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Petro Zillia wheels out a recession solution: rent-a-frock

December 7, 2009 |  6:21 pm

Cruising by all the "For lease" signs on Melrose Avenue and West 3rd Street, it's easy for you to get the holiday shopping blues. But L.A.'s own relentlessly upbeat, pink-haired clothing designer Nony Tochterman (not to be confused with our city's pink-haired jewelrydesigner -- that'd be Tarina Tarantino) isn't letting the economy crush her spirits. In a bold move, this month she's letting cash-strapped shoppers rent party frocks from her vibrant House of Petro Zillia boutique, for a day rate of $50. (Maybe she's onto something; for a $300 dress, she'd only have to rent it six times--and she still owns the dress.)

Tochterman, who famously rode her bike down the runway at L.A. fashion week a few years back, launched her colorful line 12 years ago. Three years ago, she opened her boutique, which also houses her design studio. She said she started "studio services for everyone," as she calls it, in response to the economy, and customers' scaling back on shopping for party dresses. "When the going gets tough, the tough get creative," she said. "Besides, why should celebrities be the only ones able to get studio services for a special party, night or celebration?"

The store's new "For Rent" rack includes new, archive and one-of-a-kind pieces, along with a few basic party dresses. There's a multicolored ribbon dance skirt, a short leather paillette tank dress, a pink party coat covered in vintage floral appliques, and a pink polka dot silk chiffon, fit-and-flare cocktail dress. Shoppers can rent for one to three days, and fees vary based on the length of time and the value of the item (prices range from $300 for a simple dress to $4,800 for a gown) -- but at a minimum of $50 for 24 hours. The rental fee includes dry cleaning, which is handled by the boutique.

But don't forget to take good care of your dress, or you'll have to pay the full price upon return. So Cinderella, that means no pomegranate punch for you.

House of Petro Zillia, 8218 West 3rd St., L.A. (323) 653-3080.

-- Booth Moore

Photo: House of Petro Zillia's new rental rack. Credit: House of Petro Zillia.