Brian Bowen Smith


| Agoura Hills

If you ask us, there are a handful of “sure bets” in life. One, Bergdorf Goodman’s annual shoe sale will never leave us empty-handed. Two, Fashion Week is the greatest dramedy of all-time. And three, LA photographer Brian Bowen Smith is your ticket to achieving one-degree-of-separation-status from your favorite celebrity— be he/she Cindy Crawford, Kourtney K or Snoop Dogg. It’s true— between Bowen Smith’s print ads and magazine editorials for titles like Details, ELLE and Marie Claire— his star-powered client list is seemingly endless (We mean, Nicki Minaj? Check. Jessica Alba? Check. Channing Tatum? Robert DeNiro? Chelsea Handler? Triple Check.). Willing to strike a pose, too, for Bowen Smith’s personal collection, Hollywood’s finest are surely as taken with his art as we are. And like his industry mentor and inspiration, Herb Ritts (Ritts discovered BBS), Bowen Smith’s statuesque portraits often decorate the walls of collector’s galleries like the De Re Gallery in West Hollywood. His concepts are thought-provoking and studied, while his images can appear anything but— it’s in this unexpected meeting of vulnerability and whimsy where his images become larger-than-life. Here, Smith sits down with CITIPHILE to share his little black book on LA.

NEIGHBORHOOD STANDBY: The Old Place in Agoura Hills (MAP IT, x). It’s a cozy cabin from the ‘50s that was an old general store and now looks like a setting out of a Western film. I love it because if feels like your actually in the country somewhere far from California… I always get the beef stew with corn bread and a dozen clams to start.

COFFEE OR TEA: Coffee at home because my wife, Shea, make the best cup ever.

ALL-TIME FAVORITE RESTAURANT: Water Grill (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x)— it overlooks the ocean and has the best seafood in town. I get two pounds of King crab and lobster mac n’ cheese… I always start with the wedge salad and the clam chowder (it’s the best ever).

COCKTAIL DE LA NUIT: Casamigos on the rocks.

AFTER-WORK HAPPY HOUR: The Grove (MAP IT, x) with the Copious Management crew.

POWER LUNCH: Shea’s office for business lunches… aka Sugarfish (MAP IT, x).

BEST MUSIC: I am a music mutt. I don’t usually care [what I listen to], but I like Black in Hollywood (MAP IT, x) for good music and DJ rock n’ roll.

BEST BRUNCH: I’m not really a brunch guy; I feel like I am getting cheated out of a meal.

BEST PEOPLE WATCHING: Any LA party. Or Donut Time (*Location Now Closed).

HEALTHY STAPLE: Simply Fish Grill in Agoura Hills (MAP IT, x)— easy and fresh every time. Get the trout with grilled zucchini!

GUILTY PLEASURE: I love [grabbing] a good burger with Rick (my agent). Or honestly, my wife cooks southern food and it’s so good. My favorite is her “pork chop surprise:” pork chops that are baked in the oven with mushroom sauce, and served with green peas and brown basmati rice.

LA’S BEST-KEPT SECRET: Jumbo’s Clown Room (MAP IT). Hit the Frolic Room (MAP ITx) beforehand too… you’re welcome!

THING I MISS MOST WHEN I’M AWAY: Of course, my family, but the vibe I miss a lot is the ocean; it calms me. My real mother… “Mother Ocean.”

REGULAR AT: Oh, anywhere our friends are! But, Shea and I like the Black Market Liquor Bar (MAP IT, x) for drinks and Chateau Marmont (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) for dinner. She gets the filet and I get pasta with meat sauce (we usually sit in the garden).

TO SEE AND BE SEEN: Craig’s on Melrose (MAP IT, x).

TO RELAX AND UNWIND: Malibu Beach— if you know someone, it’s the best. Otherwise, Malibu Beach Inn (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x).

DREAM LA SHOOT LOCATION: The desert— so many places to shoot; I love the dry lake bed.

CLOSET CHECK: I dress kind of casual. I love vintage clothes— I like how someone [previously] had a million experiences in them. I love to shop at Tri Co. Motorcycle Shop on Sunset Blvd (MAP IT, x); they have so many unique pieces. For vintage, I like Jet Rag on LaBrea (MAP IT, x) and, for jeans, Schaeffers Garment Hotel (MAP IT, x)— hand-made to fit.

BEST HOME DÉCOR: My home is like a rustic, modern ranch. There is a lot of vintage wood and we have concrete floors. I like simple and clean, open and uncluttered. We mostly live outside by the pool!

BEST HOST/HOSTESS GIFTS: The Malibu Country Mart (MAP IT, x) has a good amount of stuff.

GROOMING BLACK BOOK: Christian Marc is my go-to hair guy; he is so good. My family and I trick him into coming over by having a party, then make him cut all of our hair. He works with lots of people in the entertainment world as well; we do lots of personal projects together.

FIT PICK: I don’t go to a gym. I ride my mountain bike and surf. Gyms depress me. I envy those who go, but it’s not for me. As you can tell, I haven’t been in a while. I was an athlete all of my life so I enjoy not doing shit anymore.

ULTIMATE LA MOMENT: Once a year, some friends and I would do [what we call] “the trio:” we surf at 6 am until traffic dies down, then head to Big Bear to snowboard, and finally, around 6 pm, head to Venice for a night skate and beers at Hinano Cafe (MAP IT, x)– an old-school bar with great bartenders and burgers, and usually, a 6-ft tall English lady. Those trips are my favorite LA memories. CP

Brian’s LA


From L to R: First Row: Water Grill; Casamigos Tequila; Outside of Chateau Marmont; A Bowen Smith editorial. Second Row: TriCo. Motorcycle Shop; Jet Rag Vintage; Inside Schaeffers Garment Hotel; Frolic Room.


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