Q&A: Bellacures Founder Samira Asemanfar
LA native on her upscale salon empire.
June 13, 2012
Bellacures founder and nail guru Samira Asemanfar is one of LA’s most prominent young entrepreneurs. In just six short years, the 29-year-old LA native has created a beauty empire that includes eight luxury nail salons spanning Southern California’s most prestigious neighborhoods. A self-described “nail biter turned manicure addict,” Asemanfar’s love affair with nailcare started as a preteen and stuck.
Seeing a gap in the industry, she set out to create a chain of upscale salons that also felt homey and super-stylish. With her most recent opening in Pasadena (other locations include Beverly Hills, Brentwood Village, Santa Monica, Larchmont Village, Studio City, Newport Beach, and Laguna Beach), Asemanfar reflects on her inspiration and shares her secrets for keeping perfectly groomed nails.
What prompted you to open a nail salon?
SAMIRA ASEMANFAR: I was inspired to create a better experience and culture, which was completely lacking in the nail industry. I wanted to connect on a deeper level with customers and offer cleanliness, professionalism, and an aesthetic that was in line with my own: stylish, yet refined.
What are some nail trends for summer?
SA: The more pop the better! People want to make their mark with brightness whether it’s a pair of neon sandals or reflector-like nail polish. I love neon shades like Essie’s Braziliant, Never a Dull Moment by Ginger & Liz, and Make a Difference by Gelish, as well as metallics like OPI’s Just Spotted the Lizard and Platinum by Dolce & Gabbana. I believe the happier the color on your nails, the better mood you’ll be in throughout the week.
What are tips for ensuring hands and nails are kept healthy and moisturized?
SA: Nail polish stays better on healthy nail beds. To keep them healthy, drink a lot of water, take omega fish oil vitamins daily, get enough calcium, and if your nails need desperate repair, make a trip to Whole Foods and pick up some biotin.
Stay moisturized by using a daily hand cream that has a cuticle treatment in it like J.R. Watkins Hand & Cuticle Salve and Deborah Lippmann’s Rich Girl Hand Cream with SPF. For extra-dry hands and cuticles, apply hand cream/cuticle care at night and wear gloves. Add argan oil, grapeseed oil, almond oil, coconut oil, or macadamia oil for extra moisture. Also, exfoliate with home treatments in between manicures. For an amazing home scrub, mix one cup of sugar with one cup of grapeseed oil and a half-cup of argan oil. You can use the same formula with salt for your feet.
When you’re not busy with Bellacures, what are your favorite places to dine and unwind?
SA: Urth Caffe (451 S. Hewitt St., Downtown LA, 213-797-4534), Pho Cafe (2841 W. Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake, 213-413-0888), and Ago (8478 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, 323-655-6333). My favorite activity is to walk [Santa Monica’s] San Vicente Blvd. from Barrington to the ocean and Montana Ave. from 26th to the ocean. 40 Mills Pl., Pasadena, 626-264-8616
Blu Jam Debuts Gourmet Breakfast for Dinner
Inventive brunch isn’t just reserved for the weekend at this restaurant.
June 12, 2012
Delicious breakfast options like this healthful omelet will be offered all day at Blu Jam.
Got a hankering for homemade blueberry pancakes on a Tuesday night? Stop by the wildly popular brunch hotspot, Blu Jam for its new Café All Day service. Now from 8 AM-9 PM daily, the West Hollywood restaurant will offer its farm-to-table menu of fresh omelets, breakfast wraps, hearty vegan dishes, and their signature crunchy French toast coated in cornflakes. Inventive breakfast-dinner mash-ups include breakfast nachos with scrambled egg-topped chips complemented by the usual nacho accoutrements; and brunch carbonara, comprised of poached eggs, risotto, bacon, green peas, parsley, and parmesan.
If you don't want to stray from tradition, Blu Jam still features extensive dinner options, running the gamut from pan-fried chicken schnitzel to burrata and strawberry on crostinis. Complement whatever you choose with owner/chef/sommelier Kamil Majer’s list of fine California wines and craft beers. 7371 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, 323-951-9191
Photograph Courtesy Blu Jam Café
Ultimate Summer Shirt: Chance's Striped Tee
Chance’s Julia Leach uses California as a muse for her Barneys New York exclusive collection.
June 12, 2012
Chance founder and designer Julia Leach’s new line for Barneys New York in Beverly Hills is saturated with stripes, but no piece is as summer-perfect as the painterly striped long sleeve tee ($115). A collaboration with Leach’s friend, artist Elliott Puckette, the hand-drawn striped cotton tee is a great way to wear the typical summer pattern in a unique way.
This tee is even more appropriate when considering Leach’s aesthetic for the collection’s tees, totes, beach towels, and more. California’s coast and laid-back lifestyle inspired the part-time Los Feliz resident (Leach is primarily based in NYC), resulting in hues like pool blue, palm-tree green, and foam white. The limited-edition XO Exclusively Ours Chance California line is available at Barneys New York in Beverly Hills for the month of June and at chanceco.com and barneys.com. 9570 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, 310-276-4400
Beach Read: Book on Beverly Hills Hotel's History
Robert S. Anderson’s new book debuts for the iconic hotel’s 100th anniversary.
