Just One Eye Opens in a Storied Space
By Kathryn Drury Wagner
The bold geometry and dizzying upswept ceilings at 7000 Romaine Street command attention, their scale almost defiant. It’s as if the building is asking, How big can you think? It’s an Art Deco titan that once housed the command center for Howard Hughes’s film empire, the kind of address that conjures speculation about hidden safes, secret staircases, and Carole Lombard’s virginity. While Hughes—inventor, seducer, aviator—is long gone, his vibe seems imbued within the space, making it the perfect headquarters for another bigger-than-life business, a modern-day arbiter of style called Just One Eye, which just opened the first store-within-a-store for status-symbol jewelry maker Hoorsenbuhs.
Hughes was a pioneer of global travel; Paola Russo, the cofounder of Just One Eye, also globe-trots, presenting visionary concepts in clothing, art, and lifestyle via her website (artist Ed Ruscha designed a digital piece of art for the site) and new retail location. Russo has an impeccable fashion pedigree, having worked for Ann Demeulemeester and at LA institution Maxfield.
She launched Just One Eye as a website in November 2011. “I wanted to do my own project,” Russo says, “something very creative.” The store opened late last year. “We want you to feel comfortable, have a coffee. It’s an open space, very one-on-one.”
Just One Eye quickly garnered attention for its special projects, such as a collection of limited-edition backpacks with British artist Damien Hirst and the Olsen twins’ high-end line, The Row. “We try to do a lot of collaboration,” says Russo. “I don’t like that word because it’s so overused. I like the word ‘teamwork’ better.” But she also believes that e-commerce requires a physical space to build trust with customers who may prefer to experience the merchandise hands-on before buying online.
So what’s on offer? A mix of luxury brands like Rodarte and Proenza Schouler; unusual pieces, such as knitwear from Mark Fast and clutches by Olympia Le-Tan; and furniture and art, including $15,000 Pop-Art rhinos from sculptor Victor Douieb. Most of the lines carried are exclusive to Just One Eye within the United States or in LA, and installations change about every three weeks. You might find a men’s reversible jacket by Add ($310), a truffle set ($1,250), or even a $51,000 Séraphin bomber jacket in crocodile leather.
“We have trunk shows, such as Valentino. We carry big brands, and also smaller brands, whose designers are just as talented,” says Russo. “I want to give a chance to everyone. We’d love to create a new LA fashion movement. There’s a fashion here that is unique.” For example, she carries Christophe Lemaire, Pedro Lourenço, and Maiyet, an environmentally sustainable brand. And the recent launch party Just One Eye hosted for its selection of pieces from the Valentino Garavani Noir Capsule Collection welcomed boldfaced names like Oscar winner Marisa Tomei and designers Laura and Kate Mulleavy of the made-in-LA label Rodarte.
The building’s layout—full of long, mysterious hallways lined with doors leading into separate spaces—encourages the creation of little worlds. One such environment is the just-opened Hoorsenbuhs Atelier at Just One Eye. The LA-based fine jewelry company has a showroom in Santa Monica and is carried at Barneys New York, but this store-within-a-store is the brand’s first dedicated retail location.
“We’ll premiere all our new styles and collaborations there,” says Kether Parker, brand ambassador for Hoorsenbuhs. “Accessories, jewelry, the bridal line. And things that won’t be available anywhere else, one-of-a-kind pieces.” He calls Just One Eye a “great fit for us. Paola has impeccable taste. She has amazing relationships with independent designers and fashion houses. We are like minds.”
And like Russo, Parker values the design scene in Los Angeles. “Our client base started here in music and entertainment,” he says. Kristen Stewart, Katie Holmes, and David Beckham have all sported Hoorsenbuhs’ jewelry.
The website and store chronicle the wide-ranging interests of Russo and her team, whether it’s the fashion influence of Barbarella, Sid Vicious, or a Victorian butter fly brooch. “Right now we’re working on a Just One Eye survival kit, with the very best miniature flashlight and a vacuum-packed cashmere blanket. It’s very technical. We did research with the army,” she says. Another motif is sensual books and pictures, showcasing a subtle eroticism.
“We want people to think, What’s next?” says Russo. “LA is the right city to do that in. There’s a lot of freedom and space here that is interesting.”
Freedom and space? We think Mr. Hughes would approve. 7000 Romaine St., LA, 888-563-6858
photography by dave lauridsen; hair and makeup by megan lanoux for exclusive artists; DONATO SARDELLA/WIRE IMAGE/GETTY IMAGES (TOMEI); FERDAUS SHAMIM/WIRE IMAGE/GETTY IMAGES (HIRST)
Cover shoot: September 2014 issue of Los Angeles Confidential magazine.