For Paola Russo, style is all about the mix. “I like to combine culture, art, fashion, different textures…” says the Tunisian-born, French-bred, Los Angeles–based retailer, who made her name as a fashion director for the city’s famed Maxfield store and is now the visionary force behind Just One Eye. The boutique, showroom, gallery, and online shop—housed in Howard Hughes’s former headquarters in Hollywood—is known for the world-class art on its walls (Damien Hirst, Takashi Murakami) and the enormous talents in its orbit: Artist Ed Ruscha made his first ever digital work for the website’s home page, and graphics guru Peter Saville designed the company’s logo.
This spring, artist Nate Lowman will create limited-edition Converse sneakers made from a cut-up painting, and Russo hints at future collaborations with Hoorsenbuhs, the edgy Santa Monica fine jeweler that recently opened an on-site retail space/showroom. These creative partnerships reflect Russo’s synergistic approach. “I do believe the world is going too fast for one brain,” she asserts. “We need to do more collaborating, sharing, and giving.”
Currently on the racks are clothes by Bouchra Jarrar (Nicolas Ghesquière’s former right hand) and Gaultier alum Alexandre Vauthier, whose second-skin fit is favored by Beyoncé and Alicia Keys. There are also fresh pieces from Valentino’s Noir collection, Proenza Schouler, and the Row. The furniture that adorns the space—like a rare Carlo Bugatti throne chair and a surprisingly comfortable black leather porcupine beanbag from design studio Blackman Cruz—is up for sale as well. “Paola’s vision is like that of an eagle,” says Mary-Kate Olsen, a close friend of Russo’s. “She is able to take you to a different place every season.” For winter, she’s rolling out 12 crocodile backpacks from the Row, as interpreted by Damien Hirst. They are all black, but each is different: There’s a version dotted with multicolored plastic discs, another has gold-painted spots, and two are studded with a junkie’s paradise of pills. Their $55,000 price tag (a portion of each sale goes to UNICEF) hasn’t put anyone off; several bags are already spoken for.
Of course, the question Russo poses with these backpacks—one that could be asked of many Just One Eye pieces—is: “Should I wear it, or should I hang it in my living room?”
Photographed by Andrew Durham