I’ll give you a visual of what happens to me, when I’m driving from my home in Irvine to Laguna Beach. I’ll take, what I call the scenic route on PCH, past my dream house, which I’ve named Rebecca (after the novel) that’s perched high up on a cliff, overlooking Crystal Cove, past the blooming bougainvilleas, and a few random stores until I approach the Fetneh Blake boutique on my right. Much to the dismay of other drivers, I purposely slow down every time. What I see on those two mannequins will be a blueprint for what’s new, fresh and fashion forward. Even though I’m in sunny California, that single window display gives me a glimpse of what’s on the cutting edge of fashion in New York, Paris or Tokyo.
If you’re on a fashion quest for something different, you”ll find it there. Each item she carries in her store has been carefully curated by Fetneh herself and has its own story. What you won’t find here are the usual suspects (you know I mean), familiar brands rotating in all the hip boutiques around town. It’s unlikely that you’ve even heard of some of her brands, since she’s usually the only store in OC carrying them. She’s at New York Fashion Week and attends the shows in Paris, so if you pick up something from her boutique, you can rest assured that no-one will know who it’s by, let alone be wearing it! What Fetneh sells above all, is her own sense of style, her unique edgy brand of it, and if you’re in need of help, she knows how to gently nudge you in the right direction. She’s been in business for the last 14 years, in the same spot on PCH. I recently sat down on a warm afternoon for an informal chat with her.
|Fetneh wearing a SU kaftan by Parisian based brand with roots in Turkey. (SU means water in Turkish).|
|Eclectic sheer shirt and stretch pants by Japanese brand If Six Was Nine (the brand is named after a Jimi Hendrix song)|
|Who doesn’t need a gold clutch? I fell in love this oversize gold painted clutch by Simona Tagliaferri $720|
SA: How has your vision for your store evolved over the
FB: The vision changes but the bottom line, which is the passion that drives you to find something fantastic, well-made and well-priced, stays the same.
SA: Did you know you were going to create a brand by placing your name on your boutique?
FB: I never really thought about it. My ex-husband always encouraged me to have my name on it, and to create a brand. It has created a certain expectation, one of high quality and high fashion from my customers.
SA: Are you under any pressure to conform to the OC sense of fashion?
FB: (She laughs) My brand is both a blessing and a curse. Some people love it and some people don’t understand it.
SA: Who is a typical Fetneh Blake customer?
FB: Anyone in their 20s to 80s. Women usually come here to find something different. They usually appreciate style and want a whole look. We don’t cater to any particular shape or size meaning I don’t just want to sell clothes to skinny people.
SA: What’s your favorite item of clothing?
FB: STROM jeans which I am wearing right now, they’re slim boyfriend jeans but they’re not too baggy. They have the perfect wash and color. I usually have to re-order them every time I get them in.
SA: I would love to take a peek inside your closet. What’s your closet like at home?
FB: I have my favorites that I go to every time. I have a few really good dresses and for casual wear I have several leather jackets. But I go through my closet and clean it out every six months or so.
SA: What color do you love wearing?
FB: Usually black, but now I am also into gold and deep deep reds.
SA: Do you cook?
FB: I love cooking. I cook healthy dishes and Persian food. I like putting things together and I can’t work from a cook-book!
SA: What kind of music do you listen to?
FB: I live with music. I listen to jazz most of the time.
SA: What is your ideal romantic date?
FB: I would say a nice lunch to start with.
SA: Do you have any favorite artists?
FB: I love Ed Moses, I own two paintings from him. I also love Peter Alexander and Jimmy Gleeson. Each painting means something to me on a personal level since I live with them.
SA: What’s your beauty secret?
FB: I try everything. I love creams, moisturizers and serums. But sleep is the most important thing.
SA: What do you do to relax?
FB: I pray every morning and every night.
SA: Tell me about your Persian background?
FB: I would credit my mother for passing on her love of beautiful clothes to me. Sometimes she would make clothes for me to wear. Iran has a beautiful place in my heart and is a lovely memory, but my life and my home is here.
SA: What do you love shopping for?
FB: I love shopping, so I will shop everywhere. But most of the time I buy make-up. A lipstick is the easiest way to change your look. Right now in my make-up bag I have the same lipstick shade (dark red) in six or seven different brands. I guess, I am a bit obsessed with that color right now.
SA: What are some of the fashion lines you’re carrying?
FB: If Six Was Nine by Japanese husband and wife, LBG is by them too, but it’s a more casual line. There’s also Duuya, an LA artist (originally from Mongolia) she creates hand painted silk clothing with different washes. French high-end resort wear SU’s range of kaftans and Simona Tagliaferri an Italian designer who works out of Paris.
SA: What’s next for you? Ever thought of having your own fashion line?
FB: Maybe, I’ve thought about it. I love vests so, maybe a line of vest, that are simple and lightweight. I also love easy silk tops. Let’s see.
427 N. Coast Hwy.
Laguna Beach, CA
|Orange with Pink is the new black.|
You know how Fashion Island is 10 degrees cooler than everywhere else in OC? I’ve now learned that’s not always the case. The Art of Fashion which was recently hosted by Neiman Marcus in conjunction with Style Week OC would have been a great opportunity to get excited about the Fall trends, if it wasn’t for the heat.
