Industry Insiders: Stacey “StaceyPants” Bendet

Stacey Bendet Eisner is a woman of her own design. Deciding to forgo the Wall Street path early on, she entered the fashion world, becoming her own CEO, and after blazing the way for super original multi-colored jeans, earned her “StaceyPants” nickname. A mother to Eloise, wife to producer Eric Eisner, and often times a convivial hostess, the pint-sized powerhouse designer behind Alice + Olivia makes her work part of her life, and her life part of her work. Here she talks about her new ventures, her bi-coastal tendencies, and her love of Big Macs.

What are you doing in LA right now? Well, I’m out here the last week of each month. We have two shops here. We just opened a store out in Malibu but right now I’m actually on my way over to my store on Robertson.

You seem to juggle your public life with your family life. How are you able to multitask? Well, I think that my work is part of my life and my life is part of my work. It all goes together. Definitely having a husband and a baby you have to make some effort to balance things, but we do the last week of each month and then in New York for three weeks. Just kind of makes it work.

Does the whole family travel together? My husband actually produces and finances films so he likes to be out here more.

Alice + Olivia has been expanding. What’s in store for the future? We just opened a Malibu store. We have one of the biggest programs expanding for the next fall with 9T, our T-shirt collection. It includes all kinds of cool T-shirts at a little bit of a lower price point than some of our other stuff. Given the economy right now, it seems to be working really well. They are embellished, really detailed with lace or crystals or embroidery design. Some of them have necklaces attached. It’s more of a T-shirt you’d wear at night, not a shirt you’d throw on at the gym. We are also doing jewelry collaboration with Erickson Beamon, which will come out probably in November. We are discussing doing a possible makeup line that is not totally solidified yet but it’s something we are discussing.

What is the Alice + Olivia face? What would be the makeup aesthetic? It would be kind of signature Alice + Olivia, lots of blacks and whites. Black eyeliners, white sparkling eye shadows, and then pops of color like neon nail polish.

Aside from putting a face on the Alice + Olivia girl, what kind of girl wears the clothes? I think the Alice + Olivia girl is kind of that cool girl anywhere from 18-40 that likes to mix and match her outfits. And it could be anyone from the girl hanging out on the Lower East Side in one of our crazy dresses over a pair of jeans, to the more uptown girl who is going for lunch. Diversity is one of the things I focus on when designing a line. I like my pieces to be able to be worn by a wide range of people.

What are some of your favorite pieces? Right now I like all our new pants. We did all the genie pants and cargo pants for Spring that I really like.

What are some of your biggest goals for your brand in the next year? I think for the next year it’s just to keep the business clean, efficient, and leaner, because of everything that’s going on in the economy.

How do you feel the economy is affecting your own company? It’s been a wake up call. We were a little bit more lax about things, and now we are very much about being lean and efficient. We re-staffed and restructured in a way that is a little bit more reserved.

Is this affecting the materials you use or what you design? We’ve made an effort to have products that are at a low price point. I won’t compromise the quality of my fabrics or the garment for anything. I’ve tried to take a lower margin on some things so we can have a better price.

Many are mourning the death of their closets thanks to this recession. Can you give some advice on how to look great on a budget? I think it’s about keeping your wardrobe based around basics, and allowing yourself to buy statement pieces, like a great colorful bag or one awesome dress. Try to focus on things you can wear different ways. That’s why I love our t-shirts, because you can dress them up or down.

What inspires you? I think you’re inspired everyday of your life, and if you’re not you shouldn’t be a designer.

How would you describe your lifestyle right now if you were in work mode? I practice yoga everyday. My life is a little bit crazy and a little bit random. I’m kind of impulsive.

What about the way you design-what’s the creative process like? A little bit random too. We have certain things that we have to finish at certain times. Alive + Olivia is very much a collection of items, rather than putting out seasonal collections. We are making hundreds of things each month. The creative process builds off itself each day.

