On first push, the massive double doors to Just One Eye appear to be locked. Then you hear a quick flick of the deadbolt and a gentle click, and the left door opens thanks to a burly, suited security guard. This choreographed dance feels intentional.
“To be in midcity Los Angeles and walk through two giant doors and be confronted with all of this extreme beauty and style, it’s exciting,” said Brett Robinson, a furniture maker in Los Angeles whose work was first stocked at Just One Eye last year. “You are excited.”
The world inside the store, an airy yet intimate two-level, light-filled space, plays with proportions. The rear wall is consumed by a colossal Damien Hirst “Cherry Blossoms” painting from 2019. On either side are retail areas, arranged to encourage exploration: Furniture, including a Pierre Jeanneret file rack, a Franco Albini rocking lounge chair and a pair of 1960s cane chairs by Joaquim Tenreiro; jewelry from Cartier (starting at $3,200 for an 18-karat pink gold, chalcedony and garnet ring from the Les Berlingots de Cartier collection), Azlee charms (from $2,300) and Venyx X CVC Stones necklaces (from $3,150); and men’s and women’s clothing from designers like the Row and Prada, as well as smaller brands such as God’s True Cashmere (shirts from $1,980) and High Sport (kick pants from $860).
“When you walk into a concept store you are almost always disappointed; it’s everything and nothing at the end,” the French fashion designer Alexandre Vauthier said by phone from his atelier in Paris. “But Just One Eye is more life as art. It’s more than a clothes shop, it’s Paola’s unique vision.”
He was referring to Paola Russo, who founded Just One Eye in 2011 with a silent partner, Victoria Niarchos. Ms. Russo, who was born in Tunisia and raised in Paris, has lived in Los Angeles for more than 30 years. She cut her teeth in fashion and art during an eight-year tenure as artistic director at the Maxfield boutique in Los Angeles, “creating this undeniable reputation,” Mr. Vauthier said.
Although Just One Eye debuted as an e-commerce website, decorated with digital art from Ed Ruscha, it quickly found a brick-and-mortar home in an Art Deco building on Romaine Street, Howard Hughes’s headquarters in the early 1930s.
The store garnered early attention for Ms. Russo’s men’s wear selection and for collaborations like the $55,000 backpack created in 2012 by Damien Hirst and the Row, products of her personal connections with designers and artists. “We were too early on those,” Ms. Russo said. “People didn’t get polka dots from Damien Hirst on the Row crocodile bag. It was so smart, but the timing was off. We were thinking too big and too avant-garde.”
In the decade since, Ms. Russo has re-evaluated: “I’m trying to slow down and think about our next moves, our next collaborations.”
Just before the pandemic, the store moved to its current location in the city’s central Sycamore district. It occupies 13,000 square feet on the ground level, which includes the sales area and the Serrano Salon, a hair salon operated by the celebrity stylist Jorge Serrano, and 9,300 square feet on the upper floor, with the store’s offices and stockroom and a Gyrotonic exercise-system studio, run by Ms. Russo’s daughter, Luna.
Ms. Russo “has made the entire neighborhood exciting just by being here,” said Mr. Robinson, the furniture maker. “There’s this refined elegance you don’t see any more mixed with this demure attitude and bright energy. Plus, impeccable taste.”
At Ms. Russo’s request, Mr. Robinson created his SV_7 sofa, a homage to the Louis XV wingback settee, in special colorways for the store’s Frieze Los Angeles 2023 festivities in February.
Wearing an all-white ensemble and black Prada platform sandals, ringlets cascading down her back, Ms. Russo, who declined to disclose her age, meandered around the store recently talking about balance and beauty.
“My forté is to discover, and right now the economy makes us slow down on these discoveries,” she said as she walked the store, making sure some hangers were straight and the clothes were positioned just right. “I’m talking to my team about cleaning up for next season. Not completely because of the economy, but the world, the fashion world.
“We went from logo everything to nothing in one minute. One second,” she added. “So we all have to revise, rethink, observe. It’s time for a change.”