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Sleeves Like Wings

The lately refunkified eastern stretch of Sunset Boulevard owes a big style debt to a small shop called Josh and He Yang Studio. Actually, the aging sign outside reads “Cosmos,” a seeming non sequitur until you step in and take a look around, and then it‘s serendipity. Josh Grenell and his wife, He Yang, make clothes that are a planet apart from mainstream fashion, even from the high-end sort sold at Fred Segal’s: Constructed of anything the designers have on hand, from thread to old drapes to bits of Chinese silk brocade, the pieces are ragged and unfinished but also intricate, richly colored and as delicate as cobwebs -- Mad Max meets the Faerie Queen. There are fluid sweaters knit from metallic thread and hung with feathers, fitted jackets with sleeves like wings, skirts that trail off the hips in a way both devil-may-care modern and medievally demure. This is stuff for rock icons and romantic poets, and anybody else seriously interested in fusing clothes with spirit. “We‘re very unschooled, really. We never order fabrics,” says Grenell, a likable, long-haired, 30-year-old Malibu native who grew up surfing and learning design at the feet of his creative mother. “We like the whole unknown element, changing colors and fabrics even within one piece until you really don’t know what‘s going on. We work by the moment. We’re consistently inconsistent.”

Grenell met He Yang during a trip to China, where she was an art teacher who painted and did calligraphy. Together they ran a vintage shop, in the same spot they occupy now, before launching their studio three years ago. So far it‘s been a fruitful move; the Josh and He Yang line has become a darling of stylists, and of definitive L.A. boutiques like Curve and Maxfield. The couple say they never courted attention, only attracted it, which suits their business aims and their artistic temperaments just fine. “We love stylists, love to show our stuff,” Grenell confesses cheerfully. “We like to display our things, like art or paintings.” It’s a thrill that only lasts so long, though. “We like to move on to other things,” he adds. “We always look forward. We don‘t think, ’What will they be wearing next season?‘ so much as ’What will they be wearing 100 years from now?‘ ”

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4015 Sunset Blvd.; (323) 953-1701; joshandheyang@earthlink.net. Open weekends only, noon--6 p.m., or by appointment.


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