Design Dish: Rose Apodaca

Here at M we like to dig down and meet the makers, the real people behind the pretty objects.  We ask independent makers, artists, and multi-hyphenate creators about their life, work, and get them to dish about a little bit more.

Rose Apodaca

Rose Apodaca is is a fashion and cultural writer, curator, creative director and consultant. She authored and creative directed The New York Times bestsellers on superstylist Rachel Zoe and on burlesque star-fashion icon Dita Von Teese. She is currently wrapping up her second book with Von Teese for Harper Collins. Apodaca also has a toehold in the realm of furniture and product design and interiors as co-founder of the globally known design resource A+R in downtown LA.

As the former West Coast bureau chief of Women’s Wear Daily and W Magazine, she intensified the spotlight on the colliding worlds of fashion and celebrity here, and led the focus on red carpet style and LA as a fashion force to be reckoned with. In doing so, she connected personally with Fred Hayman, and the result of their long relationship and countless weekly lunches at Spago’s is the eight-pound book Fred Hayman The Extraordinary Difference: The Story of Rodeo Drive, Hollywood Glamour and the Showman Who Sold It All.

We can’t wait to hear Rose’s captivating presentation on the evolution of Rodeo Drive on May 6, 2023 during MADE in Beverly Hills.


You wear many hats as a fashion and cultural writer, curator, creative director and consultant.  How did you find your way to design?

Well, it is all design. Everything I do, that I am most excited by, is rooted in aesthetics and function, the process and purpose of it all. So, too, delving into new perspectives on it. My parents—an artist mom and aerospace engineer father, both with wanderlust for traveling—encouraged my interests in art, music, style, from a very young age. My mom decorated our home with mostly 18th century antiques in every room (including my bed) and made clothes according to my design, and my dad loved taking photographs and pointing out the architecture on our holidays.

The wave of modern designed products emerging in the early 2000s, along with the early design blogs and fairs, pulled me further into that arena. I had been a fashion editor for much of my adult life, and suddenly I was more excited by sofas than skirts. In late 2005, I co-founded A+R (and, yes, I’m the “R”). 

We’re looking forward to your May 6th presentation on the evolution of Rodeo Drive during the first-ever MADE in Beverly Hills. What made you interested in diving deep into the origins of this iconic street?

Rodeo Drive, especially its storied midcentury origins, have always interested me. As West Coast bureau chief of fashion industry bible Women’s Wear Daily (2000-2006), I started special sections focused on the awards season fashion. At the time, this was all new. I interviewed the man known as the “Godfather of Beverly HIills,” Fred Hayman, and we instantly connected. After the story ran, he phoned me up and asked if I would write his biography. I learned many tried before. But he’s a very particular individual, some would say charmingly demanding. We got on like bread and butter, and for the next 5 years had near-weekly lunches at Spago’s, followed by working on the book. What I learned quickly was that the story of Fred Hayman is the story of Rodeo Drive and Beverly Hills. The more gilded layers I peeled back, the more gems I found of its lore and history.

Rodeo Drive

What is your favorite period and/or school of design?
Looking around my home and my memory bank of my previous homes and wardrobes, it’s midcentury style. Though I mix it with modern flourishes, always. This includes fashion. For me, the height of style and comfort in my own skin is a pencil skirt, spiked heels and a red lip—an archetype very much rooted in the middle of the last century. Yet it’s timeless all the same. 

As the co-founder of the globally known design resource A+R in downtown LA, you are on the pulse of the latest and greatest developments in design. In light of trends that come and go, what does “timeless” design look like or mean to you? How do you envision the future of design? 

Timeless design, in some respects, especially aesthetically, is in the eye of the beholder. What ultimately stands the test of time seems to be a combination of not just form but function, and vice versa. We as consumers and as designers return to certain archetypes because they hold up. And very often they hold not only due to craftsmanship, but frequently more so due to an emotional tug tied to memory or aspirations. 

As for the future? It has to be about the tenets of the past: throwaway culture is bad for our planet, so it’s urgent that quality craftsmanship across all manufacturing—from clothes to chairs—become the default among us as consumers. This includes tapping the most cutting edge technologies available to realize this in the most cost-effective, environmentally favorable, well-made way possible. Our very future depends on it.

Quick Draw Questions:

  • If you weren’t writing about or curating design, what would your fantasy career be? Writing, creative directing and curating design is my fantasy career. I just wish I had time to do all I fantasize about!
  • Favorite design city? Los Angeles. Sure there’s a lot not to be desired. But when it comes to any field that requires creativity, it’s being re-written here. 
  • Favorite famous chair? For timelessness and comfort, an LA original, the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman. But I also covet the Hanging Hoop Chair by my London pal Lee Broom (and we do carry that one at A+R…I just don’t have a spot for it in my home…yet!)
  • Stranded on a desert isle, who would you take? Someone who is a good friend, brilliant conversationalist, and fun lover. Name withheld, thank you very much!