June 11, 2012
As the historic Beverly Hills Hotel approaches its 100th anniversary on June 15, a book—The Beverly Hills Hotel and Bungalows – The First 100 Years—examines its storied past. Warmly written by Robert S. Anderson, the great-grandson of its original owner Margaret Anderson, the book reflects on the hotel’s iconic run as Hollywood’s favorite hangout.
A pink paradise with lush grounds, prized Polo Lounge, and famous bungalows, frequented by stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, and Howard Hughes, the Beverly Hills Hotel has long been revered as both a discreet hideaway and splashy social scene. Through glossy photos and juicy celebrity stories, Anderson paints a fun picture in this required summer read. Pack it for the pool—or one of The Beverly Hills Hotel’s legendary cabanas. $100 thebeverlyhillscollection.com
Exclusive: Taylor Kitsch Stars in Savages Webisodes
Oliver Stone cross-examines Kitsch’s character, Chon, in this five-part video series.
June 08, 2012
Oliver Stone’s drug cartel drama, Savages, won’t be released until July 6, but you can watch the director’s Interrogation Series—wherein characters from the film, such as Chon (Taylor Kitsch), are cross-examined by Stone—right now. Los Angeles Confidential has the exclusive on all five of the Interrogation Series webisodes featuring Kitsch. Through July 6, LAC readers can watch a new video every Friday at 10 AM (PT).
The plot of Savages centers on Chon and Ben (Aaron Johnson), two friends who share a small yet lucrative Laguna Beach-based pot-growing business—they also share a girlfriend, Ophelia (Blake Lively). After the pair refuses to partner with a fierce Mexican drug cartel, Ophelia is taken hostage and a gritty drug war unfolds. With 25 episodes in total, the Interrogation Series reveals the motives and personalities of each of main character. Watch them all!
Chon: An ex-Navy SEAL and the muscle behind the drug-dealing duo, played by Kitsch. la-confidential-magazine.com exclusive (ABOVE)
Ben: Chon’s brainy botanist partner in crime, played by Johnson. visit complex.com
Elena: The “ruthless and exquisite cartel queen,” played by Salma Hayek. visit mademan.com
Lado: Elena’s henchman, played by Benicio Del Toro. visit huffingtonpost.com/entertainment
Ophelia: Shared girlfriend of Chon and Ben and hostage of Elena, played by Lively. visit askmen.com
Also, check out our summer issue cover story with Kitsch and Stone.
Ultimate Skincare: We Test Sonya Dakar’s Fade Away
Iconic LA skincare expert's new Fade Away anti-aging cream earns our approval.
June 08, 2012
When LA’s queen of skincare, Sonya Dakar, introduces a new anti-aging product, it’s time to take note. The newest addition to her NutraSphere collection, Fade Away, is a lightening treatment used to erase dark spots, age spots, and hyperpigmentation. It also works as a preventative serum to break down enzymes that cause discoloration. Rich with daisy extracts, peptides, licorice root, and lactic acid, Fade Away’s vegan formula is safe enough for even the most sensitive skin. After using the product, my complexion was noticeably brighter and more even-toned from only two weeks of use. (Application tip: gently pat the cream on your face instead of rubbing into the skin.)
It’s no surprise that this latest product is a hit—Dakar has been a fixture in the beauty industry since 1971, perfecting famous faces such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Sofia Vergara, and Bar Rafaeli out of her Beverly Hills Clinic. Fade Away is now available on sonyadakarskinclinic.com (through July 15, save $35 off the $195 regular price with the code FADE35). 9975 Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, 310-553-7344
Grilled Cheese Goes Gourmet at Heywood
Deliciously gooey sandwiches made from fine cheeses take spotlight at Silver Lake resto.
June 08, 2012
Heywood Gourmet Grilled Cheese Shoppe’s brings gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches to Silver Lake. But don’t expect your childhood American-cheese-and-white-bread standard here. The slew of sandwiches on offer uses only the finest and freshest cheeses. Fitting, since its name is a tribute to John Heywood, a 16th-century writer who penned an ode to cheese.
The mouth-watering menu of cheese combinations ranges from a classic cheddar and butter on country white to inventive fresh mozzarella and creamy blue cheese topped with walnut pesto and tomatoes. Sweet tooths will want to try the sweet triple crème brie, organic fig jam, and raspberry sugar crystals on cinnamon raisin bread, while spice fans will fall for a combination of fontina, spicy jack, jalapeños, cream cheese, and crunchy tortilla strips set on sourdough. Served 11 AM-3 AM on Fridays and Saturdays, the sandwiches are supplemented with your choice of vegan cheeses, build-your-own options, and yummy tomato soup. 3337 ½ W. Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake
Photograph Courtesy Heywood Gourmet Grilled Cheese Shop
Actress Lily Cole Talks Snow White and the Huntsman
From this month's Snow White and the Huntsman, actress Lily Cole opens up about her career.
