Fashion Industry Vets Open New Multibrand Boutique in Santa Monica

Fashion has always been a passion for Pauline Sjoenell, who was one of the first employees at Acne Studios in Stockholm, and a boutique owner who introduced the Swedes to Isabel Marant, Juicy Couture and True Religion, among others.

She thought she was done with retail when she moved to Los Angeles a few years ago. But then, after returning from a mother-daughter trip to Tulum with her best friend, Chona Hirsch, they wondered why they couldn’t find the body chains, goddess dresses and boho accessories they’d shopped for in Mexico in L.A.

“We both swore we would go back to retail. And here we are — on the same street,” said Hirsch, who owned the children’s clothing store Cranky Pants on Montana Avenue for years, before opening Last Resort at 1403 Montana Avenue in Santa Monica.

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The store has the feel of a temple, with a goddess statue, a plush pink vintage velvet couch, Brutalist gold table, and racks and racks of haute hippie threads.

“Where do you go when you want to go on vacation and want to look like you belong before you even get there, that was the inspiration,” said Hirsch, adding that the look can be beach or apres-ski.

“What it turned into was high-end resort,” added Sjoenell, emphasizing that they focus on buying under-the-radar labels that might have been carried at Barneys New York, including hand-painted Birkenstocks by Giovanni Gerosa, sunset and cactus patterned cardigans by Canessa, hair calf clogs by former Miu Miu model Kate Cate, beaded necklaces by Paris-based Gachon Pothier, suede jackets by London label Jessie Western, and Monoki hand-dyed and embroidered kimonos blessed by a shaman in Big Sur.

“We’ve also become known as a great place to get a dress,” said Hirsch, with offerings from Saloni, Simkhai, Raquel Allegra, Maria Cher and more.

The retailers are also styling customers. “We just had one of our best clients go to a Jordanian wedding and we styled her from Day One to Day Five, from beach disco to black tie dinner to brunch with the royals,” Hirsch said.

The co-owners do their buying in Milan and Paris, and have started to sell fine jewelry, including pearl lariats by Uniform Objet, and heavy, gold zodiac pendants by Darius. “That’s all sold via personal appointment or at someone’s house,” Sjoenell said.

Last Resort may be on the move soon.

“Just in the last month, we’ve been asked to do three or four pop-ups in New York, Connecticut and Minnesota,” Hirsch said. “We’re going on tour.”

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