James Franco and Kyle Lindgren; all photos courtesy of of Sydney Jackson/BFA
On Wednesday April 12, designer Kyle Lindgren and actor and artist James Franco celebrated the launch of their apparel line PALY at L.A.'s No Name bar with help from hosts Luka Sabbat and Duke Nicholson, and guests including Anthony Reeves, Chris Bauer, Cole Sprouse, Devon Lee Carlson, Evan Ross, John Owen Lowe, Josh Richards, Julia Garner, Justin Kelly, Mark Foster, Noah Centineo, Rufus Sewell, Sam Lerner and Winston Duke.
Franco's interest in art began in high school. "I would go to do drawing classes from like 3 to 10PM every night—that was when the drawing started," he said. "My parents wouldn’t let me go to art school, so I went to L.A., I went to UCLA, and then I started acting. And then when I was in my late 20s, I finally went to art school." Afterward, Franco had stopped drawing for a while. "And then I read this book by Jerry Saltz, How to Be an Artist, and one of the exercises was like, 'draw every day,'" Franco recalled. "So I just started drawing every day. And then Kyle went to FIDM, and he got an amazing design job right out of school and worked there a few years and decided he wanted to do something on his own. And then we just started slow: he started giving me these denim jackets and I was just drawing on them directly."
Julia Garner, James Franco, Kyle Lindgren and Mark Foster
The pair went to vintage warehouses for leather and denim jackets, and printed scans of Franco's drawings onto sweatshirts. When their friends wanted to know how to get them, Lindgren knew they were onto something. "Then we were like, there needs to be some sort of through line and DNA to create a real lasting brand," Lindgren said. "So that’s when we poured the Hollywood history on the fire, as gasoline. Because a lot of [Franco's] inspiration comes from Hollywood—like if you look at the lockers, it’s clear that it’s all very inspired by young Hollywood, a lot of niche films and unsung heroes who never quite made it."
Inspired by the grittiness of Hollywood past and DIY punk clothing, the line of distressed shirts, sweatshirts and hand-knitted sweaters reference icons including James Dean, Jayne Mansfield, producer Don Simpson and Larry Fortensky, the seventh husband of Elizabeth Taylor. Almost all of the garments are hand-painted and have been dyed, washed and sun-faded to create a vintage feel, and the name PALY references Franco's hometown of Palo Alto. "Maybe it even started as PALY HIGH, because [Franco] was fascinated with this storyline of 'high school is hell,'" Lindgren said.
Was high school hell? “It was for me,” Franco said. “But then, I read a lot, and if I broke down the kinds of books I read, it’s a jump from 1960s political history, I love stories of tech hubris and rise and fall of tech stuff, and Hollywood’s probably the biggest one—biographies, and literature. So [the line] turned out to be the perfect canvas for art about Hollywood, but also, the stories kind of make their way into it."
PALY's debut collection "Hollywood is Hell" is available online at palyhollywood.com, and will also be carried at H. Lorenzo in Sunset Plaza; The Webster in L.A., South Beach and NY; and Patron of the New in Miami.