During the couture shows in Paris in January, the runways featured feminine dresses by Raf Simons for Christian Dior and Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel. But there was one name you wouldn’t expect to see in the middle of all of it: Damien Hirst. “I’m wearing one in Paris, the one with all the pills,” said Paola Russo of her Hirst-decorated backpack. “And people are freaking out.”
Russo is the mastermind behind Hirst’s collaboration with The Row, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s fashion line, which commissioned the contemporary artist to decorate 12 black patent, Nile crocodile leather backpacks for retail. The bags, covered in miniature versions of Hirst’s famous spot paintings or in painted pills, debuted at Russo’s new Los Angeles store, Just One Eye, and online at justoneeye.com. They went on sale for $55,000 apiece in early December and, according to a salesperson, are almost entirely sold out.
When a customer pulls up at Just One Eye—located in Howard Hughes’s old art-deco headquarters on the flat, sunny streets of Hollywood—a suited man opens the car door and introduces himself. He remembers who has been there before. Inside, a thin hallway leads through a maze of high-ceilinged rooms, each brimming with fashion, art, and furniture hand-picked by Russo and her team of buyers. There’s a Takashi Murakami painting next to a rack of Proenza Schouler jackets and furs from The Row, a vintage Hermès ring on a shelf near rare art books, and an uncomfortable-looking $22,000 Blackman Cruz porcupine bean-bag chair next to lacy Valentino. There’s an almost overpowering sense of curation in the store, as if everything has been borrowed from a very stylish person’s living room or boudoir.
Russo, the former fashion director for Maxfield, another hallowed Los Angeles boutique, insists that everything at Just One Eye must feel special and unique. “I do know that to please a customer today you have to find product that is not overdistributed,” she says. “We do believe in something that stays in a limited edition, so you don’t see too much of the same thing.” As such, the store emphasizes collaborations between artists and designers: even the sleek website features a digital art piece by Ed Ruscha. The racks also mix established names next to emerging ones—Paco Rabanne chain-mail dresses sit next to structured jackets by Paris newcomer Aurélie Demel.
While Russo is tight-lipped about future artist-designer collaborations, she tantalizingly hints at an “adaptation of a very technical survival kit” that will debut later in the year. And later this spring, Just One Eye will release a run of 25 Converse sneakers designed by the artist Nate Lowman. “I don’t want to say everything because I don’t want to kill the mystery,” she says. “But it’s going to be quite amazing.”