Since the recession, many designers have remained cautious, cutting back collections and limiting their reach. But Alexis Bittar, still enjoying his recent CFDA accolade, has only seemed to gain steam. In Los Angeles to toast not one but three store openings in the Golden State (two in Los Angeles and one in San Francisco), the designer mingled with a low-key crowd that was equal parts new, local fans and longtime devotees.
At his Abbot Kinney store—a converted beach bungalow with whitewashed floors—Bittar declared himself a fan of the thrumming neighborhood. “This Venice store has a similar feel in terms of content to my other stores, but Abbot Kinney has this amazing beachy vibe and you can just feel this cool undercurrent running through the area.” Even L.A.’s Third Street location seems to have caught on to Venice’s laid-back ethos. “It’s really surprised us. What’s selling on Third Street is more subdued than we had thought it would be. I guess we thought it would be more glitzy.” (This is L.A., after all.)
Fresh off the Victoria’s Secret runway, model Alessandra Ambrosio (above right) introduced herself to the designer, while stylist (and Tom Ford costume designer) Arianne Phillips and a host of L.A. socials sipped Alizé and perused the Fall collection (and a taxidermy hybrid wildebeest/zebra by artist Frank J. Zitz, decked out in AB bangles, below). Lauren Hutton (above left, with Bittar), who follows Joan Collins’ well-heeled footsteps in the line’s latest Jack Pierson-shot campaign, swung by to catch up with Bittar. The designer was all smiles when talk turned to Hutton. “I’ve known Jack for 20 years now and it was good to have such an artistic sensibility to the shots. And with Lauren, well, I just wanted [him] to really capture her and it turned out beautiful.”
Photos: Andreas Branch Photography