Downtown Los Angeles today is nearly unrecognizable from even five years ago. What was once known as the place to purchase wholesale clothing and attend a musical has become an the premiere location for nightlife, restaurants, and shopping in collision with experimental music and art communities. Around four years ago, before the Downtown renaissance, French duo Nicolas Libert and Emmanuel Renoird set up shop with a distinctive concept in the financial area and they called it Please Do Not Enter. With a vanguard sensibility, they delivered a multidisciplinary ethos, equally devoting their time to create a home for art, fashion and design.
The appreciation for collaboration is what Libert and Renoird want to inspire in their customers. “It’s really a full commitment on all of these elements art, design and fashion. I think now in the world not even about LA or the US market," Libert recognizes. They're both also ardent champions of zeitgeist brands including Y Projects and younger labels such as N-p-Elliott and Ellen Pedersen. But this does not come without a wary eye as Libert mentions, “When we work with a new brand, it’s interesting to see what the next collection will be."
Walking the streets of the city's epicenter, one may also notice more than a few empty storefronts. Galleries and clothing shops are constantly spinning in and out of business, but this new concept--of marrying two mediums into one--gives Please Do Not Enter just an extra touch of security. “When we are able to sell a piece of art, we are able to invest more on the fashion side. IT allows us to be riskier and there is a balance that we are building day after day. What we’re trying to build here is a real program for the arts, a real program for the design and a real program for fashion,” Libert emphasizes.
Even though they're only a mere miles apart, the differences between Downtown and West Hollywood are inarguably distinct--but that's the fun for Libert and Renoird. Where Downtown harbors burrito shacks next to avant garde shops and large beer breweries, West Hollywood glistens with power-washed sidewalks and designer clothing store after designer clothing store. Libert says, “We realized when we did the first pop up on Melrose Avenue that a lot of people knew of our other store, but did not visit us. They were clearly admitting they don’t like Downtown. They are almost two kinds of populations, depending on habits and behaviors," Libert continues. "That’s the reason why we decided to open a second store in West Hollywood. At the same time, we realized sometimes these people have more potential and are ready to spend more money, but are also sometimes a little more conservative and classic than the people Downtown.”
With all these projects and an ever-changing program of art, fashion and design that feeds off of spectators, one must wonder what is purpose of such an unwelcoming name. “For many years we were told not to go Downtown because it was a dangerous neighborhood and there was nothing to do there. And if you do, it’s a mistake and you should turn around and go west immediately,'"the co-founder says. "It's kind of sick French humor. You are told as a kid not to do something you feel so curious about it, you want to do it, you want to check it out and understand why you are forbidden.”