Photography by Trevor Smith

Liseanne Frankfurt

Jewelry Designer

| Venice

Pulling up to Liseanne Frankfurt’s Mar Vista home is kind of like uncovering buried treasure— the charming, late-40s house (and all of its cul-de-sac neighbors) is among LA’s exclusive landmarked buildings known as “case studies,” a residential program that commissioned major architects from the 40s-60s to design efficient model homes (Charles and Ray Eames, Pierre Koenig, and the architect behind Frankfurt’s home, Gregory Ain, included). And yet inside, Frankfurt’s home is more magical still— mosaic tiles make up the powder room, a sweeping bookcase serves as an awe-inspiring wall, and antiques from her travels impress with an intimate nobility. Put simply, if she’d never made a business out of crafting treasures, it’d have been a downright shame. Frankfurt founded her jewelry line while studying art history at UCLA, and after selling her first collection to the likes of Barneys and Fred Segal, you can pretty much guess what followed suit: more tony retailers, her own flagship in Venice, and a reputation for one-of-a-kind pieces destined to become family heirlooms. Organic in shape and perfectly imperfect, her ruby and moonstone bedecked designs are demure, but talisman-like. Frankfurt sources her pearls from Japan and Tahiti, her glass beads from Africa, and she has all of her hardware—from wires to clasps and bezels— locally handcrafted by a third generation goldsmith in Los Angeles. Like we said, Frankfurt creates treasures. Similarly, her newer lingerie line of kimonos, knickers and slips features the best silks and laces, patterns designed by a Parisian couture designer and that same luxe, but unique esprit (her floral prints are especially stunning). It’s an energy that’s intrinsic to the designer herself— she’s elegantly eccentric, inspiringly intelligent, spiritually down-to-earth. Indeed, Frankfurt may surround herself with treasures, but she is one too. Here, she sits down with CITIPHILE to reveal her little black book on LA.

NEIGHBORHOOD STANDBY: Surely there isn’t a lack of delicious options in our neighborhood! Last year, Axe closed which left us bereft, but there are still many wonderful options. Gjelina (MAP IT, BOOK ITx) is especially delicious, and probably on everyone’s list, but they really do hit the ball out of the park, time and time again. For breakfast, I order either the Moroccan baked eggs or the house-cured salmon (both are always perfect); for lunch, it’s the tuna conserva salad, and for dinner, everything, family-style! Of course, their butterscotch pot-de-crème needs to be mentioned here…

COFFEE OR TEA: Tea. The ginger tea at Axe used to be my favorite, but the ginger-lemon tea at Gjusta (MAP IT, x) is pretty great. I favor the juice bar at One Life on Main Street (*Location now closed) for a custom juice, or something delicious from Moon Juice on Rose Avenue (MAP IT, x).

COCKTAIL DE LA NUIT: Tequila on the rocks with fresh lime juice– anejo, organic, and preferably, at home… Sunset Tower‘s Tower Bar (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) is nice too. The best bartender in town, Matt from Lincoln Fine Wines in Venice (MAP IT, x), turned me on to Diablito Organic Extra Anejo Tequila from 123 Tequila— it’s by far my favorite. 

AFTER-WORK HAPPY HOUR: The Tasting Kitchen on Abbot Kinney (MAP IT, BOOK ITx) has the best drinks in the neighborhood. Justin, the bartender there, is a talented fellow! I also have high hopes for Chez Tex (MAP IT, x), which is two doors down from my shop on Main Street (MAP IT, x). It’s definitely going to be our go-to…

LADIES LUNCH: For lunch, I like Rose Cafe (MAP IT, x) down the street from my store. We sit outside and order everything family-style to share. Same with Gjusta, which is just a couple of blocks away. For dinner, we love Via Veneto (MAP IT, x)– it’s loud, but delicious and fun, plus the Italian waiters are friendly and flirty.

WHERE TO BRING OUT-OF-TOWNERS: Hauser Wirth + Schimmel (MAP IT, x), The Hammer Museum (MAP IT, x), Gjelina, Giorgio Baldi (MAP IT, x), Venice, the Arts District, El Matador Beach, a hike in the Santa Monica Mountains, The Huntington Library and Gardens in Pasadena (MAP IT, x), Arcana Books in Culver City (MAP IT, x), Regen Projects in Hollywood (MAP IT, x), LACMA (MAP IT, x), Little Room Portraits on Abbot Kinney Boulevard, where my friend, Davis has set up this brilliant, anti-selfie portrait studio where they take perfectly lit portraits with a Hasselblad [camera] and then print the image on this amazing paper– no digital!

MUSIC PICK: Beyoncé, and seeing her and Jay-Z (or her alone) at The Rose Bowl, outside in that beautiful setting… that’s perfection in LA. Also, all summer long, there is a concert series at the Santa Monica Pier. Patti Smith performed one year, and it’s a lovely summer experience, taking a picnic to the beach, no matter who is performing. Joan’s on Third (MAP IT, x) does great picnic boxes. We also have the Wiltern (MAP IT, x), and the Troubadour in LA (MAP IT, x), both of which are great venues. 

