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LOS ANGELES To celebrate the launch of its designer collaboration with Marni, the Swedish fast fashion chain H&M took a detailed approach, embracing the Italian fashion brand’s whimsical, tribal-meets-modernist aesthetic at an event February 17 in Los Feliz. Although noticeably more intimate than the recent Versace at H&M bash in New York, the dinner party for 200 guests, including Drew Barrymore, Jessica Chastain, Rose McGowan, and Freida Pinto, was just as meticulously focused on the brand's style and roots.
“The Sowden house we always knew and loved, and was our first and immediate choice ... for this event,” said Bureau Betak principal Alex de Betak of the 7,000-square-foot residence. The space of Lloyd Wright, son of the noted architect Frank Lloyd Wright, was originally built for photographer John Sowden in 1926. “We wanted an elegant and sophisticated, yet lounge-like chic European feeling dinner party, in keeping with Marni’s modern and subtle look.” Another layer was the film Sofia Coppola directed for the collection, which was shot in Morocco in a warm and relaxed environment.
Build-out for the affair took about three days (teardown took one), and Betak, who brought on local L.A.-based production company Stardust Visions to help, outfitted the residence’s maze of rooms with low white couches, Persian rugs, and hundreds of votive candles. Much to the delight of attendees, the master bathroom and dressing room had been converted into a Marni at H&M showcase, offering a first look at the clothes and accessories.
The challenge, Betak said, was to “portray, represent, and satisfy all three hosts: H&M, Marni, and Sofia Coppola, in a chic yet relaxed European mood—and to produce the great weather we had.”
During dinner, as guests meandered throughout the space or gathered in the many sitting areas, Bryan Ferry took to the stage to perform a number of his hits, including “Avalon,” the song included in the Marni at H&M film.
As for the food, Akasha Richmond, chef and owner of Akasha Restaurant, served her locally sourced fare from the open kitchen. Local California cheeses included those from Bohemian Creamy, one of Sonoma County’s newest artisan creameries that makes Italian-style cheese. The pizzas made use of a variety of California olive oils and California cheese, including those from Cypress Grove, Redwood Hill Farms, and Bellwether Farms. A variety of sea salts, including one hand-harvested in Bali, served as seasoning, while steak tartare was made with cornichons Richmond pickled herself. Fried chicken appeared alongside Richmond’s homemade mango chutney, made from Palm Springs mangos.
The drinks menu was equally local and included fresh-pressed juices like cucumber and pineapple with Thai basil, hibiscus, jalapeno, and lavender syrups. Baked desserts from Sweets for the Soul rounded out the meal.