Vivienne Westwood opens first U.S. store in Los Angeles [Updated]
After a year of construction and a weeklong postponement of the original opening date — leaving die-hard fans champing at the bit — Vivienne Westwood, the storied British fashion label, has finally opened its first U.S. store, on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood.
Housed in a three-story marble-clad corner building that also serves as the brand's U.S. headquarters, the store has an expansive wholesale showroom and a rooftop patio. The shop opened quietly Friday afternoon — sating those who had been peering into its windows for months.
And few could say that it wasn't worth the wait.
Glossy walnut floors, Savile Row-style cloth-covered mannequins, a Union Jack rug (Westwood's design for the Rug Co.), clothing racks anchored by the golden feet of Greek mythology figure Pan (a company motif), lofty ceilings painted in Westwood's patented "tranquility pink" hue and shiny brass accents define the decor.
But what pulls your eye most pressingly is the designer's punk-meets-polite collections, deliciously displayed in a single room — a serious treat for longtime fans of the brand.
"The feeling of the store is of a gallery with theatrical elements," noted Paul McCourt, retail director for the 2,000-square-foot store. "There are things like brass mixed with woods and natural, earthy materials — Vivienne is very connected to earthy materials."
Though it's really one big 2,000-square-foot space, the shop is sectioned into enclaves — one for each of the brand's collections: the ready-to-wear Red Label, the straight-off-the-runway Gold Label, Anglomania, Vivienne Westwood Man, shoes, accessories and jewelry.
Prices range from $20 for a baby onesie in white to well into the tens of thousands for custom-made Gold Label frocks. The Anglomania collection, with its youthful vibe, ranges from $200 to $900, and the wonderfully cartoonish Vivienne Westwood for Melissa line of recycled-plastic shoes starts at $180.
Cristiano Minchio, Vivienne Westwood's chief executive officer for the U.S., said, "We wanted to open in L.A. because it's in the middle, between Europe and Asia." Of the company's 350 stores worldwide, most are in Asia, with 25 stores in Hong Kong and 68 shops in Japan alone.
"The newest store is always, hopefully, the best," Minchio added, looking around the new space. "This one is definitely special."
Vivienne Westwood, 8320 Melrose Ave*., Los Angeles. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 12 to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Photo: Inside the new Vivienne Westwood store. Credit: Emili Vesilind / For the Los Angeles Times
[*Updated 4/4/2011: An earlier version of this post listed the street address of the new store incorrectly. It is located at 8320 Melrose Avenue, not 8230.]