Originally born in Australia, John Orry-Kelly moved to New York and went from being Cary Grant's room mate to three-time Academy Award-winning costume designer during his 40 year career in Hollywood.

Having amassed a resume of over 290 films, this former actor found his passion in design and costuming in the 1930's. Working for all the major studios, he contributed to some of the most iconic films in history (42nd Street, The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, An American in Paris and Sweet Bird of Youth - just to name a few).

Some of Hollywood's most famous women have dawned his fashions.

Mitzi Gaynor - in Les Girls
gown designed by Orry-Kelly

Barbara Stanwyck

Bette Davis

One of the more memorable films early in his career was Fashions of 1934 - now commonly referred to as Fashions. The film starred William Powell as a swindler who bootlegged fashions from Paris and sold them in the United States to the highest bidder. His on-screen costar (once considered to be Orry-Kelly's muse) was Bette Davis who often recreated and sketched the Parisian runway styles from memory.

Keeping company with Travis Banton, Gilbert Adrian, and Edith Head, Orry-Kelly's immense contribution to fashion and film showed a uncompromising vision and true passion for couture.

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The team at Focus Group West would like to know what topics you'd like to see on the blog. A profile on a certain designer? More commentary? More pictures? Or, perhaps you have an idea for a new "Lust Must"!?

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Venice Beach

Known for its eclectic array of wares, it's also a place to find some breathtaking California architecture.

Check out some of the things I stumbled across on a recent trip to Venice Beach.

Homes on the canals:
Check out that hinged floor-to-ceiling window

There's never a shortage of wacky things to buy on the boardwalk: If you live in the area or you're visiting, be sure to check out the annual Venice Garden and Home Tour in May. Since you've already missed it this year, do a bit of searching on your own - there are always Open Houses in the area.

Photo by: Don Bartlett / LA Times

Playing with proportion...and who's favorite dog doesn't need their own garden bench?!

Tokyo: Fashion & Architecture Collide

With cities like Akihabara, Harajuku, Roppongi, and Tokyo, Japan can be considered an epicenter of fashion. With their willingness to experiment with style, color, and fit and the strong influence their youth culture provides, the city's fashions are trend-setting for those in the fashion-know. The city also takes pride in it's architecture and cutting-edge point of view.

The marriage between architecture and fashion:


A special thanks to Blake Kuwahara for all the great pictures

Tokyo: Part 1

Recently, a coworker of mine returned from a trip to Tokyo. As I've oft heard about the fashion & design-centric philosophies of Japan I wanted to see first hand. Since I wasn't able to go, I put him on "assignment" and asked that he scout the city and take some pictures.

Street Art

Subway Wall Mural

Thought this was funny. Rilax people, rilax!!

Rodnik Band Waxes Philosophical

Insight by philosopher Alain de Botton; talking about his love for fashion and the art within the fabric.

A Lust Must: Glenn Coffee Table by Jesse SPA



How could this not be a Lust Must?!

Form & Function

Opening this fall, the Los Angeles High School No. 9 has been over 4 years in the making. Designed by Coop Himmelb(l)au and with a reported budget of over $237 million dollars, the school will house 1,700 students studying – appropriately – visual and performing arts, dance, and music.

A mix of concrete and steal, it’s more like a sculpture than a school. In an area of the city that can often feel unsafe, the building acts as a fortress of protection. Himmelb(l)au moved the buildings to the outer most edges in order to fortify the perimeter while keeping the inner-most areas open and organic.

Photos Courtesy of: WorldArchitectureNews.com

Designer Brief - William Sofield

From Ralph Lauren to Gucci and Walt Disney Company to P.Diddy, William Sofield’s design influence is unmistakable.

With over 400 Gucci locations under his belt and a recent update to the TriBeCa Grand Hotel, Mr. Sofield remains an inspiration within the design community.

Design Philosophy:

"Interior design is about problem-solving and working with what you've got." – William Sofield

Check out his bio here.

Maiden Voyage - July 24, 2009

What exactly is an "aesthetic omnivore" you ask? Being an aesthetic omnivore is about trying to satiate your hunger for all things beautiful and devouring the visual world around you. Whether it's a beautiful person, a svelte and sexy product, or aesthetic history, if it's inspiring or inspired, I'll feature it here.

I welcome your comments and would love to hear from you about what wets your design appetite.

Stay tuned for more.