The fashion sense of Meghan Markle has been lauded as “California cool,” with an edgy-yet-polished sophistication. No doubt, the L.A. native perfected her aura of casual chic while living in the Golden State. Whether you’re hoping for VIP treatment or simply want to visit Markle’s go-to boutiques, head for these eight shopping destinations—both specific stores and some fashion-rich districts—to cultivate a wardrobe worthy of a royal.
1. Fred Segal, West Hollywood
More than 50 years ago, tailor-turned-designer Fred Segal opened a fashion-forward, blue jeans-centric boutique in a 32 square metre space in West Hollywood. Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, the Beatles, and the Jackson Five wore Segal’s signature denim back in the day. Even before paparazzi became an L.A. staple, Fred Segal was the place to see and be seen. Today, Segal’s flagship store on Sunset Boulevard remains a celebrity favourite and counts Markle among its fans. The 1200-square-metre space, which opened in September 2017, features the same shop-within-a-shop concept as its earlier Melrose Avenue location, and offers men’s and women’s clothing and accessories as well as home goods. (There’s also a small branch inside the international terminal at LAX.)
2. Upper Village, Montecito
The quiet coastal town of Montecito, right outside Santa Barbara, is an understated haven that counts Oprah Winfrey among its well-heeled residents. The Village attracts shoppers looking to update their wardrobes, thanks to Los Angeles fashion designer Jenni Kayne’s Montecito outpost, longtime favourite Wendy Foster, and Upstairs at Pierre Lafond. Other attractions include flower shop Hogue & Co., William Laman Furniture, Garden, and Antiques, and Tecolote Bookshop, which opened in 1925. After an afternoon of browsing, stop by Pierre LaFond Montecito Market, a popular gourmet grocer, and the adjacent Wine Bistro, owned by LaFond and the Lafond Winery & Vineyards.
3. Fashion Island, Newport Beach
For more than four decades, Orange County residents have flocked to Fashion Island, an open-air shopping and dining destination in Newport Beach. Department stores Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom, and Neiman Marcus—which carries Markle favourite Veronica Beard—share space with more than 200 specialty stores, including Alice + Olivia, Kendra Scott, and AG. Insider tip: Personal shopping and styling services are available by request, as is the shopping center’s virtual concierge program, At Your Service. Simply text 949-734-7364 to ask a question such as "Where can I valet?" or "Where is Restoration Hardware?”
4. Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills
In the late sixties, Fred Hayman and Aldo Gucci opened two of the first luxury boutiques on Rodeo Drive, kickstarting the rapid development of the world-famous three-block stretch. Van Cleef & Arpels quickly followed, as did Vidal Sassoon. Then, in 1990, Julia Roberts’ character Vivian Ward charged her way through the street’s high-end boutiques in the smash hit Pretty Woman, and a new generation of Rodeo Drive devotees was born. Today, popular destinations include Chanel, Tiffany & Co., and Yves Saint Laurent. Personal shoppers are available in-store and can help secure access to private lounges at Burberry, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, and more.
5. St. Helena, Napa Valley
The tiny enclave of St. Helena oozes with small-town charm while boasting luxury hotels, boutique wineries, and charming independent retailers. Head to Main Street, where you’ll find breezy California clothing at Gathered St. Helena, contemporary women’s apparel at Pearl Wonderful Clothing, and shoes and handbags at Footcandy. For a taste of what life might be like at Kensington Palace, visit the prestigious Culinary Institute of America’s facility at Greystone, a 10,870-square-metre Romanesque-style stone building built in the late 19th century and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
6. El Paseo, Palm Desert
Since the 1950s, Coachella Valley residents and visitors in need of some retail therapy have converged on El Paseo Drive, which runs parallel to State Route 111 in Palm Desert and is flanked by towering palms. Today, El Paseo features 150 boutiques, restaurants, and galleries and is considered the Rodeo Drive of the desert. The Gardens on El Paseo and El Paseo Village are anchored by Saks Fifth Avenue and feature a mix of high-end occupants, such as Louis Vuitton and Tesla. Los Angeles designer Trina Turk, who owns a home in the desert, has a store on El Paseo. So do mother-daughter duo Marie and Kelly Gray, who were the creator and face of St. John, respectively, before collaborating on their line of separates, Grayse, and its three stores. On-trend indie boutique Elizabeth & Prince is filled with pieces by today’s top ready-to-wear designers and has two other locations in the desert.
7. Prospect & Girard, La Jolla
La Jolla is considered the jewel of San Diego thanks to its majestic coastline, ocean bluffs, and pristine beaches. Downtown La Jolla’s two main thoroughfares, Prospect Street and Girard Avenue, feature high-end shops such as Ralph Lauren, Ascot Shop, Kate Spade New York, and an athleisure favourite of Markle’s, Lululemon. For nearly 15 years, stylist Laura Gambucci’s eponymous boutique has offered timeless collections by top designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier, Karl Lagerfeld, and Pierre Balmain. Also noteworthy: Beginning in February of 2019, tired shoppers and royal-wedding enthusiasts can head to the nearby La Jolla Playhouse to watch Diana, a new musical set in 1981 that’s centered around 20-year-old Princess Diana’s life before and after her wedding to Prince Charles.
8. South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa
There are more than 250 high-fashion retailers at South Coast Plaza, the largest mall on the West Coast. Under its roof in Costa Mesa, upscale boutiques join top designers like Christian Dior, Gucci, Fendi, and Jimmy Choo (the latter of which recently re-launched a princess-perfect made-to-order Cinderella shoe). The expansive shopping center offers international traveler-friendly amenities such as foreign language assistance in more than 40 languages and a visitors-only VIP Passport for deals at more than 100 stores. Take advantage of the South Coast Plaza Concierge to help reserve tickets at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, schedule a personal wardrobe consultation, or book reservations at one of the 30-plus gourmet restaurants (we recommend the authentic Spanish dishes Vaca, led by former Top Chef runner-up Amar Santana).
You’ll definitely want to leave room in your suitcase for L.A. shopping.
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