Studio Visit: Citizens of Humanity
THE DOSSIER: NAME: Citizens of Humanity. TRADE: Apparel. STYLE COHORTS: COH's Creative Director Noam Hanoch and Creative Consultant Rene Holguin of RTH. VIBE: Luxe bohemian. WHEREABOUTS: West Hollywood, CA.
"The clothes are not the most important thing here," Noam Hanoch tells us upon entering the Citizens of Humanity showroom. It's a surprising thing for him to say--namely because the Israeli-born fashion designer is creative director of the apparel line. But, as he explains, the space is an exercise in decor-fueled merchandising--a dream brought to life via paintbrushes in apothecary jars, cinematic imagery and exotic textiles.
A CINEMATIC INFLUENCE "It's Jane Fonda's '60s Malibu mixed with French and Moroccan accents," Hanoch says of the aesthetic, noting that COH owner Jerome Dahan embodies said heritage. "It's that 'Oh, I was just walking on the beach and found this driftwood, why don't I just throw it next to my vintage rug' look" he says, pointing out examples of both. A monumental bookshelf showcases retro photos--a candid of Brigitte Bardot in French film Vie Privee, a smoldering Bettmann shot of Warren Beatty--and coffee table books including Patti Smith: Dream of Life and Herb Ritts: LA Style. "The lifestyle [we're emulating] is jetset but relaxed; it's refined hippie," Hanoch says. "It's hard to get that feeling with just a pair of jeans, but if you put the jeans in the right environment anyone can experience it." Creative consultant Rene Holguin embraced the element of fantasy in his choices; "The floors were concrete, and we liked the material but wanted to add some California color," he says. "I love shades of turquoise so we went with it. It feels a bit like you're in an empty swimming pool or walking in the sky."
THE SOCIAL EXPERIMENT Doubling as the company's publicity and marketing headquarters, as well as a concept shop, the one-year-old project is experimental in its design approach, with workspace decor that lends itself to a dinner party mentality and a floorplan that encourages conversation. There's an open kitchen with an Illy espresso and prosecco-stocked bar, and nearby, a pair of cotton linen George Smith couches function as the room's lounge, complete with an array of pillows made from Turkish and Persian antique rug remnants. "The whole intent was to have people come in and want to stay," Hanoch says.
KEEPING ONE-OF-A-KIND IN MIND Holguin channeled Dahan's vibe with items that meld organic elements with luxe materials; the '50s malachite snack trays trimmed with brass, discovered at Fat Chance, for example. "We love to mix ethnic with a bit of shine. That's what creates the richness--and differentiates it from a yoga studio," Hanoch says. Exposed industrial bulbs drop from the whitewashed farmhouse ceiling, and palm and fig trees green each corner. A wall-encompassing moodboard is layered with Dennis Hopper's portrait of a young Diane Baker, one of Hanoch's own sketches, and a "Nothing But Blue Skies" mantra Hanoch ripped from a magazine. "It's nice, no?" he asks. We can't help but agree.
The COH concept shop is open now through August 2013 at 8747 Beverly Boulevard, West Hollywood 90048. For more info, visit citizensofhumanity.com.
Photographs: Justin Coit
Zazzle Fiat 500, vintage cinquecento, in Rome, Italy Poster ($17)