Inside the Most Under-the-Radar Concept Shop in L.A.

It also happens to be the best.

By: Tara Gonzalez
Photography: Tristan Kallas

Paola Russo likes to surprise people. Which is why, when you enter her store, Just One Eye in L.A., you don’t go through a front door (it’s locked), but through a hidden side door. If you come in just looking to purchase a pair of rainbow platform Gucci sneakers (you know the ones), you may wind up reading a book on Renaissance jewels or staring at a polka-dot painting by Damien Hirst instead. When you ask Paola about the store’s name, you still don’t get what you expect. There’s actually no meaning behind it, but instead, a miscommunication due to a French language barrier that involves Angelina Jolie and an eye patch.

Moving to L.A. from France originally to pursue dancing, Paola ended up working in fashion. She fell in love with a building with a view of the Hollywood sign and decided to set up shop—of course, not just *any* shop, but a concept store that sells Lanvin and Gucci and also houses art pieces from Takashi Murakami and Nate Lowman.

From time to time, Paola finds a way to fuse her passion for art and fashion by doing one-of-a-kind collaborations. Think a Disaster Relief Kit that has a night-vision scope (that the Navy Seals actually use) and a cashmere blanket (obviously). Or that black patent leather Nile crocodlie backpack decorated with pills and spots, worth $55,000, that was designed by The Row and Damien Hirst. NBD!

Scroll through to take a virtual shopping trip to Just One Eye and read how Paola buys for the store, who her favorite upcoming designer is, and what the real story behind the store’s name is.


“I moved to L.A. a very long time ago, like 30 years ago. I always did a lot of back and forth. I was a dancer, and I moved out when I was 19 years old, and I came back, and after being tired of dancing, I started in fashion. 30 years later, here I am.”

“You have to keep your passion with fashion. Fashion is something where you need to be creative, you need to be open-minded, you need to be very focused, but you need to be very passionate about what you do, otherwise you get swallowed by a lot of things that are not very constructive. I think passion is driving where we are.”

“I was with one of my business partners—the real story [about our name is], she mentioned a movie with Angelina Jolie where she had ‘just one eye.’ I was like, ‘Just one eye is not bad.’ Then we created, and that is how we started. It’s so stupid, but that’s the reality. At the time I didn’t know how to say, ‘patched eye,’ it was ‘just one eye.’

“I love this new brand called Beau Souci, by this girl who is a French designer. It’s [new], but I can see nice potential. Of course, I’m a Gucci girl. I love Gucci, but even with that we are trying to buy very specific things. I would say that right now, at the moment, The Row is what you wear every day, Beau Souci is a little everyday but more fantasy. I just got another brand, which I really respect. Bouchra, I’ve worked with her since the beginning. She is an amazing designer. Now we have Lanvin, and I am really grateful for that. I’m going to get Prada next season because of the classics. I really wanted to get back to the Prada that I think is remarkable and classic. I needed something creative and classic and [that] there is a vision.”

“I like to wear something nobody else has. It shows character. I’m always looking for something I’ve never seen before or something that is so beautiful and so rare, I love that. I love the mix too. We love to mix different textures and different colors. [It doesn't have to be about quantity], but quality. That’s what we like, and that’s what I like. I don’t know how to buy a lot; I know how to buy specifics, that’s what attracts me.”

“I really like what I do. I wish I could take all the credit myself, but it’s definitely teamwork. I have an amazing team, and they put up with my craziness. My job is to take everybody who is with me and create this dream all together. We have amazing projects, and I think we have a good reputation with everything we’ve done. The last one we did was the disaster survival kit.”

“[I have a team of buyers], we go to Paris, we go to Milan, we go to London, and every season we build a different story. Of course, you have to be faithful to your designers, but I try to bring a new challenge every season by building up a story. You have to put a story in your head to link all of the designers. It’s complicated to have a story and do a good buy; it’s not an easy thing. You have to think of something coherent and at the same time provide for your customer. I am a visual person, so I want it to look good in my stores, and I want it to look good on my customers. It’s a whole global thing, but it’s up in my head, and like I said, it’s all about teamwork. It’s a mix of different people getting around the table.”

“I respect The Row; I respect both of them. Mary Kate is very supportive. I think Mary Kate is the closest visual for me; we understand each other. When I opened, she followed us, and I said, “Let’s do a collaboration.” We did it all with the crocodile handbag, and we gave it to Damien Hirst, and I think we did twelve bags. Twelve seems to be the magic number. We did 12 survival kits, 12 backpacks, and those all ran out. People are really enjoying them.”

“I just open my eyes. I just go with it. I get inspired. I’m not a genius; I’m just a hard worker. I just want to make it happen, and things come along. I don’t pre-meditate anything. I’m just a hard worker and try to surround myself with hard workers. I believe that the only thing that makes it happen today is working very hard.”

“It happens to me with every single one of my projects. I don’t really remember who says what, it’s just like, ‘We did it.’ Who came up with what? I don’t know. I know I am somebody who is super creative and I speak, speak, speak, and if something happens, it happens, and if it doesn't, it doesn't. It’s the teamwork. It would be very pretentious to say, ‘Oh, I came up with everything.’ No, it’s definitely teamwork. As for who said it first, I don’t remember.”

“I love a mix of everything. I like the mix. I could love a piece that doesn’t really have a name on it and mix it [with] some well-known furniture. I like to mix things like different colors and different cultures. That is what Just One Eye is all about.”

“I love art, and my passion is furniture. I definitely love furniture. My problem is I love everything. It’s good, but it becomes a problem when you love everything; you have to make a choice.”

“We don’t sell art; it just belongs to the company—it's really just for the customers to enjoy. We sell pictures, we sell furniture, we sell jewelry, we sell fashion, but we do not sell art. When we do collaborations with artists, then we sell the collaborations, but we do not sell the specific art that you see in the store.”

“We just turn it around. We turn the store approximately every three weeks. We turn it around to try [to] make it different and fresh. There aren't really any rules; it’s more of just a visual thing rather than following a color palette or following a lot of different things.”