Susie Crippen’s rustic Hancock Park abode is a welcome expression of the fashion designer’s singular take on California casual.
When Susie Crippen, the co-founder and former creative director of J Brand jeans, now creative director of Crippen, stepped into her Hancock Park house for the first time, she instantly knew she was home.
“Get ready to fall in love!” warned the realtor, as she opened the front door of thesecluded, turnkey, 1913 bungalow set back from the street, surrounded and hidden by groves of bamboo. Crippen was immediately attracted to the open floor plan, exposed wood beam ceilings and the light and airy feel (the house was remodeled in the 1980s). She was also struck by the small-town vibe of the Hancock Park neighborhood with its old-fashioned, wide, tree-lined streets, strolling couples and plenty of kids on bikes.
Crippen moved in in 2008 and set about making the house her own with the help of her good friend of more than 15 years, design consultant Channon Roe of In the Field Interiors. The two had a mutual friend, and actually lived across the street from each other when they first met. A man of many hats (surfer, actor, designer), Roe, a native Californian, was always keenly interested in interior design. He worked for family friend and famed designer Michael S. Smith in his early days in Los Angeles.
At first Roe was hired just to remodel the downstairs powder room, which really served as a barometer for their compatibility in taking on the house in its entirety. It was a success and from there they set their goals: to instill complete calmness into the house, making it comfortable, livable, workable and an unpretentious place to live.
“Working with Channon opened my eyes to a whole other level of creativity,” Crippen explains. “Designing clothes is an expression of my aesthetic, pure and simple, which is very similar to the way [we collaborated].”
Roe’s unique approach of steering away from any one specific style reads both eclectic and cohesive. Drawing from his early influence of California beach life, he tends to incorporate his favorite iconic time periods in design, namely the ’60s and ’70s. He says, “Mixing the high design and functionality of these midcentury modern pieces with some much older European elements, the house begins to take shape and a great story can be told.”
Roe also incorporated natural, earthy elements: cowhides, antlers, leather, weathered metal and plenty of wood. He included Crippen’s lucky number four (the day she was born)throughout the house. He also loves the element of surprise: In her sunroom, he presented her with a sofa by Brazilian designer Percival Lafer as a fait accompli. Crippen was shocked and reluctant at first, but now she admits that it is her favorite thing in the entire house other than her two dogs. Crippen, wearing her favorite, vintage Levi’s, and gray cashmere sweater by Soyer says: “This project was about bringing my taste to life. This house really does look and feel like me!”
These days she is hard at work, collaborating with her design team on her new line. Meetings take place at the dining room table, and even the back deck and front porch are jokingly dubbed “conference rooms.” The garage has been turned into the Crippen office/design studio. The house, in its inspiring, tranquil splendor, has actually come to represent all things Crippen—reflecting the clothes she makes and how she lives.
“Good design starts with a conversation, and ends as a physical manifestation of that conversation,” says Crippen. “It’s a fascinating process, living in a space and watching it come alive around me. I get to live and work in beautiful surroundings. I am so appreciative of that.”
Written by Amelia Fleetwood.
Photographed by Paul Raeside.
Rock The Casbah
IN THE FIELD’s Channon and Bianca Roe look to MOROCCO’S colorful corners for a dash of inspiration
- Edited b y JENNY MURRAY
Awash with a vibrant glow, Marrakesh, Morocco, has long been muse and home to some of the world’s most creative
minds. Think Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé, whose Jardin Majorelle, a 12-acre botanical compound, holds court in the heart of the city. There’s Marisa Berenson’s colorful oasis (see “Golden
Girl,” p.99), Paloma Picasso’s pared-down pad in the city’s Palmeraie area and Serge Lutens’ home just a few minutes away.
Channon and Bianca Roe, the husband-and-wife team behind Ojai’s lifestyle shop In The Field, were recently drawn to the North African oasis for a buying trip. In addition to one-of-a-kind market discoveries (all of which can now be found at their boutique), the couple returned inspired and refreshed.
Home base was El Fenn. The private estate was all but in ruins when it was brought back to life in 2004 by art curator Vanessa Branson (sister of Richard Branson) and partner Howell James.
Each of the 28 rooms features art from Vanessa’s personal collection and is individually decorated in rich, colorful Moroccan fashion.
From there, day trips were made to Jardin Majorelle to experience the brooks, ponds, garden paths and exotic plants. They also toured the historical site of Ben Youssef Madrasa, which was built as a theological college around the 15th century—famous for its distinctive architecture, exquisite carvings and stuccowork and painted tiles.
Morocco is known for its cuisine, an it’s easy to be partial to Nomad, located in the spice quarter, with its fusion fare and rooftop views. Here, they also found simple, yet modern, locally made ceramic dishes, tagines and platters that In The Field imported and is now carrying. Across from Jardin Majorelle is
a food, art and retail gallery, Kaowa, that serves fresh juice and vegetarian food. And for a taste of both European and Moroccan fare, the duo also favored Le Jardin, set in a romantic, hidden jungle courtyard in the heart of the medina.
And, of course, there’s shopping. Bianca jokes, “Rugs in Morocco are like seagulls on a beach! But it’s like finding a pearl when you find that perfect rug.” Each quarter has its specialty: fabric, leather, metal goods and, of course, the rug quarter. Opened last month, El Fenn now has a lifestyle store named after the hotel, co-curated by one of fashion’s greats, former Ford Models president Paul Rowland, and hotel general manager and interior designer Willem Smit, who both live in Marrakesh. El Fenn’s store, which will double as a 35-person sit-down restaurant and bar with street access, stocks individual designers as well as vintage clothing and accessories, handmade luxury leather goods, jewelry, blankets and cushions from the Atlas Mountains, all in keeping with the property and its tony aesthetic.
Off the beaten track, the Roes explored outside of the medina, too, where many crafts are manufactured. A favorite was Akbar Delights, a specialty store that makes embroidered kaftans and resortwear for women. After a long day treasure hunting, the
ultimate romantic relaxation is the spa at the Royal Mansour hotel, which has long been touted as the best traditional hammam in the city. Obtaining a day pass to the Beldi Country Club’s pool and spa is also a welcome treat. The Roes will be soon be importing Beldi’s glassware, from the club’s own souk, one of the few places where glass is handblown and made the old-fashioned way.
“A truly captivating experience,” Bianca says of their Marrakesh trip. “The ancient city, the muezzin’s call to prayer, the colors! It was like a dream.”
• AMELIA FLEETWOOD