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There’s a trend of designers moving their ateliers to Los Angeles. Hedi Slimane did it; so did Tom Ford; and now New York-based Jonathan Simkhai has officially made the move West.
On Wednesday, the designer, who has dressed Gigi Hadid, Alicia Vikander, Blake Lively, Rachel Brosnahan and many more, celebrated the official opening of his West Hollywood atelier and first retail store with a cocktail party complete with Simkhai-tinis.
And judging from the who’s who of Hollywood stylists who showed up in support — Monica Rose (Chrissy Teigen and Gigi Hadid), Petra Flannery (Emma Stone), Tara Swennen (Kristen Stewart), Joseph Cassell (Taylor Swift) and Jessica Paster (Emily Blunt) among them — expect to see a lot more Simkhai clothes on the step-and-repeat this awards season.
“It’s nice to be able to do all the design right here,” says Simkhai, whose staff followed him from New York, where he launched his brand in 2010.
A 2015 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winner, Simkhai has earned a reputation for his romantic-meets-real style, using delicate lace on body-con dresses and working the peekaboo theme into more playful pieces, such as lace-up jeans, asymmetric-cut blouses, tailored pants and jackets with sexy, stapled slits. His evening gowns and jumpsuits in lingerie silk or sporty stripes are also popular.
Those pieces share space next to “Feminist AF” T-shirts, denim high-tops from his Reebok collab, sculptural single earrings and style books in the store side of the 5,000 square-foot HQ at 653 N. La Cienega Blvd., a stone’s throw from the boutiques on Melrose Place. There’s a back VIP area and patio, an atelier studio space and offices, too.
“We have pattern makers and sample makers right next door,” says Simkhai, opening the door to reveal cutting tables with designs in process. “Celebs swing by and we can do fittings, alterations and custom designs. And being here for the stylists is great.”
Swennen, for one, is already a super-fan. After seeing Jamie Chung’s Simkhai-designed, form-fitting lace wedding dress in 2016, she had the designer make her one just like it. “I don’t have the husband yet, but I have the dress. It’s the dress-in-waiting!” the stylist jokes, adding that she definitely considers Simkhai a go-to for her red carpet work, too.
To that end, in a rack on the atelier side, special gowns share space with bedazzled jeans, dripping with crystals.
For Simkhai, moving to L.A. wasn’t about becoming a casual brand, he says, it was about wanting a better lifestyle. “To have beautiful weather 12 months a year is so inspiring,” he says. “Waking up and knowing the sun is bound to come out sooner or later makes the day so amazing.”
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