How to Spend the Day at LA’s Violet Grey

Chanoa Tarle

Senior Contributor

Instagram favourite and cult beauty authority, Violet Grey, is a hit among savvy shoppers across continents and the Hollywood elite. Yet as synonymous as Violet Grey may be with the digital realm, it’s also home to one fabulous jewel box of a store- tucked away in the heart of Los Angeles’ Melrose Place. More than a shop, it’s a treasure trove of discovery, an interesting architectural site and the perfect place to meet likeminded beauty lovers. Enjoy the story of the beauty experts' rise and find out how you can have a celebrity makeup experience of your own the next time you’re in LA.

A Cult Beauty Authority Is Born

Founded by Cassandra Grey, the world of Violet Grey first came to life digitally, via a popular online magazine and an Instagram account. Grey leveraged her eye for curation and tapped her network of close Hollywood friends to build a community of beauty lovers interested in the most highly-trusted products used by the top beauty experts in the field. Today the company is a trusted beauty authority with a cult-like following thanks in large part to THE VIOLET CODE, a tightly-curated edit of committee-approved products. Audiences access Violet Grey online for niche beauty content spanning everything from founder stories to the latest gadgets- as well as for the chance to shop for the latest and greatest in beauty.

A Jewellery Box of a Store

While many beauty enthusiasts shop or follow Violet Grey online, there’s a real-world component too. Violet Grey is home to a veritable jewellery box of a store on one of the most iconic shopping streets in the world: Melrose Place in Los Angeles. Guests walk past store windows featuring glass vitrines of recently-launched products to walk up a narrow path to enter the beauty shop off the street. They’re greeted by a fabulous, intimate interior featuring wall carvings, original sketches by Edith Head, legendary costume designer (Roman Holiday, Funny Face…), Dean Martin’s white leather director’s chair, Marilyn Monroe’s original beauty recipes enclosed in glass and more. It’s the brick-and-mortar expression of the company’s editorial prowess online.

The Melrose Place hideaway isn’t the place to find every product in the online store; instead, it’s a place to shop and sample the best of the best and what Hollywood’s finest makeup artists swear by. A typical day may find products from the likes of CHANEL, Kjaer Weis, Ouai, Shu Uemura and Dr. Barbara Sturm among hair and beauty tools and devices and French drugstore finds. The store is also an architectural gem in “Hollywood Regency” style, as the former offices of architect John Elgin Woolf and his brother, the designer Robert Koch Woolf.

The Celebrity Makeup Experience

In a space that feels much more like a Parisian apartment than a retail store environment, every shopper is treated to old-world service in the spirit of Mademoiselle Coco Chanel’s atelier. Every sales associate is a highly-vetted celebrity makeup artist providing guests with access to personalized tips, education, application tricks and more. The beauty experts use the products on themselves and their clients and they attend regular training sessions to stay in the know about the latest beauty finds, ingredients, formulations and trends. Guests may book in-store makeup appointments for everyday beauty or special events and enjoy beverages in the indoor seating area or the quiet lounge outside; the entire makeup booking fee is redeemable for products.

Exclusive Events

Though Violet Grey may be a bonafide playground for beauty and skincare enthusiasts, some days are more noteworthy than others. The store on Melrose Place is occasionally known to host exclusive events featuring the founders behind popular brands. It’s the offline answer to Violet Grey’s “Woman Made” series and features female entrepreneurs talking about their lines and demonstrating products, but also discussing what it’s like to balance business and their personal lives such as scaling up while raising children. Then there are the beauty events with top industry makeup artists. Pati Dubroff hosted one such three-hour event in which an intimate group of guests were privy to tips, tutorials and demonstrations from the celebrity makeup artist alongside light bites, champagne and gift bags filled with VIOLET-CODE approved products.

Melrose Place, LA

After any trip to Violet Grey, it’s time for the full Melrose Place experience. The famous shopping street is one of the most beautiful commercial streets in the city with immaculate landscaping and unerring attention to detail. The celebrity-favoured West Hollywood destination is also one of the best places to shop in all of LA, with tenants including The Row (featuring a courtyard with a pool, no less), Chloé, The Apartment by The Line, Bottega Veneta, Zimmermann and Oscar de la Renta. Luxurious yet approachable, it’s also a popular meeting place with destinations such as Fig & Olive, Alfred Coffee - creators of the Instagram-viral phrase “but first, coffee” - and Ladurée at the Mansur Gavriel store. 

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