Forget Chanel, Stella McCartney or Alberta Ferretti.
The most exclusive boutique in West Hollywood is Cerre, a fledgling luxury brand that now resides in the former Costume National space on Melrose. The combo boutique/atelier is just two blocks west of trendy shopping street Robertson Boulevard and a few footsteps from the rock star-centric MaxField boutique.
You won’t find Cerre's limited edition leather and silk separates, leather backpacks, purses and jewelry anywhere else in the world. And while the line is currently limited to women, the designing couple -- Newport Beach native Clayton Webster, 36, and Burgundy-born Flavie Webster, 33 -- are already doing men's bespoke and have a full men's line planned.
The first fashionable L.A. fellow to snag a bespoke Cerre aubergine leather jacket was Cameron Silver of Decades, the famous vintage boutique on Melrose. “I met Flavie and Clayton and the opening of their store and immediately asked to see their men’s collection," Cameron tells THR exclusively. "When they told me they didn’t have a men’s collection yet, I requested a bespoke piece.”
“Although they favor black, Clayton found an amazing burgundy leather and even delivered the finished product to me at LAX right before my flight to Paris," he said. "I’ve been living in the jacket ever since."
Silver, the author of the upcoming book Decades: 100 Years of Style and Fashion, likes Cerre’s clear and timeless esthetic with just the right attitude and edge. "Luxe without pretension," he adds. "And the best part is that it’s uber exclusive, since you can only find the collection at their Melrose boutique.”
Flavie and Clayton's paths converged in the late '90s while they were both modeling on European runways and in showrooms for the likes of Olivier Theyskens, Tsumori Chisato, Commes des Garcons, Paco Rabanne, Paul Smith, Moschino, Issey Miyake, and Roberto Cavalli. They met on a train from Paris to Cologne, Germany. Clayton chased after the striking, tall brunette but she played hard to get. “I’m French,” she explains, with an expressive wave of a chiffon draped arm..
Neither planned a career in modeling. Flavie had a sociology degree and Clayton had gone to film school. But after they got together, they started paying more and more attention to where the fabrics and materials came from, how things fit and work. “We saw the whole system of fashion,“ Clayton says. “It was a wonderful education. We knew who to contact, where things come from and who we wanted to see. We decided to put our stamp on our understanding of luxury brands' commitment to quality, elegance and craft."
It didn’t hurt that Flavie’s grandmother (Cerre is named after her) was an accomplished seamstress, so Flavie had innate memories of the feel, aroma and color of fabrics and leathers from when she was 8-years-old.
The couple opened a small showroom in 2005, close to their Silver Lake home. They wanted to keep things simple and follow in the footsteps of luxury brands they admired such as Prada and Hermes, that had started out with luxury leather goods.
“It seemed like the good route to go because you were establishing sort of like a classic luxury-like appeal, and it was manageable since it was just accessories,” says Clayton. “And I think that since we were self-taught on how to make patterns, going straight into the clothing would have been a lot harder than going into bags and learning that craft first."
But they soon found that putting their minimalist leather accessory designs in large stores meant their work got lost next to flashy or trendier items. So, they decided to take over Costume National’s space to be able to present their cohesive Cerre clothing and accessory styles.
Their clothing collection is focused on leather and sheer fabrics, with exquisite fit and small construction details that only the wearer may notice. Everything is very minimal. Timeless. They stick to neutrals and don’t do seasonal collections that disappear forever or go on sale. They have a base collection and add new designs, experimenting constantly. But they can also duplicate anything they’ve done before as well as do couture and bespoke work.
"We want to make clothes that can live in your closet,” Clayton explains. Flavie adds, “We will make two of something, sell them and then either make more or experiment. It's all about having fun."
Some of their most popular current styles include a stripped down biker jacket, a unique leather scarf jacket (dyed to match silk linen and sueded lambskin), multiple variations on sheer floaty kimono and tunic dresses, lean skinny pants and high-waisted full trousers.
The couple also designed the interior of the shop. Clayton made the 3/4 inch thick marble topped hollow steel tables from marble remnants scoured from obscure SoCal outlets. There’s even talk of a furniture gallery show for his work in November.
Cerre got a big boost earlier this year from the film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. They’d become friends with costume designer Trish Summerville and were thrilled when she asked them to design Rooney Mara’s (Lisbeth Salander) leather jacket and her omnipresent backpack. They also did several pieces for Robin Wright’s character.
The couple has done designs for Fergie, Dakota Fanning and Eva Green, who plays the sexy witch in Johnny Depp’s upcoming Dark Shadows. They’ve worked closely with personal stylist Samantha McMillan -- one of THR's 25 Most Powerful Stylists -- who styles Depp and Michelle Pfeiffer.
To find out more about Cerre, go to their website. And there's an open invitation to stop by the boutique for a cup of tea with this charming, unassuming and talented couple.
Cerre can be found at 8920 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood, CA 90048