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04/16/2011

Designer Bijan Pakzad dies

April 16, 2011 |  9:43 pm

BijanBijan Pakzad, an Iranian American designer of jewelry, fragrances and luxury menswear who ran a Beverly Hills boutique and was renowned as clothier to some of the world’s most powerful men, died Saturday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, his family said.

Pakzad was 67, his family said.

He suffered a stroke while working Thursday and was rushed to the hospital but never recovered, said his son, Nicolas Bijan Pakzad, 19. He said his father once named a fragrance DNA in honor of his three children, Daniela, Nicolas and Alexandra.

“He’s dressed over 40,000 clients,” Nicolas Pakzad said, including Presidents Carter, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama. “We have a picture of all five living presidents wearing his suits.” He said his father recently traveled to Washington, D.C., for an event honoring George H.W. Bush, whom he counted as a friend.

Pakzad was born April 4, 1944, according to his family, although some public records list the year of his birth as 1940.

He was born to affluence in Iran, went to a boarding school in Switzerland and moved to the United States in 1971. He opened House of Bijan, his by-appointment-only boutique on Rodeo Drive, five years later. He put his own image on billboard ads, attached his signature to the lining of jackets and was often referred to only by his first name. He offered exclusivity and, rather than apologize for staggering prices, made them a selling point, boasting in one ad that he sold “the costliest men’s wear in the world.”

“I am not a mass designer,” he told The Times in 2003, at a time when sales of his fragrance lines, clothes and custom jewelry reportedly totaled more than $70 million annually. “What was important to me was not to have 2 million clients, like Versace, but to have 20,000 clients.” He said he had invoices reflecting clients who spent $800,000 on a single visit to his boutique.

“Journalists don’t understand, because what I do is outrageous,” Pakzad said. “They wonder, who can pay so much money for clothes? They think my customers must be Mafioso or something. Most people would not believe the way my clients live.”

Pakzad was not shy about acknowledging an outsize ego. “With my ego, I would have been successful anyplace, but America gave me the opportunity to show my taste,” he told The Times.

In a 2001 book about marketing, “Brand Slam,” brand analyst Frank Delano noted the savvy behind Pakzad’s approach. “Bijan is the artist and thinker behind his brand,” Delano wrote. “His appearance in magazine ads reminds his customers that they’re getting a signed Bijan, not a product from his studio.”

 A full obituary will follow at latimes.com/obituaries.

-- Christopher Goffard

 Photo: Bijan Pakzad in 1988. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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