The strip mall is L.A.'s high-fashion hangout. Pull up with purpose and stay awhile
This is Out Here, an insider’s look at the everyday beauty of exteriors — architecture, façades, urban design, blueprints for a brand new world.
The strip mall, as Myriam Gurba writes in "A witch goes to a strip mall and…," is a place that people in Los Angeles can count on for highly effective magic. Once you arrive — having freshly jumped off the Orange Line or having finished a long stroll from home or, perhaps, having just parked after waiting patiently for that elusive parking spot — there’s a feeling of possibility on the premises that’s in the air.
The energy of a strip mall is unlike that of any other commercial space in that it mimics the flow of the architecture: It passes through like a gust when the front- and backdoor are open. Easy in, easy out. Though the energy keeps coming in waves.
The thrill of the strip mall is how relentlessly people move through it and bring their unique experiences and style with them. How they present themselves. How they bring who they are to whatever they’re doing. There are so many reasons one might enter a strip mall. Laundry. Loitering. Getting their nails did. Refilling their water. Dining at a restaurant. Having a hem taken in. Picking up a package. No matter the type of outing, a strip mall is for pulling up with purpose.
Photographer Nichelle Dailey and artist Sissòn — with the help of our fashion director at large, Keyla Marquez — spent a day exploring the high-fashion hangout that is the L.A. strip mall. They bounced from spot to spot, from fit to fit. As the light changed from morning to evening, so did the mood. Energy can be a tricky thing to document, but what unfolded in front of Dailey’s lens was nothing less than supernatural. This photo essay is a testament to the fact that great things happen when you put it in park and hop out. Sometimes you just need a little space to cook.
Producer: Siya Bahal
Hair and makeup: Aurora de León
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.