There is an unspoken tradition around the city of honoring the previous owners of storefronts by leaving a trace of the old signage, respecting the ghosts of a shop’s past. In the case of the late moped shop Choke in Silver Lake, I can’t think of a better successor than the menswear and home goods atelier Virgil Normal, run by Shirley Kurata and Charlie Staunton, the two design darlings that give LA fashion a good name. “There were years of moped grease all over the space,” recalls Shirley, but since she and Charlie used to ride in the Latebirds moped gang, it seemed like a match made in heaven. From the moment they stenciled the Old English Gothic logo on the window, it was as though the saints of Los Angeles descended from the skies and blessed Virgil Normal as the city’s new beacon of style.
New to selling clothes but familiar with the tricks of the thread, for years Shirley has been outfitting some of Hollywood’s most eclectic entertainers, including Miranda July, Beck, and now Pharrell. Every manic New York Fashion Week, she serves as the shaman spreading pixie dust over Rodarte’s collection, or in her words, “telling a visual story with Rodarte’s frocks on the runway in less than ten minutes.” So if Shirley is decking out our fave idols for step-and-repeats and making magic on the catwalk, why would she bother to open up shop with her sweetheart, Charlie? Virgil Normal has a patio in the back where they frequently hold pop-ups, zine launches, and art installations. “We meet new people and our friends come hang,” explains Shirley, “a brick-and-mortar makes fashion social.”