June 07, 2012
Starring in one of the two Snow White remakes released this year, Lily Cole delves into her role in Snow White and the Huntsman alongside Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart, and Chris Hemsworth. Playing a young woman whose youth is consumed by the evil Queen Ravenna (Theron) and subsequently becomes an old woman, Cole adds texture to the darker of the two Snow Whites. Here, the actress discusses her newest movie, her career, and her thoughts on late costar Heath Ledger.
How did you prepare for your role as Greta in Snow White and the Huntsman?
LILY COLE: It was actually quite interesting to do because Rupert [Sanders, director] always referenced her as a prisoner of war, and to this idea of a young innocent girl who gets taken in. The victim of evil. The experience of being made pretty old was quite interesting. I just tried to imagine how it would be like to be a 15-year-old-girl […] in the countryside. Quite isolated. Who is also quite sympathetic to nature, which I am [myself] by nature anyway. So much of the film is in the natural world becoming the metaphor for the good and the evil balance.
You started modeling very young. Do you ever regret getting into the entertainment industry at such a young age?
LC: It was actually perfect for me at that time in my life; to have the opportunity to travel and explore the world and meet people, I’m very grateful for that. I do think that, in a way, I became a workaholic too young, and it’s something that I’m still trying to figure out ten years later. I think that’s very much my nature—as opposed to blaming anything external.
Your big break was your role in The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. First, alongside Heath Ledger, and then, following his early passing, alongside Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, and Jude Law. How was working on that film?
LC: It was one of the most amazing collection of people I’ve ever met. I was part of it for months and I feel very grateful for that. It’s quite hard and crude to compare those names, because obviously the context in which I met and worked with the three other actors was very tragic.
For all that, they were very amazing and generous, it was a teaching experience in the kind of humanity of it. Obviously, it wasn’t a good scenario to have met them. But, from the get go, what excited me was not just the big-name actors, but also [the] people working behind the camera and all the other actors—like Christopher Plummer and Tom Waits—who are just quite legendary, amazing men whom I felt very grateful and lucky to have worked with.
Snow White and the Huntsman is now in theaters
Sneak Peek: The Bungalow
Brent Bolthouse brings upscale nightlife to the beach soon.
June 07, 2012
Big news for Westsiders: LA nightlife impresario Brent Bolthouse is opening an exclusive haunt, dubbed The Bungalow, in Santa Monica this summer. This new lounge will act as a freestanding bungalow at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows, situated on a plot of land that boasts panoramic ocean views.
Described by Bolthouse as a “beachside hideaway,” the rustic space will also offer dining, with a menu curated by FIG restaurant’s chef Ray Garcia. Other draws include a gaming area, intimate bar/lounge, and a patio featuring day beds and a fire pit. The Bungalow is set to open in July. 101 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, 310-576-7777 (Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows)
Photograph Courtesy The Bungalow
Weekend Recommender: June 7-10
Experience a multi-faceted musical festival, shop a sample sale, and sip wine for a good cause.
June 07, 2012
Ojai Music Festival includes in awe-inspiring acts.
The 66th Annual Ojai Music Festival
Thursday, June 7–Sunday, June 10
Take the 90-minute drive up the coast to Ojai for a weekend of multi-faceted musical performances. The beautiful town sets the tone for a slew of outdoor concerts, including the June 7th West coast premiere of John Luther Adams’ Inuksuit, an 80-minute percussion set featuring 48 players that move through the audience while they play. For tickets (one-day and full-festival passes available) and a full schedule, visit ojaifestival.org. 201 South Signal St., Ojai, 805-646-2094
Equipment, Joie, and Current/Elliott Warehouse Sample Sale
Friday, June 8 (9 AM-8 PM); Saturday, June 9 and Sunday, June 10 (9 AM-4 PM)
Stock up on summer staples from chic brands Equipment, Joie, and Current/Elliot. A mix of women’s day dresses, lightweight sweaters, silk tops, denim, and shoes will be available at exclusive prices. Siren Studios Orange, 1050 N. Orange Dr., LA, 323-960-9045
The 7th Annual LA WineFest
Saturday, June 9th (2-6 PM) and Sunday, June 10 (12-5 PM)
Sample over 500 wines, spirits, and brews from around the world, learn from educational wine classes, enjoy gourmet eats from LA’s top food trucks, and listen to live music courtesy of DJ Henry Eschelman. You’ll be drinking and dancing for a good cause—LA WineFest supports City of Hope. For tickets ($20-139), visit lawinefest.com. Raleigh Studios, 5300 Melrose Ave., LA, 323-466-3111
Photograph Courtesy Ojai Music Festival
Fashion shoot: December 2013 issue of Los Angeles Confidential magazine.