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Welcome to Local Legends, a new monthly feature that celebrates our city's most stylishly kooky characters.
Although the exact source of James Goldstein's fortune remains a mystery, there are three things that we know for sure: the silver-haired multi-millionaire is obsessed with fashion (he's a front-row regular), is a diehard NBA fan (he goes to at least 100 games a year) and is the proud owner of one of LA's most mindblowing architectural landmarks (yup, the iconic Sheats Goldstein Residence is his).
During a quick break between partying in Paris with his many celeb friends, the leather-loving modelizer and active Instagrammer jumped on the phone with us to offer insight on a range of topics, from how he developed his unique look to what he really thinks about LA style.
When did your love of fashion first begin?
"I first started getting into fashion when I was teenager in high school; I'd always try to be one step ahead of my classmates in terms of what I was wearing and whatever the latest fad was. I was living in Milwaukee at the time, which you can imagine wasn't the most fashionable place. I didn't want to dress like everyone else."
When did you move from Milwaukee to LA?
"I went out to Stanford for my undergraduate work, and that's when I decided to stay out in California. Then, I went to graduate school at UCLA. I just knew that I wanted to stay here."
Back home, did people accept your style?
"Yes. Even back then, I was recognized by my friends as having a very unique sense of style."
What was your signature look?
"Let's just say that while everyone was wearing pink shirts at the time, I took it one step further and got a pink suit!"
Do you remember your first designer purchase?
"My best recollection goes back to when I was in college and I went to Paris for the first time. My parents were still financing my clothing purchases, so it wasn't my own money. I remember buying a few suits and jackets from Pierre Cardin."
James with Pamela Anderson at the Vivienne Westwood show.
Where do you like to shop in LA these days?
"It always changes, but one constant has been Maxfield on Melrose. It was the store's owner Tommy Perse who first started inviting me to fashion shows in Paris and Milan; he really got me started in a big way with fashion shows, so I'll always support his store. This past year, I've also been buying a lot Saint Laurent. I wasn't buying their clothes previously until Hedi Slimane changed their concept."
Your style is very Saint Laurent.
"As a matter of fact, Vogue Brazil's current issue includes a story about how I'm the main inspiration for Saint Laurent's men's collection. I was quite pleased by this and took the article to a few Saint Laurent stores around the world."
Very cool. Where do you like to shop globally?
"It depends on the designer I'm favoriting at the moment, but I do love the Saint Laurent stores in Paris and Milan. I also enjoy going to Versace and Roberto Cavalli. Jean Paul Gaultier has always been one of my favorites. Olivier Rousteing at Balmain has designed some special pieces for me, so I like to go to him."
Where do you buy all your hats and leather jackets?
"The hats I have custom made by a hat maker in Paris. I design them myself. The leather jackets are from a variety of designers, however for the past six months or so the jacket I've worn the most is one from my own fashion line, which I had a hand in designing."
James at his showroom in Milan.
Yes, your fashion line! Tell us how that got started.
"For years, people have told me that I should design, but I always laughed it off saying that I didn't want to start a new career at this point in my life. I never formerly studied fashion, but I observe it closely; I go to roughly 100 fashion shows a year.
A little over a year ago, two of my best friends from Milan surprised me by announcing that they were creating a new fashion line. Not only did they want to name it after me, but they wanted me to become the head designer. James Goldstein Couture was born."
A James Goldstein Couture billboard in Milan.
Do you design for both men and women?
"We're only doing women's fashion right now, but we intend to have a men's line in the future. For the time being, some of the women's jackets can be worn by men—they just need to be tailored to fit properly."
Do you have any plans to open a James Goldstein Couture store?
"That's in the long-range plans, yes. We'd probably start with a store in Milan since that's our base. We really haven't tapped the US market yet, but I'm sure that once we do we'll start looking into opening a store. We'll be online one day, but right now we're just marketing to various stores around the world."
Wildfox shoot at the Sheats Goldstein Residence. Photo by Mark Hunter.
Your home has been the site of many fashion shoots. Any favorites?
"There are so many, but the one that stands out was a four-day shoot with Thierry Mugler. At that time he was doing some very advanced designs with an outstanding photographer. That shoot was pretty amazing! Thierry helped photograph the shoot, designed the sets for my house...he did everything. He had about a dozen outstanding models, too. In fact, Thierry was planning on making a book out of it, but sadly that never happened."
How can someone contact you to book a shoot there?
"Although various location companies book shoots at my house, people can also make requests by emailing me directly at email@example.com."
You also launched a nightclub at your home, correct?
"Yes! It's called Club James. I've been working for quite a few years on a new construction project adjacent to my house. It's a separate structure which consists of a tennis court on a roof with a view of the entire city. Underneath the tennis court is the club. My office is underneath the tennis court as well. The club isn't 100% completed yet, but it's functional; I've had two events there so far, including a big party for Treats magazine."
What else will this construction project feature?
"For dinner parties, there's going to be a third level below the club and office which will be an outside facility with a huge terrace, a covered dining area, covered kitchen and covered bar. I anticipate that all three levels will be completed by the end of this year."
Can anyone book a party at Club James?
"No, I have to approve them first. Since the club is in a residential neighborhood, I wont be able to have many events, so I'll have to only pick the best ones. Anyone can email me to book a request."
Courtside with Kanye.
Since you're pretty much an NBA expert, which player has the best style?
"This time, I have to give credit to my friend Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Recently, I saw that he went to Europe and met with Olivier Rousteing at Balmain, so I'll have to make sure that he doesn't start dressing like me!"
How many NBA games have you attended this year alone?
"At least 100. During the playoffs, I was on a plane every day and attended 39 playoff games. I'm not dedicated to one team; I'm loyal to the NBA as a whole."
Finally, what's your opinion of Los Angeles style?
"To me, LA is a fashion wasteland. I don't think that people are fashion-conscious in LA in general. It's interesting; when I travel to Europe people know me because of my fashion, whereas in LA people come up and want to take photos with me because of basketball. It's never about fashion. Of course there are always exceptions, but overall people in LA really don't have any style and don't really care."
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