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Inside Local Fashion Entrepreneur Chris Ospital's Colorful, Eccentric Digs

Chris Ospital, noted connoisseur and purveyor of avant-garde threads, says that the 1920s Pacific Heights apartment she’s lived in for 20 years is a place that’s “made for, and by, dreamers.” She’s referring to the countless artists and designers—anonymous and beyond—who have created the objets d’art she claims she can’t live without. (Although during the occasional grass-is-greener reverie, a life of white-walled minimalism beckons, but only fleetingly.) Ospital, who has co-owned SF’s iconic boutique, M.A.C. Modern Appealing Clothing, with her brother Ben and mother Jeri Ospital for the past 33 years, doesn’t count herself among the inspired posse. But her random musings reveal otherwise.

As Ospital surveys her bedroom wall—almost eclipsed with quirky vintage handbags hanging on nails—the daydreams start to materialize. For instance, she imagines a mod mademoiselle wandering Union Square circa 1960, carrying Ospital’s prized birdcage purse, complete with beak-sized water receptacle. The clock crudely affixed to the outside of another handbag is, in one of Ospital’s flights of fancy, an extreme measure taken by a particularly punctual beau frustrated by his perpetually tardy sweetheart.

“These situations unfold like teleplays in my mind,” says Ospital. “I guess I can’t easily separate my fashion work from my home life.”

Maybe that’s why certain pieces in her wardrobe seem inspired by her eclectic collection of art and furniture—a fantastic, unedited display sourced from galleries and garage sales. For example, a Cindy Sherman photograph of a girl clad in plaid echoes one of Ospital’s Engineered Garments shirts. A psychedelic painting by Creativity Explored artist Dan Michiels isn’t just hanging on Ospital’s wall. It’s also mimicked in one of her Comme des Garçons coats (as a former board member at Creative Growth, an Oakland visual-arts center, Ospital is a champion of emerging artists and anyone else taking creative risks). And a vintage Frank Fong tufted coat, fabricated in baby-blue silk, bears a striking resemblance to the home’s pièce de résistance, a 9-foot sofa she bought from a friend that only managed to fit into her apartment by a hair. “When I wear the coat and sit on the couch, I blend in seamlessly,” says Ospital. “What can I say? In my home, all good things go together.”

This article was published in 7x7's September issue. Click here to subscribe.