Actress Angelina Jolie’s new fashion venture is open for business inside a historic two-story building on the Lower East Side once owned by Andy Warhol and famously occupied by street-art pioneer Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Cutting the ribbon in December, Atelier Jolie is part high-end retail boutique and part arts space, billed on its website as “a place for creative people to collaborate with a skilled and diverse family of expert tailors, pattern makers and artisans from around the world” in a letter penned by the Oscar-winning actress.
It also has a café, opened in partnership with Eat Offbeat, an organization that hires from local refugee communities to prepare regional fare from Syria, Sri Lanka, Venezuela and Senegal.
The café serves up a wide assortment of dishes highlighting global foodways, including chicken yassa and katarica curry bowls and a variety of fair-trade coffees and teas. It’s even taking orders on GrubHub.
The retail floor is staffed in part by current students and graduates of Parsons School of Design. Shoppers, who can visit by appointment only, will find items in a range of price points, from a $495 jacket with a trio of interchangeable collars to a silk A-line skirt at $195, according to Harper’s Bazaar.
Also available are $15 plain white T-shirts meant to be customized in-store with a variety of add-on paints, screen prints and patches.
Proceeds from the sales of the patches go to charitable causes as well as the artists who created them, the outlet said.
Jolie admitted that she’ll “probably lose money, maybe even for a while,” on her store in a December interview with WSJ Magazine.
“If I can eventually put into practice some things that I think are improvements and I just break even, that’s a huge victory,” she said.
Before the “Girl, Interrupted” star, 48, took over, the graffiti-covered building at 57 Great Jones Street was listed for lease with Meridian Capital Group for an eye-watering $60,000 a month. However, it wasn’t immediately clear how much the actress is paying to rent the space, who reportedly signed an eight-year term.
The Civil War-era structure has a storied history even predating its art scene roots.
Built in the 1860s, the building once served as the headquarters for infamous Five Points Gang ringleader Paul Kelly.
From 1970 to 1990, the building was owned by Andy Warhol Enterprises Inc., which rented out the second-floor studio to legendary neo-expressionist Jean-Michel Basquiat, who both lived and worked there from 1983 to 1988.
Basquiat died of a heroin overdose at 57 Great Jones Street on Aug. 12, 1988 at 27. Since his death, Basquiat’s reputation as an artist has skyrocketed, with several of his works fetching north of $100 million at auction.
Atelier Jolie is forthright in acknowledging the sensitive history of opening a commercial enterprise in such a storied building, saying on its website that it’s “a privilege to be in this space.”
The team has also taken pains to maintain as much of its historic look as possible, preserving its familiar front panels festooned with peeling, sun-beaten stickers and graffiti of varying quality.
Al Diaz, a Brooklyn artist and a longtime friend and early collaborator of Basquiat, was contacted by Jolie’s assistant after her team discovered a graffiti wall he had created as part of a 2018 pop-up art exhibit held in the space.
Curious to learn more about its origins, the assistant invited Diaz out to lunch at the pricey Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria restaurant right next door to 57 Great Jones, a meal attended by Jolie herself.
“For someone who comes from where she does, Hollywood royalty, she was quite normal,” Diaz told The Post Monday, describing the “Maleficent” star as “gracious.”
He said she was “vague” as to what she wanted to do with the building — “maybe guarded,” he added.
“When she described it it seemed more art-oriented, but it’s more fashion-oriented, really,” he said.
When asked how he felt about a business venture opening up shop at the former home of his friend, who was known for rejecting commercialization of his work, Diaz shared a pragmatic perspective.
“She’s utilizing the historical cachet of the building, but so would anyone else who moved into that space,” Diaz said.
“Let’s face it: it’s a highly desirable space that some people would like to see made into a museum, but that seems kind of unrealistic,” he said.
“You need money to get in there, considering how much it costs. It would be nice if it was a museum but I don’t see anyone getting up and doing that.”