I first had the pleasure of meeting Five And Diamond store manager Jessica Atreides several years ago. Just fifteen minutes after we said hello my perspective regarding notions of what is and isn’t art were changed. More specifically Jessica had turned my face into art at one of the shop’s first Day of the Dead face painting events just outside the storefront where artists like Jessica use airbrushing in magical new ways before sending you out into the candlelit night. It has become so popular over the years that nearly two hundred locals hoping to get their pagan on had to be turned away last November. Fortunately you’ll never be turned away at the doors of Five And Diamond, and, in the form of clothing, jewelry, accessories and props, there’s plenty of art to behold there too. Everything in the shop is wild, gorgeous and has the spirit of creativity and adventure. “What we’re going for is trying to get the most unique, edgy stuff out there,” Jessica said. Art, it seems, is a way of life for those associated with Five And Diamond. Which makes sense when you consider its origins. Phoebe Durland and Leighton Kelly, at the time both members of the traveling cabaret Yard Dogs Road Show, are both artists in their own right. They opened Five and Diamond as flagship for their design lines. From there their approach to living and creating caught on, and now, led by buying manager Haley Lynn, the shop hosts numerous design lines that feel more like a movement than mere commerce.
To hear Jessica expound on that list of designers as we walked through the shop is to realize that Five And Diamond is far more than simply a one stop costume shop for people heading out for a week in Black Rock every August. It really is a base for artists that are friends of friends friends, who travel frequently and do craft in New York, Los Angeles, Bali and Japan, to name just a few places. The result is indeed edgy, and lends itself well to those with a vaudevillian streak and a panache for showtime. It attracts a wide array of folks – belly dancers, performance artist, goth kids, stretch art kids and steam punkers. And for these genres and sub genres, the styles they wear are, more often than not, suggestive of their whole lifestyle. One example of this is the holster bag, from Phoebe’s line of leather accessories, Wild Card. It’s attractive, yet wholly functional with lots of hidden pockets to keep things safe while traveling, echoing the life of an artist who spends so much time on the road. Her flask garter belt does this quite provocatively as well. Tawapa, Phoebe’s jewelry line, much of it focused on stretch jewelry, lives here also. And there are plenty of other Five And Diamond favorites, like the interesting and sexy Chromat line from New York, which produces elastic banding pieces that get “tons of attention”. Or Spatterdash, offering modern updates on turn of the century spat designs. The Five And Diamond collective, which includes designers like Heathen and Steam Trunk, are especially fond of the one-of-a-kind jackets by Tiffa Novoa of Ernte. Not only are they grand and ornate in aesthetic, but they also have a deeper, emotional pull, as Tiffa passed away in 2009. Her partner discovered some of her work in storage and gave them to the shop to sell as a way of commemorating the artist’s work. Beyond the Tawapa line, jewelry is in abundance here from the likes of Dust, often created from quartz and bone, and Leighton’s Bootleg line, which has a brash, raucous feel to it. And I especially loved the steam punk unisex goggles, which captured that movement’s post-apocalytic meets science fiction fantasy ethos perfectly. They, like everything else in the store, satisfied the Five And Diamond criteria of being unique and avant garde in the “weirdest, freakiest and highest quality” way imaginable.
Product lines by artists who create their designs to be worn into the real, alternative world is a rich concept, one that is being taken to unusual extremes at Five And Diamond’s upcoming event, “Headdress” next month on Thursday, August 9th. “We’re doing an art show with thirty artists, and we provided them with a base, leather aviator helmet and gave them free reign to interpret that. The goal is to see what people could come up with, and just really push the boundaries of their ingenuity.” I was able to get a sneak peek at a few of them, one of which Jessica described as “a little bit dangerous”, with a complex design of sharpened crystals as its foundation. Ouch. And gorgeous, too. Events like this, as well as the Day of Dead annual, speak to the notion that if fashion is indeed a statement of living differently, then those who think differently need a place to come together and share ideas and creativity as well as make a living. Five And Diamond, racy, out there, romantic and bold, is, for a great many vagabond souls, just such a place.
Visit Five And Diamond at 510 Valencia Street and be sure to download StoreSnaps onto your iPhone so you can keep up to date with their info and products.