Co’s residency at the Fitzpatrick-Leland House
Stephanie Danan and Justin Kern have spent the past seven years honing a polished design lexicon rooted in volume, dimension and unexpected fabrics for their fashion line, Co. Now they’re refining their shared architectural bent during a year-long residency with the MAK Center for Art and Architecture at Rudolph Schindler’s terraced Fitzpatrick-Leland House in Laurel Canyon.
“We’re a California company, and this is the part of L.A. that we identify with: a modernist masterpiece with links to the city’s intellectual and artistic community,” says Danan, who arrived in Los Angeles about 20 years ago to work as an independent film producer. She and her partner, Kern, a former screenwriter, have long admired the house—a 1930s L-shaped structure with a glass-and-steel mullion facade shaded by cantilevering canopies—as they happen to live in the neighborhood. They are helping to restore it even as they’ve converted it into a gallery.
Every now and then, Co’s clothing collections are accompanied by narrative-based short films featuring brand loyalists such as Marisa Tomei. Danan and Kern have shot at Tony Duquette’s Dawnridge estate and Marlene Dietrich’s former home, but the pared-back modernism of Schindler’s spec home, built as a model to lure L.A. residents up the canyon’s hillsides, resonates on an instinctual level. “You can see how it influenced us with the resort  designs,” says Kern of the collection, launching in late fall. Kern and Danan completed the looks, which swing from stripped-back maxi dresses to elegantly austere denim frocks, shortly after converting Schindler’s house into a small gallery (the majority of Co’s staff is still based in L.A.’s Arts District).
Ongoing restoration work, from painting to switching out anachronous ’90s light fixtures, keeps Danan and Kern engaged with the Fitzpatrick-Leland House’s clean lines and unique economy of space. MAK Center director Priscilla Fraser notes that their efforts align with archival images of the house’s 1936 design. That curated sensibility is mirrored in the recent launch of Co’s Essentials collection—wardrobe staples built from the label’s key styles to date—available through their website’s new e-commerce platform. “The pieces are very grounded and subtle, just like the house,” observes Danan. co-collections.com.
Written by ELIZABETH VARNELL.
Photography by CARMEN CHAN.