Where is LA?
California is the background for our Spring/Summer 2014 collections so we asked inspiring locals to share their visions of Carol and Humberto's homestate. Dorothée Perret is a French editor and publisher based in Los Angeles. She founded the independent publishing house DoPe Press that was created with the magazine PARIS, LA in 2008. With a background in fashion and a close connection with artists, DoPe Press supports strong personalities who exert a subtle influence in today’s culture. Here's her very own definition of LA and its lifestyle.
Last weekend the "center" of the Los Angeles art world took place at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA for the Printed Matter LA Art Book Fair. Free and open to the public, the fair attracted nearly 25,000 visitors curious to discover artists’ books, art catalogs, monographs, periodicals, and zines presented by over 250 international independent publishers. Prices ranged from a couple of dollars to a couple thousand, and business was brisk. I was proud to be part of this amazing gathering with DoPe Press, my publishing house, and to witness a revived interest in printed books and magazines. The event was carried by a huge sense of community and positive energy. People from all over the place — skaters from Fairfax, it-girls from Hollywood, hippies from Echo Park, and bleached boys from Malibu among others — pressed shoulder to shoulder for three days, thirsty to devour and exchange books, art, and contemporary culture.
It was infused with a Californian spirit and the genuinely free attitude people adopt on the West coast. A melting pot where North America touches the South, where the West meets Asia.
In my personal experience this is where L.A. stands right now.
Arriving from Paris one year ago, I was excited to discover sparks of energy and vitality throughout the city, from the dispersed nodes of the art world to the surprisingly active nightlife and a small but passionate fashion demimonde. The magazine I started several years ago, Paris, LA, has always existed between the two cities, and many of my regular contributors, from photographer Todd Cole to the artists Brendan Fowler and Catherine Opie, in unique and different ways epitomize the city’s paradoxically laid-back and supercharged creative scene. Once in a while my Parisian sensibility makes me wish for the dense urban fabric of the Marais, but what Los Angeles has taught me is that proximity isn’t necessarily energy. In the vast desert distances of L.A., sensations are like wildfires, spread on the wind, sweeping rapidly from the mountains to the sea. In Los Angeles, sparks fly.
But of course even the eternally bright sunshine of Los Angeles will never remove the dark aura of mystery, intrigue and glamour that seem to be at the secret heart of this unknowable metropolis. The brightest sunshine makes the darkest shadows. Hidden behind an anonymous door at the end of a parking lot in West Hollywood is an opulent fragment of Old Europe at its most perverse, decadent, and sophisticated. The Chalet Society, an exclusive invitation-only gathering organized by the artist Piero Giolia, seems to exist out of time and place, an artist’s salon constructed in solid oak and red velvet. In a detail that would not be out of place in a David Lynch film, the conversation is accompanied by an elegant woman pianist in her own room, playing softly with her back turned to the audience. While there are decadent touches of Giolia’s native Naples evident in the décor, it is an experience that nonetheless, by virtue of its very placelessness, could only be possible in Los Angles.
In tandem with the burgeoning art life, L.A. offers an incredible take on fashion. The streets abound with cool kids dressed in their own personal styles —including exclusive tattoos never seen before. It’s refreshing to come across people who dress with their own taste or an attitude-- and not according to the pages of trendy magazines. In Los Angeles the landscape is so overwhelming that it opens you to new contingencies. It’s also America—the country of individual freedom, so there is no mental judgment on the way you look, which allows all kinds of fantasy and eccentricity to arise. This feeling of difference is not only palpable on the way a person looks. It’s also part of a whole engagement toward life. It’s about the way you eat, the way you built your house, and which education you choose for your kids.
In California you can live your individuality to the limit. People don’t need validation from others, people validate themselves. Above all, it is not a trendy place, but a land that inspires you to dream a life. And like a mirror, it is only visible as a reflection".