Isabel Marant’s 10 Years of California Love

Why Golden State style will always be a source of inspiration for the Parisian designer who redefined the rock chick aesthetic

Fashion Direction by REBECCA RUSSELL


Isabel Marant wears ISABEL MARANT jacket, $3,490, top, $190, skirt, $590, and sandals, $860.


The list of activities Parisian designer and perennial cool girl Isabel Marant does not have time for, literally and figuratively, is quite long. It starts with covering her gray hair, which she’s wearing in a messy bun. “I don’t have time to sit in a chair looking at myself in a mirror for hours, talking about stupid things,” she says with a laugh and a dismissive wave.

Also on the list: elaborate makeup, which she is trying to avoid before an afternoon photo shoot, and long, drawn-out work lunches. Which is how Marant, 57, ended up sitting on a rock in the Judy Kameon–designed modern cactus garden in front of her Melrose Place store, eating a bagel from the Yeastie Boys truck straight out of the wrapper.

Leisurely visits to California are also rare. Marant hasn’t been to Los Angeles since the Franklin Azzi–designed store opened in 2013. She has been lured back to town to celebrate the 2024 Fashion Trust emerging design talent winner with fellow judges Maria Cornejo and Phillip Lim, and to present the accessories award to handbag designer Esha Soni. Marant’s own business has mushroomed in the decade since the opening of her shop drew its own star-studded crowd.

“I have [more than] 80 stores now all around the globe,” she says, including one at South Coast Plaza and one in Palisades Village. “And new collections to design every five minutes. So my work doesn’t allow me to travel around like that. It’s sad because this store is still my favorite. It’s probably a good thing I don’t have time to shop for vintage furniture here because I’d want to buy it all.”

It took a force of nature to get Marant to come to Los Angeles the first time, when a volcanic eruption in Iceland grounded 100,000 flights to Europe for several days in 2010. During that trip she first visited the tree-lined street, arguably the most European block in the city sprawl, and helped turn it into one of the chicest shopping destinations in the world.


“There are no rules in fashion. It’s about being yourself and accepting who you are”



Isabel Marant wears ISABEL MARANT jacket, $3,490, top, $190, skirt, $590, and sandals, $860.


“I was in New York and I couldn’t fly home to France, so I came the other direction, to Los Angeles,” she says. “We were already planning a shop here, so I said, ‘Why not?’ I totally fell in love.”

Fans of Marant’s 35-year-old sexy, sporty, streetwear-influenced brand might be surprised to learn the designer doesn’t spend more time in Southern California. Season after season, she leans heavily on influences that are abundant on the West Coast, like surf and skate culture, Western wear, and irreverent tomboy touches.

“I started out making jewelry back in 1989 and making my own clothes, redesigning my father’s old things,” she says. “Then I focused on knitwear. But I didn’t have my first runway show until 1994 or ’95. I was very committed to making ready-to-wear clothes; in a very true sense focusing on my clients, who were my friends, and what they wanted to wear. Not the version of fashion you see on the runway. That’s still true today.”

Her fall collections in particular feel tailor-made for the climate, using lightweight fabrics like cotton voile and silk and cozy knits to address that nagging 70°F-winter-day problem. Her expansion into menswear five years ago, with gender-neutral printed sweats and logo T-shirts, is right in step with the L.A. streetwear scene. Even her dressiest pieces tend to have a tomboy edge, and she was one of the first designers to elevate that Cali staple, the high-top sneaker.

“There’s a sporty vibe in California that I’ve always loved,” she says. “It’s a very easy, sunny, and cozy vibe, but it’s also quite dressy. I think our clothes correspond very well to California and to the L.A. scene specifically. It really makes sense here.”


“There’s a sporty vibe in California; very easy, sunny, and cozy. Our clothes correspond well to the scene”



Eddy wears ISABEL MARANT sweater, $1,245, shorts, $1,950, and necklace, $490. Shea wears ISABEL MARANT top, $430, pants, $990, and sneakers, $660.


