Lisa Bush, owner of luxury women’s boutique Mona Moore, says her interest in fashion began when she was growing up in Williamsburg, Va.
Her grandparents owned a shoe store, which opened in 1913 and is operated by one of her cousins today. Each time she visited, she says her passion for all things sartorial grew. Years later, Bush studied philosophy and women’s studies at the University of Virginia, ultimately becoming a social worker, but her fascination with fashion never waned.
“I loved fashion and clothing in the ’80s, but there was a certain kind of feminism that was in style that was a very ‘don’t-care-about-fashion’ type of thing,” Bush says. “I really struggled with that. I wanted to open a store because I realized there was this whole side of myself that was being hidden. I felt unsatisfied. I needed to express my other creative side.”
Bush found her creative voice through opening her first Mona Moore boutique, with its impeccable range of luxury shoes, in Montreal in 2002. Years later, she moved the store, which sells women’s fashion and footwear, to the U.S., opening a location on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice in 2009. “To me, women’s clothing is a feminist issue,” she says. “My whole team is women. I feel like I am still on this feminist trajectory, and now there’s the freedom to unapologetically love fashion.”
That trajectory led Bush to move the boutique from Abbot Kinney Boulevard to Main Street in Venice in 2015. Now it has her opening her door in a new Westside location again — this time, on the burgeoning retail street Lincoln Boulevard. The new store opened with a party hosted by Bush and sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy, founders of Rodarte, earlier this month.
This time, the move was motivated by business: Bush has bought the building in which the store is located. “About a year ago, I spotted the space on Lincoln and thought, ‘I think that would work,’ ” says Bush.
The new location houses the same superbly edited selection of women’s shoes Mona Moore has become known for such as the Row, Maison Margiela, Robert Clergerie and other labels, but it also has more space to accommodate the ready-to-wear pieces Bush has expanded into during the past 18 months. “I happened to get into shoes probably because of my background,” Bush says. “But a lot of vendors told me they would love to work with me if I ever got into clothing, and at a certain point, it just made sense to jump in and do it. I’m so glad I did.”
A self-proclaimed “fan of beautiful objects,” Bush says she carefully curates her store with extraordinary and thoughtful brands obsessed with craftsmanship and detail. Often she’ll scour New York, Paris and Milan, Italy, for lesser-known collections. In the mix are selections from Marni, Haider Ackermann, Alexa Chung, Comme des Garçons and Rodarte as well as small brands including Japan-based Visvim.
“Right now the world is pretty small, but I am trying to bring things from far away that are harder to find,” she says. Those fashion treasures will be easier to display in the larger space with 2,000 square feet. The new space also has 2,000 square feet of parking. “I am really hoping it will be a place where people will come and hang out,” she says. “We are going to have a mini kitchenette so we can really offer hospitality. These days if you’re going to do brick-and-mortar, then you have to do something special. You have to do something so people want to put in the effort to come and hang out.”
The decor of the space stays true to the minimal aesthetic Mona Moore has mastered with chairs, sofas, concrete floors, white walls and furniture that moves, enabling the setup to change at any time. “It’s like a living room,” says Bush. “We don’t have a lot of fixtures or things that are set in place. I like it so that we can merchandise and move things around. I like a combination of minimalism with some theatrics and playfulness.” In a prior life, the space was actually a car-repair garage, a fact Bush is not attempting to hide. “The cement floor has the patina of the garage,” she says. “I think it’s this cool idea of gowns and garages, and I think that is very Mona Moore.”
With the new location and expanding range of sartorial offerings, Bush says she hopes her store finds its place in L.A.’s fashion history. “In the world of fashion, there are stores that come up as iconic, and for me as a fashion person, they are on my bucket list. I want Mona Moore to be that for the Westside of L.A.”
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