Ecru Clothing Store,   Melrose Avenue Studio / RCL

Project Team:   Michele Saee (principal),   Richard Lundquist (designer)

View publications:      Los Angeles Times Magazine ,     L.A. Style Magazine

View additional photographs:     Construction process

The owners of ECRU say that their clothes are basic but make a radical statement - just like their renovated building, which is attracting attention at the southeast corner of Melrose Avenue and Vista Street in Los Angeles. When Elaine Kim, a Seoul-born, former UC Berkeley student with a family steeped in retail, and Ken Fasola, a shy, serious financial whiz with a background in manufacturing, went into business together, he took care of the office while she shopped for clothes by little-known designers with lots of style: Martine Sitbon of Paris, John Galliano of London, Sybilla of Madrid. In menswear, Bill Robinson of New York was among Kim's early discoveries.

Once ECRU's casually elegant fashons began impressing shoppers, Kim and Fasola started looking for an architect to transform their store into a fitting showcase. They found a firm called Building and the architects Michele Saee and Richard Lundquist, who, with a cadre of craftsmen, have sculpted an unusual interior and exterior design that appeals to both mind and eye.

The ECRU building is a showstopper. In contrast to the flagrant use of neon on Melrose Avenue, the store is identified by giant abstract letters of varnished steel that, in forming the facade and framing doors and windows, spell out ECRU.

This vertical emphasis makes the store seem larger than it is, especially when viewed from a passing car. The varnished finish accents the natural deep reds and browns of the slightly rusted, melowing steel. Neon it is not; engaging it is.

Beyond the steel, detailed plywood doors of varying sizes - one is 8-feet square, another 16 x 4 feet - are two distinct showrooms. One was the original 3,500-square-foot ECRU store. The other, which used to be a 3,000-square-foot recording studio - earlier an auto-repair shop - was acquired by Kim and Fasola for their couture gallery.

The result is a store that blends fashon, furniture and architecture. More than simply displaying how to dress, it suggests how to live, what to value and who to aspire to be.
At ECRU, the fashion, like the furnishings, is intensely modern, yet not severe.

By Mary Rourke and Sam Hall Kaplan from Los Angeles Times Magazine, March 26, 1989

Note: The ECRU store no longer exists.