What are some of your favorite places to shop? Random vintage stores. The Way We Wore, Decades, Resurrection, Frock, Opening Ceremony, and Iris.

Where do you go out to these days? In LA we usually are pretty mellow. We love Il Sole, or Hamasaku for sushi. We have drinks with friends at the Chateau Marmont In New York we usually go to Rose Bar for drinks and we have dinners at Nobu, Waverly, Monkey Bar. I am always up for drunken bingo at Tortilla Flats.

What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in New York? I love Blossom for vegetarian and vegan food, I love Sushi Sen-Nin on 33rd street. Best meal? McDonalds. Nothing really beats a Big Mac and a strawberry milk shake. Definitely McDonalds.

GOOP Scribe Gywneth Paltrow Recommends Los Angeles

imageGwyneth’s latest newsletter over at Goop is all about Los Angeles. Born, bred, and made famous in the city of silicone, GP has a special fondness for the place — as she says “Los Angeles, with its bougainvillea, sea breezes, avocados and eccentric inhabitants, is like no other place and will always be in my soul.” Then she goes ahead and gets busy with recommendations. Let’s recap her top picks.

Hotels Shutters on the Beach Beverly Hills Hotel Hotel Bel-Air London West Hollywood

Restaurants Michael’s La Scala Presto Via Veneto Sushi Katsu-Ya Pizzeria Mozza Hamasaku Melrose Bar and Grill Chinois on Main Nate’n Al Mulberry Street Pizza Santa Monica Co-Op Caffe Luxxe Loteria Grill in the Farmers Market

It’s not a bad list. I agree with her about Shutters, Mulberry Street Pizza, and Mozza, but what about AK Restaurant? Or the Chateau? To see the whole list, with Gwynnie’s commentary, click here.

The Top 10 (+1) Best Dinner & Movie Combos in LA

Los Angeles has the best movie theaters in the entire country. Perhaps it’s because Hell A is the artery through which all of “The Industry” must pass; perhaps it’s the overabundance of set designers and over-the-top-producers in the area. Whatever the reason, it makes for a superfine moviegoing experience. Check out our top list of places to catch a flick, then rehash scene by scene over dinner.

1. Arclight + El Compadre Arclight brings the hammer down on the rest of the wanna-be theaters in the Los Angeles arena. The train-station lobby tickertapes film selections — though you won’t have to bother waiting in line, or even showing up early, because seats are individually reserved and purchased online.

The cavernous theaters are built out with stadium-style seats that rock back and forth for maximum cruise control. The best feature, however, is the “21+ Showings” that run Thursday through Sunday nights, where you can get wasted while you catch the show. Go ahead and pregame at the upstairs bar. Make your stop at El Compadre after the show because the wait, though worth it, is horrendous.

2. The Egyptian + Café Des Artistes The Grauman before the Chinese, the Egyptian holds the honor for hosting the first-ever movie premier, held in 1922. Sold for a song (and $1), American Cinematheque renovated the aging Art Deco beauty in 1998. Two screenings at once, one large, one small. Go for the ambiance, stay for the film selections. Keep the romance alive and get fireside after your film at Café Des Artistes.

3. Grauman’s Chinese Theater + Geisha House A list of movie theaters isn’t complete without the iconic Grauman’s Chinese Theater. This powerhouse sits on busy Hollywood Boulevard, surrounded by handprinted concrete, Pretty Woman references, and men in tights. It’s razzle dazzle at its best. Skip the rest of the Hollywood and Highland madness and hop over to the Geisha House for some sexified sushi.

4. El Capitan Theatre + Mashti Malone’s Ice Cream If you have youngsters of a Disney-appropriate age visiting, be a hero and take them to the Disney-owned El Capitan. The venue is immaculately restored to all the glamour of old Hollywood, but it also offers modern-day conveniences like online ticketing. The best bit though is the pre-show show, where costumed actors come out and dance onstage, the live organist wails on the Wurlitzer (one of the last of the five “Fox Specials” built in the 1920s), and the grand finale includes confetti spraying from the ceiling. Only Disney films are shown here. After the show, spring for some Middle-Eastern ice cream at Mashti Malone’s.

