A Fashion Guru With an Eye for Inspiration and a Penchant for Flip-Flops"I’m a shorts-and-sandals guy. What I love about L.A. is being able to decorate the Christmas tree in flip-flops."
"I'm a shorts-and-sandals guy," admits Jerell Scott, Los Angeles' master fashionisto and a finalist on season five of "Project Runway." "What I love about L.A. is being able to decorate the Christmas tree in flip-flops."
This harbinger of high fashion takes a dressed-down view of the city he's called home for life. "I live in West Hollywood, close to boutiques for Alexander McQueen, Marc Jacobs and Diane von Furstenberg," he notes. "So I can jump on my bike — in shorts and sandals — and have a full day of fashion, fun and cocktails." He typically ends those days at La Boheme, a favorite neighborhood happy-hour cafe. "The food is top shelf, but the prices are taco truck!" he exclaims.
Although he's unabashedly budget-conscious, Scott doesn't mind splurging on fashion he can't do himself, like footwear. He heads to H. Lorenzo for more "avant-garde shoes." But his favorite place for footwear is Opening Ceremony. "They have sandals called Gurkee's," he reveals. "They look like Jesus sandals and are made of recycled carpet fiber. They're so comfortable."
Los Angeles' fashion scene, Scott admits, has suffered from low self-esteem in the past. "People had this idea that if you had talent, you had to go to New York, but that's changed," he says. Local designers are now taking more pride in their hometown. "It's becoming more of a community that appreciates what other designers do," Scott reflects. In that spirit, he shares the rack with other cutting-edge California designers at the trendy boutique Church.
Since Scott lives in L.A.'s center of fashion, he's never at a loss for inspiration. "I think it's all about passion," he says. "And when you find it, it comes across in your work. I love design, and it doesn't feel like work. It's sheer joy. And it's not just what people are doing with clothes — I'm [also] inspired by interior design." For that fix he heads to Pacific Design Center. "I am a huge fan of luxury," he acknowledges. "And PDC is like a megamall dedicated to luxury living."
People-watching is a favorite pastime that Scott incorporates into his profession. "There's a thrift store called Jet Rag on La Brea Avenue, and on Sundays they bring mounds of vintage clothes into the parking lot and everything is one dollar. I see Brian Lichtenberg, an L.A.-based designer, there all the time. You see the hipster kids, goth kids, and families — an interesting mix of people."
Scott believes that design gives people the tools to feel beautiful and unique, and that the eclectic mix of materials in his designs helps make them work. "When I see [material], I don't have to know what I'm going to do with it, where it's going to fit," he says. "My studio has a wall with 100 different Ziploc bags full of beads and material. I just grab something and I start making it."
By following his instincts and also sticking close to home, another thing Scott has made is a name for himself in the fashion world. Good thing: He wouldn't be able to wear shorts and sandals in New York during the winter. And now he doesn't have to.
Check out Jerell’s L.A.