Debra Carrington’s energy charges her Summer Colony Living store as she enters, beaming, dressed in black, with flowing white pants. Tall and framed by high glass doors at this luxury lifestyle destination, she exudes a glamorous, powerful, and warm presence as a woman with a stated purpose: to elevate and collaborate with emerging designers and creatives from around the world.
Carrington sources pieces for her store from about 50 up-and-coming designers who hail from the United States, Europe, Africa, Brazil, South Korea, and beyond, including their work alongside ensembles by Vera Wang, whose designs have been worn by public figures such as Ashley Biden, Hillary Clinton, and Michelle Obama. (Summer Colony Living will present a preview of Wang’s 2023 bridal collection March 16–19.)
Among the emerging designers whose pieces are available at the El Paseo boutique is Charmaigne Menn of Southern California. Raised in South Africa, she learned to design and sew at a very young age, influenced by her mother and grandmother. Her company, Bohimi, produces exquisite evening and bridal gowns. Carrington and her designers can work with customers by appointment to design and fit garments and do styling.
Men now have a section at Summer Colony Living, too. Find travel bags, shaving accessories, hip flasks, hats, and casual wear, including shorts and jackets. Among names such as Paul Marlow (New York) and Marc Marmel (Los Angeles), there are also glimpses of regionally produced items, such as Joshua Tree Coffee. Carrington says she loves to take drives to discover locally made goods.
Photographs by Julie Pendray
Hardbound collectible books are also new in the store. “City streets are the real runways,” declares the stunning cover of the 650-page tome details, packed with fashion shots by Robert Ector, who served as a personal photographer for celebrities including Mariah Carey, Serena Williams, Steve Harvey, and Mary J. Blige, who wrote the foreword.
One fascinating display near the front of the store includes repurposed history to complement the latest trends. These handmade pre-owned purses, sometimes passed down through generations, are augmented with beads, crystals, needlework, and a variety of precious items internationally sourced by Bagteria, a woman-owned Indonesian label.
Summer Colony Living began as a pop-up space on El Paseo in 2017. Carrington, an Indiana native, says she gets a lot of joy from elevating others. She is involved in several regional charities and has offered to mentor local students to help diversify the retail and fashion industries. This interest stems from her corporate work, managing diversity-based licensing programs for major companies, such as Paramount Pictures and Sony, she says.