Although the NM magazines placed on each seat were too heavy to be used as fans, I did spot a few resourceful people rip pages out, and in a matter of seconds, create their own, custom, folded origami fans. I discovered, however, that the insert (made of card stock) was far more effective. And so did the lady that sat next to me. Seeing her level of discomfort I advised her to do the same. She then looked at me, like I had just handed her, an electric fan.
The fashion was fabulous. I really mean it. It was fabulous and wearable but I just couldn’t get excited about fur, winter coats or Fall colors while my bra melted against my skin and sweat dripped down my forehead. It wasn’t a pretty sight.
And then, the show reached a climax when a model’s shoe accidentally slipped off. What do you think she did? What would anyone do in 90 degree heat? She kicked the other heel off too and walked down the catwalk with her bare feet, holding her spiked two-tone, Louboutins in her hand, where they belonged. Who could blame her? It made my day. And just then, the DJ played “Papaoutai” a song by my favorite Belgian artist Stromae and at that moment, I realized that all is well with the world, and I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I now invite you, to enjoy some of my favorite looks from the show and listen to the sounds of Stromae, in the comfort of your cool, fully air-conditioned homes.
|Living the glam life.|
|Neutrals and flats. OK, they’re flats to me.|
|It’s all about the heels. Fuchsia, Playboy bunny, tartan and pearl.|
|Contrast your clutch.|
|Hot in boots. No pun intended.|
|Who doesn’t like some sparkle and fringe?|
|Electric blue was a hit. And I saved the best for last.|
but this time I’m sorry to say, I am doing it unwillingly. My best-kept fashion
secret, my “yet to be undiscovered by all” source of style and my sole reason
for traveling to Europe, is now opening here, right in my backyard at, South Coast
Plaza. That’s it, I’ve written it down and now I feel my stomach churn. It was
supposed to be my little secret, and now my last bastion of style is here for
everyone else to enjoy too. Right next to its sister store H&M.
Los Angeles, but somehow, I could handle that. The Beverly Drive store didn’t
launch with a big bang and much to my relief, didn’t receive many accolades,
Farsi) will hopefully be off putting to my Persian friends. I’m also hoping so
will its, androgynous, minimalist, over sized silhouettes (which I am obsessed
with). Everything, which I adore in my closet, is by COS, and so far I was the
only one that owned it. That’s all about
simple fashion will be a major disappointment to all the the label obsessed OC fashionistas, and that hopefully
it will close shop in a few months and go back to far-far away Sweden and NOT
follow in the footsteps of ABBA and IKEA.
$375 – dunedincashmere.co.uk
$290 – wolfandbadger.com
$37 – asos.com
|How high can you go?|
Who knew that thirty something years later I’d still be obsessed with heels. Like my mother, my petite frame may be to blame. My friends just roll their eyes at me, when I say that, I find flat shoes uncomfortable. Like someone with a bad case of acne, saying how much they love to wear foundation, they think I’m just covering-up another flaw.
|Hole in the heel platform wedge|
So you can imagine the turmoil I’ve been faced with recently, when all of a sudden, as I look around shoe stores from Bergdorf Goodman and beyond and this time, I just roll my eyes. There seems to be a severe case of monstrous heels out there, and it has become and epidemic. There are double heels everywhere, and by double I mean double the size of what I would consider high, and believe me I have quite a tolerance. I didn’t think I’d find myself with this predicament, since I usually have no problem with double anything, (double-decker buses, double espresso shots or double layer chocolate cake). For someone who has spent almost her entire life walking in heels you’d think it would be a breeze, right? Not quite.
I’ve entered uncharted waters. Has my age finally caught up with me? Have I lost my lust for life? Is it time to head over to Clarks like my mom? Or are there other women like myself, suffering (or stumbling) in silence?
My recent episode with trying on this shoe-type left me bewildered, embarrassed and confused. I cajoled myself, into thinking, that all will be well. The sales-person; shy, soft-spoken Adrian, which I prefer to the pushy, loud, fake-friendly type, told me “This one is really popular.” This doesn’t usually do much for me and the translation for “popular” usually means they’re dying to get rid of it, but this time, I was intrigued. He handed me the black double platform shoes, and then went off to help someone else. Thankfully, he left me to my own devices, which meant I could take my time and try them on, on my own. When he came back, he saw the shoes were placed back in their box, (the wrong way around). “What happened?” he asked.
“I felt like Frankenstein, learning how to walk” I said, and then I stood up and did a stiff walk for him saying “Thump,” with each awkward step I took. He gave out a loud chuckle, and without looking at me straight in the face, because tears of laughter filled his eyes, he shook his head, even-though he knew, by doing so, he would have no way of convincing me otherwise and that this affirmation, would surely lose him, his commission.
I’m not so practical, to think that I have to actually walk long distances in shoes that I love. But like anything else that we spend a considerable amount of money on, in order to get a higher quality product, shouldn’t we be paying for comfort and style when to comes to our feet? Even fabulous people, need to get out of the limo and walk a few steps on the red carpet without falling flat on their faces. Which nearly, happened to me right in the middle of the shop floor.
I’d like just one of these shoe designers to spend an evening in one of their most revered creations. Mr. Louboutin, you red-soled devil, that includes, you too.