BEST PARFUMERIE STRANGE INVISIBLE PERFUMES No animals were harmed in the making of the scents at Strange Invisible Perfumes, although a bunch of greenery did give up the ghost.
Each bottle of Black Rosette or Musc Botanique smells as if the very soul of the plant and flower has been harvested.
An excellent selection of Vietnamese and Mexican Talavera ceramic pots, plus fauxterracotta (much lighter) containers ranging from tiny to big-enough-tobathe- in, will provide homes for your purchases. —Lisa Horowitz BEST PLACE TO SHOP FOR WOMEN’S CLOTHING AMERICAN RAG CIE This La Brea Avenue institution is probably better known for its denim bar (everything from Hudson to Adriano Goldschmied, so long as you like yours skinny) and racks of new, midrange designer stuff : Rag & Bone, 10 Crosby by Derek Lam, T by Alexander Wang. There are structured Vivienne Westwood blazers, Elizabeth & James shoes and glorious handbags. Whether old or new, every last piece in the store is stylish. It does begin to feel apocalyptic, as if books from all corners of the world have ended up here for some mysterious purpose via a hidden book faucet. He started making arrangements of succulent plants, pairing soothing white sand with colorful pebbles in glass containers for a striking presentation, and selling them at the Orange County swap meet.
Also for sale: venison, bison and peanut butter fro-yo (for dogs). Equal parts no-nonsense mother willing to offer an honest opinion on an outfit and time-saving personal stylist with designer items hand-curated as if she were shopping for herself, Jami Lyn Roberts, 53, has brought a loyal following to her simply decorated, 5,000-square-foot boutique on a less posh stretch of Robertson Boulevard for nearly 25 years. Finally: a chic, modern place to buy D-cup (and above) bras that don’t look like they were designed to withstand a nuclear blast. You’ll find the all-organic, mineral-based makeup line by Jane Iredale, as well as organic skincare by Éminence and Avène.
Just about every kind of cat food is here as well, including “weight control” and “hair-ball control” varieties. —Gene Maddaus BEST MAGAZINE STAND BOOK SOUP Book Soup’s magazine stand is so massive that it has to be kept outdoors, with a separate cashier. And, should any of this be your thing, they don’t mind if you thumb. Oh, and then there are the sales: Twice each year, Roberts clears out her inventory, selling Current/Elliott, Diane von Furstenberg, DL1961, Robert Rodriguez, Brochu Walker and Parker for 50 to 90 percent off her original sticker price. Proprietress Jenette Goldstein, whom you may remember as the asskicking Private Vasquez in the movie Aliens, likes to say that she “comes from a long line of women who are big on bosom and short on patience.” With Jenette Bras, she has done the heavy lifting and pulled together tough-to-find brands in an impressive array of larger sizes — up to 44 carats. Make like a pro and try Bio Elements, which targets aging and problem skin.
Wander the grounds, inhale the flowery scents and salty sea air, and envision your dream garden. Exposed wood beams and pipes on the second floor host hooks, upon which hang $2,000 dresses and a surreal David Lynch painting, perfectly at home with a dining set that recalls the Last Supper. From Odyn Vovk’s line of menswear to Maria Dora’s whimsically feminine pieces to leather-trimmed capes by Valerj Pobega, the temptation to max out your credit card will run high — this definitely isn’t the kind of church meant to curb your vices. But walk past the oversized couches in the ground-floor atrium and head up to the new top floor, where every title is a dollar, and the rooms of books go on and on, some with neat stacks of books on the ground waiting to be shelved, others with books so scattered that it feels like you shouldn’t even be allowed to be there.
The staff can explain how to grow roses and vegetables in pots, how to cover an eyesore with vines or how to create a stunning succulent display (of which they have plenty). In the back of the store, there’s also an impeccably curated selection of ladies’ vintage: clean, ready-towear midcentury bathing suits, a long rack of cocktail dresses mostly priced at less than $100 each and a bevy of A-line summer skirts available for less than $50 each. Owners Rodney Burns and David Malvaney source from all over but take pleasure in stocking the best L. It’s such a deluge of volumes that they’ve made a front desk out of books, a hanging mural out of books, a literal tunnel of books you have to see to believe, a room that’s an altar to science fiction books and a book-themed art installation that’s a tribute to the printed page. —Zachary Pincus-Roth BEST AIR PLANTS THE JUICY LEAF Felix Navarro was a vice president of finance when the credit crunch hit in 2008.
The jasmine in the Fair Verona scent (inspired by Shakespeare’s Juliet) is pulled, by hand, from the vine at dawn at a small farm in Ojai.