Friday afternoon, Vivienne Westwood opened shop on Melrose Ave. The store launched softly, but we imagine things won't stay quiet for long.
Even those who don't follow fashion diligently will recognize Westwood's name. Since the 1970s, the British designer has reached truly legendary status. She's responsible for the look of punk rock, having outfitted the Sex Pistols at her King's Road shop, SEX (maybe it's coincidental, Westwood's L.A. store is located on Melrose Ave., roughly a block away from our own Kings Road). She was behind the pirate look of the '80s, popularized by bands like Adam and the Ants. More recently, though, Westwood has become one of the preferred designers for the young and fashionable in Asia.
With solid construction and a flair for combining classic elements and cutting edge details, Westwood's fashion appeals to more than just stylish young adults.
"Clientele-wise, we kind of attract any age," said Cristiano Minchio, Chief Executive Officer, America, of Vivienne Westwood. "Our clientele is from younger people to ladies who are 80 years old."
It's Westwood's influence on youth culture that attracted us to the store. Much of the fashion that can be categorized as punk or goth today is derived from her work in the 1970s and '80s. But what makes Westwood so relevant right now is the impact her designs, past and present, have had on Tokyo street fashion. Check out an issue of street fashion bible FRUiTS and you'll see girls carrying oversized Westwood bags and wearing the designers rocking horse shoes, which boast a wooden platform with a cut-out in the heel area. Last November, at Pacific Media Expo, beloved Japanese designer Fumiyo Isobe noted the influence of the swashbuckling '80s on her Alice and the Pirates line.
With interest in Tokyo street fashion continually gaining popularity in Los Angeles, we can't help but think that this is the perfect time for Westwood to stake a claim in the city. Though her clothing was already available in Los Angeles to a certain degree, the launch of a dedicated shop is significant.
"The collection that we have in the store is equal to the collection that we have in the store in London or in Tokyo or Milan," said Minchio. "We try to have the same merchandise. Maybe less coats, because it's not so cold here."
The Melrose outpost features selections from all of Westwood's lines for men, women and even babies. There are even limited edition, L.A.-only pieces. These range from a keychain with the store's contact info on the back, to a leather jacket and various accessories and t-shirts. Our favorite of the limited edition pieces is a sterling silver chicken necklace with claws and a large pearl set in the center. Minchio told us that necklace is a limited edition of 300.
We asked Minchio what his favorite item in the store was and he mentioned a white, floral dress that has made several red carpet appearances in the past few weeks. We're partial to a black-and-white plaid strapless dress.
We'll admit, though, that we got a little fangirlish when we saw the shoes. The shop carries a good selection for women, including the pirate, bondage and sack boots. Her collaboration with Brazilian company Melissa is also available here, just follow your nose and you'll find the bubblegum-scented plastic shoes towards the back of the store.
As for her famed rocking horse shoes, well, they aren't in stock here right now.
"They're coming soon," said Minchio.
See more photos from inside Vivienne Westwood's new shop on the following pages.
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