BEST BRUNCH: Gjelina early in the garden, or Gjusta on the later side for burgers … sublime. It’s also fun to head to Bottega Louie (MAP IT, x) for brunch on the early side to beat the crowds and then head to the museums in the area: MOCA (MAP IT, x), The Broad (MAP IT, x), etc… it makes for a lovely Sunday! I love stocking up on Bottega‘s sweets as they have beautiful packaging and delicious chocolate treats; I buy them as hostess gifts, but they’re invariably devoured by my entire family and friends straight out of our pantry!

BEST PEOPLE WATCHING: Giorgio’s at The Standard (MAP IT, x) on a Saturday night. Bryan Rabin has done a wonderful job of gathering an eclectic crowd to dance the night away week after week. And of course, the Venice Beach Boardwalk. I also think LACMA on a Sunday is quite entertaining in that sense.

HEALTHY STAPLE: If I’m in the neighborhood, Ammo at The Hammer Museum (MAP IT, x). They have delicious, healthy food and the added bonus of being located in the courtyard of The Hammer, one of the best places in LA, hands-down. I usually order the steak salad and french fries.  If I’m downtown, then I like to have lunch at The Ace Hotel (MAP IT, x). The food is always delicious; I usually order the side dishes (I put together arugula, roasted tomatoes, avocado sprinkled with sea salt and two soft boiled eggs). For snacks in between appointments, I like Moon Juice in Venice– their activated sprouted almonds, dried mango with lime and chile, and the pumpkin seeds with curry are my favorites, along with their “Canyon Greens” juice. 

GUILTY PLEASURE: Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. And I don’t feel guilty about it. Zen Bunni has a store in The Fairmont Hotel (MAP IT, x) to indulge! I also think Compartes’ (MAP IT, x) “Love Nuts” are just beyond. If you haven’t tried them, you must– they are hand-roasted, then dipped in chocolate 14 times! (My favorite is the almond kind.)

LA’S BEST-KEPT SECRET: That the city empties out completely during Coachella and you can drive just about anywhere in 15 minutes or less. It’s heaven and how I wish LA could be all of the time!

FIRST THING I MISS WHEN I’M AWAY: The weather, of course. We are particularly blessed here. Also, the abundance of good food and general feeling of well-being that comes from the sun, the laid-back energy and the divine, golden light.

REGULAR AT: Gjusta for baguettes; the Venice Farmer’s Market (MAP IT, x) for Harry’s Berries; the new Erewhon on Venice Boulevard (MAP IT, x) for an extremely good selection of things edible and not; Alchemie Spa for the infrared sauna (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x); and Strange Invisible Perfumes (MAP IT, x) for amazing botanical scents and expertly-curated skincare.

DATE NIGHT STANDBY: Giorgio’s— we’ve been having date nights there for over 20 years; I always order the langoustine. Also, Shima (MAP IT, x) for their delicious and beautifully prepared sushi (Yoshi is a master); and Ado, which is now known as Barrique (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x)– it’s dark with tall candlesticks and in a former house so it feels really cozy and romantic.

KID-FRIENDLY PICK: We like to drive up the coast for the sunset and dinner in Malibu at Taverna Tony (MAP IT, x) or Malibu Farm on the end of the Malibu Pier (MAP IT, x). We also all love Locanda Portofino in Santa Monica (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x), and Ammo.

TO SEE AND BE SEEN: The garden at Chateau Marmont (MAP IT, x).

GO-TO GETAWAY: California is perfect for year-round road trips. We especially like driving up the coast, stopping in Big Sur for lunch at Post Ranch Inn (MAP IT, x), a stay in Carmel, and then on to San Francisco to see friends, eat amazing food and take in the culture. We always visit the local botanical garden wherever we are. There is a bustling little Mediterranean restaurant in Carmel called Dametra Cafe (MAP IT, x) where the kitchen staff joins the hostess and waiters in a rousing musical performance (it’s highly entertaining); and we always have lunch upstairs at Chez Panisse (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x)– it’s a family favorite. We also head to the desert (where I grew up) quite a bit. Our friends have an amazing house there so we stay for a few days and try to unwind. India Oven (MAP IT, x) has the best food, and I never leave without a visit to Harvest Health in Palm Desert (MAP IT, x) or to the many vintage shops on Highway 111. 

AUTUMN IN LA: Indian summer hits us September through October and it’s the best time of year here. It’s when the ocean is at its warmest, the beaches at their nicest, and there are no more summer crowds. My ideal fall day would be to take in whatever new art exhibitions are up, have a little bit of time in the sun, then drive to take in the sunset followed by dinner near the coast (sometimes the Santa Ana winds blow in so it can be 80 degrees at night!).

