While this summer’s Barbie movie solidified pink’s big return to cultural prominence, another beloved fashion icon has been singing the colour’s praises for decades. Back in 2005, London-based fashion designer Paul Smith splashed the façade of his Los Angeles flagship in a flamingo-like hue inspired by the work of Mexican architect Luis Barragán. Since then, Smith’s Melrose Avenue boutique has become a prominent local landmark. (It helped that the social media crowd soon anointed the spot as its go-to photo backdrop.) Needless to say, when Smith closed the store for renovations earlier this year, expectations were high.
Thankfully, the revamped boutique hasn’t gone green or pivoted to purple. But while the store’s exterior maintains its signature pink paint job (newly restored after the building adopted a temporary striped mural last year), it also features some new outdoor landscaping. To celebrate Paul Smith’s recent collaboration with Italian furniture brand Gufram on a limited-edition “Sunset” version of Guido Drocco and Franco Mello’s cactus-shaped coat stand, a row of the sculptures is now planted next to the entrance.
As it turns out, this ends up being a bit of a teaser for the revamped interior, too. Not only do the cacti continue indoors (past a new, glossy red entrance hallway), but the space around them has become a playful study in desert modernism.
The shop’s new visual identity and layout take inspiration from LA’s Case Study Houses — specifically, the designs developed by Charles and Ray Eames during the post-war building boom. In turn, an open plan defined by built-in shelving and clean-lined partitions reflects the free-flowing version of modern living presented in these mid-century residential prototypes.
While a mix of vintage furniture pieces (many reupholstered in fabrics from Maharam’s Paul Smith collection) add to the retro-domestic feel of the space, the quirky silhouettes of these designs also imbue each room with a welcome hit of contemporary edge. Another sculptural showpiece: a display table assembled out of some 12,000 playing dice.
On the walls, sand-coloured tiles set a warm but restrained backdrop, while charming travertine stone mosaics by Charlie Sheppard speak to the California landscape.
Along with highlighting Paul Smith’s clothes, shoe and accessory lines, the store is also an opportunity to showcase some of his domestic offerings. A lounge chair from the designer’s ongoing collaboration with DePadova holds court in one corner in front of a shelving unit that showcases one of Smith’s customized Anglepoise Type 75 lamps.
Together, the Melrose Avenue store’s attention-grabbing exterior and sophisticated interior achieve a dignified exuberance that feels perfectly Paul Smith. And for anyone seeking to pay homage to Luis Barragán with their wardrobe, there’s plenty of hot pink to be found on the shop’s racks of flashy — yet finely tailored — suits.
Known for its bright pink facade, the British fashion designer’s Melrose Avenue shop gets an update inspired by California’s Case Study Houses.