BASEBALL CAPS SCORE HOME RUN.
Since launching his fashion line more than a decade ago, the name James Perse has become synonymous with luxuriously laid-back beachy-cool clothes.
For Perse, it was in the blood; his father, Tommy Perse, is the founder of the fashionable and almost legendary boutique Maxfield, incidentally the place where James sold the first thing he ever manufactured -- a line of perfectly shaped baseball caps in the early '90s. Shortly after the success of his caps, he began making women's T-shirts, which has since snowballed into a multimillion-dollar empire that now consists of nine lines, including men's, kids' and home.
And it seems that Perse has no plans to slow down. This year alone, his first stand-alone men's store opened in New York, another store in the Hamptons is launching, and, last Thursday, the doors of his brand-new flagship store in Beverly Hills officially opened. Located on Canon Drive, the 5,000-square-foot space features Perse's luxury line and will be a launch pad for the new brands that he already has in the works. Busy as he is, Perse took time out to give us the lowdown on how he spends his time in his hometown -- that is, in the very rare moments that he's not working on his ever-expanding line.
Your line was born out of search for the perfect baseball cap. Has working in the fashion industry for 11 years dulled your interest in sports?
No, I love hockey, I've been playing it since I was 3 or 4. I still play -- for the past 10 years my friends and I have belonged to a league down at Health South by LAX, where we play every Friday.
What's your favorite team?
I love the Kings. They may not be what they used to be, but I'll always be loyal to them.
We've also heard you surf. Where's the best surf spot?
I go to Malibu Road, even though most people will tell you Surfriders is the best place to go. It just gets way too crowded for me.
Where's your favorite place to go hiking?
Malibu, up Escondido Canyon. I take my dog Charles with me.
Where do you go when you go out?
I hate to go out; you will not see me out. I'm a workaholic, and I much prefer to stay in.
Do you ever go out to eat?
I usually eat in, but I do love the food at Chaya Brasserie (on Alden Drive). I used to go there a lot when I was younger.
Do you wear your own stuff?
I live in my stuff. Everyone says I have a uniform, which changes every couple of years. Right now it's a pair of worn-in khakis, a vintage leather belt -- which we're copying for the line -- a T-shirt, white slide-on Vans and a baseball cap.
Since your line is mainly basics, where do you shop when you have to dress up?
I really don't shop, so I dig up my old Prada stuff. But, if I have to get something new, I go to Maxfield for more Prada. Or I wear Helmut Lang -- but not new Helmut Lang. I'm a big fan of his old stuff.
You've said that minimalist architecture influences your collection. Where are your favorite buildings in L.A.?
L.A. architecture is a tough call, since this city isn't really known for that. The interesting thing is that L.A.'s architecture is very hidden; you have to look for it. There are a few cool Neutra houses, one in Pasadena and one up Mulholland. For me, Neutra really encapsulates California living, blending the outdoors and the indoors.
We hear there's a James Perse hotel in the works. What's the scoop?
It's really just in the planning phases right now, but it's going to be in Baja. It will be a boutique/residential concept, eco-friendly and upscale. I want to take the look of the West Coast midcentury-modern homes like the one I grew up in and adapt them to the landscape so it looks like it fits in. Kind of Luis Barragan style. It will be exclusive and remote.
First came baseball caps, and the rest, as they say, is history for fashion designer James Perse.