting-edge fashion destinations such as Cape Town and Seoul; as well as inspirational holiday destinations such as Marrakech and Tulum. Even though it often seems like brick-and-mortars are closing faster than a snapping turtles’ jaw in favor of online shopping, Moore notes correctly that “shopping is all about the thrill of the hunt,” when you “discover that special find or bargain on your travels that no one else at home will have, a part of the experience of creating a style uniquely yours.” That said, she also provides website info where applicable, so that you can at least get a sampling of a store’s wares if you are unable to visit/find your passport/deal with the sh*tshow which inevitably surrounds today’s air travel.
In addition to listing the department stores, boutiques, malls, bazaars/flea markets, museum gift shops, discount outlets, secret hideaways that all have something unique to offer, the book features interviews with several prominent designers and stylists such as Nordstrom’s Olivia Kim weighing in on the Seattle area; Jeremy Scott on Kansas City, Missouri; Trina Turk on Palm Springs; and Rachel Comey on her NYC local faves, each giving tips on preferred home town finds. Abroad abounds with tips from Sophia Webster (East London and Camden Town gems), Vanessa Seward’s Paris address book and B. Akerlund’s Stockholm secrets, to name a few of the stylish individuals who represent here. Of course, anyone can have a shopping story. Moore relates taking a trek to the Slauson Super Mall (a swap-meet in a questionable area of L.A.) after learning in one of her near daily inquiries of a total stranger (in this case a coffee barista) that her gold nameplate earrings were purchased there.
Of course I paid special attention to the section on New York to see if I could add anything new to my shopping repertoire. Did you know that there is a “true hidden gem” of a sock and legwear place called Elegance Hosiery tucked away inside of Penn Station? Nor did I, but honestly, as tempted as I was for new micro-fishnets (whatever those are) I don’t think I would ever venture willingly into that subterranean hellhole without a train to catch. I’m putting it on my list for the next time I’m Philly bound on Amtrak. I also checked out New York Vintage (117 W. 25th St) just to see what treasures could be unearthed besides Michelle Obama’s Norell dress and SJP’s bird-shaped wedding headpiece. I was particularly interested in seeing what Comme des Garcons apparel was available, as the Met Gala is a mere fortnight away. The answer was not much other than a plaid wool jacket and a two-piece slightly deconstructed, gray ensemble which a CDG Play striped-shirt-clad-stylist was in the process of photographing.
Thanks to the book, I had been tipped off to the existence of an upstairs fairy land — a rental-only archive for costume designers and stylists which was jam packed with a dizzying array of designer shmattes and accessories. I was shown to two racks of mostly lackluster CDG selections not likely to be seen on the backs of the anointed few come May 1st. Later I took a spin through the actual Comme des Garcons boutique; a super cool tunnel entrance (I encountered more photographers outside) leads to the museum-like store, but it is not featured in the book. Here I unfortunately loved EVERY. SINGLE. THING.– although my wallet didn’t, staying dutifully tucked away in my handbag.
In the interviews which Moore has done to promote the book (boothmoore.com), she mentions not yet having had the opportunity to travel/shop Africa yet her industry pals have come through for her. In reviewing several of the online sites from other continents, I gleaned that the shopping experience provided will obviously lend itself towards the multicultural with emphasis on the artisanal/bohemian/folksy/craftsy. There are shoes and handbags made from Kilim rugs, beaded tribal jewelry, unstructured casual wear – most of which translates better to the L.A laidback lifestyle/climate/sensibilities than to the more buttoned up East Coast. Although fashion is always inspired by other cultures, I would tend to be wary of hewing too closely to the truly authentic unless you share that affiliation — hello cultural appropriation pushback!
I began to ponder which shopping spots I’d highlight if asked but the question is actually a complex one. Would I really want to enlighten my fellow shopaholics or selfishly keep some of my preferred locales close to the vest? If all of a sudden thousands are descending on these well-kept secret industry havens such as the unmarked “Marni outlet in a residential neighborhood in Milan,” (Moore relates that you have to be buzzed in at the creaking gate), say Ciao Bella to that most essential element: rarity.
There’s no question that, like other addictions, shopping feeds the pleasure center of the brain, especially when you hit it big. Moore includes a section at the back of the book in which contributors share their style inspirations, biggest scores and words of wisdom. Personally, I have often sought to rationalize my purchases with something akin to Alice + Olivia Co-Founder Stacey Bendet’s mantra: “Shopping is cheaper than a psychiatrist!”
– Laurel Marcus