CLOSET CHECK: I suppose my style is creative and eclectic, yet classical too. I am a Libra so balance is key and details are important. I’m lucky to be next door to Pamela Barish (MAP IT, x) and Mona Moore (MAP IT, x)– between the two, I’m in fairly good shape. Pamela offers exquisitely made classic dresses that I love (as well as her blouses, coats, jackets, and trousers). I mix in classic pieces with my favorite Gregory Parkinson things from the past 20-some odd years. I also have a love of vintage as does my 16 year-old daughter. We travel to the east side of town for Tavin Boutique in Echo Park (MAP IT, x), then grab a snack at Cookbook (MAP IT, x) before heading downtown to Shareen Vintage (MAP IT, x). We also frequent Animal House in Venice (MAP IT, x), and General Store in Venice also (MAP IT, x). They’ve got a wonderfully curated selection of vintage. The best vintage dealer in town is Danny Flynn; he owns Replika Vintage (MAP IT, x) and he has an exquisite eye. I also check out what Heist (MAP IT, x) has to offer; I go there especially for the Roseanna and Giada Forte pieces.

ACCESSORIES PICK: Mona Moore for shoes, hats, bags, scarves… she has an incredible selection from the best designers! I am a big fan of the handbags by The Row (MAP IT, x), and the shoes by Laurence Dacade and Tabitha Simmons as well.  

BEST HOME DÉCOR: My interior style is colorful, eclectic and filled with many of the things that I love to collect. I love what Gregory Parkinson is doing with his home collection. I keep buying his colorful ikat, embroidered cushions and printed napkins; I’m building quite a collection! Ray Azoulay of Obsolete (MAP IT, x) has the best selection of interesting pieces and the most wonderful eclectic eye, as does Joel Chen (x).  A + R on La Brea (MAP IT, x) is perfect for tech and gadget, or for something sleek and modern. I also love buying Makoto Kagoshima ceramics from Chariots on Fire (MAP IT, x). And we collect Ted Muehling candlesticks which we buy from Bill at August (MAP IT, x).

BEST HOST/HOSTESS GIFTS: On Abbot Kinney, Tortoise (MAP IT, x), Chariots on FireStrange Invisible Perfumes and Bazar (MAP IT, x). Also, the gift shop at The Hammer MuseumCookbook, General Store and Turpan in the Brentwood Country Mart (MAP IT, x). I think that one of the most perfect LA hostess gifts might just be one of the gorgeous pool towels from Etro in Beverly Hills (MAP IT, x).  

GIFTS FOR HIM: George Esquivel (MAP IT, x) for the most exquisite handmade shoes, Second Time Around (MAP IT, x) for vintage watches, Linus for bicycle accessories (MAP IT, x), Tradesman in Venice (MAP IT, x) for excellent menswear (the owners are the nicest fellows in town). I’ve also had great success finding things for my son and other young gentlemen at Stag on Abbot Kinney (MAP IT, x).  

GIFTS FOR KIDS: Our daughter loves the dresses from Christy Dawn (MAP IT, x); art books from Arcana for both our son and daughter are always a hit. I always find things at Bazar. Lost and Found on Main Street (MAP IT, x) has a great selection of things for birthdays and holidays, and Love Adorned (MAP IT, x) has a wonderful selection of gifts and beautiful things too.

BEAUTY BLACK BOOK: Burton Machen (x) at Salon Maxime (MAP IT, x) has cut my hair for nearly 20 years and is one of my all-time favorite people in LA. Also, Sue Choi (x) at Coherent Body (x) for craniosacral work is incredible and she’s conveniently located in Venice.

FIT PICK: I do Pilates religiously, and have done so for over 16 years; it’s kind of like a religion for me actually! Good Body Pilates in Santa Monica (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) has the best teachers in town; it’s a little haven. Other than that, my husband and I take long walks with our miniature wire-haired dachshunds, Fritz and Flora and I will take any opportunity to spend hours on a dance floor. I keep threatening to revisit my childhood and return to playing tennis, but I haven’t quite gotten around to that…

ULTIMATE LA MOMENT: Those “moments” happen every day because LA is really so specific I think– whether it’s seeing the surfers biking with their surfboards back from the beach in the morning, or hearing a waiter offer his script to one of the patrons, or listening to someone try to  order something completely vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, grain-free and sugar-free at a restaurant. Ultimately though, my “real LA moment” occurred many years ago at a book signing at a house in Laurel Canyon: my friend, Maya and I were standing at the top of the very steep driveway in our high heels, trying to figure out the best way forward. We were about to take off our shoes and walk barefoot to the valet at the foot of the driveway when a gentleman suddenly appeared between us, holding out his arms to safely escort us down the hill. Of course, it was Jack Nicholson. CP

Liseanne’s LA

 From L to R: First Row: The Huntington Library; Lunch at Gjusta; Strange Invisible Perfumes; Wine from Via Veneto. Second Row: LFrank Jewelry; Plants at Chez Tex; Chocolate from Compartes Choclatier; Flowers at Regen Projects

From L to R: First Row: The Huntington Library; Lunch at Gjusta; Strange Invisible Perfumes; Wine from Via Veneto. Second Row: LFrank Jewelry; Plants at Chez Tex; Chocolate from Compartes Choclatier; Flowers at Regen Projects


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