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SHOPPING : L.A. CONFIDENTIAL

Hollywood's new star

June 29, 2008|Melissa Magsaysay | Times Staff Writer

YOU DON'T know where to look first. The place is packed with vibrant handmade shoes and bags, skirts, tunics and dresses, rings, earrings and bangles. The colors are bright and endless, an unexpected mix of oranges, fuchsias, greens and fluorescent pinks. Skirts trimmed with bright pink zigzags, shoes with quirky pompom ankle ties, tote bags decorated with squiggly horizontal stitching and dangling silver balls -- these are instant statement pieces that look as if they could have come straight off the spring runways of Dries Van Noten or Comme des Garcons.

But you are on a busy corner of Hollywood Boulevard, and you've stumbled into Muzer, a stylish Thai import store stocked with textural ethnic pieces at prices that make you feel as if you bargained down at an open market.

Not only is every item right on the summer tribal trend, but almost everything costs less than $70 and is made by the Muzer village people, who live in the mountains of north Thailand.

Ladda Punvong opened the shop a year ago, after returning from trips home to Thailand and getting compliments on the bright clothing she brought back to L.A. She had the idea of selling the tribe's fabric, handicrafts and clothing almost as a fashion collection, at the same time, benefiting the tribe's economy and, when she can, donating a portion of the store's sales to help build village schools.

These pieces are perfect for summer, but you'll still be reaching for them in the fall and beyond. Because such intricate handiwork is a rare find -- especially amid the tchotchke shops of Hollywood Boulevard.

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melissa.magsaysay@latimes.com

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Muzer, 6380 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 465-7009.

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