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People 2012

Jeana Sohn: She's a Real Hanger-On

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Mon, May 14, 2012 at 2:02 PM

click to enlarge KEVIN SCANLON
  • Kevin Scanlon
One of the fascinating Angelenos featured in L.A. Weekly's People 2012 issue. Check out our entire People 2012 issue here.

Have you ever seen a pretty, stylish girl and wondered what her closet was like? Artist Jeana Sohn has -- an interest she channeled into the blog ClosetVisit.com.

Sohn makes her living as a painter. But painting at home by herself was boring and lonely. Photographing people's closets gave her a way to satisfy two deep needs -- to see friends and to see their clothes.

"It's so stupid," Sohn says, "but I go to friends' houses and check out what's new in their closet. I push their clothes aside and look."

People say L.A. lacks style, but ClosetVisit.com proves them wrong. From an 18-year-old intern to a 60-something society mom, the local women Sohn photographs are bursting with personal style. Sohn rifles through the closets of shop owners, interior decorators, singers, photographers, screenwriters, models and actresses -- creative types, mostly. Each week she visits a friend's house and shoots.

Inevitably, she ran out of subjects. Luckily, stylish people usually know other stylish people, and Sohn soon found herself deep in the sweater drawers of friends of friends of friends.

Other fashion blogs focus on objects. But Sohn, 37, takes portraits. She seats the girls on the floor, with their shoes arrayed around them. She takes pictures of them handling lingerie and sifting through jewelry boxes. She has no formal training in photography, just a natural, elegant, artistic eye.

Her photo sessions are a game of dress-up. "My subjects change in front of me," Sohn says. "I see everything."

The girls try on favorite outfits. They tell little stories about how they acquired the items in their closet. How, for instance, one Barneys sales associate got an emerald green Lanvin gown for 75 percent off. How another girl scoured a Paris flea market for just the right vintage Hermès watch. Or how a model coveted a dress at a shoot and the designer said she could have it -- but only if he thought she looked beautiful in it. (She did; he did. It's hers.)

Clothes are the main point, but you catch glimpses of the subjects' homes as well. Sohn's blog is the perfect storm of cute girls, voyeurism and shopping.

People love it. In the year and a half since the blog went live, Sohn has done a dozen interviews with apparel websites and fashion magazines. Total strangers now email her pictures and videos of their closets, begging to be featured, as do designers' publicists. She turns these pitches down -- it's weird enough hanging out with a friend of a friend in a space as intimate as a closet, much less with someone she doesn't know at all.

She has no big goals for ClosetVisit other than to enjoy it. Despite the project's success, she wishes people knew her for her artwork rather than for her blogging.

Lately, Sohn's readers have been asking to see her closet. But she always says no. At the moment, it's dark in there: The lightbulb is burnt out. "I don't have anything," she demurs. "I'm not a super fashion person."

One of the fascinating Angelenos featured in L.A. Weekly's People 2012 issue. Check out our entire People 2012 issue here.

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