From the uber-glamorous to the unexpected, experience LA like a local.
8825 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood. Ph 310-274-8800.
One of the coolest areas to shop right now is West Hollywood. Stella McCartney has just opened a store there and you'll find the likes of Philip Lim, Alberta Ferretti and the hippest of hip stores, Maxfield. Here you'll find a stylishly edited collection of labels from the likes of Chanel and Balmain through to vintage Hermes. You'll also find a hand-picked range of first edition and new art, fashion, music and photography books.
2. Sunset Marquis hotel
1200 Alta Lomo Rd, West Hollywood. Ph 310-358-3759.
Just steps away from the buzz of Sunset Boulevard is the Sunset Marquis hotel, set in 1.6ha of gardens. Head past the tanned bods on the loungers by the foyer pool, cross the bridge over the koi pond and you'll find the open-walled bar and restaurant.
This hotel has a history of being preferred accommodation for musicians from the Stones, Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley to the likes of Bono and Morrissey. It's also a renowned lunch spot for Hollywood types who enjoy the discreet, laid-back environment. There are regular poolside parties with live bands on the weekend. Order bubbles and the canapes will come. Spotted by Viva: Jeff Goldblum and Laurence Fishburne.
3. Creatures of Comfort
7971 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood. Ph 323-655-7855.
LA is full of chic boutiques that are worth traipsing across town for; Creatures of Comfort is one of them. The labels here ooze an effortless hipster aesthetic. Think Acne, Isabel Marant, Y's by Yohji Yamamoto, Creatures of Comfort's own label, there's even Karen Walker sunglasses if you're feeling like a fix from home.
There's nothing glamorous about the layout of this shopping mall, it's rather in need of an update, but the line-up of stores under one roof makes it a must-visit - especially if time is of the essence. Think Prada, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Jimmy Choo, Louis Vuitton, Burberry ... If your budget doesn't stretch that far, there are more affordable chain stores, while department stores Macy's and Bloomingdales are at opposite ends of the mall.
Anyone who follows interior design will have heard all the hype about Kate Spade New York recently collaborating with the exuberant Australian artist Florence Broadhurst, best-known for her distinctive colourful patterns used primarily on wall coverings and fabric designs. Not only have the gloriously uplifting prints and zesty hues been used in delicious summer dresses and perfectly tailored short suits, but also across a range of uber-cool accessories for the home. Encapsulating the maverick spirit of Broadhurst herself, her colourful life has been played out across bed linen, tableware and stationery, where signature designs such as Japanese Floral, Fingers, and my all-time-favourite Cockatoos, make a bold statement in everything from neon coral to perfectly partnered black and white. As Kate Spade New York doesn't ship to our shores (yet) her beautifully manicured and playfully patterned stores are a must-see. Oh, and we love her bags too.
6. Book Soup
All book lovers should set aside a couple of hours and head for this Sunset Boulevard store overflowing with a discerning selection of books to meet all your wants and needs. Most evenings there is a book reading or author signing and discussions. (Check out the website for updated schedules.)
1402 3rd St Promenade, Santa Monica. Ph 310-393-4763.
Now this is a store you could just move into. There is something about the beautiful styling, eye-catching displays in weathered cabinets, textiles that scream "touch me", distressed wooden floors, and the delicate scents of delicious scented candles filling the air. Ambience is king and this store is all about the experience, showing us how to express our personalities and avoid creating catalogue-looking homes. From quirky kitchen crockery to textural patterned bed linens, rugs and curtains, art and lamps and, most recently, a range of handmade hardware from a collaboration with the Australian queen of dishevelled chic, Sibella Court, you will not leave empty-handed or uninspired.
8. Melrose Trading Post
Fairfax High School, 7850 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood. Ph 323-655-7679.
Held every Sunday morning in the carpark at Fairfax High School in West Hollywood (the school where the likes of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers went), this market is the place to find antiques, recycled and vintage clothing, jewellery and handcrafts, African rugs, Mexican house frocks and more. Play your cards right and you just might make the find of the century. As long as you can fit it in your suitcase.
9. Saks Fifth Avenue
9600 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills. Ph 310-275-4211.
Floor after floor of fashion heaven ... That is if you don't blow the budget in the shoe department on the ground floor where you'll find the very latest shoe collections from all the top brands. (Visit while the sales are on and you can really pick up some amazing bargains here as well). We suggest you embrace your taste for the good life and make the most of the valet parking here, it makes life so much easier.
