In the heart of the nightlife district in Hollywood, amidst a sea of parking lots, there’s a lone two-story house. It’s an old wood-frame structure, surrounded by a spiky black fence and anemic rose bushes, and it has somehow remained standing all these years. From the street, it can be hard to tell just what this structure is because there’s no signage out front. But for those in the know, it’s an offbeat, avant-garde clothing store that sells vintage and handmade pieces. It’s hardly been open a month, and yet the store already has a slew of celebrity, high-profile customers. Kid Cudi and Kristen Stewart shop there, as do Chloe Sevigny and Jaime King.
The Evil Rock’N’Roll Hollywood Cat, as the store is called, was started by a 25-year-old filmmaker named Juju Sorelli, who moved to Los Angeles from Paris over six years ago. Though she got her degree from the Fashion Institute of Design and Marketing, she had never actually planned on opening her own store. For years, Juju has lived in Hollywood and the big blue house on the corner of Las Palmas and Selma venues had always been somewhat of a mystery to her.
“I was always wondering what the place was,” she said. “It’s just so random.” When she noticed a “For Lease” sign in the front window, she jumped at the chance to finally see the inside of the enigmatic building, and perhaps solve another problem, too. Because her student visa was about to expire, Juju needed another visa. In order to get one, she learned that she had to start a business and get an office space, to boot. She checked out a few rental spaces, but they were too corporate for her tastes. “I felt like I would be working not for myself, but for a really big company,” she said. “It was terrible.”
After touring the first floor of the old wooden house, Juju knew her search for an office was over. The quaint, 1920’s space was not corporate in the least and there was only one other tenant in the building, a hairdresser on the second floor. Plus the space was huge. So huge, in fact, that she needed to do more with it than just use it as a work space for producing and editing her films. Not counting her office, she still had four rooms to fill, so she decided to open a clothing store. Juju has always had a good eye for fashion, a skill that her mother noticed at a young age and encouraged her to pursue. “Even when I was really little, I would buy a certain thing—like pants with weird pockets everywhere—and then…six months later, every single kid at school would be wearing it,” Juju said. She also has a penchant for making and creating things by hand, so starting her own store would allow her to utilize those skills, as well.
After months of renovations and improvements, the Evil Rock’n’Roll Hollywood Cat opened for business at the beginning of March. The once shabby, plain interior has been revived with life and color. Whimsical wallpaper printed with monkeys and vines cover the walls and elaborate rugs cover the floors. Steel pipes hang from the ceiling and serve as clothing racks. Cult-classic novels and zines are displayed atop an old wood piano and jewelry, ties and pins are arranged along the fireplace mantle. There’s a red velvet couch and a divan laden with pillows. One room has been turned into an art gallery of sorts, with framed photographs and neon signs, lining the walls. It’s a bohemian, playful space, with peculiar knick-knacks sprinkled around and phrases like, “Smells Like…” spray painted on the walls, but there’s a welcoming, home-like feel to the store, as well.
It’s clear that Juju put a lot of thought and consideration into every nook and cranny of the store. Instead of business cards, she opted for customized matchbooks—white with a black and red sketch of a cat that has since become the store’s mascot. She does all of her own stitching, makes her own patches and dyes the clothes herself. She’s created a line of sweatshirts for dead icons, called The Mystery Death Sweatshirts, on which she embroiders clues as to how each subject died. She might buy the jean jackets and tee-shirts pre-made, but it is she who makes them distressed and worn-in. Unsurprisingly, she made the zines on the piano, too. If business keeps going well, she’d like to design her own clothes, starting with a line of tee shirts and the perfect pair of straight-legged black jeans. Though she has a few ideas and scripts in the works, she’s decided to put her film career on hold and make The Evil Rock’n’Roll Hollywood Cat her main priority. “You just have to be determined and believe,” she said.
“Within three years, I’ve made movies, opened a store, started a gallery and made clothes. Who knows what the next three years will bring?”