Hitch Couture drives fashion home

Wednesday, Jul 11 2007

Maybe Hitch Couture owner Jeanne Landau has had a chronic case of the vagabond blues. For the first 15 minutes of our conversation she’s telling me how she came to our neck of the proverbial woods, by way of New York, San Diego, Prague and London, then back to San Diego, before landing in Silver Lake. Just listening to the itinerary is dizzying. It’s no wonder her latest shop has wheels. Right now it’s parked out back, behind her two-bedroom bungalow. But to call this vintage Airstream a trailer is selling it short. This is a gleaming fashion mecca, a shining treasure box filled with one-of-a-kind dresses, skirts, tops, shoes, jewelry and handbags with a high “aww, how cute” factor. And the best part is, she’ll come to you. For free.

It’s the latest spin on the neo-Tupperware party, and it goes like this: Landau drives the trailer to your house, spreads out a green AstroTurf carpet and lines the walkway with potted hydrangeas — then, you and your friends shop for as long as you like. There’s something about the trailer that makes you feel like you’re playing dress-up; maybe it’s the scale, like a tiny playhouse with a small fitting room at one end, a mini counter at the other, and shelving in between converted into little display cases that show off earrings and bracelets and hats.

A tan, sandy blonde with a laid-back beach vibe, Landau feels at home in L.A. She finds it more exciting than sleepy San Diego, where she opened her first shop, Catwalk, “the hippest in all S.D.” in the early ’90s. That was before she set out to conquer the world, opening shops in the Czech Republic, London and San Francisco. But after a series of fits and starts, including deportation, she found herself back in San Diego — ready to swear off shopkeeping for good. “I never thought I’d be doing this again,” Landau says. But then she found the trailer. “I guess I’ve always loved living in trailers,” she muses. “There’s a communal feeling about them.” In London she lived with 40 other trailer dwellers as part of an artists community.

click to flip through (2) Mobile dome: Jeanne Landau's treasure trove on wheels
  • Mobile dome: Jeanne Landau's treasure trove on wheels

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Since she reluctantly started Hitch Couture about a year and a half ago, the business has been successful. But Landau had difficulty finding designers in San Diego who would allow her to sell goods on consignment. Los Angeles, with an ever-growing crop of budding designers, seemed the perfect place to go next. Now she sells unique pieces from local labels such as Ali McLean’s Rock-N-Role, Oceanside, Offramp and Cornfed, as well as her own line, I Hate Labels, which largely consists of repurposed vintage. Her most popular original item is a one-piece romper, which sells out faster than she can make them.

Landau is also available for larger company parties and festivals. Last month she parked the fashion wagon outside the raver dance party Electric Daisy Carnival and opened for business. And, you can always go to her: On Sunday mornings she takes the trailer down to the Melrose Trading Post. “I used to go to the Silver Lake Farmers Market,” she says, “but parking became really difficult.”

With the Airstream to quench her travel thirst, Landau plans to stay put for a while. Lucky for us.

Hitch Couture, Sundays at the Melrose Trading Post, Fairfax High School, 7850 Melrose Ave., W. Hlywd. To shop online or for details about parties, go to www.hitchcouture.com.

Reach the writer at limmediato@laweekly.com

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