10. Montage hotel rooftop bar
225 North Canon Dr, Beverly Hills. Ph 310-860-780.
You don't need to buy an apartment here to enjoy the views and pool on the rooftop of this discreetly glamorous hotel (though if you have a spare $5 million you can). Hide away in one of the cubicles or grab a lounger poolside and spend the afternoon admiring the city views and the tasty cocktails.
11. Crate and Barrel
189 The Grove Dr, Los Angeles. Ph 323-297-0370.
From the opening of its first store in the early 1960s which used shipping crates and overseas barrels as their shop fittings, to more than 100 stores across North America, Crate and Barrel continue to bring a contemporary European style and quality to their product range. Famous for their great design at affordable prices, they recently opened the Marrimekko Shop, showcasing the iconic colourful designs across textiles, bed linen, kitchen accessories and more.
12. Jonathan Adler
8125 Melrose Ave. Ph 323-658-8390.
No visit to the US is complete without a visit to the home of the quirky and extraordinary creative and celebrated potter, Jonathan Adler. Once told by his pottery professor that he had zero talent and should re-think his career, Adler took the world by storm transforming the craft of clay into a contemporary handcrafted luxury. Anyone who pours over hip interiors magazines will instantly recognize this potter's unique vases, lamps, and bowls. His style merges organic shapes, geometric patterns, natural hues, and modern ideas into a one-of-a-kind style that works in almost any decor - really. A carefully chosen ceramic piece is worth the hassle of packing a piece in your carry-on luggage.
8752 West Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood. Ph 424-239-1630.
Escape the traffic and heat of Sunset Boulevard and grab a table or stool at the bar of the Everleigh. Owned by Australians, this establishment is relaxed and lively and a great place to sample good French and Italian cuisine with a Californian vibe. From beef cheeks to roasted barramundi, even the jugs of cocktails, it's all about sharing. The large patio area out the back is the perfect spot to drink, dine and take in the sparkling LA lights.
14. The Desert Hills Premium Outlets
One excursion that can't be missed. Ninety minutes' drive out of LA on the way to Palm Springs, you'll find 130 stores - from Gap to Gucci, Diesel to Dolce & Gabbana. You really need to visit twice, once to get your head around the size and to see what's on offer. Then return to shop. Allow plenty of time. There's nothing more disappointing than realising it's time to go home and you haven't had a chance to step inside the Marni, Yves Saint Laurent, Diane Von Furstenberg, Prada, Jimmy Choo stores.
LOOK THE PART ON RODEO DRIVE
A visit to Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, is a must for all serious shoppers. This is some of the most expensive real estate in the US and you'll find, cheek-to-cheek, every uber-brand you can think of: Tom Ford, Gucci, Prada, Bulgari, Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent, Ralph Lauren... It's unlikely you'll spot any celebrities walking this strip; there are small lanes that run parallel to Rodeo Drive, behind the stores, and the super-shoppers drive up and are whisked through the back door to the VVIP rooms.
Joe Katz, stylist to the stars and regular fashion contributor to magazines and TV shows, is also a personal shopper who knows Rodeo Drive like the back of his hand. Based out of the five-star Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills (you can ring ahead and he'll fill your suite with potential outfits so you can try then buy), Katz is your ticket to getting into those VVIP rooms including Dolce & Gabbana where the walls are lined with mink. Plan to have at least $10,000 on your credit card before you even think of stepping out with Mr Katz.
"When you come to Beverly Hills it can be overwhelming," explains the effervescent Katz who cuts a stylish dash in a perfectly cut suit and his signature bow tie.
"Sometimes getting started and finding what you want can take time."
Here are his five top tips for shopping the Hollywood way:
1. Plan ahead and know what you are looking for. Is it shoes, suit, casual, special occasion or revamping your wardrobe? If possible work with a stylist so that you can maximise the time you shop.
2. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes as you will be walking and trying on clothes.
3. For women, wear a nude strapless or convertible bra as it makes it easier to try in a variety of clothing styles.
4. Make sure you know what form of payment you would like to use. Some clients love to use credit cards that earn them points when they shop.
5. Visit the individual designer boutiques, then experience multiple designers under one roof by shopping at Barney's, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Ave.