What’s a Livable City?

Expressing herself through film, performance art, and fiction,
the versatile artist Miranda July always manages to take our breath away.
To hear about the environment that fosters her creative life
and forms the center of her universe, we knocked on her office door.

  • W’s Rayon Bow Tie Long Sleeve Blouse
    *This color is not available in Japan

Cadence of Moving

Miranda July’s office stands in a secluded corner of a leafy residential area. “This is where I lived when I moved to LA 16 years ago. Since I started living with my husband Mike [the artist and filmmaker, Mike Mills], I’ve been using this house as my office.” Almost every day, Miranda makes the ten-minute drive from her house to her office. Surrounded by palm trees, cacti and succulents, this cozy space is brimming with artifacts from Miranda’s creative life. “I just finished a book that archives all the work from the last 30 years. That room back there is a total mess with piles of old letters and journals spread out everywhere, so I’d advise against going in there,” Miranda laughed. She pointed at a clothes rack in the living room. “Here’s some costumes for a film project that I’m working on. This window always has nice light, in case I need to shoot something. There are always lots of things going on at once, so I don’t have to be very tidy, as long as the space functions.” Gentle light streaming through the muslin curtains makes the space feel worlds apart from the harsh sunlight of LA, just beyond the windows.

“I go through phases of where in the house I want to write,“Miranda says, about starting her latest novel.
  • W’s Printed 3/4 sleeve Blouse
  • W’s Slim Boot Cut Jeans

Miranda once mentioned that she writes in bed. “In fact I’m doing that right now. It takes two or three years at least to write a book. When I got in bed for this one, I thought ‘OK, here we go again!’ In a few months I’ll be at the kitchen table, and after that I’ll start using the long table, or sometimes sit in that chair by the window with the computer on my lap. When the writing isn’t working, I give up and go outside. I’ll walk around thinking and talk into my phone.“ Miranda likes the cadence of thinking on the move. She has her favorite spots around the city, but rarely ever sits still. “It’s important to me that I can go unnoticed,“ she laughed. “Having literally anyone looking at me makes me self conscious. That’s the bane of my creative process. So rather than stay put in one spot, I prefer being in motion through the streets. As long as you keep on moving, even if someone glances at you, you’re just a passing person. I think a lot of the time in my work, I’m so focused that I may enter another world. That’s what I have to do to be able to originate a project. To make a world. I have to make a conscious effort to protect my environment, so that my mind is free.“ Miranda shrugged and added that it’s somewhat helpful that LA is not really a walking city, since she gives her privacy and freedom.

This city was also played a key role in her starting a family. It’s been seven years since she and her partner Mike Mills had their child. “When you are raising this new little person, you look around the city with totally new eyes. Thanks to him, I’ve been struck by how diverse it is.“ Miranda says that thinking about what they teach and show their child has made her realize how inclusive an environment LA actually is. “I feel really grateful for what has been here in LA all along.“

Miranda’s Favorite Place in LA


654 N Hoover St. Los Angeles
+1 323 522 6927
OPEN 8:00-16:30, Saturday and Sunday 9:00-16:30

Open since 2018, Jewel offers a plant-based menu of California cuisine created by chef Jasmine Shimoda. While many of the dishes are vegan or vegetarian, eggs can be added upon request. “I appreciate the New Agey feel of it and the young, non-compliant crowd, and also their food is healthy.“ (MJ)」

Alias Books East

3163 Glendale Blvd. Los Angeles
+1 323 661 9000
OPEN 11:00-20:00, Friday and Saturday 11:00-21:00, Sunday 10:00-19:00

This secondhand bookstore was opened by Patrick Paeper, who learned bookselling from his older brother. Miranda says she likes how “the whole store is one person’s taste.“ Focusing on art books and literature, there is also a section devoted to film directors.

Please And Thank You Store

“Clothes are like orphans,“ says owner Jenny Tsiakals, who opened her vintage clothing showroom in 2013. “I want them to find the perfect home!“ Her store has earned her a cult following, including designers and filmmakers. Open by appointment.

To Experience What You Send into the World

In 2019, Miranda collaborated with UT and introduced her T-shirts through a series of striking videos. “For projects where I don’t totally understand how to engage with the public, I like making videos to put something out into the world. OK great, so I made this 12-shirt collection, sent them off into the world, but there’s still that question of how do I experience this. I was conflicted, because I’m often right there performing or making something interactive or at a screening, where there is a moment where I’m sharing or presenting what I’ve made. It’s not like I could hang out at UNIQLO stores and help people try on shirts,” she laughs. “So I think in some ways making videos gave me a chance to engage with this project more directly.“ By finding closure on her own terms, Miranda was perhaps able to leave a deep impression on her audience, something that goes beyond the T-shirts. Miranda’s handwritten designs suggest the possibilities of communication that clothing is capable of invoking.

“I think this style is very elegant,“ Miranda says, describing her blouse. “A very subtly sexy way to be an adult. I’m wearing it open, instead of tying it. There is something beautiful and elegant about the way these two lines cross the midline of your body.“ The dress hung here is a gift sent from Niger, handsewn by the sister of Oumarou Idrissa, a collaborator on a few of Miranda’s projects, whom she happened to meet in Los Angeles when he was her ridesharing driver.
  • W’s Rayon Bow Tie Long Sleeve Blouse
    *This color is not available in Japan
  • W’s Dry Stretch Tucked Flare Skirt

The project got off to an interesting start. “When UNIQLO first came to me about doing a T-shirt collection, I made a whole presentation PDF and got everyone on the phone to pitch this idea for what I wanted to do. They have this really simple suit for women, a skirt and a jacket. I can easily imagine a young Japanese working woman wearing it. It’s super simple, almost looks like a uniform. Comes in black or dark blue. I proposed we do a Miranda July x UNIQLO version of it. I could pick the colorways, and do a series of videos that’s about a woman doing job interviews, wearing the suit for different jobs, where I would film myself doing the interviews, acting nervous. This was in the middle of the last election, when Hillary Clinton stood a chance of becoming the first female president of the United States. This was kind of a moment to think about what women need to wear in order to be taken seriously by society. I thought there was real history in this very basic suit. I was essentially offering to make a documentary about working women. Nothing has come out of it yet,” explained Miranda. But ever-ready to convey what’s happening in the world around us from a startling perspective, it’s no surprise she added: “My offer still stands!“

Miranda July / Artist
Born in 1974 in Vermont, USA. Crediting the play she wrote at age 16 as where she got her start, Miranda July has built an artistic career on the spirit of do-it-yourself. Through performance art, video, writing, and feature -length film, she has a remarkable ability to switch platforms and modes of expression, resulting in a large body of poignant work. Much of her work involves questioning what she sees, encouraging participation, and creating a sense of tension that obscures the boundary between artist and audience. She lives in Los Angeles, California with her husband Mike Mills (artist, filmmaker) and their seven-year-old son. Collaborating with UT in 2019, she created 12 T-shirt designs. Her third full-length film, Kajillionaire, just opened at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. In April, her first volume of collected works, entitled Miranda July, will be released from Prestel.

Photography & Text by Aya Muto
Hair by Christian Marc
Makeup by Francesca Martin

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