5. Hollywood Forever Cemetery + Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles Summer is a nebulous thing in Los Angeles. The weather is perennially evergreen — skies are blue pretty much always (except for the freaky two weeks of drizzle in February), and there’s no shortage of BBQs in the “winter” months. However, summer is marked by something fairly awesome: Weekend film showings in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. In June, July, and August, Angelenos are invited to picnic at the un-drive in, drive-in. The films are projected onto a giant wall space, beneath which moviegoers cuddle on blankets and drink wine out of plastic cups. The films tend towards classic, and the evenings can get a little rowdy with comments directed at the screen. Bring more blankets than you think you need; it gets cold, and the ground isn’t exactly cushiony. Best bet: Show up at 6 p.m. to get good seats, and pack a picnic filled with tasty, greasy, sweet-and-salty Roscoe’s chicken and waffles. 6. The Vista + Electric Lotus An indie favorite located in east-sider hipster heaven Los Feliz, the Vista is like the Village Mann’s cooler, older sister (by seven years). Another one-show affair, this theater has lots of legroom due to revamps which included yanking out alternate rows of seating like they were decaying teeth. Look for Egyptian-style décor and classical music pre-previews. Five-dollar matinees on weekends! Make it an all night affair with dinner at Electric Lotus.

7. The Nuart + Hamasaku The Nuart (owned by Landmark Theaters), another west-side one-screener, isn’t remarkable in terms of ambiance or seating; however, you’ve got a good shot at hearing an impromptu Q&A with a filmmaker or actor, as well as a serious line-up of all the foreign and independent films you could ever want to see. Also, every Saturday at midnight, you can watch and/or participate in a showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Sushi and film, what a great combo. See one and then go for some eel and edamame at Hamasaku.

8. The Landmark + Apple Pan The Landmark is making a run for the top spot. Highlights include special “Screening Lounge” showings (read: couches instead of regular seating), 21+ booze-fueled showings, and concessions including a faux-Pinkberry called Yogurberry, and La Brea Bakery goods. Arclight: Watch your back. After the film, stop by iconic burger joint the Apple Pan.

9. The Mann Village Theater + Tanino Around for over 75 years, the Mann Village Theater (otherwise known as the Fox) rocks the old-school movie house steeze with only one theater inside, complete with an awesome balcony. Feel free to sneak in Fatburger (from the one on Kinross) and throw French fries at fellow moviegoers, most of whom are UCLA students and press peeps. If you’re still hungry after stuffing your face with smuggled burgers, grab a bite or a drink at nearby Italiano Tanino.

10. The Majestic Crest + Delphi Westwood has eight movie theaters in as many blocks. The Crest is a standout due to the spot-on Art Deco vintage décor and delectable popcorn. Owner Robert Bucksbaum is hands-on to the degree that he sells tickets, loads film, and changes lightbulbs. If you order tickets online it’s $3 extra — but you can reserve individual seats that way, and when you show up, your name is printed out on your seats Totally VIP. Get Greek on your way out and walk the few blocks to Delphi.

11. The Bridge + Tito’s Tacos Best spot in the city for IMAX, The Bridge also offers assigned seating (though only in the “Director’s Hall” screening) and pregame boozing at their onsite “12 Lounge.” On your way home, grab a six-pack of tacos at Tito’s Tacos and rehash all your favorite parts of the film over the requisite chips and salsa.

Honorable Mention: AMC Century City 15 + Breeze @ Hyatt Regency Yawn, stretch and head to the movies. The AMC Century City 15 offers showings in the 10 a.m. timeslot. Top it off with oysters on the half shell for lunch at the Breeze in the Hyatt Regency.