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The Grau Haus at the Crossroads of the World

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We recently got an invite to a fashion show, and we jumped at it for two reasons. First, obviously, was the fashion. (DUH) And the new boutique was at our new favorite place: Crossroads of the World. As an almost life-long LA resident, it chagrins us that we only discovered the spot a few weeks ago. It's hidden in plain sight, right on Sunset between Cherokee and Las Palmas. Built in 1936, the center has been called America's first outdoor shopping mall, though at present, it's about 95% occupied by creative/entertainment tenants.

It's not a tourist destination of the magnitude of Disneyland or the Walk of Fame. There's nowhere to buy souvenirs, t-shirts or other trinkets. But there's something really lovely about knowing this bucolic spot exists in the very center of the dark, sometimes sleazy heart of Hollywood.

Crossroads of the World is a small cluster of buildings that's designed to look like an international village, of sorts. One set of buildings looks like it was plucked from a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale: all old-skool and Bavarian looking. A few other buildings look Middle Eastern. The centerpiece of the whole mall is a big concrete "oceanliner" at the Sunset entrance that serves as Taschen's U.S. headquarters. There's a collection of smaller buildings and offices around it, including a space that houses the Grau Haus.

The Grau Haus is one of several spaces in the complex set up to showcase the work of Claudia Grau. The designer has quite a pedigree: she was a Melrose Avenue trailblazer, occupying the now-famous stretch in the 80s. She's dressed Cher, Diane Keaton, and Bette Midler. The collection at her newly opened shop is geared for a more mature audience, but at the party, we saw plenty of 20-somethings burner/Lucient Dossier types pulling the pieces together in lively ways. Most of the pieces work well with layering, including the fuzzy cardigans, silk shirt and tunics, and chunky knit pieces that could probably be worn as a dress, tunic, shirt, scarf?maybe even a hat.

The store is an explosion of color and texture -- owing not only to the clothes on the racks, but the decor, as well. The vibe is homey, artsy and vibrant, making it a nice contrast to the many minimalist LA boutiques that end up feeling like the inside of a petrie dish. And unlike those boutiques, Claudia is completely engaging and legitimately enjoys getting to know her customers. With all of the scarves, accessories and knickknacks she offers, it's not a bad place to start your holiday shopping. Especially since visiting Crossroads of the World is sure to make your day a bit brighter.
· Grau Design [Official Site]
· Crossroads of the World [Official Site]