Los Angeles. Its setting is legendary. The Hollywood sign is the hillside backdrop to a cityscape of endless freeways, countless palm trees and (during my visit) smog-free skies and crisp, clear mountains.
While savoring a latte at Starbucks, I eavesdropped on nearby patrons. The local coffee-drinking chatter was as informative as the National Enquirer. “Were Brad and Angelina having an additional set of twins?” was the topic at one table while a more somber discussion involved Whitney Houston at another. But after thoroughly dissecting these high-profile celebs, they moved on to the real buzz . . . “the industry” (films, that is) and its upcoming Oscars.
My choice of locales was not coincidental. I was in shopping mode – celebrity style, hence my trek to Tinseltown.
The goal of my Los Angeles foray was simple: trace the shopping trails of A-listers. Armed with a star-studded itinerary, my mission was to visit stores celebs haunt and resalers that feature their frocks . . . going beyond legendary Rodeo Drive.
My base of operations was the Millennium Biltmore, an old-style grand hotel with a lengthy history in television and movies (it’s featured in productions like “Daredevil,” “West Wing,” “Independence Day” and “The American President”).
Its Academy Awards ties were of particular interest. The Oscar statuette was designed (sketched on a linen napkin) during a banquet in the hotel’s Crystal Ballroom. And for many years the event’s ceremonies were hosted there (it’s where Shirley Temple received her child-sized Oscar in 1935).
Thus, in an “entertainment industry” frame of mind . . . I set out. First stop was to peruse discarded duds from the big screen and smaller screen (television). It’s a Wrap (1164 South Robertson Boulevard) has displayed Rocky’s boxers and Pamela Anderson’s “Baywatch” swimsuit. It claims to be the world’s only store that offers the general public the opportunity to purchase actual wardrobe and props from movie and TV sets. They’re tagged with production show codes and production titles and they’re accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity. Even the famous people go there to shop – think Olsen twins, Gena Davis and Sir Anthony Hopkins.
Vintage fashion specialist Doris Raymond owns The Way We Wore (334 S. La Brea). She travels the world unearthing vintage garments for her store and works with stars’ stylists. Finds range from Chanel jackets to a multi-tiered Dior cocktail dress to less expensive treasures, such as costume jewelry brooches.
For the star experience, stop at Fred Segal (8118 Melrose, West Hollywood; 500 Broadway, Santa Monica). Catering to celebs, it features VIP dressing rooms – merchandise is delivered to them, though Cameron Diaz has been spotted flipping through the racks herself. The store has mini boutiques (formal wear, undies, shoes, etc.). They appeal to both sexes, offering items such as men’s hooded cashmere sweaters as well as 14-karat gold ‘princess’ necklaces.
Paparazzi were lingering when I popped into Kitson (115 S. Robertson). “Desperate Housewives” sexy star Eva Longoria was there (checking out shoes). It’s a frequent haunt of Drew Barrymore and Britney Spears and sells everything from expensive Pucci shoes to fun canvas totes emblazed “My Gucci’s taking a vacation” for the more budget-minded.
Lily et Cie (9044 Burton Way) is not exactly a boutique for window shoppers. The 5,000-square-foot “find” is in Beverly Hills, so that should be an indicator that this is not a store where you’ll unearth your standard fare. Looky loos beware: Don’t expect a friendly welcome, don’t ask to try anything on and do not move the clothes over the racks by any other means than the hanger. It’s more like a museum than a clothing boutique, and owner Rita Watnick is its self proclaimed “curator.” But it’s worth the rigid rules. It’s where Renee Zellweger’s stylist found the legendary yellow vintage gown by Carolina Herrera that she wore to the 2001 Oscars. Case closed.
Tips n’ Trends
The LA look is casual but chic. Following are tips to blend:
- Wear skinny jeans, 5-inch platforms and carry an oversized bag. The “in” male ensemble is jeans and a black leather jacket.
- Walk with an attitude.
- If possible, accessorize with a dog (it’s a people magnet).
* Ivy (113 N. Robertson, Los Angeles). A table at this quaint, two-room cottage-like restaurant is a coveted commodity. Because of its celebrity-magnet status, paparazzi are frequent sidewalk fixtures. Table 41 (in the heart of the patio) seats many an A-lister. Contact: 310-274-8303.
* Polo Lounge (9641 Sunset Blvd., The Beverly Hills Hotel). Known as a local favorite watering hole/eatery for Tinseltown’s movers and shakers, it’s the place to be. In good weather, request patio dining. At cocktail hour, the coveted spot is at the bar. Contact: 310-887-2777.