Award-winning Mount Maunganui-born, LA-based filmmaker Stacey Lee was in Aotearoa earlier this year with her young children visiting family, and taking a short break following the release of her acclaimed film Underplayed on Amazon Prime.
But it wasn’t all playdates on sunny beaches - Stacey also worked on a short film with childhood friend Juliet Souter, co-founder and creative director of Marle, which has just been released to mark the brand's latest collection.
Filmed on location in their hometown of Mount Maunganui, as well as on iconic sand dunes set amongst a sun-drenched Te Arai beach in Mangawhai (which Stacey and team accessed with permission of Ngātiwai, the local iwi) the short shows the duality of the brand’s customers across these locations, united by natural fibre and an insouciant effortlessness.
Now back home in LA (“when 350 days of the year are blue skies and sunshine it is very hard to move away”) where she splits her time between Topanga and Joshua Tree, Stacey is taking her own collection of Marle pieces into even more diverse landscapes.
“In terms of what I am wearing between desert and ocean, the textures and the colour palette of Marle covers both bases nicely. I am partial to good linen in the dez and a more luxurious silk in the city. My favourite pieces of the new collection are the ‘William’ dress and the ‘Vanessa’ dress in gingham.”
Stacey is drawn to the desert for its mysterious nature. “Joshua Tree is a brutal but magical place,” she says. “The heat, the landscape, the endless expanse of sand tends to attract a lot of creative people with unconventional ideas that don’t fit into regular city sized boxes.”
Stacey allows us the chance to live vicariously until we can travel again, with this carefully selected list of her favourite places across the wider LA area.
Favourite place for a drink?
Best place for breakfast?
In LA, I love Botanica in Silverlake, where I’m definitely ordering the heirloom tomatoes and melons and lamb kefta, or on the west side, Great White. Everything on that menu is killer, especially the aubergine fries with date paste.
Where do you get your morning coffee - and what’s your order?
When I lived on the east side of LA, it was 100 percent Little Ripper in Glassell Park. Best coffee, best community of peeps. And they have a great florist truck that pops up on the weekends called Lenita by Grita.
Now, my kids are up impossibly early and our local spots are on 8am hours. Not acceptable in my opinion. I need my coffee and I need it asap - so I own my own Breville coffee machine. Still drinking a flat white.
The restaurant you’ve been going to for years?
In JT - La Copine all the way. Local, seasonal with an ever changing and creative menu. Female owned and operated. Like everything in the dez the hours are less than regular, 2pm - 7pm. But hey if it’s good, you make it work. My faves on their SS 2021 menu were the spicy melon gazpacho, ceviche, crispy buttermilk fried chicken.
Favourite restaurant to visit with friends?
Salazar in Frogtown LA. A Mexican spot that makes their own tortillas in a former gas station. Solid tacos, great drinks, excellent outdoor patio vibes.
Endless Color, Topanga - a new spot since quarantine serving pizza, natural wine and great records. Beautiful outdoor courtyard with orange and pink bougainvillea. The best pizza is the squash blossom and goat cheese, and any of their daily salads. Washed down with a cold glass of whatever has made skin contact with grapes.
Favourite place for live music?
Pappy & Harriet’s - a Pioneertown institution since forever. It packs a punch for how small the saloon actually is. The venue is programmed by the dudes from Knitting Factory in New York, with upcoming gigs from Patti Smith, Modest Mouse, The Microphones. It’s a solid line up. Intimate and acoustically great with all that wood panelling. The go-to gig spot for all post Coachella shows.