Last Saturday morning, 47 Hoffy Tourists embarked on a downtown "LA Trifecta Tour" of flowers, fashion and photos.  The first stop was the Flower District located just north of the Fashion District in downtown LA.  The area is wonderfully convenient with the two largest markets - Los Angeles and Southern California Flower Markets - located directly across from each other.   My group loaded the bus with cut flowers, succulents, ferns, and exotic flora.  The smells were wonderful, the prices low, and the street fair on Wall Street between the two flower markets was a bonus.  “I couldn’t believe how much my group bought” said Hoffman, “and it all fit below the bus!"  By the way, the flowers made it home just fine!

How many flowers can you fit in a bus!
The next stop included the nitty-gritty of the Fashion District.  The group browsed the iconic Mike Levine fabric store (opened in 1932) and strolled down the boisterous pedestrian-gauntlet of clothing called Santee Alley.  Levine is a great stop for those who want to buy fabric of all types, and the selection and color are amazing.  The fabrics are categorized by print type, fabric and design. Santee Alley is a three-block adventure in inexpensive merchandising - crowded, fun but not for the more affluent shopper.
Mike Levine, Inc., a store where top designers shop, describes itself as"everything in fabric and notions".  Take a look at the selection.
Santee Alley is a pedestrian street of colorful and inexpensive clothing, knick knacks and fashion.
Tour Guide and Arts District residents checks out the hats at Santee Alley.
So much to choose from at Mike Levine.
A real highlight was a stop at the design workshop of MYM Organics where the owner and  artist, Mike Aguilar demonstrated their sustainable practices of dying cotton and designing clothing in the competitive world of globalized fashion.  Mike and his business partner Jesus travel to Mexico to work with indigenous groups to hone their natural design processes.  Check out their excellent video here - MYM Organics. An added bonus was a fascinating tea tasting demonstration using an organic product called “palo brazil” (also used in the dyes).   Hoffy was happy that his group bought lots of clothing and tea from these entrepreneurial and environmentally-conscious artists.  

Artist Mike Aguilar's demonstration of organic dyes was an entertaining lesson in sustainable
practices in a competitive market.
The organic dyes, some made from "palo brazil", resulted in beautiful, subtle colors.
Our stop at MYM Organics was a highlight of the trip for many!

Lunch found us in bustling Grand Central Market in the Historic Core where everyone found something different to eat from the food hall’s 37 vendors.  

Grand Central Market is downtown LA's cherished food hall.  

Neon fun at Grand Central.

The tour’s penultimate stop was at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) whose museum featured this year’s movie costumes.  The favorites were Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody and The Favorite. The museum is free, and the store was staffed with delightful FIDM students.  Warning though - only one, unisex bathroom.  The FIDM Museum has rotating exhibits, so check the schedule.
FIDM's movie costume collection was a big hit.  The museum is just about the right size!
Aquaman on display.  FIDM is located on Grand Avenue in the rapidly-growing South
Park District of downtown LA.

We concluded our tour with a visit to LA’s creative Arts District where the group loved Annie Lebovitz’ photo exhibit – The Early Years: 1970 – 1983 – at the wonderful Hauser Wirth Gallery, a converted 1900s flour factory.  Hauser Wirth is located in a particularly fun part of the Arts District with many nearby stores and restaurants.  The free gallery has a delightful central space with a wonderful restaurant - Manuela.

The group came home to Laguna with flowers, smiles, lots of maps and a greater appreciation of the dynamic creativity of downtown LA.  I think we all loved the vibrant streets, the color and the adventure.  I will definitely do this tour again and again!