Robertson and Melrose may be the heart of West Hollywood's boutique district, but for the hidden treasures, veteran designer Patrick DiLascia prefers Santa Monica Boulevard.
The 31-year-old opened PAR LA, a boutique at 8250 Santa Monica Blvd. (beside ) in late January. In the three months since that opening, the store has done incredibly good business, DiLascia said, especially considering he was not looking to open a retail business.
“I had a showroom in Downtown LA, but I was tired of the commute,” said DiLascia, who lives near Sweetzer and Santa Monica Boulevard. “Every day, I would walk my dog by this empty store, and I kept thinking it would make a good place for a showroom. The fact that it was retail space was a bonus.”
His partners were nervous about moving out of the Fashion District, he said, urging him to go to Robertson instead. But he felt the rents were too high on Robertson, so he stuck his ground. “I knew the buyers would come to me wherever I was," he said.
The result: DiLascia got to walk to work and Weho shoppers got a fun new destination where they could buy trendy clothes that would not put their bank accounts in the red.
“You really don’t have to spend a lot to look cool. Everything we’ve got is affordable,” said Andrea Hernandez, DiLascia’s assistant, or his “everything” as he likes to call her. “I can’t live without her," DiLascia said.
The name PAR LA comes from the initials of the three partners – "P" for Patrick DiLascia, "A" for Aphrodite Alexandropoulos, "R" for Rolland Berry. The store carries the fashions of the three partners.
Under the Twice label, they have leather jackets, cargo shorts and sweaters created by Alexandropoulos and DiLascia. Under the RBC label, they sell t-shirts and hoodies done by Berry.
And the DiLascia’s Bakery label, his solo line, consists of pants, shirts, vests and jackets. That label’s current collection has a Prohibition theme with lots of browns, grays and blacks.
“This it the first time I’ve ever used black,” he said. “I was taught not to use it, but it’s been very successful.” The next collection, although still top secret, he assures will be more colorful.
Originally from Binghamton, New York, DiLascia got his start working at American Eagle in Albany, where his merchandizing and display skills quickly got noticed.
Before long, he was in New York City doing PR for the company. Later he was in Florence, Italy overseeing sweater production for Armani, DKNY and Nautica. While there, he studied fashion marketing at the Lorenzo de Medici School.
By age 21, he had opened his first boutique, Ego, in Albany, carrying Diesel, Ben Sherman and French Connection. Ego also carried a small collection of his own line of t-shirts—his first venture into creating his own designs, something he loved doing but running the business kept distracting him.
A few years later, he was back in the corporate world at Burlington Coat Factory while still dreaming of doing his own designs. When his mother died unexpectedly in 2008, it shook him up so much, he abruptly quit the corporate job and moved to Los Angeles to follow that dream. “I always wanted to be Kelly Taylor from Beverly Hills 90210,” he laughs.
His debut collection proved popular – Kitson placed the very first order, followed quickly by Lisa Klein. That collection featured t-shirts, hoodies and twill pants designed around a theme of his family’s old bakery business. Hence the label’s name: DiLascia’s Bakery. They even shipped the clothes in pie boxes.
And today, he is still busy designing, showing his collection to buyers and assisting customers looking for cool fashions.
“I really just wanted a place to hang out, a place for my office,” DiLascia said, chuckling. “We’re way busier than I ever expected, but people like the store and the clothes, so I’m happy.”