Window-shopping is a safe way to walk through a mall, but it is nearly impossible to pass a boutique in La Jolla without being pulled inside. In designer fashion, Lissila rules the roost after more than a decade in the village. Owner Lissila began her business at age 20 in Thnisia with her husband, before moving her business to Europe, and finally to La Jolla. She and her husband (both former models), currently own three stores, one shoe and two clothing, that sell only the finest from Balenciaga, Lawrence Steele, Dolce, and others. Lissila has built a loyal following among local women — doctors, lawyers, writers, and businesswomen — but she’s also a favorite of celebrities including Madonna and Darryl Hannah. “A woman calls and I know exactly what she needs. I realize that her time is gold and that she has no time to go to a big department store. I even go to some women’s offices and bring the clothes with me — she’s trying on her shoes while talking on the phone.”
A newer arrival, Tina’s Boutique, which has been open for close to two years now, is the exclusive retailer for Liola, a very high-end Italian knit line. Tina also prides herself on her skill at altering St. Johns knits, something that is done entirely by hand.
Now in it’s third location on Girard Avenue, Rangoni Firenze Shoes is serving its third generation of La Jollans. For nearly four decades, the store has been known for its timeless styles, and for offering a large selection of extremely narrow sizes. “We do get customers coming from other parts of San Diego and Orange County, and we do get tourists, but primarily, we’re a community business,” says manager Frank Ibarra. “We offer the full spectrum, house slippers to salon style shoes. And in this town, there are families who at one time or another, require them all.”
Chasa Rae Swimwear has recently opened an expanded boutique that showcases owner Chasa Vollaro’s complete line of men’s, women’s, and children’s swimwear, sportswear, and surf wear. The boutique also includes a workshop where seamstresses do alterations and create new fashions from Vollaro’s custom patterns.
Other top fashion destinations include Melange, which imports very chic designs from Europe, New York, and Los Angeles.