Marant’s hobbies and interests also hint that her distinctly Parisian exterior conceals an unpretentious California heart. For starters, she’s a modern architecture lover and admires the work of Richard Neutra in particular.

“I was so happy some years ago when I went to a Neutra-designed home up on Mulholland Drive,” she says. “Vidal Sassoon’s wife invited me. Noguchi did the garden by the pool. It’s an amazing place. It’s tiny, and everything is preserved and kept perfectly.”

Back home, she escapes the city for beach vacations in Ibiza and quiet family weekends at her modern retreat in the country near Paris with her husband, handbag designer Jerome Dreyfuss, and their 20-year-old son, Tal, who studies metalworking at art school. Their house was built in the ’60s by a former pilot turned architect who spotted a plateau in the forest from the sky and decided to build a small enclave of Neutra-inspired homes there. Their time in nature feels more like Big Sur than Côte d’Azur.

“Since Tal was a baby, we had a cabin in the countryside with no electricity or running water. We’d spend all our weekends there. He is a nature boy,” she says. “Now we bring friends and have big dinners and play cards. We rest. He rides his motorbike. We swim in the river and kayak.” Could it sound more Californian?

Marant also has an ageless approach to personal style, which many of her local devotees can appreciate. Today she’s wearing a beaded miniskirt, a T-shirt, a vintage Boy Scout shirt, sandals, and bold pink aviator sunglasses — not the choices a woman nearing retirement age would typically make.


“When I first came, I wanted to live here. I was so excited by the modernism, architecture, sunshine. It’s a dream”




“For me there are no rules in fashion, and since my 20s I haven’t changed my way of dressing,” she says, pulling out a pack of Fortunas, no-smoking ordinances be damned. “It’s about how you feel and living your own way. Sometimes my son will say, ‘Oh, Mommy, you’re not young enough anymore for this skirt.’ But come on, I’ve got good legs. I can do it. And even if I didn’t have good legs and it pleased me to wear these things, why not? For me it’s about being yourself and accepting who you are and about saying yes to things that make you happy.”

She continues: “I think beauty comes also from feeling at ease with yourself. That’s what I try to help women understand. We’re not going to be young forever, so you have to be prepared.” She laughs. “Sometimes I look at the young girls, and I think, ‘Wow.’ We had our time, and now we’re at another stage of our lives, and we have to feel good about it.”

Given that she’s already living the lifestyle, it makes one wonder if she’d ever consider trading in her hotel stays at Chateau Marmont for a more permanent place of her own here. But the answer is an unequivocal no.

“I’m French,” she says, drawing the syllable out in a way that’s very, well, French. “When I came here for the first time, I wanted to live here. I was so excited by the modernism, architecture, all the many places to buy amazing furniture, by the sunshine. It’s a dream. But it’s so far. My culture is in France. My family is there, and my friends.” She pauses for a nanosecond to consider the possibilities. “If I could move everyone I love out here with me? Maybe,” she adds, and lets out a smoky laugh.


Shea wears ISABEL MARANT jacket, $990, and shorts, $655.


Eddy wears ISABEL MARANT swimsuit, $380, pants, $415, and earrings, $350.


Hair by EDUARDO MENDEZ at A-Frame Agency
Makeup by ELAYNA BACHMAN at Tracey Mattingly
Model SHEA ESTRIN at Vision Los Angeles @s.estrin
Model EDDY VAIDILA at Freedom Models @thefasteddy




Feature image: LEFT: Eddy wears ISABEL MARANT swimsuit, $380, pants, $415, and earrings, $350. MIDDLE: Shea wears ISABEL MARANT top, $1,150. Eddy wears ISABEL MARANT dress, $3,630, earrings, $590, bag, $990, and bracelet, $2,100. RIGHT: Shea wears ISABEL MARANT jacket, $990, and shorts, $655.


This story originally appeared in the Summer 2024 issue of C Magazine.

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