Located in Downtown Los Angeles, the Fashion District has long been the West Coast center of the apparel industry in the U.S, a mecca for buyers and retailers, shoppers and stylists. It’s one of La La Land’s most vibrant and colorful ‘hoods, where it’s not uncommon to encounter the season’s latest couture being wheeled down the street on a rack or bolts of fabric lined up along the sidewalk.
But it’s no longer just a place for designers and clothes hounds. The area’s gallery and street art, elevated sips and global cuisine served in stylish digs have made the Fashion District L.A.’s destination à la mode.
The fabulous art
Downtown Art Walk sprung up around a decade ago as a monthly collaboration along Spring and Main Streets; today it spans twelve blocks and includes more than two dozen galleries. One of the largest standing galleries is Hive Gallery, which focuses on pop surrealism. The Gallery features five artists per month, hosts twenty-five working artists at a time and has a store selling artist-created items. Ren Gallery is a contemporary space with pop, street and abstract art from emerging and established artists in media including paintings, sculptures, assemblages and photography. And BertaArt Studio Gallery shows pieces by Clara Berta, a contemporary painter who specializes in serene works to promote healing and wellness. While you are strolling around, look for the ever-changing collection of murals.
Shopping the LA flower district
After Japanese-American growers established L.A.’s first major flower market in 1912, a group of thirty European-American growers launched what came to be known as The Original Los Angeles Flower Market. A hundred years later it’s still going strong, and during select hours it’s open to the general public, who are invited to purchase stems and plants at cost. The market is part of the L.A. Flower District, a six-block floral marketplace with 200 vendors that is the U.S.’s largest wholesale flower district. You can even book a flower arranging class with Oldvine Florals which includes a tour of the market.
Bargain hunting on Santee Alley
The outdoor shopping experience at Santee Alley packs 150 retailers into a narrow alleyway that’s just two blocks long. Shop for accessories at Beauty Girl and JC Handbags, clothing for the younger set at Only for Kids, menswear at Mike’s Fashion, women’s apparel at Miss Lola and beauty products at Make Up Freak.
Enjoying eclectic dining at City Market South
Founded in 1909 by a farmer’s co-op as a centralized location to distribute and sell its produce, City Market South now houses several restaurant concepts, a coffee bar, shops and design studios in 75,000-square-feet of brick and bow truss warehouses. Come hungry and snag one of the tables spilling out onto the patio at DAMA, a tropical deco-designed, Latin American fusion restaurant located in the former Pacific Banana Co. building.
If you crave Bolognese dishes, check out Rossoblu and start with fritto misto with preserved lemon and olives and succulent marinated big eye tuna with heirloom beans and panzanella. You’ll find fizzy red Lambrusco and other wines hailing from Emilia-Romagna as well as cocktails peppered with Italian components; an Ombra menu of low-proof drinks and snacks is a nod to Venice’s after-work cicchetti culture.
When you have a hankering for tacos, Sonoratown is just a short walk from City Market South, a casual spot launched by Teodoro Diaz-Rodriguez, Jr and Jennifer Feltham that’s an ode to both their L.A. neighborhood and the Mexico border town where Diaz-Rodriguez, Jr. was raised. Tacos are made Sonora-style like in San Luis Rio Colorado.
A propos to its fashionista neighborhood digs is Pattern Bar, a sleek lounge whose drinks are named after beloved iconic designers including Coco Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld. Cartier is a Smash/Mule hybrid with Bourbon, blackberries, lime juice, mint and ginger beer, while the gin-based Armani has citrus and elderflower, is topped with bubbly and includes a dose of CBD oil.
No matter where you are in L.A. you can feel the influence of the city’s film industry, and if you have a penchant for old Hollywood, book a room at the Ace Hotel. Located in the former United Artists Theatre dating back to 1927, the property offers a variety of accommodation choices and even has a rooftop pool. The gorgeously-restored 1,600-seat theatre with a three-story lobby hosts musicians, television show screenings, parties and other happenings. Onsite restaurant Best Girl is an homage to the first flick screened at the theater – a silent romantic comedy starring Mary Pickford – and is overseen by James Beard award-winning chef Michael Cimarusti.
If you are seeking a more buzzy vibe, the London-based brand The Hoxton recently opened its doors in a 174-room hotel housed in a 1922 Beaux Arts building overlooking Broadway. Design elements in the rooms, include retro phones, Mexican-inspired rug patterns and tiles and local artwork. Downstairs, Sibling Rival is the lobby restaurant serving breakfast and all-day dishes like a togarashi fried chicken sandwich and loaded “disco tots” and on the rooftop at Pilot, you’ll find wood-grilled branzino, Dungeness crab fusilli and poolside spritzes. Hox Friends, a group of local designers, culinary folks and artists curate guests' experiences through recommendations, tips and guides.