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The artistic view

January 06, 2008|Emili Vesilind | Times Staff Writer

How many former high-fashion models would hang a painting of a dead rat over their beds? But then Honor Fraser, who worked for the likes of Alexander McQueen and Yohji Yamamoto during her catwalk career, isn't your typical ex-top model. Since retiring eight years ago, the British-born scion of Scottish nobility moved to L.A., married film producer Stavros Merjos and had a son, Roscoe, 3, who "never sits still."

She also opened an art gallery in Venice -- which just moved to Culver City's booming gallery row on La Cienega Boulevard -- and in short order became one of the most respected names in L.A.'s flourishing art world. At her eponymous gallery, Fraser has spotlighted emerging international artists including Mark Licari (renderer of the deceased rat), Tomoo Gokita, Jeremy Blake and Gardar Eide Einarsson, whose show of life-size inkjet prints of police officers on plywood, titled "All My Friends Are Dead," is on display through Jan. 17.

Fraser seems relieved that matters of fashion aren't as pressing these days. Still, at 34, she is one of L.A.'s most stylish cultural arbiters. Favoring no-fuss fashion with an artistic bent -- and skipping makeup altogether most days -- she's the opposite of the highlighted, meticulously manicured L.A. archetype.

Who are your favorite fashion designers?

Hussein Chalayan, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen. I also love the Japanese designers -- Yohji Yamamoto, Comme des Garcons, Issey Miyake. If I think back to 15 years ago when I was in Japan working with those artists, I really felt like I was seeing something other than a jumper that's convenient to wear at Christmas. Their clothes were really pushing toward an art form.

What do you like to wear to work?

A little bit of everything. Sweaters and pants or skirts. I'm fairly utilitarian but try to look smart and certainly together-looking. I'm definitely always comfortable. . . . My husband gave me a black Hermes Kelly bag that I like very much. I think it's elegant and timeless.

What's your favorite going-out outfit?

I've been wearing a very short dress that's a huge box, and it hangs in this really interesting way. I can't remember the designer. The number of times I've been asked how pregnant I am . . .

Do you have a signature perfume?

Ce Soir ou Jamais by Annick Goutal. It means "Tonight or Never." I've run out of it, so I might just smell like body odor.

What's your favorite place to shop in L.A.?

MaMeg is a shop that I'm mad about. The owner, Sonia Eram, approaches fashion not from the classic L.A.-bimbo, Paris Hilton-sweatpants thing, but from this artistic perspective. For me, she represents somewhat the crossover between art and fashion.

Where do you buy Roscoe's clothes?

Old Navy and Petit Bateau. Kids should be comfortable and not look at all like little adults. And also they shouldn't have too many clothes. I think they like familiarity. Roscoe has about six trousers that are interchangeable. I love corduroys on him for some reason -- it's definitely a British thing. He wears these little leather shoes from Mexico that are adorable in the winter and Crocs in the summer. And I like little Gap collared shirts.

Do you have a regular tailor?

I've never used one. But I had a pair of pants made for my husband last year and used Jack Taylor -- tailor to the Rat Pack.

What's your family tartan?

We have two -- a hunting tartan and a dress tartan. The dress tartan is red, and the hunting tartan is green and brown. I have a tartan blanket, but that's it.

What is the last thing you'd ever wear?

The jeans where you can see your butt.

What are you excited about right now?

I'm really interested in publishing art books [under her own imprint]. We just did one for Rosson Crow, this 25-year-old Texan painter who's sort of ballsy. She will have a show here in late January. She has an unbelievable sense of color.


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